As thoughts turn to spring — and spring break — isn’t it time to plan some journalism-related travel? This round-up of upcoming conferences and workshops with a narrative or storytelling bent should help. Whether you want to delve into digital storytelling, work one-on-one on a piece in progress or just get a jolt of inspiration, there’s an event for you on this list, not to mention a chance to explore everywhere from Amsterdam to Grapevine, Texas.
“The Power of Narrative: Staying Savvy, Skilled, and Solvent in Journalism’s Wired Era”
The granddaddy of narrative conferences, back at its original Boston University home, focuses this year on narrative craft skills, innovation in digital storytelling and on how to make a living in the field. Speakers include former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson and Steven Brill, who are launching a new longform journalism startup together; Sarah Koenig of “Serial” fame; journalist Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot; freelance journalist Theo Padnos, who was held hostage in Syria for two years before being released in August 2014; and Alex Tizon, formerly of the Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times and the author of Big Little Man – In Search of My Asian Self. Registration is open until the conference begins, with rates of $50 for BU students, $150 for BU alumni and non-BU students, and $350 for regular admission. Check out our collection of tips and inspiration from last year’s speakers here.
Conference on Narrative Journalism, Amsterdam: “The Protagonist”
Initiative for Narrative Journalism in the Netherlands
With a theme of “the protagonist,” this year’s conference highlights speakers who include New Yorker staff writer George Packer, comic journalist Josh Neufeld, and writer and former “This American Life” producer Lisa Pollak. Those who make it to Amsterdam and can stick around for the day after the conference can also expect master classes from international speakers like Neufeld and Pollak and coaching from BU conference founder and director Mark Kramer. The conference costs 105 euros (plus an additional 90 euros if you want to attend a master class), with a small discount available if you pay 35 euros for an annual membership as a “friend of the foundation.”
“Crafting the True Story: An Exploration of Creative Nonfiction”
Madeline Island School of the Arts
La Pointe, Wisconsin
This immersive workshop, led by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jacqui Banaszynski, will focus on developing and shaping stories, covering lessons especially applicable for writers of narrative nonfiction. In addition to completing fieldwork, in-class exercises, and peer critique, participants will work one-on-one with Banaszynski to develop a work-in-progress and build a plan for future writing. Tuition is $600 for the week.
“THREAD at Yale: Storytelling in Modern Media”
Yale Journalism Initiative
New Haven, Connecticut
Debuting this summer, THREAD at Yale is “a gathering of professional journalists and storytellers” working across media. Attendees will engage in conversations with mentors who include The New York Times Magazine’s Emily Bazelon; Catherine Burns, Artistic Director at “The Moth;” author, journalist, and radio producer Jake Halpern; and New Yorker staff writer Sarah Stillman. There will also be small-group workshops and evening “parlor discussions” among participants and mentors. The program, aimed at journalists and storytellers with various levels of experience, is limited to those age 21 and up and requires a short online application, due May 1. Tuition for THREAD at Yale is $1,750 for program materials only, or $1,995 for program materials, housing at Yale, and breakfast.
Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference
Frank W. & Sue Mayborn School of Journalism
University of North Texas
This conference, back for its 11th year, will feature keynote speakers Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; journalist, social critic, and Nickel and Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich; and journalist and author Alex Tizon. The conference organizers have also announced a host of other speakers, among them Jill Abramson, the New York Times’ Dan Barry, Washington Post and ESPN The Magazine journalist Eli Saslow, and 2009 Nieman fellow Chris Vognar, with more to be announced. We’ve got coverage from last year’s conference here. Early bird registration is open until May 1, with early bird rates at $324 for students, $354 for educators, and $374 for general admission.
Narrative at Cal
Graduate School of Journalism
Planning will officially begin in May, but the “save the date” has already gone out for this conference, which last year featured keynotes by The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik and New York Times Magazine editor Jake Silverstein. With Constance Hale (who ran the former Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism) at the helm, attendees will consider “the tradition and the edges of literary nonfiction” through lectures, workshops, and panels, as well as master classes on the following day, offered for an additional fee of $50. The conference is limited to 80 experienced writers and registration opens Sept. 1. General admission is $275; members of sponsoring organizations listed on the conference website can register early, with a small discount, starting Aug. 15. Read a Q&A with Hale on the vision for the conference here.
“The Power of Storytelling”
Sponsored by Decât o Revista
The 2015 dates for this conference aren’t announced yet, but you can sign up to get conference news via email on the conference’s website. Past speakers have included Esquire’s Chris Jones; Amy O’Leary, formerly of the New York Times and now editorial director at Upworthy; and Pulitzer winner Jacqui Banaszynski. Read more about their conference sessions and others here.
We’ve also got our eyes on a few conferences that will be announcing their programs in the coming weeks and months. Look out for more details from the organizers of the annual Investigative Reporters & Editors Conference, which will be held June 4-7 in Philadelphia, and of Excellence in Journalism 2015, which will take place Sept. 18-20 in Orlando. The International Association for Literary Journalism Studies will be holding its annual conference, this year titled “Literary Journalism: Media, Meaning, Memory,” May 7-9 in Minneapolis. The Third Coast Conference, which focuses on audio storytelling, takes place every other fall and will be back in 2016.