Thursday, December 08, 2011

Writing & Work from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism

Having not heard of it until fairly recently, I've found online some really cool work and resources from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. As is detailed on the about page of the site, the foundation administers a yearlong fellowship program for journalists, but where I heard about them was through the Nieman Storyboard website. Taken directly from the Storyboard about page...

"Nieman Storyboard looks at how storytelling works in every medium. In addition to highlighting outstanding print narratives, we seek to feature the best examples of visual, audio and multimedia narrative reporting. As a bonus, we’ll also give you occasional updates on conferences, awards, and other narrative news."

Given my interest in learning more about and love of interesting narrative stories written down (and to fall a bit into a cliche)... that's right in my wheelhouse!


First time I came across Nieman (Foundation or the Storyboard website) was with mention of venerable narrative journalist Gay Talese doing a lecture with two-time National Magazine Award winning Esquire writer Chris Jones. While it would have been great to actually attend the talk, Nieman Storyboard provided this transcript of the session as well as the notes from an equally interesting Jones Q&A with Narrative Writing Instructor Paige Williams.


Looking further into the Storyboard site, I found noted as contributors a number of the writers whose stuff I admire and look for. From 2009 there was Tommy Tomlinson: making words work for a living and more recently a Storyboard series titled why's this so good? with analysis of classic narrative nonfiction writing. Concept held a lot of sway with me as it's the intent of this blog... but, with stuff by accomplished writers rather than just my ramblings.

There's so far been 23 different pieces in the series with those below representing ones either about or by authors I'm familiar with and enjoy...

- “Why’s this so good?” No. 4: W.C. Heinz on Air Lift, son of Bold Venture by Chris Jones
- “Why’s this so good?” No. 11: Tom Junod on Mister Rogers and grace by Susannah Breslin
- “Why’s This So Good?” No. 15: Michael Lewis’ Greek odyssey by David Dobbs
- “Why’s this so good?” No. 18: Brady Dennis goes short by Ben Montgomery
- “Why’s this so good?” No. 22: Hank Stuever on 9-ish by Michael Kruse
- “Why’s this so good?” No. 23: William Langewiesche’s voice of experience by Thomas Lake

Very cool writing series and lot of other interesting things being done by Nieman.