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The Power of NarrativeStaying savvy, skilled and solvent in journalism's wired era

Keynote Speakers:

  • Jill Abramson
  • Masha Gessen
  • Sarah Koenig
  • Theo Padnos
  • Alex Tizon

Amy O'Leary

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Our Keynoters

Sarah Koenig

Sarah Koenig

Sarah Koenig is host and executive producer of Serial, a podcast from the creators of This American Life, where she worked for more than 10 years as a producer. She’s produced and reported some of TAL's most popular shows, including "Switched at Birth," "Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde," "Petty Tyrant," and "Habeas Schmabeas," a Peabody Award-winning show about Guantanamo Bay. She’s also guest-hosted TAL several times, most memorably for the "No Coincidence, No Story" show. Before joining This American Life in 2004, Sarah covered criminal justice and was a State House reporter at The Baltimore Sun and the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire. She also lived and worked in Russia for nearly three years, at the Moscow bureau of The New York Times.

Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen is a Russian American journalist and the author, most recently, of the national bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times. Her work has also appeared in Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, and elsewhere. A longtime resident of Moscow, Gessen now lives in New York. She is covering the Boston Marathon bomber trial for the New Yorker.

Theo Padnos

Theo Padnos

Theo Padnos, a freelance journalist, was held hostage for two years by Jabhat al Nusra in Syria. The group released him in August 2014. Two months later, in a cover story for the New York Times magazine, Padnos told the harrowing story of his capture and torture—and described his strange immersion in the lives of his tormentors. Fluent in Arabic, with a deep knowledge of the Koran, Padnos viewed the world of Islamic extremism and violence in a way no other westerner has. Padnos’s 2008 book, “Undercover Muslim: A Journey into Yemen,” investigated the education of young men in Islam. He has written on the Middle East for The New Republic and London Review of Books. He also speaks Russian, French, and German and has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson spent the last 17 years in senior editorial positions at The New York Times—​the​ first woman Washington bureau chief, managing editor and executive editor. Before joining the Times, she was, during nine years,​ deputy Washington bureau chief and an investigative reporter covering money and politics at The Wall Street Journal. ​Her three books include “Strange Justice,” co-authored with Jane Mayer, and "The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout." Before joining Harvard’s English department as a lecturer teaching non-fiction narrative writing, she taught writing seminars at Yale and Princeton. Abramson and Steven Brill are launching a new journalism start-up that will produce substantial, longer-than-magazine length articles.

Alex Tizon

Alex Tizon

Alex Tizon was born in the Philippines, the second of nine children, and raised in the United States. His hometowns included Seattle, New York, Honolulu, and Los Angeles. He attended the University of Oregon and Stanford, and spent two decades as a journalist, first at the Seattle Times, and then the Los Angeles Times. He was co-recipient of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting. He has been a Jefferson Fellow and a Knight International Press Fellow. His book, Big Little Man – In Search Of My Asian Self, won the Lukas Book Prize Work-In-Progress Award, and was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2014. He teaches journalism at the University of Oregon.