Schedule(Subject to change)

Friday, April 1, 2016

3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Registration

4:00 - 4:30 p.m. Welcome

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Keynote — Nikole Hannah Jones
  • Make Them Care: How to Tell Stories about Complicated Social Issues The New York Times staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses the narrative and reporting techniques that she's used to resurrect a long-dead discussion of deeply entrenched social issue: Segregation. In this session, she'll do a brief post-mortem of her award-winning piece, "Segregation Now," and discuss ways to use narrative, historical research and accountability reporting to drive compelling stories about difficult social problems. As a bonus, and because she can't resist, she'll also throw in some advice on how to avoid common pitfalls of writing about race. (Room 129)

5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Break — Cash Bar

  • First-floor lobby

6:30 - 8:30 p.m. The Moth Story Exhibition

  • Don’t Look Back: Stories of High Anxiety: An exhibition storytelling show featuring favorite storytellers from the Moth’s popular live events, with special guests from the Power of Narrative conference’s roster of speakers. (Room 129)

8:30 - 9:30 p.m. Café Sessions

  • University Magazine Writing University Magazine Writing: This session is designed for writers and editors of university publications. Join for a lively discussion about balancing development vs. editorial judgement, how to make use of the web with limited resources, how to build web traffic, and the ways in which you can calculate return on investment with your publications (Art Jahnke, executive editor of BU Today and Bostonia Magazine, Room 115)
  • IP for Storytellers IP for Storytellers: Attorney Lucy Lovrien taught Copyright Law as an adjunct professor at Suffolk University Law School for the last four semesters. Spend this session tapping into her expert knowledge of copyrights, trademarks, contracts, licensing and publishing agreements (Lucy Lovrien, Room 113)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Light Breakfast (Included)

  • First-floor lobby

8:00 - 11:00 a.m. Book sale

  • Fifth-floor lobby

9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Breakout Session 1

  • How to Attract and Work with an Agent: A User’s Guide Three successful literary agents discuss what it takes to find an agent, and what to expect from them as we enter a new era in publishing. (Eric Lupfer, Wendy Strothman, Richard Abate, Room 511)
  • Sound Mind: How to Harness the Power of Podcasting, Public and Independent Radio Production. What becomes more possible when a story is heard, not seen? How can you get those stories out there? This panel explores the popularity, potential and inventiveness of audio storytelling as a powerful and still-growing form of narrative. (Adriana Gallardo, Kerri Hoffman, Jessica Abel, Room 505)
  • What a Story...But is it a Book? ​This talk covers​ strategies ​Fernanda Santos used ​transforming​ ​and adding to ​her ​front-page New York Times ​coverage of a deadly wildfire​, ​shaping an unfolding​, multi-venue, multi-character​ story under severe​ ​working ​deadlines into a book​. She'll discuss the writing tools ​that helped her reconstruct a ​complex​ ​sequence of ​event​s​, and offer tips​ on ​ ​landing interviews with–and ​working with–​reluctant subjects​, helping readers track a ​huge​ cast of characters, ​entering the world​s​ ​of these characters while still ​maintaining ​distance, and ​weaving compelling narrative from thousands of pages of ​fieldnotes and transcriptions, ​official reports and other public documents. (Fernanda Santos, Room 527)
  • When Syria is Everywhere: What Happens When Global News Gets Personal Before 2015, Malek's native country was too small, too specific, too irrelevant to figure ​much ​into American conversations. But the disintegration of Syria and the global changes that has wrought,​ have made her motherland (and fatherland) a hot spot. Malek will talk about how her personal journey has shaped her professional work — and how her professional work has changed as the Syria story has become the crux of everything. The author of A Country Called Amreeka: American History Retold Through Arab American Lives​,​ and a long form journalist, Malek will discuss how and why she decided to abandon the third-person narrator in her upcoming book about Syria, in favor of using her own family’s story to tell over a hundred years of history. She will touch on what lessons she has learned about how to cover the Middle East and its diaspora populations—one of the the biggest stories​ of our time. (Alia Malek, Room 515)
  • Whose Story Gets Told: Choices and Ethics in Narrative Non-fiction A story with big sweep requires a writer to make difficult decisions about who's in and who's out and whose version of history gets affirmed. (Lou Ureneck, Room 421)
  • The Power of Disruptive Narrative: A Close-up Look​ If the stories that form our perceptions have been told to us many times,​ albeit in different versions and formats, then it follows that we need to read different stories to form new perceptions. Tichawangana will share his own story of writing​ articles whose narratives disrupted common threads,​ and of building an 'alternative news' platform in an economy that​'s had the highest ever inflation for a country not at war and ​of ​the lessons he ​is learning from his mission to tell the other side of the Zimbabwean story. (Fungai Tichawangana, Room 423)
  • The Columnist's Voice: Increasing Awareness by Making it Personal This talk will take small, everyday stuff to make larger racial and political points, and help readers draw parallels in their own lives and communities. By relating the personal events of her daily life in the context of national political and racial issues, and addressing readers informally, as close friends, Lonnae O’Neal will use this talk to work toward developing a useful community of shared experience and insight. This talk describes her process, reader reactions and guidelines for coming up with and taming fresh ideas for her Washington Post columns. (Lonnae O’Neal, Room 523)

10:15 - 11:15 a.m. Breakout Session 2

  • From Scheherazade to Snapchat: Ancient Storytelling Practices that Win the Internet for Good In an age where algorithms are determining much of what we see, there’s a scramble to “reinvent” storytelling for a digital age. But taking the long view (and we mean a really long view), Upworthy’s Amy O’Leary will explore how the most fundamental mechanisms driving human curiosity can be found in ancient texts. We’ll teach you how to innovate today based on some the oldest playbooks known to humankind, by applying their user experience and feature sets to our modern, digital world. (Amy O’Leary, Room 511)
  • More Than Memoir: Reporting and Writing Personal and Family History Writing about yourself or your family is not a matter of repurposing memory or lore. Doing this kind of long-form work well demands the same kind of rigorous research as doing any other kind of biography or historical narrative. This session will cover the skills and strategies. (Samuel G. Freedman, Room 505)
  • From Book to Screen With non-fiction narratives hitting the big screen at a steady pace, this talk will explore adaptation. Scenes from the new Warner Bros’ film, Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp as the Boston crime boss James J. “Whitey’’ Bulger, will be juxtaposed to scenes from the source material, Dick Lehr’s book, Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI and a Devil’s Deal. (Dick Lehr, Room 527)
  • You Talkin’ to Me? Catherine Burns and Sarah Austin Jenness (who have been at the Moth for 25 years combined) will talk about the origins of The Moth, and how they find the storytellers and then prepare them for the stage. They’ll also discuss how a story can go wrong, and what steps they take to make sure every storyteller connects with the audience in a meaningful way, and walks off stage feeling like a million bucks. (Catherine Burns and Sarah Austin Jenness, Room 515)
  • From Notebook to Manuscript: Reporting and Writing Effective Narrative Non-fiction By anticipating distinctive features of narrative nonfiction in advance, writers/documentarists can increase their effectiveness while reporting and researching, and set about structuring and revising longform work with a more sure-handed sense of how to build. (Mark Kramer, Room 421)
  • The Creative Edge. What alchemy happens when the action, factuality, and intimate voice of narrative journalism intersects with the innovativeness of an artist? A poet, a novelist, a photographer and an arts journalist discuss creating with nonfiction. (Verandah Porche, Andrea Bruce, Fungai Tichawangana, John Crowley, Room 423)
  • The New Journalism of AudioPodcasting and a proliferation of tools and talent are reshaping narrative and storytelling in audio journalism. Much as New Journalism in the 1970's advanced forms and styles in print, personal essay, the role of the first person, reportage and audio techniques are transforming what we hear in our headphones and on-air. Plenty of examples of experiments and what is working. (John Barth, Room 523)

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Keynote — Gay Talese

  • A Conversation with Special Guest Gay Talese (Room 129)

12:30 - 2:00 p.m. Break

1:00 - 2:00 p.m. Café Sessions

  • International Journalists This session provides an opportunity international journalists at the conference to meet one another, discuss cross-border working alliances, and explore how differences in their cultures of journalism frame practices of narrative work, and what sorts of stories work most effectively (Bjorn Asle Nord, Room 515)
  • Clips and Contacts: Strategies for Starting a Narrative Journalism Career In this session, two recent entrants into the ever-changing field of narrative journalism share tips, debunk myths and explore overarching principles to help start (or restart) your career in narrative journalism. Topics will include how to pitch, getting the most out of your mentor relationships and reverse engineering work you admire to continue learning about the craft long after you're out of school. (Steve Macone and Catarina Fernandes Martins, Room 527)

2:15 - 3:15 p.m. Breakout Session 3

  • From First to Final Draft. Writers in several media explore the difficult process of transforming first-draft hodge-podge, piles of field notes, and some still-developing intentions into polished work. They discuss how they figure out what gets added, what stays and what goes. (Mark Kramer, Connie Hale, Adam Hochschild, Sarah Maslin Nir, Meera Subramanian, Room 511)
  • Rescuing History from The Historians: How Academia Killed an Ancient Art...and How Storytellers Can Reclaim It Putting the "story" back in history. (Hampton Sides, Room 505)
  • Next Wave Narratives: Championing Great Storytelling in a Fast-Changing Media Environment Boston Globe Editor Brian McGrory and author Mitchell Zuckoff discuss how to champion great storytelling in a fast-changing media environment. (Mitch Zuckoff and Brian McGrory, Room 527)
  • Gray Area Guys: Telling Stories About Characters Somewhere Between Good and Bad BuzzFeed News senior national reporter Joel Anderson reflects on the reporting tools and techniques he used to paint a full picture of the relationship between openly gay football player Michael Sam and his estranged, little-understood, and widely vilified ailing father. In this talk, Anderson explains how he drew on similar tactics to tell balanced stories about the NFL’s Adrian Peterson, who was at the center of a child abuse scandal; Billy McDonald, the mayor who was blamed for Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of Pas Christian, Louisiana; and Jabbar Gibson, the small-time drug dealer who stole a school bus to rescue dozens after the storm. (Joel Anderson, Room 515)
  • Nonfiction and the Forms of Fiction There are thresholds between the literature of fact and the literature of invention, but they're not where we think they are. There are motifs and structures that go so deep within our culture that fiction writers like myself sometimes don't recognize them even when we draw on them—and those who write true stories can can also be seduced by them, unwittingly or not. The great Canadian critic Northrop Frye, in his book The Secular Scripture, describes them as romances—the made-up stories we tell because we like them, as opposed to the sacred stories and histories we take to be true. The shapes and matter of romances have persisted with remarkable consistency for two thousand years or so: adventures, love stories, brothers and sisters parted, pirates and shipwreck or their later cognates, heroes whose ancestry is unknown, quests for treasure or reward. All these (and other) motifs can be traced in modern realist fiction and in nonfiction too; Frye calls this displacement. And writers of nonfiction stories—anti-romances—can underestimate how much such making-up it takes to tell a true story. (John Crowley, Room 421)
  • Skin Color in Stereo: A Tale of Two Blogs on Race, Culture, Identity and Belonging Boston-based freelance writer Francie Latour reflects on questions of audience, tone, subject matter and creating distinct writer’s voices after launching two blogs in the same year that explored the issue of race–one a news-oriented blog for, the other a personal blog about raising biracial children as a black mother in a small Massachusetts town. (Francie Latour, Room 423)
  • From Community Journalism to International Conflict: A Visual Perspective Award-winning photographer and Nieman Fellow Andrea Bruce discusses her reporting through the lens, from the unseen lives of everyday Iraqis to the effects of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on U.S. soldiers. (Andrea Bruce, Room 523)

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Breakout Session 4

  • Race and Identity Panel: Who Do We Think We Are, Anyway? Moving beyond the conflict narrative in writing about racial diversity and demographic change. Panelists who regularly take on our nation's racial issues discuss how they handle their challenging work. (Francie Latour, Sandy Tolan, Joel Anderson, Michelle Garcia, Lonnae O’Neal, Room 511)
  • Hard as Nails: How a Times’ Investigation Led to "Foreign" Reporting in New York City Sarah Maslin Nir spent 13 months investigating a hidden world in New York City, penetrating ethnic enclaves and exploring the open secrets of the nail salon industry, revealing a business model predicated on exploitation, and governed by a race-based employment system. It took more than 150 interviews, few conducted in English. Some sources had little reason to speak -- many were undocumented immigrants and working illegally -- and yet the system was revealed, along with the specter of health effects, from acute skin and breathing ailments to graver illnesses such as cancer, that manicurists say they face. Here's the story behind the story. (Sarah Maslin Nir, Room 505)
  • Narrative Lockstep: The Dangers of Reportorial Herd Behavior No group of journalists has been more romanticized than those who covered the Spanish Civil War. Memoirs, novels, histories and the 2012 HBO film “Hemingway and Gellhorn” all portray this large, glamorous, multinational crew of correspondents. But, keeping their eyes more on each other than on what was in front of them, they missed several huge stories. Adam Hochschild, whose new book, “Spain in Our Hearts,” appears the week of the conference, reveals the details--and speaks, from his own experience, of the pitfalls of following-the-pack journalism, whether you’re covering city hall or a distant country. (Adam Hochschild, Room 527)
  • Anatomy of the First Book Deal (and How to Survive While Actually Writing the Book) Join award-winning freelance journalist Meera Subramanian as she discusses the book proposal that failed versus the one that didn't, and how she kept her head above water for the three years it took to write A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka. (Meera Subramanian, Room 515)
  • Sound and Vision: Increase Your Reach with Storytelling Across Multiple Platforms Audiences are distracted and distractible. The more consistently you can tell a story across media—in images, a comic, a video, great quotes, a soundtrack—the more your story will stick. In Out on the Wire Jessica Abel took storytelling concepts from radio into comics, and then into a podcast and prose. In this session, she’ll walk you through how she interpreted sound through comics and images through audio, and how you can apply these ideas more broadly. (Jessica Abel, Room 421)
  • Sin and Syntax: Secrets to ‘Wicked Good Prose’ Using evocative readings, hilarious challenges, and wacky contests, writers will stretch new muscles, disabuse themselves of bad habits, and duke it out in a war of words. (Connie Hale, Room 423)
  • Outsiders: Getting the Narrative No One Else Has Touched What do we gain when we disrupt notions of “local”​ and of “​expertise?” Here's how to place narrative projects outside conventional storytelling processes and in the hands of makers who can build fuller stories with greater impact. (Adriana Gallardo, Room 523)

5:00 - 7:00 p.m. The Boston Globe Cocktail Party at the Hotel Commonwealth

Sunday, April 3, 2016

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Light Breakfast (Included)

  • First-floor lobby

9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Breakout Session 5

  • Perfect Pitch. Our panelists, whose daily work includes handling pitches from hopeful writers, will hear one-page pitches from attendees, and explain why they would accept, ask for more, or reject proposals. (Sam Freedman, Noah Rosenberg, Eric Lupfer, Wendy Strothman, Richard Abate, Room 511)
  • Beyond Digital Bells and Whistles. Digital content drives characters, settings, situations and sensibility. Our panelists have tried everything and share their knowledge of what works (panelists: Amy O’Leary, John Barth, Jessica Abel, Room 505)
  • How to Get What You Need Without Being a Jerk: A Field Guide to (Foreign) Reporting Whether you’ve got years of ​international ​newsroom experience under your belt, or you’re heading ​out of your country with your life savings ​to start your journalism career, working abroad ​will prove ​as challenging as it is exciting. And ​after you ​return, you'll find that many secrets of good foreign reporting raise the level of your journalism at home. ​You arrive a​broad lacking a local​'s understanding of the politics, culture, and everyday context​s of stories. Many people you ​speak with will sound utterly unquotable through translators. And your first impressions of a place—those sensory details that make juicy journalism—may sound pretty alienating ​to readers, on the page. Mastering these challenges will make your foreign correspondence sparkle, and ​once back home, ​you'll listen better, report deeper, and uncover story angles you might have missed without all that practice. Jina Moore will share what she’s learned from ​a decade in the field about how to report and write in difficult circumstances—in the aftermath of tragedy; in the midst of war; ​in places where language and culture really are foreign—all while balancing the professional ​expectations for a parachuting journalist with ​your human aspiration to not be a jerk. (Jina Moore, Room 527)
  • Persuasion Is Not a Dirty Word: Journalists as Professional Persuaders Turan Ali does not see persuasion as propaganda, it is simply the process of accepting something new. He sees journalists as professional persuaders, so we require a theory of persuasion that links with story structure, if we are consistently to have impact. This session aims to persuade you that persuasion is at the heart of narrative journalism. Having been gradually introducing this to journalists worldwide for many years, Ali shares his tried and tested approach to marrying the two. (Turan Ali, Room 515)
  • Telling International Stories in a Time of Shrinking Budgets Finding stories, sources and funding in a new media marketplace and making your characters come alive to your audience back home. (Farah Stockman, Room 523)
  • Retrieving the Poetry of Local Life: Narrative Training for Receptive Scribes Narrative nonfiction poetry! ​Prizewinning poet Verandah Porche​ ​will ​offer​ the concept of​ ​​told poem​s​—narratives of lives, ​created ​collaboratively ​with ​"ordinary people.” Participants learn the process while taking turns as narrator and scribe. (Verandah Porche, Room 423)

10:15 - 11:15 a.m. Breakout Session 6

  • The Longest Longform While editors cut word count and seconds of airtime, and reporters Tweet terse commentary and fire off 300-word Instagram stories, the writers on this panel spend years perfecting lengthy texts that unspool complex stories, informative digressions, subtly developed characters and nuanced situations. How they do it, in this era of shortened attention spans. (Fernanda Santos, Alia Malek, Lou Ureneck, Room 511)
  • Next Generation Podcasts: Lessons Learned from Building Radiotopia Radiotopia is a podcast network from PRX that includes ​many story-driven shows, with strong narrative arcs, advanced production quality, and veteran audio hosts and producers. This talk shares independent-podcasting know-how, including ways to grow audience and drive revenue. (Kerri Hoffman, Room 505)
  • Good Enough for Print! But Why Not Go Digital? As legacy newspapers and magazines continue to shrink and shutter their print editions, a new generation of digital-first publishers are gobbling up the shelf space. Noah Rosenberg takes a hard look at the successes and the failures and offers a candid exploration of Narratively's journey onto paper, helping you reimagine the distribution of your own digital storytelling. (Noah Rosenberg, Room 527)
  • Finding Your Voice and Your Brand What do you stand for? What are you known for? Learn how you can develop your voice--and along with it your brand. Defining yourself may be the key to standing out in this multi-platform media world. Shirley Leung, Room 515)
  • Got Look ‘n Feel? You’ve seen them. Those slick, scrolling multimedia stories that leave you wondering: How’d they do that? If you’re no graphic artist but you’re self publishing your narrative online, you’ve got options when it comes to design. Bring your laptop and leave with some tools that will enhance the presentation of your stories on digital platforms. (Michelle Johnson, Room 523)
  • Narrating Frontier Landscapes: Storytelling, Violence, Masculinity and Myth Texas-based writer Michelle García discusses how to transcend the persistent mythical narratives of male violence that dominant reporting about and from the Border by instead focusing on the internal and external landscapes of the region and its people. (Michelle Garcia, Room 421)

11:30 - 12:30 p.m. Keynote — Master Panel

  • Storytelling at its Limits Four writers and editors on which aspirations and techniques didn't quite work for them, and what that teaches us about our genre. (Farah Stockman, Alia Malek, Sandy Tolan, Jina Moore, Room 129)

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Keynote — Mary Roach

  • The Seven Bad Habits of Highly Effective Narrative Be unprepared! Get in over your head! Fall in love with your subject, and promise things you can't deliver. Be childish, distracted, and stubborn. And always, always, sweat the small stuff. (Room 129)

Conference Concludes

April1 - 3 // 2016

Presenting Sponsor

The Boston Globe