Narrative journalism conference returns to full power

Power of Narrative keynote speakers for 2023: Deborah Douglas, Brian Stelter, Jennifer Senior, Amber Payne and Mark Kramer.

For the first time since 2019, COM’s annual Power of Narrative conference is in full swing and in-person for the entire event this March. 

Journalists, writers, and lovers of narrative storytelling will meet at the George Sherman Union on March 18, with an opening keynote at WBUR’s CitySpace on March 17, both on Boston University’s campus.

“While there are many benefits to offering the conference virtually, I think we all have missed the feeling of learning from and with one another face-to-face,” says conference director Sarah Kess. “There’s an in-person energy that can’t be replaced that I’ll be excited to experience again.”

The conference, celebrating its 24th year, continues to sponsor 10 David Carr scholarships with the support of The Sunday Long Read to provide free conference attendance to journalists in historically underrepresented groups. 

“The scholarship honors the late David Carr, the extraordinary New York Times journalist who taught at Boston University and dedicated himself to mentorship,” says Kess.

A conversation with NPR’s Embedded: Capital Gazette team will open the two-day conference Friday night at the CitySpace. Author Mark Kramer will kick the Saturday schedule off followed by Jennifer Senior as the headline keynoter. Senior was the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing winner for her story “What Bobby McIlvaine Left Behind,” which will soon be published as a book, with copies given away to all attendees.

The Emancipator co-editors-in-chief Deborah Douglas and Amber Payne will hold the keynote panel in the afternoon. Brian Stelter, a former CNN and New York Times reporter and mentee of Carr, will close the conference’s events.

Breakout sessions on topics such as crafting personal essays, covering China, writing the best profile, and more will be led by journalism and writing leaders in between the keynote speakers. Registration for the virtual events at this year’s Power of Narrative conference is open. It’s free for BU students, $79 for non-BU students, $249 for BU alumni, and $299 for the general public.