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Exploring the art and craft of story

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    Ben Goldfarb has found a niche in fish. A freelancer based in New Haven, Conn., he regularly covers commercial fisheries and wildlife conservation for magazines such as Science and Boston Magazine. It’s a topic that can easily get too wonky for mainstream readers. So when he heard scuttlebutt about the indictment of a New England […]

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    A darkness runs through this week’s post. Most disturbing is the interview with yet another Mexican journalist who was later gunned down for being brave enough to write about the vicious cartels there. And then in the One Great Sentence, French novelist/true crime journalist Colette tries to get inside the mind of a serial killer. And librarians […]

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    On her first weekend at The Winston-Salem Journal in 1987, Phoebe Zerwick’s new coworkers took her to a famous crime scene: the place where a man named Darryl Hunt had allegedly raped and murdered a woman three years earlier. If that seems odd, it wasn’t for this North Carolina community. Winston-Salem had been consumed by […]

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    Frank Deford died this week, and I’m not sure sportswriters will see his like again. The beautiful rhythm of his language was some kind of wonderful. I love this bit from The New York Times obit of him: Ross Greenburg, then the president of HBO Sports, told The Los Angeles Times in 2004, “Frank Deford […]

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    As a college sophomore in 2005, I read Dana Priest’s report about “black sites” –far-flung secret prisons overseas that the CIA used to house terrorist suspects captured from the battlefields. One in Afghanistan, known as the “Salt Pit,” was a former brick factory. Others were found in Eastern Europe. I was hooked. I continued to […]

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    Two journalist heroes are featured in this week’s posts. One of them, literary sportswriter Frank Deford, died this week, and I’m not sure we’ll see his like again. Read the One Great Sentence below and see if you agree. And Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who has won two Pulitzers and been called a traitor […]

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    Thirteen-year-old Simav Wooleh took the stage with a disarming smile in front of the audience gathered in a Beirut café. If she was nervous, the only thing that betrayed her was a tendency to fidget with her hands. “Good evening,” Simav began in English, then switched to Arabic. “Now I want to tell a story […]

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    Why is it great? It’s graduation season, so it seemed like a perfect time to revisit this beautiful commencement speech that the writer George Saunders gave at Syracuse University four years ago. It may have been the most unlikely thing ever to go viral, because it focuses on a most unhip, untrendy trait: kindness. Saunders […]

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    BuzzFeed News reporter Talal Ansari was interested in lists—not listicles. We see them all the time now when it comes to immigration policy. In January, President Trump listed seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens were barred from entering the United States. Later, in the face of massive protests, he revised his list to six. For Ansari […]

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    A quote in one of this week’s posts has stuck in my mind. It’s by a former journalist who started a live-storytelling group in Beirut. What she says applies to that form of oral storytelling, but also to literary journalism in general: “The most compelling things I know and learned didn’t make it into a […]

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    Mac McClelland is no stranger to risk and discomfort: This is a woman who has reported on rape in Haiti’s tent cities and genocide in Myanmar. But she didn’t expect to fear for her life when she set out to write a story about a birding expedition for Audubon. She also didn’t expect to climb […]

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    Tomorrow, Storyboard and its sister Nieman Foundation outlets, Nieman Lab and Nieman Reports, will join journalists and writers the world over to honor the incredibly brave Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas on the one-month anniversary of his killing. It seemed the right time to publish this sentence, which proved hauntingly prophetic. But it revealed so many […]

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    One month ago today, an assassin fired 12 bullets at Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas as he drove away from the office of Ríodoce, where he had long filed some of the most searing journalism on that country’s drug war. The bullets pierced Valdez’s forehead and hands, symbolic hits, many believe (the “doce” in “Ríodoce” […]

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    Today, journalists around the world came together to honor slain Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas on the one-month anniversary of his assassination. The global campaign, known as “Our voice is our strength” or, in Spanish, “Nuestra voz es nuestra fuerza,” saw journalists offer essays, posts, tweets and images to express their solidarity and outrage at […]

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    This week’s posts captured the lunacy and sorrow of life. In the former, writer Mac McClelland talks about her hilariously awful expedition with extreme birders (yes, there is such a thing) for Audubon magazine. In the latter, journalists the world over joined together to honor Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas on the one-month anniversary of […]

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    When Susan Dominus set out to write a story about relationships and romance for The New York Times Magazine, her initial assignment had her talking to couples who have experienced, and recovered from, infidelity. The relationship therapists she spoke with pointed her in a different direction: couples who had opened their marriages. Those conversations were […]

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    Why is it great? Tom Stoppard is one of our greatest wordsmiths, wildly intelligent and witty, while still revealing the pathos of his characters. This line is a perfect example of his genius. It uses a metaphor, a bit of wordplay, to capture something deep about human existence. And the rhythm of the language as […]

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    The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics offered a host of memorable storylines: 28-time medal winner Michael Phelps’ final race, Ryan Lochte’s bizarre fabrication of a gunpoint robbery, and the “will they, won’t they” speculation as to which athletes might skip the Games to avoid Brazil’s Zika epidemic. And, of course, the bevvy of athletes […]

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    This week I celebrated the summer solstice watching a fiddle band atop a hill with sweeping views of the Maine coast and hillsides as the sun slowly lowered into a purple sunset. What did you do to mark the beginning of summer? One of our posts this week fits the summer theme: We interview an […]

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    Gun violence is one of America’s most pervasive, polarizing issues, and journalism has responded with thousands of articles tackling the subject, including a raft of forgettable think pieces, trend pieces, explainers and data-driven dross. And then there’s Jason Fagone’s recent, revelatory story for Huffington Post Highline, “What Bullets Do to Bodies.” Early in the piece, […]

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