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May 29 2013

14:27

Get Pinterested, Storyboard style

Join Nieman Storyboard on Pinterest! We’re expanding our reach via categories on everything from reporting resources to tip sheets. Among our growing number of boards:

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 12.09.08 AMNarrative news: Fresh quick reads, pinned daily. Up now: How Twitter is shaping the future of storytelling, via Fast Company.

Nieman store: Links to details about the great and growing number of works published or sold by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, including our popular Telling True Stories anthology and The Future of News as We Know It, by Nieman Journalism Lab, one of our sister publications.

Inspired: Storytelling curios in journalism and beyond. Hemingway’s recommended reading list for young writers; the nine stages of story as told by a vase of flowers; a Dorothy Parker telegram proving all writers suffer; Henry Miller’s writing commandments; Harvard professor Stephen Burt on the intersection between poetry and news (from our sister publication Nieman Reports); former Nieman Fellow Megan O’Grady on the beauty of the counter-narrative.

Interviewland: Q-and-A’s on narrative journalism and more. Conversations, so far, featuring Joan Didion, David Finkel, John McPhee, Hunter S. Thompson, Janet Malcolm, Chris Jones, Joshuah Bearman, and Junot Diaz.

Gear: We’re addicted to great pencils and pens and notebooks and gadgets and organizational ideas — and we like to share. So enjoy that.

Best of Storyboard: Good pieces you might’ve missed, including, for instance, a rollicking storytelling talk with ESPN The Magazine‘s Wright Thompson, and seven storytelling tips from Nora Ephron.

Wish list: We’re hoping someone writes a great narrative about … at the moment, cicadas.

Also: Reading lists, class props, miscellany, tattoos, and more to come.

Have fun in there.

May 18 2011

19:26

What we’re watching: musical fracking, award-winning photojournalism, and documentaries from Cannes

From a groovy explainer to a broken contortionist, here are some visual experiences worth a look.

My Water’s on Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song),” by David Holmes, Andrew Bean, Niel Bekker, Adam Sakellarides and Lisa Rucker from @Studio2oNYU in collaboration with ProPublica. The most entertaining (and catchy!) explainer we’ve seen in a long time. It recalls the clarity of 2008’s “The Crisis of Credit Visualized by Jonathan Jarvis.

The Amazing Amy,” by Espen Rasmussen, Finn Ryan, Terje Bringedal and Torsten Kjellstrand working with MediaStorm. A 56-year-old performer battered by the world invites viewers into her life – not a comfortable place to be.

Dogs in the News,” curated by The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture earlier this month. Dogs working, sometimes in surprising occupations. Not your everyday LOLdogs pics.

Symmetry,” a @madebyeverynone video produced by Brendan Lynch (via @koci). Not narrative, but a beautifully crafted conceptual video that can help beginners and pros alike ponder themes and echoes in visual storytelling. See the whole “Everynone” series for additional inspiration.

The Shrine Down the Hall,” by from The New York Times Magazine. Winner of the 2011 Ellie for News and Documentary Photography. Ashley Gilbertson’s photos (accompanied by Dexter Filkins’ essay) create a visual record of the forever empty bedrooms of grown children lost in war.

And from the Cannes Film Festival, we’ve gathered a few trailers for documentaries being screened this month. They include “Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told,” about India’s film industry; “Unlawful Killing,” a film on the death of Princess Diana underwritten by the family of Dodi Fayed; “Leadersheep,” the story of a decadelong battle between a group of French farmers and their government (trailer in French); and “At Night, They Dance,” a look at a family of belly dancers in Cairo.

March 14 2011

17:53

What we’re watching: a town washed away, satellite images and covering conflict

With Muammar Qaddafi’s efforts to suppress armed rebellion in Libya and the events unleashed by the massive earthquake in Japan on Friday, it’s a wonder that those of us not involved in the immediate coverage or relief can do anything but sit and watch these images in horror, hoping for the best possible outcomes in the face of tragedy.

Japan Earthquake Aftermath” and “Libya’s Escalating Conflict” from Alan Taylor of the Atlantic’s “In Focus.” Ongoing curation of unforgettable single photos – a moving combination of human and epic images.

Satellite Photos of Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami,” by Alan McLean, Matthew Ericson and Archie Tse of the New York Times. Dramatic interactive sliders use GeoEye imagery to show before-and-after damage done to six Japanese cities as a result of last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

Street-Level Footage of a Town Washing Away,” from Japanese television (via @geneweingarten). Gene Weingarten writes, “The anonymous videographer here is going to be remembered as a modern Zapruder.”

12 Must-See Stories about Covering Conflict,” from MultimediaShooter.com. A roundup of links to Magnum, VII, and other photojournalists and organizations reflecting combat in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Coming Home a Different Person,” from The Washington Post, winner of the Documentary Project of the Year Award from Pictures Of the Year International (POYi). Dramatic visuals, personal stories, and a lot of context fill out our developing understanding of traumatic brain injury and its effects on those fighting in battle or caught in the crossfire. (Those credited for the project include Whitney Shefte, Marvin Joseph, Alberto Cuadra, Christian Davenport, Kat Downs and Marc Fisher.)

And in a quick switch from suggested viewing to suggested reading, those reporting on Mideast unrest or the aftermath of the earthquake might want to return to Nieman Reports’ Winter 2009 issue “Trauma in the Aftermath,”a thought-provoking take on covering conflict and tragedy.

February 28 2011

21:11

What we’re watching: picturing mercy, breaking down remixes, and garage fighting with keyboards (really)

You bulked up your movie-watching to prepare for the Oscars, and now they’re over. What next? If you’re pining for some new things to see, we’ve got some options for you. And for better or worse, none of them involve Kirk Douglas.

Afghanistan, February 2011,” assembled by Alan Taylor at The Atlantic (who previously founded The Boston Globe’s “The Big Picture”). If you aren’t a regular visitor to Taylor’s curation of images at “In Focus,” you should be. These particular photos display the range of beauty, play, suffering and violence that make up everyday life for the people of Afghanistan and the soldiers stationed there.

See “What Does Mercy Look Like?” over at The New York Times’ Lens blog. It’s a post about “The Mercy Project/Inochi,” a project curated by James Whitlow Delano.  Also: check out the amazing Alessandra Sanguinetti image in this earlier Lens post. (It’s the color image halfway down the post.)

Uppercut” by California Is a Place continues Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari’s run of disturbing, intimate and strange stories. This time out, they paint a portrait of a “Gentlemen’s Fighting Club,” where office geeks and martial artists battle for one-minute rounds in a suburban garage, using everything from bare fists to chairs – and yes, even computer keyboards. “I do it for the hugs,” says one competitor.

Everything Is a Remix” from Kirby Ferguson at Goodiebag.tv (via @MediaStorm). In his two-part (so far) video production, Ferguson looks at how ideas and images are swiped and retooled in film and music. The movie clips come from fictional films, but Ferguson provides a true and entertaining account of the history of cultural “borrowing.”

Image from photo gallery of “Uppercut” by California Is a Place.

February 23 2011

16:42

Awards season begins: narrative highlights from ASNE and Polk awards; announcement of CRMA finalists

Looking for some quality narrative journalism you might not have noticed before? As awards season for newspapers and magazines gets underway, we wanted to share links to stories recognized for their writing and storytelling. Here are some of the more narrative categories and entries from the 2010 Polk Awards in Journalism, the list of finalists for the 2011 City and Regional Magazine Awards, and the winners of the American Society of News Editors awards for the best journalism of 2010.

Earlier this month, the City and Regional Magazine Association and the Missouri School of Journalism announced the 2011 National City and Regional Magazine Awards Finalists. There are a lot of narrative contenders in many of the categories, but here are the candidates for feature story and for writer of the year. Winners will be announced at the CRMA 35th Annual Conference to be held April 30-May 2 at The Drake Hotel in Chicago. (Click on the article titles to read the stories.)

Feature Story

  • 5280 Magazine – Lindsey Koehler “Gone
  • Atlanta Magazine – Thomas Lake “The Golden Boy
  • Chicago Magazine – Bryan Smith “The Long Fall
  • Philadelphia Magazine – Ralph Cipriano “The Hitman
  • Texas Monthly – Michael Hall “The Soul of a Man” (link is to excerpt only)

Writer of the Year (specific stories were not mentioned, but we have included a link to a story from each writer)

The American Society of News Editors last week announced the winners of its annual awards for outstanding writing and photography for 2010. Some of the stories are projects that we’ve covered before, but here are a few with a strong element of storytelling that you might not have seen yet.

The staff of The New York Times won the Online Storytelling award, for “A Year at War,” which recounts the life of a battalion with “intimacy and deep understanding.” Michael Kruse won the Distinguished Writing Award for Nondeadline Writing for a collection of stories, including his celebrated monkey piece. Barbara Davidson of the Los Angeles Times won the Community Service Photojournalism award for her exploration of the effects of gang violence on the innocent: “those wounded or killed because of a quarrel in which they had no part, victims lying in hospital beds or relatives and friends standing by their loved ones’ coffins or sitting all alone asking, ‘Why?’ ”

William Wan of The Washington Post won the Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity for “his stories that provide insights that add to readers’ understanding and awareness of diverse issues shaping society and culture. Wan writes about a proud U.S. Army soldier whose Islamic faith is the target of ongoing hostility within his own ranks. Another piece details unusual Saturday afternoon church services at a Giant supermarket, where worshipping occurs in the community room and sometimes in the aisles. He also reports on Major League Baseball’s quixotic training program in China.”

And just this week, Long Island University announced the 2010 George Polk Awards in Journalism. Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone won the award for Magazine Reporting for “The Runaway General,” the story of U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and America’s conflicted mission in Afghanistan. The Washington Post’s “Top Secret America” project, spearheaded by Dana Priest and William Arkin, took the prize for National Reporting. The “Law and Disorder” collaboration between PBS’ “Frontline,” ProPublica and The Times-Picayune covered suspicious shootings by police in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and won the award for Television Reporting.

For more, see the complete list of ASNE winners, the Polk Awards press release, and all the 2011 CRMA finalists.

February 08 2011

23:15

What we’re watching: two takes on documentary

Lately, we’ve been pondering the full range of documentary projects. From a storytelling standpoint, “Hell and Back Again” represents one end of the spectrum. The film, which won the documentary award at Sundance this year, tracks a soldier through combat, injury and back home to North Carolina. Watch the brief trailer and see a gallery of filmmaker Danfung Dennis’ powerful images from the movie.

A more experimental approach to delivering documentary, “HIGHRISE” is a multi-city, multi-year project recording “the human experience in global vertical suburbs.” Under the direction of documentarian Katerina Cizek, “HIGHRISE” uses layered images to recreate 360-degree views of participants’ living spaces, and offers audio of them talking about life in apartments and projects from Beruit to Phnom Penh and Chicago to Havana. Viewers can scroll through people or places, and click on rooms in a virtual highrise to find the apartment of a real person somewhere in the world. See the trailer or visit the site.

Even simple talking-head video posted by Amnesty International on the 25th anniversary of disgraced ruler Jean-Claude Duvalier’s 1986 flight from Haiti underlines the power of the human voice in storytelling. Since Duvalier recently returned home, it’s worth noting video’s instantaneous ability to remind viewers of just what life was like prior to his departure (via @PulitzerCenter).

And on the lighter (and interactive) side, “The Johnny Cash Project” is a crowdsourced tribute to the Man in Black – or, as the project’s site calls it, a “global collective art project.” Working within a framework of images and using a tool on the site, participants create their own portraits of Cash, which will eventually be included in a music video (via @MediaStorm).

An image from Danfung Dennis' "Hell and Back Again"

December 20 2010

21:58

Telling their story, twins turn horror into hope for a different life

In our latest Notable Narrative, “Promise Not To Tell,” we meet Kellie and Kathie Henderson, two girls raped day after day by their brother, and later their father, for nearly a decade. Their abusers jailed, they are now trying to find a way to live the rest of their lives.

While narratives about family tragedy are legion, Roy Wenzl’s project in The Wichita Eagle differentiates itself in two ways. The first is that the story moves from recounting victimization to providing some sense of empowerment. It is the twin girls themselves, now 19, who take the lead in telling their stories. They are far from healed – such a word seems insufficient to describe whatever it is they will need to do in the long run. However, their willingness to talk – with the goal of helping others who are currently suffering – shows a kind of sufficiency, a possible future, that makes Wenzl’s story, if not redemptive, at least a vehicle for hope.

Kellie and Kathie Henderson in November 2010 (Photo: Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)

The story’s other strength lies in its restraint. Though Wenzl doesn’t flinch from the facts at hand, he skips the word incest. He avoids the kind of graphic description he worried might make readers put the paper down.

Yet he finds telling details other places. One twin remembers her head hitting each step as she was dragged to the basement bedroom of her older brother. The scene in which the girls are rescued is agonizing, as the twins deny their abuse to investigators again and again, until their mother steps in. And even though we have already been told the mother knew, seeing her feign ignorance and then retrieve some vestige of her responsibility at the crucial moment is a triumph for the scene and a small blow for humanity in the midst of so much monstrosity.

When Storyboard spoke with Wenzl last week, the project was nearing 600,000 hits, with many responses sent directly to the girls and hundreds of comments posted on the site. The Wichita Eagle, whose multimedia project on a local priest we highlighted previously, once again makes use of video and photos. Such images make the story both more powerful and more mundane, in a good way, as if to remind readers that if it could happen to these girls, it could happen anywhere, to anyone.

December 13 2010

20:09

Stories inside and outside traditional beats: narrative nods in the winter issue of Nieman Reports

One of our sister sites, Nieman Reports, has just posted its latest issue, “The Beat Goes On.” You can take a gander at the issue in its entirety, but we thought we’d include some highlights for those of you with a particular interest in narrative.

In “Modern-Day Slavery: A Necessary Beat – with Different Challenges,” E. Benjamin Skinner offers a well-written account of reporting on the sex trafficking beat, weighing storytelling with ethics, action, and the needs of his subjects. Melanie Hamman’s “Visual Stories of Human Trafficking’s Victims,” a partner piece to Skinner’s, discusses visual documentary of criminal, exploitative activity, and wounded subjects. “Merely by retelling her story,” Hamman writes, “a victim can be retraumatized, severely complicating her recovery.”

Storyboard contributor (and longtime narrative journalist) Beth Macy offers a sample of the kinds of stories she balances on the family beat at The Roanoke Times and how that beat has changed in her many years there. Looking to the future, Macy says that when it comes to stories, “If we tell them well, it won’t matter what medium we use. They can be our saving grace.”

Very different opinions emerge about new media’s effect on the sports beat, including storytelling in sports. Former Wall Street Journal tech columnist Jason Fry discusses sportswriting as a blogger and ponders what’s most important in reporting. Lindsay Jones, who covers the Broncos for The Denver Post, explains how Twitter works for her. But in excerpts from the 2010 Red Smith Lecture on Journalism at the University of Notre Dame, sportswriter Frank Deford (a senior contributing writer with Sports Illustrated and commentator for NPR) worries about what the digital revolution has done to sportswriting:

“The Internet – or to be kind, the influence of the Internet – is reducing the amount of storytelling in sports journalism … the story – which was always the best of sportswriting, what sports gave so sweetly to us writers – the sports story is the victim. Sportswriting remains so popular – one word. Sports stories – two words, are disappearing.”

Gay Talese might well agree. In an excerpt from an October talk in Boston celebrating the release of “The Silent Season of a Hero: the Sports Writing of Gay Talese,” he answered a question from the audience by saying that reporters are behind their laptops too much. Arguing for being present with subjects and occasionally unplugging, Talese said, “Sometimes I think reporters should waste some time. Good journalism is wasting time.”

The winter issue includes many other stories, from reviews of books about the status of women journalists and the work of legendary writers to a look at whether news organizations have some obligation to tell stories whose audience size may not sustain the resources required to report them. See the full roster here.

March 17 2010

09:47
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