Tuesday, April 6, 2010

'Think about narrative in the broadest sense'

I just came across this piece from Michael Pollan on Nieman Narrative Digest, and it's the freshest take on narrative I've read in a while. (Even though it was published a few years ago).

I haven't read anything by Pollan, though he's going on my list now that I've read this. He talks about expanding your view of narrative to go beyond "people doing things." This essay is about nature writing, and he has great ideas of how to think about narrative in non-human things -- a system (like how water gets from one place to another), or a process, or an animal, or a life-cycle, for example.

He talks about ecology as a way of thinking, and something that "provides you with all your transitions" because something is always happening down the line. He talks about how Rachel Carson, in "Silent Spring," wrote deeply about neurotoxins and what they actually do: "Following a thing through a system is a powerful tool. It accomplishes something your editors are always driving you crazy about: Why should readers care?"

He talks about when/how to use first person; about how you can make learning into a useful narrative tool; and about building suspense.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A couple of good pitches

When Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, former ace in our newsroom, recommends a story, you know it's going to be good. He flagged these two on the death of former Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar:

The obit story is better for baseball and/or Orioles fans because it's more focused on Cuellar's accomplishments with the O's. The column has a broader appeal: It is, basically, about friendship.

Friday, April 2, 2010

As creepy as it is cool

Spotted this on the New York Times Web site.

Alec Soth went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but watched the festivities from his hotel room, only to headed out with his camera for the clean-up and people leaving Ash Wednesday mass. It's more art project than traditional journalism. But, between the found audio and snippets of video, there's definitely a story here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


YDR staffers are all over the 2010 Keystone Awards, and the honors include some of the best written-word and visual storytelling we did last year:

Congrats to all of them, as well as to all those whose strong writing efforts weren't recognized by PNA but still stood and, and help push us to be better storytellers.

The Keystones also recognized YDR people for investigative reporting, online reporting and features, editorials, design, graphic/photo illustration, headline writing, niche publications, special projects and series. So much so that, by my count, 22 staffers' names appear on the list.

I think that's fantastic -- maybe the best news coming out of the awards. Congratulations to all.