Sessions designed to recharge writers
Killing your inner neurotic, surviving major reporting blunders, and breathing life into boring subjects are some of the topics featured at the fifth annual AAN/Medill Alternative Journalism Writing Workshop.
The three-day workshop is set for September 21-23 at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill.
The sessions, led by present and former AAN editors and Medill School professors, include large and small-group workshops, nuts-and-bolts sessions on understanding financials, time management and investigative reporting, and arts and news workshops.
“We think this covers a lot of the basics for what writers need to do their jobs –except for the various narcotics,” says Andy Newman, newly elected chair of the Editorial Committee.
Workshops include a session with David Carr, contributing editor for New York magazine, columnist for Atlantic Monthly, and former editor of Washington City Paper, that deconstructs this year’s Alternative Newsweekly Award winning entries in the feature-writing categories, and then breaks into small groups to focus on the pieces in column writing, media reporting and arts criticism.
Carr also leads an interactive session on ethics and another on how to keep readers awake with stories about such potentially soporific topics as urban sprawl and downtown development. He and Newman also lead a case-study workshop on how to dig yourself out of a hole after you’ve made a major reporting blunder.
“I feel like pearls drop from David Carr’s lips when he talks about what he had for breakfast, so when we lure him back to our flock to lead workshops and conversations on gut issues like these, the benefits are beyond measure,” says Newman, editor of Pittsburgh City Paper.
Michael Lacey, New Times executive editor, speaks on the importance of killing the “I” in journalism, and San Francisco Bay Guardian Editor Tim Redmond leads a workshop on investigative journalism.
“I personally am really looking forward to Mike Lacey’s manifesto about abandoning navel-gazing approaches to story and the importance of getting out of your own way to tell stories,” Newman says. “Tim Redmond, of course, always brings a wealth of information and at times a startling amount of enthusiasm when he talks about investigative journalism. I could go on and on, but I fear I’m starting to sound like the but-wait-there’s-more guy on the Ginsu commercials.”
Other sessions include:
Newman and Andy Markowitz, editor of Baltimore City Paper, talk about how to retread arts reporting by introducing new formats, news values, and a willingness to stay out of the ruts.
George Harmon, a Medill professor, unravels the mysteries of a balance sheet so that writers, armed with the right facts and figures, can “follow the money” to nail down elusive stories.
Janet Reynolds, editor of the Hartford Advocate, a working mother of three who’s (almost) never missed a deadline, offers time management tips.