Nieman Storyboard

Two years ago, the Nieman Foundation launched Nieman Storyboard to cover the intersection of storytelling and news across all media. We continue to fulfill our primary missions of highlighting excellent examples of narrative journalism, as well as sharing nuts-and-bolts information and best practices with newsrooms and journalism programs around the world.

Storyboard has grown in its first two years to serve a loyal audience of aspiring and experienced narrative journalists by providing new and tested perspectives on nonfiction storytelling. In 2011, we established an Editors’ Roundtable, which comments monthly on craft and the storytelling aspects of current narrative projects. The six roundtable members include journalism veterans with decades of experience at top news organizations, such as The Washington Post and The Oregonian.

This summer, we also started “Why’s this so good?” in collaboration with Longreads (a site devoted to long-form writing) and Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic. For the resulting project, we invite one guest writer a week to choose a favorite classic narrative – famous or obscure – and explain what makes it extraordinary. The response to this project has been overwhelming, pulling in visitors not previously familiar with the site and eliciting contributions from an expanded pool of journalists, including several Pulitzer Prize and National Magazine Award winners.

We have also increased our attention to excellent writing done online for atraditional outlets. The advent of the iPad and the narrative experimentation that has become central to tablet journalism have further led us to cover groundbreaking efforts to rethink digital narratives, from the role of visual elements to platforms and story structure.

Storyboard is used in university programs from coast to coast, and we have informally advised a number of reporters, sites and professors interested in bringing narrative journalism to their publications or courses. Storyboard visitors have also been able to attend narrative events virtually through our coverage of conferences around the country, including Boston University’s Narrative Conference, the Compleat Biographer Conference in Washington, D.C., and the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference in Texas.

In the coming year, we plan to launch visual storytelling collaborations to match the text-centered departments that have been so successful in 2011. We will also expand our fledgling partnership with the Poynter Institute’s writing programs, in an effort to reach ever-larger and more diverse audiences.

Andrea Pitzer
Editor, Nieman Storyboard