Nieman News

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Aug. 17, 2001) — The Nieman Foundation at Harvard University has established an innovative program to further the craft of narrative journalism, Nieman Curator Bob Giles announced.

The Nieman Foundation Program on Narrative Journalism will be directed by Mark Kramer, a writer and teacher for more than 20 years, who will also become writer-in-residence at the Nieman Foundation. For the past 11 years Kramer has been writer-in-residence and professor of journalism at Boston University. This past spring he taught a course on narrative journalism for the Nieman Fellows.

Giles said “Narrative journalism builds a newspaper’s franchise for the long term. It plays to the strengths of print journalism — space and considered reporting — adding value that no other medium can duplicate. With this program, under Mark Kramer’s experienced direction, the Nieman Foundation is creating a center for expanding and perfecting such coverage, for exploring its ethical practice, for celebrating its most accomplished practitioners, for teaching it to our own fellows and in outreach programs.”

Kramer adds, “Over the past decade interest in narrative nonfiction has grown amazingly. The Nieman Foundation is an exciting place from which to be able to offer the now-eager community of reporters, writers, and social critics in many media a hand in developing the skills they’re seeking. Writers like the chance to develop and explore the arts of story presentation; publishers and editors like the avid responses of readers, viewers and listeners. At its best, narrative offers stories that reach past the merely horrifying or heartwarming, populating the news with real people going about real life in all its crucial complexity. ”

Since 1998 Kramer has organized an annual conference, “Aboard the Narrative Train: A Conference on Narrative Journalism,” which has drawn over 700 top journalists and writers each year from around the world for discussion of approaches, techniques and standards. The annual conference will become part of the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism.

This year’s conference will take place November 30, December 1-2 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cambridge ( The conference will continue to be co-sponsored by The Boston Globe and The Poynter Institute.

Teachers at the 2001 conference will include Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Rick Bragg, Steve Holmes and Isabel Wilkerson of The New York Times, Tom French of the St. Petersburg Times, Jacqui Banaszynski of the Seattle Times, Molly Ivins of the Dallas Morning News and Jon Franklin of the University of Maryland; Bruce DeSilva, enterprise editor at AP; documentary filmmaker Errol Morris; memoir and travel writer Emily Hiestand; Amherst professor and essayist Ilan Stavans: Ira Glass, host of NPR’s “This American Life,” Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, writer for The New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine, and Jill L. Lepore, Bancroft Prize-winning history professor at Boston University.

Kramer has written four books of narrative journalism , including Three Farms and Invasive Procedures. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic and Outside, among others. He co-edited an anthology, Literary Journalism (Ballantine Books, 1995), which has become a standard text in journalism schools.

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism, established in 1938, awards fellowships to 24 working journalists from the United States and abroad for a year of study at Harvard.

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