Archive for December 11th, 2003

Narrative Journalism Conference Weblog

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Audience members at the Nieman Foundation Narrative Journalism Conference were invited to blog their reactions to last weekend’s three-day conference. The Web crew from the Poynter Institute put together a category system with pull-down menus that cross-reference the blog entries…

Not as extensive as ScriptingNews’ new category system, but useful. For example, one entry about David Halberstam‘s talk is tagged to the “crime & law” category, although it wasn’t the major theme in his talk — but someone intrigued by his comments could follow the link to discussions of other police-beat presentations at the conference.

The post-conference blogging hasn’t really taken off, but then this was a conference for folks who (a) probably like to write long and (b) like to get paid for the stuff they write.

New top-level blog entries require authorization from Poynter (either that or I haven’t figured out how to create one), but the “comment” system is open, for better or for worse.

Example: One of the top-level entries, about the closing talk by the New Yorker‘s Susan Orlean, was a rambling jumble of description and metaphors that seemed as inspired by Orlean’s looks as her words. (Looks aren’t the point. Orlean herself once described a guy as

“…sharply handsome, in spite of the fact that he is missing all his front teeth… has the posture of al-dente spaghetti and the nervous intensity of someone who plays a lot of video games.”

[source])

Was her commenter in awe, star-struck, flirting, being satirical, or just playing with the weblog system after having a few drinks at the Hyatt? I don’t know, but I still think it was rude for someone to add a one-liner that said “This is a piece of crap.”

OK, it wasn’t exactly clear where the original comment was going, especially since Nieman and Poynter don’t post “official” summaries of the original presentations. (They do sell audio tapes.)

However, as another poster pointed out, also inspired by Ms. Orlean, “finding your writerly voice involves a lot of self-editing.”

That’s not always the case in the shoot-from-the hip world of blogs, which may be why I’m not a daily blogger.

Narrative Journalism Conference Weblog