Great narrative journalism takes readers on a journey with scenes and characters as well developed as those in a good novel. Skilled narrative journalists use story arcs, vivid descriptions and intimate interviews to capture and hold readers’ attention while illuminating a complex issue.
Completing a long-form narrative journalism project is enormously gratifying, but the research, reporting and pitching can take a tremendous amount of time and determination. So can the final drafts. Finding a market for the article in the first place and applying for a grant or fellowship to supplement typical freelance pay can be challenging.
AHCJ’s webinar next Monday, July 24, will provide valuable tips for freelance writers who would like to break into long-form narrative journalism. Perhaps you are a freelancer nurturing a passion project and are seeking advice about selling your idea to an editor. Or you are a freelancer focused on news and features who has always been curious about what it takes to develop and pitch this kind of story.
Two seasoned editors and an experienced independent journalist will define the genre, discuss what editors want in a long-form narrative article and give their sense of the market. They’ll talk about how to effectively craft pitches with advice on how much research and reporting freelancers need to complete before reaching out to editors. They’ll answer questions about the emotional, intellectual and time commitments that this kind of journalism requires. And they’ll discuss pay rates and whether grants and fellowships are needed to make such reporting financially worthwhile.
The webinar will end with a Q&A session as time allows.
Pamela Weintraub is the senior editor for science and psychology at Aeon and the co-editor in chief at OpenMind Magazine. Previously, Weintraub was senior editor, features editor and executive editor at Discover Magazine, where she assigned and edited long-form journalistic narratives and investigations that won numerous top journalistic awards and honors.
Brady Huggett is the enterprise editor at Spectrum, where he edits features and long-form projects. Before joining Spectrum, he served as business editor at Nature Biotechnology and managing editor at the biotech daily news service BioWorld. Huggett has master’s degrees in journalism and in creative writing and has won prizes for his fiction and nonfiction writing.
Jane C. Hu is a freelance journalist based in Seattle and a contributing editor at High Country News. Her work has appeared in publications like Slate, High Country News, WIRED, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Scientific American, Outside, and The Atlantic. She sits on the boards of the National Association of Science Writers and The Open Notebook.
The webinar will kick off by exploring the fundamental elements that make long-form narrative journalism so powerful, followed by a discussion about the practical logistics of finding, honing and pitching ideas.
Panelists will touch on pay and whether such a project has to be a labor of love or if a freelancer needs a grant or fellowship to make the project financially worthwhile.
Detailed tips on applying for and receiving grants and fellowships will not be the focus of this webinar, but don’t worry — that topic is reserved for a future AHCJ webinar this fall.
Please feel free to email me questions for the July 24 webinar in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org.