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Turbulent Times at the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism

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Date and time
Friday, April 03, 2009

The 2009 Narrative Journalism conference, sponsored by Harvard University's Nieman Foundation, was titled *Telling True Stories in Turbulent Times*. With news bureaus shrinking and newspapers folding, these are hard days for narrative journalists: they need space, time and funding to do their work, all of which are in short supply in today's web-driven media economy. ThoughtCast spoke with several of the presenters at the conference, including keynote speaker and Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz, award-winning author and journalist Adam Hochschild, and Nieman’s own Joshua Benton.

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Adam Hochschild is a nationally acclaimed author, journalist, historian, and author of eleven books, who writes frequently about issues of human rights and social justice.
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Joshua Benton is director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. The lab is a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age.
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Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist based at *The Plain Dealer* newspaper. She won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Schultz was also a 2003 Pulitzer Prize finalist in feature writing.
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Amy O'Leary is a News Editor for NYTimes.com and a former public radio producer.
My name is Jenny Attiyeh, and I began my career in 1987 in London as a freelance reporter on the arts for the BBC World Service Radio. I remember my first interview for “Meridian”, as the program I worked for was called. It was with Placido Domingo, and I’ve never been so nervous since. After my work permit ran out, I returned to Los Angeles, my home city, and continued as an arts reporter for KCRW, an NPR station in Santa Monica. While there, I reported and produced an award-winning documentary on Japanese-American internment during World War II. Shortly after, I was accepted to a National Public Radio residency, which brought me to Washington, D.C. and to WBUR, an NPR station in Boston to report stories for NPR’s Performance Today. I later attended the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. After that, I remained in New York City for 9 years, during which time I worked primarily as a reporter on television and radio. I hosted and produced a weekly arts and culture segment for WNYC TV, a PBS station, until it went out of business (thanks to then Mayor Giuliani, who sold the station). Before the lights went out, I managed to produce a mini-documentary on the making of a Philip Glass opera, “Les Enfants Terribles.” I worked next as a correspondent for a nationally televised PBS program called “Freedom Speaks” which focused on the media, until it too was taken off the air. (I detect a pattern here…) In between gigs, I also worked as a reporter for WBAI radio, a Pacifica station, and WNYC radio, an NPR station, covering local politics and the arts. I then moved to Maine, where I lived by the harbor in Kittery, and worked as a reporter for New Hampshire Public Television. There, I covered the ‘99/2000 New Hampshire presidential primary season, and interviewed the major presidential candidates. I also participated as a panelist in nationally televised presidential debates, hosted by Peter Jennings and Tim Russert. Following the conclusion of the New Hampshire primary season, I moved to Boston, where I did freelance writing on academics, the 2004 presidential campaign and the single life, among other subjects. From this base, in early 2005, I launched ThoughtCast.
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