CIJ Well Told is the UK’s only longform and narrative festival, and takes place on 1&2 March at Goldsmiths college, London. It’s a unique chance to learn storytelling skills from some of the best talents from both sides of the Atlantic. More than ever, staying solvent as a journalist requires getting the right skills, and this is a unique opportunity to meet the best in the business. Get tickets below.
CIJ Well Told 2019 will kick off in earnest on Friday 1 March at 6.30pm with our live event. Come to Goldsmiths and hear some of the finest narrative and longform talents from both sides of the Atlantic, including:
Sam Knight, author of memorable Long Reads in the Guardian, including ‘London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death. He now reports for The New Yorker from London, and writes their fornightly Letter from the UK.
Christina Lamb, one of the UK’s most celebrated war reporters thanks to her work for the Sunday Times and other papers. She is also a best-selling author. Her narrative work consistently brings the vividness of real stories to her readers; she will talk about her work and her amazing journey.
Jeff Maysh, an acclaimed writer of longform narratives, especially about true crime. Based in LA, his stories routinely catch the eyes of readers and film producers alike, thanks to his ability to capture the drama of situations people get themselves involved in. He will be speaking about “The hero’s journey: mythical structure in true crime.”
Sessions running all day from 9.30am until 6pm include these:
Will Storr demonstrates how master storytellers manipulate and compel us, leading us on a journey from the Hebrew scriptures to Mr Men, from Booker Prize-winning literature to box set TV. Applying dazzling psychological research and cutting-edge neuroscience to the foundations of our myths and archetypes, he shows how we can use these tools to tell better stories – and make sense of our chaotic modern world.
Forget conventional wisdom, rumour and hunches. Jill Nicholson, from content intelligence company Chartbeat, will reveal the data trends about the stories UK readers actually read, the devices they use, and even the day of the week they read most on. What kind of headline makes a visitor stop and read? What kind of language can cause people to drop off a page? In today’s click-and-skim world, every moment with a reader matters. Drawing on the evidence of sites which use Chartbeat, she will also reveal the top 5 UK stories which people were most engaged with over the past few months - presenting key insights for anyone involved in writing, editing or publishing longform.
Author and journalist Sathnam Sanghera balances his journalism with writing award-winning books. But can you balance the writing of factual memoir with the disciplines of writing fiction? In conversation with Mark Kramer.
Many journalists know they have a book inside them, waiting to be written. But knowing how to go about it is another matter. That's where this session comes in - where journalists-turned-authors, such as Chris Stokel-Walker, share their experiences. Publisher Martin Hickman, himself an award-winning journalist, will reveal what aspiring authors need to know.
Longform and narrative journalism are evolving to engage young audiences online. How can they succeed in a context of ‘snackable’ news, low attention spans and an endless stream of new content? A panel with experience spanning PinkNews, BBC Newsbeat, BuzzFeed News and HuffPostUK discuss the stereotypes about young people's media habits and how crafted stories can flourish on youth-focused platforms.
You might have the best ideas in the world, but what you'll probably also need is a commission from a publisher. Pitching successfully to features editors is a skill like any other, and in this session we are bringing together writers, editors, contributors and commissioners including Stuart McGurk from GQ, Rosie Blau from 1843 and Finlo Rohrer from BBC News, to talk over what works and what - definitely - doesn't.
Narrative journalism - the storyteller's techniques of including scene, character, action, suspense, and more - gives longform journalists the building blocks of their trade. In this session, Mark Kramer, co-founder of Well Told and one of the world's leading experts in the teaching of narrative journalism, will give an introduction to the skills journalists will carry with them for the rest of their careers.
Got a great idea for a podcast but don't know where to start? Come and get advice from podcaster Wil Treasure on hardware, software and structure as well as tips on arranging collaborations, pitching to specialist media and learning the skills to produce professional content.
Investigative journalist Maeve McClenaghan has built an award-winning podcast, The Tip-Off, around the subject which really inspires her - hard, complex investigations which have an impact. And she's done it in an effortless narrative style which handles the complexity of each story beautifully. In this illustrated session she will speak about structure, use of sound effects and music, interviews, scripting and other techniques which have made the Tip-Off a hit.
In depth reporting takes serious dedication, but a lot of the time the battle journalists face is how to pay for it. Jeff Maysh, true crime writer, and Alex Perry, reporter-turned-author, have found alternative ways of funding their work - by making their work irresistible to film and TV producers. In this session they talk about how they did it, and what producers are looking for.
Investigative journalists are now vulnerable not only to stifling libel laws and facile contradiction by fake news and disinformation. In a journey which takes him from rural Syria to continental Europe for GQ, James Harkin tracks down the faked and then the real story of a daring revolutionary singer in Syria who either did or didn't end up with his throat slit by government loyalists. The article narrates the singer's story, Harkin's harrowing detective work, and fills us in painlessly on the tangled and deadly political allegiances protecting the supporting the regime. He'll speak about narrative-investigative crossover pieces with this article as a case in point. The talk will still make sense if you haven't read the article - but it's a great read.
Times can rarely have seen harder for freelances, with even digital players making cutbacks or going out of business. For many journalists freelancing is their only option if they are to do the job they love. For some it's the freedom they will never give up. This session will tackle some of the business basics of being a freelance, as well as the techniques for trying to make those grand ambitions of writing longform features a reality.
You can use infographics to tell important, in depth stories which pack a punch. Rob Orchard, editor of Delayed Gratification, the Slow Journalism magazine, shows how, using beautiful examples, to dive into data to bring back great features, and how editors can decide whether to commission a 5,000-word piece or a double-page spread of stats.
In a world where your audience is global, journalism often needs to be written not just for the people who already know half of the story. How do you get the balance between explaining the story and making it interesting? How do you write for an international audience not just a national one? What are the common mistakes that journalists make? Too local? Too simplistic? Not understanding what the story may look like from another country? Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship, and Meera Selva from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, have some answers.
The podcast Always Take Notes has been demystifying the worlds of writing and publishing for a couple of years now. In this live recording, hosts Simon Akam and Eleanor Halls speak to Andrew Hankinson, author of the marvellously creative - and yet definitely non-fiction book - You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat]
New hardware and software bring with them fantastic experiences for audiences - whether VR, AR or 360. But the challenge for journalists is to use these new tools in ways which enhance the story rather than get in the way. Is such a thing really possible? Zillah Watson, the BBC's expert on the subject, debates.
Victoria Anderson and Wallis Eates went into HMP Wandsworth intending to make some digital stories with the prisoners, as they had done a number of times before. But when they tried to leave the prison on this occasion, the authorities destroyed what they had created, deleting files and confiscating notebooks. Instead of killing their project, it inspired the pair to turn it into something much more ambitious. In this talk they will explain how they used comics journalism to bring the prisoners' remarkable stories to life - and to the outside. They will also talk about how they used crowdfunding to help their project become a reality.
Well Told is generously supported by