Longform journalism is becoming the most valued part of what the media does, whether in text, audio or video. We have some outstanding examples of it here in the UK – and there is a growing recognition that it should be taken seriously. In the US and elsewhere, the growing narrative journalism movement has taken the longform idea and developed it into a focus on the kinds of techniques which make it successful. Stepping outside a news voice, using creative techniques like voice, characters, scenes, suspense and the right level of detail. Narrative journalism aims to do real work of reporting rather than simply churning out quotes or repeating what has been reported elsewhere.
We have excellent examples in the UK media – in text, on television and radio, on the web and podcasts, and in books. The mission of Well Told is to celebrate the best, help journalists learn from those who have already had success, and play a part in creating future waves of talented narrative reporters. We are bringing together writers, editors, video journalists, podcast-makers, authors and producers from the UK and other European countries. They are also coming from the US – Pulitzer winners among them – to help us build a growing movement. We will have more than 30 speakers, accomplished practitioners, sharing their insights and skills. And rather than try to make money, we are putting our efforts into trying to create something which is useful and influential for working journalists for years to come.
The challenges facing the media aren’t just about economics – there is a basic task of connecting with people, and doing that in an authentic, impartial way is as important now as it’s ever been. We’re launching Well Told with backing of the organisers of the well-established narrative conference in Boston, and also of BBC News, the University of the Arts London, the Frontline Club, Delayed Gratification and Mosaic magazine.