Professor's Corner | About

  • Writing the Book
    For many students, the allure of journalism has always been writing. Sure, plenty may come to love reporting and the thrill of deadlines, but it’s a good bet that most j-school dreams involve becoming a big-name author, not a grizzled beat reporter. In the Winter issue of Nieman Reports, journalists who have written books share their experiences. From tips about memoirs and lessons from a veteran writing coach to an exploration of new business models, there’s plenty within to engage students.

    Starting as a Journalist, Ending as a Memoirist
    When Lucette Lagnado started working on a memoir about her family leaving Egypt for America, she wanted to use the skills she honed as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. She wanted the book to be “bulletproof,” a fully sourced and fact-checked story about her own life. Along the way, she realized that wasn’t possible. What she needed was to tell the story through the eyes of her 6-year-old self, “Loulou.”

    PLUS: Northwestern University professor Michele Weldon shares 10 tips for journalists writing memoirs.

    Narrative Writing: Craft to Ethics, Theme to Characters
    Jack Hart’s “Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction” is recommended in this review by Beth Macy, who assigned the book in a literary journalism course she taught. Hart is a former managing editor and longtime writing coach at The Oregonian. Macy, a reporter for The Roanoke (Va.) Times, praises Hart for sharing his accumulated wisdom and the “stories behind the stories” he edited.

    PLUS: In the Fall 2000 issue of Nieman Reports, The Oregonian’s Richard Read wrote about his Pulitzer Prize-winning piece “The French Fry Connection” edited by Hart.

    It’s a Long Article. It’s a Short Book. No, It’s a Byliner E-Book.
    The current generation of college students will have more and more nontraditional publishing options. Help them get a head start with this article by John Tayman, CEO of Byliner. His start-up publishes e-books at the “financially awkward length” between long magazine articles and short books while its website aggregates work by some of the best nonfiction writers in the business.

    PLUS: Read an excerpt from Ann Patchett’s Byliner Original “The Getaway Car,” about her ways of dealing with writer’s block.