Gerard van Westerloo Lecture with Jessica DuLong - 20 December 2018

Jessica DuLong is an author, historian, book-doctor, book-coach, and collaborator who teaches narrative nonfiction with The Sackett Street Writers Workshop. Her most recent book, Dust to Deliverance: Untold Stories from the Maritime Evacuation on September 11 (McGraw-Hill), is the culmination of nearly a decade of reporting about the largest boat lift in history during which ferries, dinner boats, and other vessels spontaneously converged to rescue nearly 500,000 stranded people from Manhattan Island.

Her first book, My River Chronicles: Rediscovering the Work that Built America; A Personal and Historical Journey (Free Press), explores the value of hands-on work through memoir, history, and reportage. Lauded in The New York Times as “very fine and gutsy,” My River Chronicles won the 2010 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award for memoir. DuLong is also a DONA-certified postpartum doula and a USCG-licensed merchant marine officer who serves as chief engineer aboard retired 1931 NYC fireboat John J. Harvey.

Following the publication of her first collaboration on infidelity and the brain science behind love and desire, DuLong is currently in the midst of multiple book collaboration projects on topics including: serious mental illness, the changing expectations of American manhood, a double-bottom-line investment strategy focused on solving the world's biggest problems, and a memoir about an Iditarod dog-sled musher.

At the Gerard van Westerloo Lecture, DuLong will be speaking about what to do when traditional narrative methodologies don’t serve your story. Rooted in lessons learned from reporting and writing Dust to Deliverance, Jessica DuLong will discuss how to stitch together characters, exposition, and scenes to reveal a panoramic event in all its complexity. By tuning in to readers’ needs and curiosities, writers of narrative can put to good use the mind’s capacity to blend thematically linked details into a full, sweeping story.

​Practical information

  • Date: 20 december 2018
  • Time 20:00 - 22:00
  • Location: Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam
  • Tickets: €17,50 (regular) / €12,50 (Friends of the Initiative Narrative Journalism Netherlands and full time students – on presentation of a student card)
  • Tickets are for sale in our webshop

The yearly Gerard van Westerloo Lecture, made possible with financial support of the Gravin van Bylandt Stichting, pays homage to one of the founding fathers of narrative journalism in the Netherlands. Gerard van Westerloo applied four principles to his reporting: he chose everyday subjects, particularly when nothing out of the ordinary was happening; he waited as long as he needed to get a complete picture; he chose to speak to the subjects themselves (no spokespeople!); and those he interviewed got no coverage elsewhere.

Evelien Kunst is the new Producer/Coordinator at the Initiative Narrative Journalism Netherlands

As of September 1 2018, Evelien Kunst will be working as the new Producer/Coordinator at the Initiative Narrative Journalism Netherlands. She replaces the position of Paulien Bakker, who resigned from her post as director of the Initiative on July 1.

'I'm really looking forward to working for the Initiative Narrative Journalism Netherlands. What I find particularly refreshing and interesting about the initiative is that it brings together different disciplines in its activities. The main focus is the narrative aspect of productions, which can take the form of text, sound, photography, film, illustration or a combination,' says Evelien Kunst. Irene van der Linde, chairman of the foundation, about Evelien Kunst: 'We are very happy to have Evelien join us and have great faith that she, with her enthusiasm, drive and creative ideas, will work to expand the initiative's reach and impact in her own way and will put our narrative conference on the map.'

About Evelien Kunst
Evelien Kunst is a freelance consultant with more than 18 years of experience in documentary photography, marketing and education. Evelien is co-founder of Laika Productions, a storytelling agency that initiates and produces (multi) media productions and focusses on social impact. She was the former director of NOOR, an internationally prominent photographers collective. She also worked for The Red Dot Agency, a creative strategic communication agency. From 1999 to 2008, she worked for World Press Photo as project manager education. Her responsibilities included the annual Joop Swart Masterclass and setting up various training programs for photographers in Africa and Asia. Evelien regularly teaches master classes, including at the Danish School of Journalism and the Fotoacademie in Amsterdam. You can find more about Evelien Kunst here.

Departure Paulien Bakker as director Initiative Narrative Journalism Netherlands

As of July 1, Paulien Bakker will leave her post as director of the Initiative Narrative Journalism Netherlands. The board is extremely grateful to her for the five years in which she has devoted heart and soul to promote the techniques of narrative journalism in the Netherlands.
Passionately and full of expertise, she organized five major conferences with top journalists from the United States, the Netherlands and other parts of the world, as well as numerous other activities such as the annual Gerard van Westerloo lecture, the leading group for Dutch editors, and the online yearbook 'Meestervertellers' which presents the top ten of the best Dutch narrative journalism productions each year. In addition, she carefully worked on creating and extending the foundations of our initiative. Bakker now wants to put the experience and knowledge that she gained during these five years into practice and fully focus on her new book on Iraq after 2003. We can only applaud this as a board. We wish her the best of luck.

Anthology: Over the Line

With so many great speakers present at our conference True Stories: Find your voice within the European narrative tradition, we are very excited to share a selection of their projects in our online anthology: Over the Line.

This anthology presents a selection of the best European narrative journalism of the moment. These stories held large audiences in their grip and teach profound lessons about European societies and societies around the globe. They’re all translated into English – radio, online, documentary and written pieces, with a behind-the-scenes explanation from the makers. Discover new narrative voices from all over Europe and let them inspire you to find your own!

Go to the online anthology: Over the Line here.

Lulu Miller on the 'Creative Cliff'

At our 2017 conference 'Amplify your Story: adding emotion to journalism', Lulu Miller from NPR's Invisibilia gave an inspiring talk on the use of emotion and spontaneity in radio in her session 'On the Creative Cliff'.

Lulu takes us on a journey through her own experiences, pitfalls and discoveries, recalling how she faced her demons and left journalism for fiction, only to return to radio because of her love for true and human stories. Watch the entire session below.

Real life rarely makes it to the front pages

As a journalist you are always under pressure, going from place to place chasing the story. How do make the time to write your narrative pearls?

That is the question that Diana Sugg asked herself years ago. She was a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, where she won a Pulitzer for the way in which she covered health care. Now, she guides other journalists at her newspaper so they can make impressive stories. Doing special stories requires a shift in mindset. Don’t expect someone to give you the time to work on a narrative project,” she says. “he best stories are not breaking news stories but tell about the undercurrent. Some of my stories I’ve had cooking for two years. I’d regularly make phone calls, until I found a person who was willing to let me in.”

Sugg was one of the speakers at the 2017 Conference Narrative Journalism, held on 18 and 19 May 2017 in Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. 2017's Conference Curator is Pulitzer winner, Professor of Journalism and coach Jacqui Banaszynski. The theme: “Amplify your story. It takes a team to make an award winning story.”

Where at the 2016 Conference, with Amy O’Leary as curator, it was carefully explained why narrative journalism is needed to capture attention in the times of information overkill, 2017's conference emphasizes the work. And the work starts a day before the Conference. On 18 May, several speakers gave a master class, including Lulu Miller (Invisibilia podcast), Thomas French (two-times Pulitzer winner who gave an overview of narrative techniques), and Jacqui Banaszynski and Kelley French (about coaching narrative projects in the newsroom). With the new all-access pass, guests could attend two master classes, the watch and listen evening, and the Conference, the Initiative Narrative Journalism Netherlands wants to invite journalists to not only be inspired, but also to roll up their sleeves.

Sugg gave a masterclass about strategies to develop special stories on top of the rest of the work. She says: “I believe that every journalist has his own makeup and therefore is drawn to particular stories. My theme is for example life and death. That's the theme of stories that are drawing me in. I believe we all have that but they don’t come out because most of us are too busy chasing the day to day news. But what I've discovered is that the stories that haunt me, are also hunting my readers. All you have to do is follow your deeper curiosity. And find a way to regularly shift out of the day to day mindset.”

About journalists who complain that they’ve been trying to get access for two weeks, she laughs. Sugg can easily chase a story for two years. Like this story, for which she spoke with 18 families who had a dying child. The meeting with the last family was cancelled twice. When a third cancellation was not relayed to her on time, and Sugg was able to meet the mother of RJ, the main person in the story, she did not leave her side anymore. “I build a story outside the purview of my editor. When I am ready, I propose to make a small story. And then the project grows and grows. I didn’t tell RJ’s mother that I wanted to work on a large project right away either, that only scares people away. You follow someone for a while, and in that process, you make the project larger and larger.

Ira Glass once said: life is made of joy, surprise, all emotions. And still, you rarely see them reflected in the newspaper. I think that often, when we write about a subject, it’s as if we are sitting on the verandah, instead of going into the bedroom, where it all happens. To reach that bedroom, you need to take your time. You don’t get that kind of access in a week or two.

You can find more information on our 2017 conference hereOr follow us on Twitter: @TrueStoriesEU.

20 April: First European Conference - True Stories

Who are the epic storytellers of our time, the new European Ryszard Kapuścińskis? And what novel journalistic storytelling forms have been on the rise in Europe? During our 8th conference on narrative journalism: True Stories - Find your voice within the European narrative tradition, we set our sights on European storytelling.

More and more, the familiar rhythm of the news is making way for on-demand journalism—podcasts, long form, YouTube.. The fragmented media landscape creates a space for telling news stories from different angles. The moment when a story appears becomes less and less relevant –what matters the most now is the storytelling voice. But, as a maker, how do you go from being omniscient and objective, to finding your own voice?

To help you find your own voice, we’ll look beyond media borders. Photographers, radio journalists, writers; everyone has their own way of creating a story. Together with the photography storytelling platform Docking Station we organize a separate program on using the power of imagination. How do you get people to pay attention to topics that are overplayed, like migration? A photographer, a cartoonist, a radio journalist and a filmmaker share their views.

We’ll look at how perspective defines your take on the world. An issue like the financial crisis is not perceived the same way in Sweden than in Great Britain. Joris Luyendijk wrote a widely translated book (‘Swimming with sharks’). In collaboration with the Dutch Foundation for Literature, we invited Luyendijk and four of his publishers to talk about how his book did in other countries. In Sweden, this book was in the top 10 for weeks, while in Germany this was far from the case. We ask his publishers to explain.

And we offer expanded horizons. Many important developments, like terrorism and migration, happen across borders. The European Journalism Centre, with help of the Bill Gates Foundation, funded a big project on migration: El País, Le Monde, Der Spiegel online and The Guardian all followed one family (or a football team in case of El País) that was migrating into their country. All four are at the conference to talk about the project and to talk to journalists about their work.

We wonder: what are the stories of our time? What are the stories that are being told by journalists all over the European continent? On April 19, see and hear the work of our speakers on the night before the conference, and get inspired.

The European conference commences on the evening of Thursday april 19th at Pakhuis de Zwijger, where the speakers will present and exemplify their work. Friday april 20th is the day of the conference, where approximately 40 speakers will dissect their work, offer practical how-to-sessions, and where chief news editors from six different European countries discuss specific issues they deal with at their respective editorial offices during a roundtable discussion.

Ticket sales have started. Get to know the speakers and the program of the conference here.





November 2: Gerard van Westerloo Lecture with Anne Hull

Anne Hull’s extraordinary stories about those living at the fringes of American society have led to five nominations and a Pulitzer Prize. She is currently on a sabbatical from her newspaper, the Washington Post, to work on her memoire about growing up in Florida. To write her stories, she often stays with a group for months –the soldiers in rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, or a teenage girl who wants to leave her life of poverty behind. But tonight she will tell us about a very small story. A story she wrote in six hours, in which she followed a grandmother and her grandson, two victims of Hurricane Katrina. This story is rich in detail, has a subtle dramatic arc, and summarizes the drama of Hurricane Katrina in just 900 words, making it palpable. What was her process? Which tools did she use? For years, she gathered experience in larger narrative projects, but how did she use
that knowledge to tell this story for maximum effect?

The yearly Gerard van Westerloo Lecture pays homage to one of the founding fathers of narrative journalism in the Netherlands. Gerard van Westerloo applied four principles to his reporting: he chose everyday subjects, particularly when nothing out of the ordinary was happening; he waited as long as he needed to get a complete picture; he chose to speak to the subjects themselves (no spokespeople!); and those he interviewed got no coverage elsewhere.

2 November, 8 p.m. (doors open at 7.30 p.m.)
Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam

Tickets: €17,50 (regular) / €12,50 (Friends of the Initiative Narrative Journalism Netherlands and full time students - on presentation of a student card)

Tickets for the Gerard van Westerloo Lecture are for sale in our webshop.

Review Conference Narrative Journalism 2017

" Lots of tears in the audience and a lot on stage as well. Lots of laughter too. That’s a storytelling conference"  Nathan Vos summarizes our conference in his tweet perfectly. With a lot of emotion the speakers of the Narrative Journalism Conference 2017 told about their successes, their doubts, their methods and most importantly, their stories.

Did you miss our conference? Or do you want to go back to all the emotions of the day? Fleur Born made a short after movie and Joris Vernrooij a lovely radio report.


Conference 2017: Amplify Your Story

Warning: this years conference is not for stubborn lone wolfs.

An extraordinary narrative is not created in a vacuum; it's a process. That's why the Amsterdam Narrative Journalism Conference on the 18th and 19th of May is entitled "Amplify Your Story".

As the award-winning journalists at this year's conference will show us, a great story is always the result of teamwork. It takes a team to find the right topic; to bring out the best possible story; to distribute the work – and getting it to resonate.

We're happy to announce that this year's conference is curated by journalism professor Jacqui Banaszynski, a Pulitzer-winning journalist who has also helped other journalists receive accolades. For this year's event, she has invited a team of journalists that have managed to amplify their stories by working together. Enjoy their thrilling true stories, their passionate talks – and learn how their brilliant work came about.

Do you want to know more? Go to the conference page!