How can you convey the essential qualities of interesting subjects? How much context do you need to make your pitches come to life? We'll answer these questions and many more in this guide to the basics of journalistic profiles and immersive reporting.
During class, we'll read classic examples of the forms, discuss the essential qualities of on-ground reporting, and practice making these character- and scene-based pieces work. We'll also spend time constructing pitches and, finally, sending them out to editors. Participants will be asked to identify a subject of their choosing, workshop one pitch and one short (1000- to 1250-word) piece based on their subject, and read one article or excerpt a week. In effect, we’ll go through the entire process of profiling and/or in-person reportage, from recognizing a story idea to pitching it to finding your voice and approach.
This class will meet over our video chat platform. You will need to use Google Chrome to join your class meetings.
- How to find, approach, and capture the essence of great subjects
- How to make individual or immersive stories come to life on the page through research, context, and description
- How to successfully pitch these stories and work with editors
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Week One: Introductions and Subject-Finding. Who/what makes a good narrative journalism subject? How can we turn small stories in to big ones?
Reading for Week Two: Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s “A Most American Terrorist”
At-home assignment: Write one paragraph about your subject and why they should be written about now.
Week Two: Point of View. How do you approach your subject? How do you incorporate yourself into the story, if at all?
Reading for Week Three: Terry Southern, “Twirling at Ole Miss”
At-home assignment: 1000- to 1250-word introduction to your subject. Drop the reader in where they’ll see the most. How would you start a story about them? Why?
Week Three: How to report. What’s a good detail, or a good quote? How do you talk to subjects and find new angles? How much context does a reader need?
Reading for Week Four: Paige Blankenbuehler, “Cashing in on Standing Rock”
At-home assignment: Write a 3-paragraph pitch for the publication you’d most like to write this story for.
Week Four: Pitching. What makes a good pitch? How much leg work needs to be done beforehand? How can you get an editor’s attention?
At-home assignment: Get out there and connect with some editors!
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