The three-day 2009 Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism ended yesterday. One of the most invigortaing three days.
I had no idea what I was in for when I signed up to volunteer. But to say that "it blew me away," would be an understatement.
From the moment Connie Schultz, Pulitzer-prize winning columnist began speaking at the keynote address, I knew I was in the right place. The Grand Ballroom at The Sheraton in Boston was filled with journalists and writers from The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Columbia University and The Poynter Institute. It would be hard to find a larger gathering of like-minded people who made a living from telling stories.
In the next 72 hours, I was swept away with Schultz speaking candidly about her family and how her personal ties affect her writing career. It was lively and upbeat, an uplifting talk. I heard Mara Schiavocampo, digital correspondent for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, talk about telling a story through video while making it sound so simple. And I heard Amy O'Leary, multimedia producer for The New York Times talk about doing the same through audio.
There was a "networking" lunch on Saturday afternoon where I munched on a turkey sandwich while in conversation with a travel writer for The Chicago Tribune. Did I mention that lunch was delicious, that came packed in a pretty cardboard box, complete with pasta salad and brownie? The writer was super nice too.
I had a chance to meet health editor for The Times of India, Kalpana Jain, who is a 2009 Nieman Fellow and such a lovely person.
I listened with wide-eyed fascination, wrote feverishly until the white pages of my notebook were covered in black squiggles and then sat back and smiled, partially happy about the fantastic event and partially to digest the four varieties of cheese and strawberries I had eaten during refreshments.
I can't wait until Nieman is back again next year.
On another note, Ying and I went running yesterday despite the temperature being all of 1 degree celcius, according to Indian standards. Bundled in sweatshirts and tracks, we pounded away at the pavement before we ready to call it a night. We headed back to my place, shared a dinner of palak paneer and naan (yeah, yeah, who's counting the calories anyway?) and then kicked back with ice-cream sandwiches to watch the latest episode of Desperate Housewives. Sigh...the simple joys of life.
On an entirely different note, I also made it all the way out to Gardner, Mass. and back all on my own today. That would be the equivalent of going between Bangalore and Mysore and returning. Sure, it's no major feat, but when the whole thing is planned on google maps using public transport, I think it accounts for something. Reason for going out to the industrial town was to interview the president of a federal credit union who was extremely warm and coopertative. Since we had to cut short the interview because of a "webinar" (I love that word) which she had to tend to, there's a possibility I may be Skyping with her in the future. Yes, I may succeed in convincing the president of a federal credit union to Skype with me to finish the interview.
I love the creative freedom(s) journalism allows.