5 Pulitzer winners to join storytelling summit at UF


Published: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 6:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 6:37 p.m.

Thirty accomplished writers, among them five Pulitzer Prize winners and 10 UF alumni, will converge to share their insight and experiences on topics including photography, book publishing and fiction and nonfiction writing at a University of Florida workshop May 14 to 16.

Facts

About the 2-day summit

What: University of Florida Storytellers’ Summit, a two-day writing and storytelling workshop featuring five Pulitzer Prize winners and several best-selling authors who will discuss craft secrets for journalism, fiction, non-fiction and visual storytelling

When: Opening reception Friday, May 14, workshop events are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 15 and 16

Where: University of Florida Weimer Hall

General registration: $160 for both days or $80 for each day

Students and educators: $60 for both days

University of Florida College of Journalism students and faculty: free

To register or for more information, visit www.jou.ufl.edu/storytellers

The College of Journalism and Communications will sponsor the first-ever Storytellers’ Summit, which was created to make up for many canceled writers’ conferences due to media budget cuts and was named to emphasize that writing is not the sole medium for sharing tales.

“I really have a lot of faith in storytelling,” said William McKeen, professor and chairman of the Department of Journalism. “We get too caught up in technology, and I want us to be storytellers’ school.”

The conference is open to the public for $160 and students and educators for $60. Students, faculty and 2010 graduates within the UF College of Journalism may attend the workshop at no cost. Registration will remain open through the event.

Professor Mike Foley said he hopes more than 200 people will attend the workshop.

Carlos Frias, features writer for The Palm Beach Post, UF alumnus and author of the 2008 memoir “Take Me With You,” will speak about introspective writing and finding universal themes.

“Storytelling is the way that we chronicle who we are as people, who we are as a nation, who we are as neighbors,” he said. The event is a treasure trove of serious journalists and storytellers, he said.

“I’m a little fish there, you know? I’m looking forward to hearing accomplished writers talk about different avenues of writing,” he said. The event is a learning opportunity and should be an inspiration for writers with all levels of experience.

“You always really respect the amount of work that goes into a great story,” he said. “It’s like a combination of inspiration and jealousy, and you think like ‘Man, I want to be that good,’ and it forces you to think when you go out for the next story.”

Other Guests include Roy Peter Clark, director for The Poynter Institute, best-selling crime author and UF alumnus Michael Connelly and David Finkel, reporter for The Washington Post and author of the recent Iraq war chronicle, “The Good Soldiers.”

“They’re doing it for the love of the craft and expenses,” Foley said. The speakers are enthusiastic about their fields and are driven to improve and help others improve – traits that should provide inspiration to aspiring storytellers, he said.

The workshop will offer special areas of focus including writing for entertainment, biographies, health and sports.

In addition to speeches and presentations, most speakers will hold question-and-answer sessions, and sell their books between sessions. There will also be many mingling and networking opportunities, including a cocktail reception and dinners with the speakers.

Ashley Hemmy, president of the Society of Professional Journalists at UF, said the variety of presentations allows attendees to learn about different methods of storytelling and demonstrates different career paths within the media, she said.

It also offers students the chance to meet the writers they learn about in class, such as Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg, she said. His book “Somebody Told Me” was required reading in McKeen’s Introduction to Journalism class, and Foley mentions his work frequently.

“These are the people we hear about, the people we want to be,” she said. “It’s not so often that we get to meet journalists and hear their experiences and how they got where they are.”

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