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Channel: Narrative Storytelling Archives - The Open Notebook
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Annie Jacobsen on the Stories behind Secretive Government Research Programs

Annie Jacobsen’s reporting has illuminated some of the more clandestine—and sometimes scientifically and ethically murky—research projects undertaken by the United States military and intelligence...

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Martin Enserink Discusses the Sobering Impact of Covering Disease Research

These days, Science staff editor Martin Enserink is busy editing stories about COVID-19, but two years ago he was immersed in writing a feature about a Spanish doctor’s efforts in Papua New Guinea to...

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Lane DeGregory Follows a Family Waiting for a Medical Miracle

Tampa Bay Times reporter Lane DeGregory spent three years with a family as they waited for a medical miracle. DeGregory shares how she distilled 42 legal pads of reporting into “Lincoln’s Shot,” an...

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Samanth Subramanian’s A Dominant Character Recounts the Story of J.B.S....

For a large part of his life, J. B. S. Haldane was an unwavering devotee of science. Then, in 1948, as one of the foremost geneticists on the planet, Haldane was called upon to comment on a shaky...

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David Quammen on Traveling into the Past to Cover the Pandemic

No journalist understands the complexities of zoonotic diseases quite like David Quammen. In 2012, he published Spillover, a book predicting the arrival of a terrible pandemic, spurred by a novel...

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Geoffrey Kamadi Looks into a Threatened River Ecosystem in Kenya

In December 2020, Kenyan freelance science journalist Geoffrey Kamadi won the gold award in the small-outlet category of the 2020 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards for his investigative story for...

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Writing Vivid Scenes from a Distance: Lessons from Audio Producers

The pandemic left many writers without one of their main tools to write engaging scenes: going to places where they can experience the story firsthand. Many audio producers are accustomed to telling...

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Getting Started in Freelance Audio Journalism

With its immersive and intimate feel, audio storytelling gives print journalists new ways to invite an audience into a world. Radio shows and podcasts can use sound to convey the scientific process...

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Getting Personal: When and How to Write Yourself into Your Story

The first-person voice can make a science story more engaging or relatable. However, not every article will benefit from a personal touch, and putting one’s own experiences on the page may be...

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Juli Berwald’s Life on the Rocks Meditates on Coral Reefs, Motherhood, and...

In Life on the Rocks, scientist-turned-writer Juli Berwald paints a bittersweet portrait of coral reef loss and the scientists working against all odds to stop it. As she writes about corals, she...

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Ankur Paliwal Tells the Tale of a Rare Genetic Disorder and People Who Live...

In some remote places in India, a rare genetic disease called spinocerebellar ataxia has been affecting entire families and communities. Journalist Ankur Paliwal explored the disease, the politics of...

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Jamie Lauren Keiles Follows the Surgical and Philosophical Journey of...

In a piece for The New York Times Magazine, Jamie Lauren Keiles chronicles one patient’s phalloplasty, the years-long, multi-stage surgical construction of a penis. Keiles talked with Celia Ford about...

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How to Cultivate Narrative in Stories of All Lengths

We often reserve storytelling’s basic elements—characters, plot, scene, theme, and dialogue—for long-form work, where they can take root and bloom through intensive research, reporting, and editing....

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Choosing Unconventional Main Characters

Beyond the leading scientist behind a new discovery, whom should science journalists star as central characters in their reporting? Unconventional characters can take a story to greater depths,...

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Storygram: Fletcher Reveley’s “In El Salvador and Beyond, an Unsolved Kidney...

In his complex feature for Undark, Fletcher Reveley recounts the story of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin (CKDu) and the two main competing theories of the disease’s origin. Here, freelance...

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Using the Ladder of Abstraction to Elevate Science Stories

Specific details and abstract ideas are both essential pieces of vivid, narrative-driven stories. But it’s not always easy to partner the two. A tool called the ladder of abstraction can help writers...

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Wudan Yan Digs into the Hidden Costs of Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies make frequent headlines, but the noise pollution caused by the computers that produce them often remains hidden. In a feature for Popular Mechanics, science journalist Wudan Yan...

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Five Documentary Films That Make Science Shine

Documentary filmmaking offers a powerful alternative to print or audio for storytelling but might go overlooked by science journalists. Though the filmmaking process might seem daunting at first,...

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Casey Parks and Washington Post Pollsters Depict Trans Life in the U.S.

Amid rising anti-trans rhetoric and legislation, Washington Post social-issues reporter Casey Parks teamed up with pollsters Emily Guskin and Scott Clement to capture what it’s truly like to be trans...

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Storygram: B. “Toastie” Oaster’s “Pacific Lamprey’s Ancient Agreement with...

In October 2022, Indigenous affairs journalist B. "Toastie" Oaster wrote a High Country News feature about the fate of Pacific lamprey. This lushly written story explores how Indigenous peoples in the...

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