Narrative journalism and the reporters who write it
Author Archives: matttullis
Matt Tullis is the author of Running With Ghosts: A Memoir of Surviving Childhood Cancer. He is the director of Digital Journalism at Fairfield University, and is the host and producer of Gangrey: The Podcast.
The story goes deep behind the scenes of Adam’s life. That’s something that doesn’t happen often in profiles of star athletes. Fader spent a great deal of time talking with Adams, his wife, and his mother, and came away with a story that shows exactly how the wide receiver has been impacted by becoming a father.
In Fader’s last year at Bleacher Report, she wrote two pieces about the heart-breaking deaths of two athletes. One of those stories was focused on Gigi Bryant, Kobe’s daughter, who died in the helicopter crash one year ago. The other story was about California Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died of an accidental drug overdose in 2019. Fader said learned so much about empathy in reporting those pieces.
Fader has been noted in Best American Sports Writing twice. She was also a finalist for the Dan Jenkins Medal in 2020.
She is currently writing a book about Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. That book will be released in August 2021 by Hachette Books.
Icebound is a gripping piece of narrative journalism focused on European arctic explorers in the 16th century. At the center is William Barents, one of the greatest navigators of the time who’s obsessive quest to sail through the most remote regions of the Arctic ended in both tragedy and glory.
Pitzer did an amazing amount of research in order to tell this centuries-old tale. For Icebound, Pitzer made three trips to the Arctic herself. She spent a great deal of time in archives and libraries. She even walked through a replica of the yachts that sailed in the 16th century.
Pearson’s book tells the story of Japanese internment camps during World War II, and a very special high school football team. That team offered hope to those who were being held in an internment camp on the outskirts of Cody, Wyoming.
Pearson spent a lot of time in historical archives to tell this story. It’s something he’s always enjoyed doing. He likes looking for a needle in a haystack, for a bit of information that ties everything together. He went to the National Archives, as well as archives in Wyoming and at UCLA.
Since joining the podcast, Laskas has written two books, bringing her total to eight. In 2015, “Concussion” was released. That book expanded her 2009 story “Game Brain,” which is also discussed in this show. The book was turned into a feature film starring Will Smith.
“Stories are how we understand the world, or how we share our experiences,” he said in the show. “They’re how we communicate with loved ones. So it’s very elemental stuff for human beings. So it’s only natural that telling stories as journalists would also be really important.”
When Wilson was a top editor at the Tampa Bay Times, the newspaper started publishing Encounters. The front page series consisted of short, interesting stories that one would not define traditionally as news.
“It was supposed to be a really enjoyable five to six minute read for readers,” he said. “The Michael Kruse story about the guy teaching his daughter to ride a bike, there was absolutely nothing special about that story and then everything was special about it. It described this moment that probably just about every parent has been through of setting up your child on two wheels for the first time and letting go and watching them take those first few kind of halting pedaling steps forward and it was just this absolutely beautiful capturing of a universal moment.
Pappyland had a strange route to publication. It was initially supposed to be a book Thompson ghost-wrote for Julian Van Winkle. Van Winkle is a bourbon genius who found a way to rebuild a business that was built by his grandfather and lost by his father.
But ultimately, Thompson saw the book become something more, a book about a man who makes bourbon, and one who drinks it.
The book is also about fatherhood. It’s about both Thompson’s father, who passed away several years ago, and Thompson, who in the book, is in the process of becoming a father.
It’s almost magical that just five days before Pappyland was released, Thompson’s second daughter was born.
Pappyland is actually Thompson’s second book. His first, The Cost of These Dreams, is an anthology of his best work from ESPN. He’s still writing longform narrative pieces for ESPN. He’s also producing the TV series True South, which focuses on southern food and culture. The show airs on the SEC Network.
Thompson was a guest in the early days of the podcast. He was featured on Episode 11 in October 2013. At the time, we talked about his profiles of Michael Jordan and legendary wrestling coach Dan Gable.
John Woodrow Cox is an enterprise reporter for the Washington Post. He’s currently writing stories focused on how the COVID pandemic is impacting children.
On October 7, the Post published his latest story, about the Marquez-Greene family in Connecticut. They lost their daughter Ana at Sandy Hook, and recently had to make a hard decision as to whether they would send their 16-year-old son Isaiah back to school in the middle of the pandemic.
Cox was on Gangrey: The Podcast way back on Episode 12 in October 2013. At the time, he was a reporter at the Tampa Bay Times. In that episode, we talked about his series of stories for the Floridian titled “Dispatches from next door.” They included one about a woman who was only able to find peace on the ocean.
We also talked about his coverage of cops, and one story in particular, about a 9-month-old who drowned in a family swimming pool. Cox said that story has had a lasting impact on him as a reporter.
The Stacks Reader is a treasure trove of classic magazine journalism and other writing that otherwise might be lost to history. Belth has built this archive largely by himself, reaching out to writers and their families and obtaining the rights to republish.
Most recently, Belth has been adding stories to The Stacks Reader written by Ron Rosenbaum, who has written for The Village Voice, Esquire, Harper’s, Vanity Fair, and many more publications.
Belth recently received the 2020 Tony Salin Memorial Award from The Baseball Reliquary. He was honored for his work on The Stacks Reader and Esquire Classic, as well as his own baseball writing.
He wrote “Stepping Up,” a biography of St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Curt Flood. In 2012, he wrote the essay “The Two Rogers” for SB Nation Longform. That piece was about the death of Belth’s father, but also the writings of Roger Kahn and Roger Angell.
Back in November, podcast host Matt Tullis talked with Chris Jones. Tullis wanted to talk with him about writing for a book he’s working on, a book focused on how to report and write narrative journalism.
They also talked about Jones making the move to screenwriting.
Jones made quite a career for himself at Esquire. He was regularly included in Best American Sports Writing for work he did for ESPN The Magazine. Now he’s a writer for the Netflix show Away. The show is loosely based on Jone’s Esquire story with the same title. That show will likely be released later this year.
Jones was on the podcast back in January 2014. At the time, he talked about his Feinberg piece, as well as a story he wrote about what happened on Air Force One immediately after President John F. Kennedy was killed.
The story is about two bicyclists who were riding in opposite directions on thousand-mile journeys. They just so happened to cross paths in the middle of a desert. Cross first heard about these two men five years ago, and fought long and hard to find a home for the story.