Journalists, authors take on the balance between news, storytelling and entertainment at Mayborn Conference

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - 08:12

What: “Are You Not Entertained? Real Stories, Real People, Real Storytelling” — The 14th annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, hosted by the University of North TexasFrank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism.

When: July 20 to July 22 (Friday to Sunday).

Where: Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, located at 1800 Highway 26 East in Grapevine, Texas.

Cost: Full registration is $225 for students and $425 for others and includes all speaker sessions and several meals. Tickets for the keynote dinner-only are available for $100. Registration will close when the conference is full. Register at

Contact: 940-565-4564 or

Media/photos: For press passes, contact or 940-369-7782. Speaker and post-event photos available upon request.


DENTON (UNT), Texas — Three authors with a gift for narrative nonfiction and news storytelling will headline the University of North Texas Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

Diana B. Henriques, a Pulitzer Prize finalist who has covered federal compensation after 9/11, financial exploitation of soldiers and the post-Enron scandals; Lindy West, who has been hailed by actress Lena Dunham for her efforts tackling topics around pop culture, body image and social justice; and Christopher Goffard, the voice behind the popular “Dirty John” investigative podcast, the story of an Internet dating pursuit gone horribly wrong, will share their experiences and expertise reporting on news in unique ways.

Themed “Are You Not Entertained? Real Stories, Real People, Real Storytelling,” this year’s event addresses the art of storytelling in an era where journalists must not only inform but also entertain. The event is hosted University of North TexasFrank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism and will take place July 20 – 22 (Friday – Sunday) at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, located at 1800 Highway 26 East in Grapevine, Texas.

Details about the keynote addresses

  • The Southwest Soiree at 6:30 p.m. July 20 (Friday): Veteran business journalist Henriques will discuss how she revealed the wrongdoings of Bernie Madoff and others like him who take advantage others trust. She’ll talk about how she broke down and dissected Madoff and the Stock Market crash of 1987 in ways to make these complex, wonky stories into compelling narratives or as she puts it, “What Hollywood taught me about writing narrative nonfiction.”
  • The Literary Lights Dinner at 8 p.m. July 21 (Saturday): In her talk, West will offer her blunt, no-holds-barred insights about how she fought off Internet trolls and body-shamers and learned how to survive in a world where gender bias, hate-speak and incivility have become the norm.
  • The closing address at 11 a.m. July 22 (Sunday): Goffard, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Los Angeles Times writer whose work regularly appears in the Best American Newspaper Narratives, will discuss how he tracked down the man behind “Dirty John,” how he gained the trust of those involved and how he approaches storytelling about evil men in print and audio.

Additional featured speakers

Beyond the keynote speakers, nearly three dozen prominent journalists, nonfiction authors and literary agents will lead discussions for conference workshops, including:

  • Marcia Allert – Award-winning Dallas Morning News director of photography.
  • Farley Chase – Literary agent and former journalist.
  • Alfredo Corchado – Author of “Midnight in Mexico,” an account of his personal journey reporting on drug trafficking and government corruption, and “Homelands,” a memoir on immigration that hits home in the U.S., and a Dallas Morning News correspondent covering the border.
  • Melissa del BosqueAn investigative reporter and a Lannan reporting fellow with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.
  • Jim DonovanFounder and president of the Dallas-based Jim Donovan Literary agency.
  • Manny Fernández – The Houston bureau chief for the New York Times. Among his topics, he’s covered the Ebola crisis in Dallas and rioting in Ferguson, Mo.
  • Valeria Fernández – An award-winning journalist who reports on Arizona’s immigrant community and whose recognition for her work covering underrepresented to misrepresented communities includes receipt of the inaugural American Journalism Mosaic Award.
  • Gus Garcia Roberts – A Los Angeles Times investigative reporter and a 2014 Pulitzer Prize finalist for efforts on a series on police misconduct.
  • Vanessa Grigoriadis – A long-form writer for the New York Times magazine and Vanity Fair whose book, “Blurred Lines,” is about sexual assault on college campuses and ties into the #MeToo movement.
  • Jeff Guinn – An award-winning, former investigative journalist and the bestselling author of numerous books, including “Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde.”
  • Brantley Hargrove – A Dallas-based journalist and author of “The Man Who Caught the Storm: The Life of Legendary Tornado Chase Tim Samaras,” in which Hargrove pursued violent storms – including a Category 4 hurricane and twin EF4 tornadoes – to gain firsthand experience of storm chasing. 
  • Jemele Hill – 2018 National Association of Black Journalists journalist of the year whose work for ESPN’s The Undefeated explores the fusion of sports, race and culture, including her headline-making conversation around NFL players’ stances on the national anthem and President Donald Trump.
  • Skip HollandsworthTexas Monthly executive editor and a recipient of the National Magazine Award, the industry’s equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize, for his story about a young man who spent 33 years in his bedroom unable to move because of a devastating football injury.
  • Tom Huang – The Dallas Morning News Sunday & enterprise editor and an editing fellow at The Poynter Institute.
  • Max Linsky – Co-founder of Longform and a co-host of the Longform podcast, a weekly conversation with a nonfiction writer on how they tell stories and the podcast company behind “Missing Richard Simmons.”
  • Naomi Martin – A Dallas Morning News enterprise and investigative reporter who has written narratives on Hurricane Harvey rescuers and a cowboy church hurt by a mass shooting, among other topics.
  • Kevin Merida – An ESPN senior vice president and editor in chief of The Undefeated, as well as co-author of “Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas.”
  • Ben Montgomery – A former reporter, writer and New York Times-bestselling author of “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk.”
  • David R. Patterson – A literary agent who represents a wide variety of narrative and idea-driven nonfiction and literary fiction, with an emphasis on journalists, public figures, scholars and performers.
  • Monte Reel – A Bloomberg writer and narrative nonfiction author whose latest book, “A Brotherhood of Spies,” is about U-2 spy planes and the 1960s Soviet Union.
  • BJ Robbins – Founder of BJ Robbins Literary Agency, which represents both fiction and nonfiction, with a particular interest in memoir, biography, history, pop culture, sports, travel/adventure, medicine and health.  
  • Kate Rodemann – Deputy editor at Highline, the HuffPost’s digital magazine, which specializes in narrative and investigative journalism.
  • Stephen Rodrick – A contributing editor for Rolling Stone, a writer-at-large for Esquire and author of The Magical Stranger, an account of his life growing up the son of a Navy pilot who was killed when he was 13.
  • Avi Selk – A Washington Post general assignment reporter whose work is anything but ordinary and includes coverage of memorable stories, such as researchers plan to find the elusive Loch Ness monster, written on tight deadlines. He is also a previous reporter for the Dallas Morning News.
  • Dianne Solis – A Dallas Morning News senior writer, who’s written about people crossing borders, refugees from Iraq and children seeking asylum.
  • Jerry Stahl – The author of nine books, including the bestsellers “Permanent Midnight,” a memoir, and the novel “I, Fatty.”
  • Josh Susong – A Pulitzer Prize-winner and senior news director at the Arizona Republic and the USA TODAY Network who was on the team that multimedia piece “The Wall,” that dispersed reporters along the entire proposed route of the Mexico border wall.
  • Christina M. Tapper – Managing editor at Bleacher Report, where she helped launch the multiplatform digital sports magazine B/R Mag in 2016.
  • Andrea Valdez – Editor of and the author of “How to Be a Texan: The Manual.”
  • Chris Vognar – Dallas Morning News culture critic and an award-winning journalist.
  • Denise Kersten-Wills – A senior editor for The Atlantic, responsible for profiles and features and also producing special editorial packages.
  • Hannah Wise – Dallas Morning News engagement editor, a role in which she oversees the newsroom's social media strategy and seeks ways to cultivate conversation around the News' journalism.
  • Evan Wright – A two-time recipient of the National Magazine Award known for his work covering crime stories, profiling outsiders and embedding in wars. “Generation Kill,” his book on the Iraq War, was made into a miniseries for HBO.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108