Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference brings journalism heavyweights to explore ‘Justice in America

Friday, July 12, 2019 - 17:58

What:Justice in America,” 15th annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference

When: July 19 – 21 (Friday – Sunday) 

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

Cost:Tickets range from $60 to $475. Register at

Photos: Download pictures from last year’s event.Photo credit: Hatch Visuals.

Background:The annual Mayborn Conference brings together more than 400 aspiring and established storytellers, photographers and journalists. 

“We’ve done our best to bring together some of the nation’s best storytellers,” said Neil Foote, conference co-director and principal lecturer in the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism, which hosts the event with the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism. “These journalists have devoted their careers to reporting, researching and writing stories that address everything from social justice, cultural divides, immigration, crime, justice and innocence.” 

Through a series of panels, workshops and mini-classes, participants will get an in-depth look at ways they can improve their own craft and fully embrace the art of great writing, intriguing narratives, podcasts and photography.


Featured Speakers 


Additional speakers include:

  • Laura Beil, a freelance medical journalist for the “New York Times,” “Texas Monthly” and others, as well as host of the Dr. Deathpodcast, which tells the story of a Dallas neurosurgeon and a media system which failed to protect his patients. The podcast was downloaded more than 25 million times. 
  • Ken Bensinger, a winner of the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine award, author and veteran journalist has worked at “The Wall Street Journal,” the “Los Angeles Times,” and, since 2014, for “BuzzFeed News,” as a member of its investigations team.
  • Pamela Colloff, an award-winning “ProPublica” senior writer and the “New York Times Magazine” writer-at-large. Her 2010 story, “Innocence Lost,” featured a wrongly convicted death row inmate and helped win the man, Anthony Graves, his freedom after 18 years behind bars. 
  • Ben Fountain, Dallas-based author of “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which was adapted into a feature film. Most recently, the fiction novelist crossed over into nonfiction for “Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion and Revolution,” a book that recounts a “surreal year of politics and an exploration of the third American existential crisis.” 
  • Patrick Hruby, a fellow at the University of Texas at Austin who has worked for the “Washington Times,” “VICE,” and ESPN and had articles published in “The Atlantic,” the “Best American Sports Writing anthology,” the “Los Angeles Times,” “Washington Post” and “Washingtonian.” 
  • Tom Huang, an assistant managing editor for journalism initiatives at “The Dallas Morning News,” where he is leading an effort to develop funding for local news and community engagement projects. Huang also is an adjunct faculty member of “The Poynter Institute,” where he has organized and taught seminars on reporting, writing, editing, ethics, diversity and leadership. He has launched two Knight Foundation-funded projects. 
  • Walter Kirn, an American true crime novelist, literary critic and essayist, most notably author of “Up in the Air,” which was made into a movie starring George Clooney. 
  • Randy Loftis, an award-winning journalist and UNT alumnus who worked more than 30 years as an environmental and investigative reporter for “The Dallas Morning News” and “The Miami Herald.” He is now a lecturer at UNT. 
  • Beth Macy, the author of three New York Times-bestselling nonfiction books. She writes about outsiders and underdogs. Her 2014 J. Anthony Lukas Prize-winning “Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town,” traced the aftereffects of globalization in America. 
  • Jeff Maysh, a longform author who has been included in “The Atlantic’s” “100 Exceptional Works of Journalism,” “Best American Sports Writing 2017,” and on’s list of “Most Read” stories. His story about a fast food fraud became one of last year’s most talked about magazine articles after revealing how an ex-cop stole millions in cash and prizes from McDonald’s famous Monopoly promotion. It created a heated Hollywood bidding war, in which Ben Affleck and Matt Damon purchased the film rights in a record-breaking deal.
  • Ben Montgomery,a Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of three books, including the New York Times bestseller “Grandma Gatewood's Walk,” which won the 2014 National Outdoor Book Award for History/Biography. 
  • Sonia Nazario, award-winning journalist and author of “Enrique’s Journey,” a powerful piece that recounts the quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mom 11 years after she left her starving family to find work in the U.S. 
  • Naveena Sadasivam, a staff writer covering the environment, energy and climate change at “Grist.” She previously covered environmental issues at “ProPublica,” where she helped report on the water woes of the West, a project that was a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist for national reporting. 
  • Albert Samaha, an investigative reporter at “BuzzFeed News,” a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and author of “Never Ran, Never Will: Boyhood and Football in a Changing American Inner City,” which was a winner of the New York Society Library’s 2019 Hornblower Award. 
  • Julia Flynn Siler, a New York Times best-selling author and journalist. Her most recent book is “The White Devil's Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco's Chinatown,” which the “San Francisco Chronicle” called "meticulously researched and inspiring." A veteran journalist, Siler is a longtime contributor and former staff writer for “The Wall Street Journal” and a guest commentator for many outlets. 

Speaker information and the schedule will be updated regularly on the Mayborn Conference website,

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Media Contacts:

Heather Noel