Anne Hull and Dana Priest on their Walter Reed stories

Anne Hull and Dana Priest on their Walter Reed stories

The award-winning Washington Post reporters describe how they went about their work.

by: Anne Hull, Dana Priest | publication date: July 4, 2007 | Publication: Nieman Watchdog |

Anne Hull: We never really thought of the word “narrative” when we set out to do the Walter Reed story. We didn’t consciously think about the words that you often hear at these conferences: voice, sequencing, empathy, storytelling. But in the end, all those elements ended up being in the piece. In traditional feature writing we seek to illuminate, but this kind of journalism sought to expose and bring about change. My colleague, Dana, had plenty of experience as a journalist who exposed illegal deeds and wrongdoing. Her reporting on the CIA’s secret prison sites around the world created a firestorm. She lives and breathes for impact. The highest impact journalism I had ever done was making someone cry. So we really brought a couple of separate approaches to our journalism. And in narrative journalism, in particular, we think of highly conceived stories. This story came about in the most old-fashioned, mundane way. Dana was sitting at her desk and her telephone rang, and she picked it up.

From the introduction to the report: "On the second morning of the Nieman Foundation’s three-day 2008 Conference on Narrative Journalism, Anne Hull, a 1995 Nieman Fellow, and Dana Priest, who investigated and wrote The Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage that exposed harsh conditions for injured soldiers and Marines at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, spoke about “Creating an Investigative Narrative.”"

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