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July 23, 2021

Breaking News and Feature Writing with Liam Boylan-Pett, Jonathan Gault and Erin Strout | The Magic Boost

The Magic Boost, a summer-long experience for 16 aspiring track & field storytellers representing all platforms of new media, is underway.

Over the course of eight sessions, the Magic Boost Class of `21 will be exposed to the wisdom and experience of numerous in-the-field experts to refine their skillset as the next generation of track and field storytelling.

For our fourth session of the summer, the group got to hear from’s Jonathan Gault, Women’s Running’s Erin Strout and Løpe Magazine’s Liam Boylan-Pett on breaking news and featuring writing.

Nikki Merrill, who runs and writes for Villanova University while posting her thoughts on running on her eponymous website, shared the following takeaways and lessons from the session…

Leave stories better than you found them

One way to do this is to share new perspectives and angles. The Fall, written by Liam Boylan-Pett of Løpe Magazine, is a great example of this. Many people remember the Big Ten Conference Championship’s 600-meter final race because Heather Kampf came back to win her heat after falling with 200 meters to go. But Liam shares a new perspective, proving that every story has more than one angle.

Stories never die

Stories don’t end with the submission button, they can always be revised and revisited. Even after publishing a story, you can always go back and make additions to accommodate for new information.

“Hurry Slowly”

Hard news and feature writing require a balance between completing a piece on time while also taking your time. Write too fast and you will inevitably miss parts of the story. Write too slow and the story might not be as relevant. Release stories in a timely manner while also being thoughtful and deliberate.

Strengthen your interpersonal skills

Storytelling requires interpersonal skills. First, you need to reach out to and introduce yourself to the potential subject. Then, you need to gain their trust so that they will feel comfortable opening up to you about their story. And finally, you need to cultivate an overall positive experience for them so that they will respect and recommend you as a storyteller. Be sure to treat people’s stories with dignity and respect.

There is more than one path

The people within this industry come from diverse backgrounds. Erin Strout majored in journalism and wrote about cops, city hall, and school board meetings before she started writing about running. Liam Boylan-Pett doesn’t write full time, but releases compelling stories once a month for Lope Magazine. They both prove that there is more than one path to storytelling. Don’t be afraid to take an untraditional route and go “off track”!

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