Guest speaker to discuss storyteller's 'tightrope' when informing an audience

March 24, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The founder of an independent podcast studio, who previously worked as a reporter for Slate, the Boston Globe and the New York Observer, will share his experiences with students and the public during a free event and Q&A session March 30 as part of the Journalism Speakers Forum, which features weekly speakers during the spring semester at Penn State.

The session featuring Leon Neyfakh, titled “How to Tell a Story When You Don’t Know Who’s Listening,” will begin at 7 p.m. March 30 on Zoom.

Neyfakh is the host of “Fiasco,” co-creator of “Slow Burn” and founder of Prologue Projects, an independent podcast studio. He is the author of the book "The Next Next Level."

He said he believes the hardest part of communicating with a wide audience — in print or audio — is connecting to people with varying levels of preexisting knowledge. If communicators want to tell a story that is both surprising and clear (but never confusing or boring), and if they want to reach a diverse range of people, they have to make certain guesses about what will strike people as novel vs. familiar, what the audience will need help understanding, and what common reference points can be provided. Neyfakh will explain his approach to walking that tightrope during his talk.

The series of special guest presentations was coordinated by Will Yurman, the Norman Eberly Professor of Practice in Journalism in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Yurman serves as host for the weekly discussions. Videos of previous visitors for the forum may be found online.

  • Leon Neyfakh headshot

    Leon Neyfakh

    IMAGE: Photo Provided
Last Updated June 02, 2021