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The Long Lede

The Long Lede Initiative

Developing the next generation of longform writers

The Long Lede Initiative

Developing the next generation of longform writers
Straddling both the media and publishing worlds, longform factual writing plays an important role in reflecting and developing the Australian consciousness.

Longform factual writing appears in magazines, books, periodicals, newspapers, newspaper magazines and inserts, and online publications. What distinguishes it from other types of writing is not word count alone, but also the length and complexity of the process behind the word count.
Longform writing does not just report the who, what, when and where – it also explores the how and the why. Good longform writers step out of the daily news cycle and extract meaning from information.

They piece together complicated histories and conflicting viewpoints, wade through masses of data, seek out hard-to-access knowledge and people, travel to unfamiliar and sometimes remote locations, conduct in-depth interviews with a variety of sources and, most importantly, distil their hard work into a neat, finished product that is accessible for a popular audience.
But longform writing must be more than accessible. Because of its length — generally over 3000 words — it must also be gripping, to compel readers to go the distance. An arresting lede, a smart structure, narrative interludes, changes of scenery and carefully placed pauses all play their part in keeping a reader hooked until the end.

With so many elements, it is no wonder that the prospect of attempting factual longform is intimidating to new writers. And no wonder that longform writing isn’t cheap to produce.

But the market for longform is well and truly alive.

In an increasingly bewildering news cycle, editors and publishers recognise readers’ hunger for pieces that do more than provide information and report facts. They want writing that makes sense of the world. Longform prose can achieve this in ways that other formats cannot. Longform is also versatile – what starts as a brilliantly researched article can later become a podcast, a documentary, a book or a TV series.
Long Lede Mentoring Program: Masterclass Intensive

What is the Long Lede Initiative?

The Long Lede Initiative is a mentoring program aimed at pairing 10 aspiring writers with 10 seasoned mentors to develop a piece of longform factual writing, 5000 words in length. Mentees will develop their skills in crafting and pitching ideas, conducting research, interviewing subjects, fact checking, structuring and editing. Mentees will also attend a series of classes taught by masters of longform.

At the end of the process, mentees will have the opportunity to publish their 5000-word piece in a Penguin Random House anthology. By participating in the program, mentees will develop the skills, contacts and confidence to forge ahead with their longform portfolio.

Launch event

On 11 May 2022, JNI hosted the official launch of the Long Lede Initiative and formally opened applications to the program.

The event was hosted by Nick Bryant – author and former BBC broadcaster – and featured four mini masterclasses from four acclaimed journalists, including Amanda Hooton from Good Weekend, Mahmood Fazal from ABC, Rick Morton from The Saturday Paper and Rebecca Huntley – a freelance author, consultant and social trends researcher.

The speakers covered topics such as developing ideas, building trust with sources, collecting facts and story lines and structuring them into gripping narratives to hold a reader’s coveted attention.

Meet the cohort

Sam Elkin

Sam Elkin

Sam Elkin is a writer and radio maker living in Victoria. He is a co-editor of Nothing to Hide: Voices of Trans and Gender Diverse Australia and co-host of Triple R’s Queer View Mirror. Sam’s personal essays have previously been published in Growing Up in Country Australia, Kill Your Darlings, Overland and Resilience.

Arlie Alizzi

Arlie Alizzi

Arlie Alizzi is a Yugambeh writer living between Yawuru Country (Broome) and Wurundjeri Country (Melbourne). He is an editor for Magabala Books and has a PhD in Indigenous Literature. He is a member of First Nations arts collective ‘this mob’, based in Collingwood and was the inaugural writer in residence at MPavilion in 2018.

Penny Craswell

Penny Craswell

Penny Craswell is a writer, editor and curator, and author of Reclaimed: New homes from old materials and Design Lives Here: Australian interiors, furniture and lighting. She currently writes for Green magazine, Houses magazine, Art/Edit magazine and NGV magazine, and has been published widely in design publications around the world.

Claire Keenan

Claire Keenan

Claire Keenan is a journalist and producer. Currently she is a senior producer at Junkee media, where she produces and hosts the daily online show, The Junkee Takeaway. Claire holds a Bachelor of Media and Communications from UNSW. She has worked at bookstore Ariel and for the Sydney Writers' Festival organising regional programs.

Hessom Razavi

Hessom Razavi

Hessom Razavi is an Iranian doctor and writer based in Perth. In 1983 his family fled political unrest in Iran to settle in the UK before coming to Australia. His credits include the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, Newcastle Poetry Prize and Best Australian Poems 2016. In 2020 Hessom received the Behrouz Boochani Fellowship.

Dan Jervis-Bardy

Dan Jervis-Bardy

Dan Jervis-Bardy is a federal politics reporter for The Canberra Times and Australian Media Community. Born and raised in Adelaide, his path to a career in journalism began with a love of sport and passion for writing. He got his start with News Corp Australia, covering council politics and community news across suburban Adelaide.

Esther Linder

Esther Linder

Esther Linder is a photojournalist based in Melbourne, currently completing her Masters of Journalism. She has worked for the UN in Georgia on gender equality and is currently part of The Saturday Paper's digital editorial team. Esther has written for The Monthly, The Saturday Paper and appeared on the 7am podcast.

Liz Gooch

Liz Gooch

Liz Gooch is a Walkley Award winning journalist, editor and documentary producer. For the past nine years she has worked as a senior producer for 101 East, Al Jazeera's documentary program, and as a freelance writer. Liz has reported from Southeast Asia, Africa and Australia.

Jackson Ryan

Jackson Ryan

Dr Jackson Ryan is science editor of CNET.com He completed his PhD in 2017 and was a finalist for the Eureka Prize in 2020 and 2021 and a winner in 2022. He's been featured in the Best Australian Science Writing for the past four years. He lives and works on the land of the Gadigal people.

Wing Kuang

Wing Kuang

Wing Kuang is a digital and audio journalist at ABC News, producing on-demand audios for ABC Listen and covering China for ABC's digital platform. She is also the co-host of SBS podcast Chinese-ish. You can see her work in Guardian Australia, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald, Al Jazeera English, The Saturday Paper, Initium Media and WhyNot.

Why are we investing in longform?

Over the last two decades there has been less time, money and resources available for longform. Crucially, there is less time and opportunity to induct new journalists, many of whom may have only ever published short news stories to tight deadlines, into the world of longform.

And it’s not just journalists: the Australian longform writing scene comprises all sorts. Academics, think tankers, novelists, researchers, politicians, poets, artists, scientists, medical professionals – all kinds of people can and do contribute their writing to Australian longform, and we are all the richer for it.

But finding one’s way into longform is not easy. This is why the Judith Neilson Institute, in collaboration with Penguin Random House Australia and Copyright Agency, have developed the Long Lede Initiative.

Meet the mentors

Amanda Hooton

Amanda Hooton

Amanda Hooton is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and has been a longform staff writer with Good Weekend for over 20 years. Her work has been recognised with a Walkley Award for Australian journalism and a British Press Award. She is author of Finding Mr Darcy.

Margaret Simons

Margaret Simons

Margaret Simons is a journalist and author. She is also a journalism academic and Honorary Principal Fellow at the Centre for Advancing Journalism. She has won the Walkley Award for Social Equity Journalism, a Foreign Press Association Award and a number of Quill Awards. Penny Wong: Passion and Principle is her most recent book.

Michael Brissenden

Michael Brissenden

Michael Brissenden worked at the ABC for 35 years. He was Political Editor for the 7.30 Report, Defence and National Security Correspondent, presenter of the AM program, a foreign correspondent and a reporter with Four Corners. His first two novels were The List and Dead Letters and he is currently working on another crime novel.

Nick Feik

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the former editor of The Monthly magazine. He helmed the publication for 8 years, departing in May 2022. As a writer Nick has contributed to various Australian and international publications on politics, environmentalism, economics and popular culture. Prior to The Monthly he was programmer at the Melbourne International Film Festival. 

Victoria Laurie

Victoria Laurie

Victoria Laurie is a feature writer based in Perth. She writes for various publications, including The Australian Weekend Magazine, and has worked as a senior reporter for The Australian, ABC TV and radio and freelanced for many outlets. She is the author of The Kimberley: Australia’s Last Great Wilderness, and The Southwest: Australia’s Biodiversity Hotspot.

Matt Drummond

Matt Drummond

Matthew Drummond is the editor of The Australian Financial Review Magazine. In 2022 he launched Fin Magazine, a quarterly lifestyle title. He has previously been the editor of AFR Weekend and worked as the paper’s European correspondent. In 2008 he was a joint recipient of the Walkley Award for Business Journalism.

Richard Cooke

Richard Cooke

Richard Cooke is contributing editor at The Monthly and the former US correspondent. He is the author of 2 books and has written for Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Republic, WIRED and the Paris Review, among others. In 2018 he won the Mumbrella Columnist of the Year Award.

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is a contributing editor for The Monthly and is author of the forthcoming The Successor: The High-Stakes Life of Lachlan Murdoch and five other books, including Body Count: How Climate Change is Killing Us, which won the Non-Fiction Prize in the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2021.

Ceridwen Dovey

Ceridwen Dovey

Ceridwen Dovey writes both fiction and creative non-fiction. She has won an Australian Museum Eureka Award and UNSW Press Bragg Prize for longform science writing. Her essays have been published by newyorker.com, mithsonian Magazine, WIRED, VOGUE, The Monthly and Alexander. She is passionate about helping other writers find their voice on the page.

Maddison Connaughton 

Maddison Connaughton 

Maddison Connaughton is a journalist whose work has featured in the Guardian, the New York Times, Foreign Policy, Good Weekend and more. She was previously editor of The Saturday Paper. Before that she was features editor at Vice, where she was twice a finalist for the Walkley Award for Young Australian Journalist of the Year.

Meet the masterclass teachers

In October 2022 four of Australia’s leading longform writers delivered masterclasses to the LongLede cohort.

Nick Feik

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the former editor of  The Monthly magazine. He helmed the publication for 8 years, departing in May 2022. As a writer Nick has contributed to various Australian and international publications on politics, environmentalism, economics and popular culture. Prior to The Monthly  he was programmer at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Chloe Hooper

Chloe Hooper

Chloe Hooper is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. She has won numerous writing awards including a Walkley Award and the Victorian, New South Wales, West Australian and Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as the John Button Prize for Political Writing and a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing. She has written five books.

Richard Cooke

Richard Cooke

Richard Cooke is contributing editor at The Monthly and the former US correspondent. He is the author of two books and has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Republic, WIRED and the The Paris Review, among others. In 2018 he won the Mumbrella Columnist of the Year Award.

Greg Callaghan

Greg Callaghan

Greg Callaghan is Associate Editor at Good Weekend magazine, published weekly in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Prior to this, he was at News Limited for 17 years, 12 of those in senior writing and editing roles, including deputy editor on The Weekend Australian Magazine. He is the author of three books.

Meet the judges

Nick Feik

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the former editor of  The Monthly magazine. He helmed the publication for 8 years, departing in May 2022. As a writer Nick has contributed to various Australian and international publications on politics, environmentalism, economics and popular culture. Prior to The Monthly  he was programmer at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Maddison Connaughton

Maddison Connaughton

Maddison Connaughton is a journalist based in Sydney whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Good Weekend and more. She has experience as a producer across longform narrative print, video and audio journalism. She is the former editor of The Saturday Paper and is currently a correspondent for AFP.

Fenella Souter

Fenella Souter

Fenella Souter is an award-winning feature writer and former long-time editor of Good Weekend, in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, whose work has appeared in magazines and newspapers over many years. More recently, she has also worked as a radio producer, co-producing several documentary series for ABC Radio.

Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen

Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen

Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen is a Vietnamese-Australian writer and critic based in Melbourne. Her work has appeared in Meanjin, The Saturday Paper, Kill Your Darlings, SBS and Good Weekend, among others. She was an inaugural recipient of The Wheeler Centre’s Next Chapter fellowship in 2018 and a fiction judge for the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

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