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Remembering Jon Franklin: A Legacy of Storytelling and Journalism Excellence

In Memoriam: A Pioneer of Narrative Journalism

The journalism world mourns the loss of Jon Franklin, a towering figure in narrative journalism and a revered writing teacher, who passed away on January 21, 2024, at the age of 82. Franklin’s contributions to the craft of storytelling and his unwavering commitment to journalism education earned him two Pulitzer Prizes and established him as a legend in the field.

Jon Franklin’s Journey: From Navy Sailor to Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

Born in Enid, Oklahoma, on January 13, 1942, Franklin’s early life was marked by frequent moves due to his father’s itinerant construction electrician work. Despite the transient nature of his upbringing, Franklin’s passion for writing was ignited by his father’s encouragement. After graduating high school, Franklin embarked on a transformative eight-year journey in the Navy, where he honed his journalism skills at All Hands magazine.

Returning to civilian life, Franklin pursued a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, graduating in 1970. His journalism career began at the Prince George’s Post, followed by a stint at the Baltimore Evening Sun. Franklin’s keen interest in science propelled him towards science reporting, a field he believed held immense importance in educating the public. His groundbreaking work in this domain garnered widespread recognition and accolades, culminating in two Pulitzer Prizes, solidifying his status as a journalistic luminary.

From Pulitzer Laureate to Inspirational Educator: Nurturing the Next Generation of Storytellers

After securing his second Pulitzer Prize, Franklin embarked on a new chapter in his career, transitioning from journalism to teaching. He graced the halls of Towson State University, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and his alma mater, the University of Maryland, inspiring generations of journalists and writers. Franklin’s dedication to storytelling and his unwavering belief in the significance of everyday life infused his teaching approach, shaping the minds of countless aspiring writers.

“Writing for Story”: A Masterclass in Narrative Journalism

Franklin’s seminal book, “Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by a Two-Time Pulitzer Prize Winner,” revolutionized the landscape of feature writing. This comprehensive guide provided a structured approach to crafting narratives that captivated readers and conveyed the essence of real-life stories. “Writing for Story” became an instant bestseller and remains an indispensable resource in the libraries of writers and journalists worldwide.

Narrative Journalism: Blending Literary Art with Journalistic Integrity

Franklin’s work epitomized the power of narrative journalism, seamlessly blending literary techniques with rigorous factual reporting. He emphasized the importance of creating compelling characters, building tension, and delivering a satisfying resolution, transforming everyday stories into captivating narratives. Franklin’s stories delved into the intricacies of the human condition, exploring the complexities of everyday life with empathy and depth.

The WriterL Community: A Vibrant Hub for Literary Exchange

Franklin’s passion for writing and his desire to foster a community of like-minded individuals led to the creation of WriterL, a groundbreaking online forum dedicated to literary journalists. WriterL provided a platform for writers to engage in lively discussions about craft, share their work, and engage in thought-provoking debates. The online community attracted renowned authors and journalists, solidifying its status as a vibrant hub for literary exchange and collaboration.

A Legacy of Recognition and Enduring Influence

Franklin’s contributions to journalism and writing education were widely recognized and celebrated. He received honorary degrees from the University of Maryland and Notre Dame de Namur University. The American Chemical Society bestowed upon him the prestigious James T. Grady Award, an honor previously bestowed upon the legendary Isaac Asimov.

Franklin’s influence on journalism education was profound. His teachings and his book “Writing for Story” transformed the way narrative journalism was taught and practiced. He inspired countless students to pursue careers in storytelling and narrative journalism, leaving an indelible mark on the field. His legacy continues to live on through the work of his students and the writers he influenced.

A Farewell to a Storytelling Giant: Remembering Jon Franklin’s Enduring Legacy

Jon Franklin’s passing marks the loss of a true pioneer in narrative journalism and a dedicated educator. His work transformed the field of journalism, elevating storytelling as a legitimate and powerful form of nonfiction writing. Franklin’s influence extends far beyond his own writing, as his teachings and mentorship continue to shape the work of countless journalists and writers. We bid farewell to a storytelling giant whose legacy will continue to inspire and guide generations to come.