Succinct and Purposeful

Diana Henriques’s Advice to Journalists Seeking to Captivate Their Readers

“In that short scene, Mark Madoff’s tantrum basically summarized five chapters from my book,” Diana Henriques said about the FBI interrogation scene in the HBO film adaptation of her book, The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust.


As the first keynote speaker at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, Henriques’s speech revealed a startling conclusion: today more and more people have to be entertained to read in the news. However, this gives journalists the wonderful opportunity to explore the world of technology and expand our skill set in telling stories to make journalism more engaging. While it may be disheartening thinking about the fast-paced, consumerist society we live in, it forces us to get creative, get our hands dirty and push the boundaries of storytelling from the inside out.

Henriques also pointed out that despite writing about financial investigations, Henriques adopts principles of screenwriting for journalism, even looking at weather reports for Washington D.C. to set the scene for the delivery of the Blue Ribbon Commission Report to President Reagan, which is a key event in her account of the 1987 Stock Market Crash. She emphasized the importance of contextual narrative and building the scenes through subtle descriptions of the time and place and through the pace of her writing. Relayed in her keynote speech, Henriques provided essential advice to journalists endeavoring to immerse their readers in their work.

“Read the pages aloud so the pace doesn’t lag…  but

is it the right pace?”


One anecdote she used describes her last-minute rewrite to readjust the pacing of her book A First-Class Catastrophe: The Road to Black Monday, the Worst Day in Wall Street History. When she got the page proofs back to do a final look over and catch the typos, she “was appalled it did not move quickly enough.”

Immediately she called her editor who told her to, “do what you need to do.” She looked to other authors to aid in her revisions and concluded the likeness she most desired was none other than thriller, crime fiction writer, Lee Child.

Page by page, she worked to provide a fresh and invigorating air to her novel. Henriques’s attention to detail when establishing scenes addresses the importance of a succinct and purposeful narrative: to entertain and inform readers.

Life as they know it: Alfredo Corchado on reporting from the Mexican Border



Journalism students sit down with Mexican Border correspondent for The Dallas Morning News Alfredo Corchado  to discuss the challenges of covering immigration today.


By: Ashly Ibarra, Ellen Daly, Elizabeth Pickett

Behind the Scenes

Tyrese Boone works the camera during the Saturday panels at the Mayborn LitCon July 22, 2017.

A group of Workshop attendees after interviewing Jeffrey Weiss. From left to right: Jennifer Zhan, Lauren Bannister, Lauryn Jones, Dylan Benson, Jeffrey Weiss, Molly Chambers, Alexis Rosebrock, Tanya Raghu, Juliette Strope, Sanjana Reddy, Nina Melishkevich, and Kayla Davis. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
Marj Maddie Tanya website
Tanya Raghu (right) and Maddie Badowski (middle) set up the group’s multimedia website with the help of Marjorie Asturias (left), Happiness Engineer at WordPress. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
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The High School Multimedia Workshop students gather in the Hilton DFW Lakes lobby to rundown the next day’s activities and receive assignments on July 21, 2017. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
dylan on floor
Dylan Benson takes a much needed break after a long day of interviewing panelists. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
SanjanaDylan on cam
Sanjana Reddy (left) and Dylan Benson (right) experiment with a professional camera for the first time. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
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A group of Workshop attendees and chaperones at the Mayborn LitCon Literary Lights Dinner on July 22, 2017. From left to right: Kayla Davis, Leah Waters, Molly Chambers, Tyrese Boone, Dylan Benson, Alleyah Brown, Olivia Betka, and Lauren Bannister. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
tanya and whittington
Tanya Raghu (left) speaks with Mike Wilson (right), Dallas Morning News editor, after he moderates a panel on Sunday morning. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
tyrese on cam 2
Tyrese Boone works the camera during the Saturday panels at the Mayborn LitCon July 22, 2017. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
bryan lockhead BTS fun
Bryan Lochhead, UNT Journalism Professor, shows students how to set up the camera before they interview speaker Jeffrey Weiss. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
BTS fun 2
Juliette Strope (left) films Dylan Benson (middle) and Molly Chambers (right) for the workshop introduction video at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center on July 22, 2017. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
Sanjana question
Sanjana Reddy asks personal narrative author Jia Tolentino how she deals with the reactions of family members to her stories. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
AlexisLaurynTroy on cam
Recent UNT graduate, Troy Guter, shows Lauryn Jones and Alexis Rosebrock how to handle and work a camera during interviews. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
Sanj Dyl Lauren behind cam
Dylan Benson (left), Sanjana Reddy (middle), and Lauren Bannister (right) prepare to interview journalist Jeffrey Weiss on July 22, 2017. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
jeff interview close
Dylan Benson (left) and Lauryn Jones (middle) interview Jeffrey Weiss about his life as a journalist and how brain cancer has affected it as Juliette Strope (right) films. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark
Alleyah Question
Alleyah Brown asks Scott Farwell how he remains impartial when investigating sources. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark