My role

My name is Geoffrey Gevalt. I am a writer, editor, photographer and storyteller. For 33 years I was a professional journalist, mostly with newspapers, first as a reporter, then as an editor and then as a newsroom leader. Stories I have led – either as a writer or editor or both – have won many regional and national awards. At the Akron Beacon Journal, where I headed local news, the newsroom was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for our work in examining how race affects people’s lives and in fostering conversations of change with hundreds of community organizations. I was the lead editor of a re-do of the series three years later in anticipation of President Bill Clinton’s town meeting on race held in November 1997. I later was managing editor of The Burlington Free Press where we were the smallest newspaper ever awarded The George Polk Award for Journalistic Excellence for two investigative series. I also served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes.

In 2006, I was given an unsolicited grant by the Vermont Business Roundtable to found Young Writers Project as a nonprofit aimed at helping young people find voice and improve communication skills. Since that time, YWP has connected with 110,000 young people, trained 2,000 teachers in effectively using digital media to foster youth voice and to improve students’ writing skills. In July 2018, I stepped down as executive director of YWP and now work part-time on special projects, mentoring young writers, web development and teacher training. I am also doing several photography projects and have begun a novel.

Last year was my first year with WTS and I served as a mentor to two story groups, one an individual who created a video on autism and the other a group of three who did a story on the importance of art in school and in therapy.

This year, I am the WTS Story Coach. My plan is to:

  • Help you find and develop your ideas;
  • Offer you help on focusing those ideas into compelling storylines;
  • Provide guidance on storytelling, researching, interviewing and story execution.
  • Help you think about audience.

My strengths are in helping people – individually or in groups – to find the focus and power of their story, find concrete ways to accomplish their story and hone drafts to elevate the final work.  My technique is to get you to think, to “poke the bear” a bit with annoying questions and suggestions and help you recognize strengths and gaps in your own stories. Having worked with others to get a dailiy newspaper out every day, I also can help at ways you can accomplish what is needed that you think you can realistically achieve. My hope is that I can help you grow more excited about your stories. I am the outside eyes, as it were, to help you also consider how your audience will react to your work.

My emphasis, always, is to help you achieve a degree of quality and power in your stories that you did not think possible.

As some of you know, I also have been dropping in to read and give feedback on your blogs. I will be doing the same thing with your Google Drive documents on your story plans and progress. If you wish to see some of my own recent work, go to https://geoffreygevalt.com.  If you wish to share ideas, writing, digital media with some of your fellow artists, you are also welcome to join https://youngwritersproject.org which I like to say is an oasis of civility, respect and support.

And if you ever are in need of some quick feedback, drop me an email at ggevalt@gmail.com and I’ll take a look.

 

Geoff Gevalt

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