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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Pulitzer winner headlines writing workshop

Monday, September 27, 2010

GREENCASTLE -- Victor Merina, a Pulitzer Prize winner with the Los Angeles Times in 1993, will be in Greencastle for a series of talks, presentations and workshops this week as a part of the Putnam County Public Library's "This I Believe" series.

The "This I Believe" series focuses on the personal essays from the series of books of the same name, which contain essays on a variety of subjects.

"I don't intend to come to Greencastle as some know-it-all authority on writing essays," Merina said. "I do hope to share some of my thoughts on how you can overcome some of the challenges of writing personal essays and why it's important for people to value their individual voice.

"There is power in the personal essay, especially when we recognize how universal our beliefs or issues can be."

Merina received a Pulitzer Prize as a part of the Los Angeles Times coverage of the Los Angeles riots. He is currently a senior correspondent and special projects editor with Reznet, a website that focuses on Native American issues and indigenous people.

He is also a fellow for the Vietnam Reporting Project, which is investigating the effects of Agent Orange decades after the Vietnam War.

Merina said as a journalist he had some difficulty including himself as a part of his writing.

"When I was doing a lot of hard news reporting, the standards of the media didn't actually encourage first-person personal perspectives or even stories behind the story," Merina said.

"Part of it is the dread of writing about yourself or injecting yourself into the story," he said. "One thing that has helped me is the idea that, although it is written from your perspective and you are included, you're not necessarily the story. You're not the actual issue."

Merina said writing essays has helped him expand as a writer.

"I cover more types of subjects and I write in a freer style than I did when I covered hard news issues," he said. "It's helped me look at things differently."

On Tuesday, Merina will discuss some of his stories from Reznet in a talk called "Storytelling and a Diverse Society."

"I'll talk about my experiences covering Native American issues and indigenous people for Reznet and other media," Merina said. "I also will talk about covering other communities and the importance of authentic storytelling and committed journalists to accurately portray communities whose voices are often overlooked or unfairly rendered."

Merina said even groups that seem to be homogeneous have hidden depth.

"When we think of diversity, we think only or primarily in terms of race and religion," Merina said. "What we find out is that there are a variety of different kinds of diversity; within cultures, within different communities.

"As an example, some people think of Native Americans as one monolithic group, and in fact, the tribes see themselves as very distinct people within that larger group."

Merina's talk about the "This I Believe" series and essays in general will be at 7 p.m. tonight at the Putnam County Public Library. He will be at the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics at 7 p.m. Tuesday with "Storytelling and a Diverse Society."

On Wednesday, Merina will host an essay workshop at the library from 4:30 to 6 p.m. for high school students; a workshop for middle school students will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday.

The series continues from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, when Merina will hold an adult workshop.

All workshops are free, but require registration. To register, contact the PCPL reference desk at 653-2755 ex. 124. There are a limited number of seats.

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