The 2020 Mayborn Conference Goes Virtual


Enjoy the nation’s premier literary nonfiction conference from the safety of your own home.

Thank you to all the Mayborn Conference champions who responded to our recent survey. You spoke loudly; more than three-fourths of you said you’d value the same rich content we provide every year, but would prefer to attend in a virtual format.

So, we’ve re-imagined our 2020 event, making sure we include the same amazing programming while also working to include many innovative features that will provide the interactivity, networking and close interactions with panelists and speakers that’s long been a part of the Mayborn experience.

We’re thinking a new online format will not only carry forward everything that’s always been a part of the Mayborn Conference, but make the experience even more enriching – with broader reach to some of the nation’s top journalists, writers, authors and storytellers. We’re also looking to attract a larger audience, including students, from all across the nation.


Make plans now for October 16 – 18. Your cost? Just $99.

Our theme for this year couldn’t be timelier: “20/20: Bringing Truth Into Focus.” Journalism and storytelling are facing enormous pressures to remain focused and relevant. At a time when reporters and broadcasters are often referred to as enemies of the people, the importance of staying laser-focused on facts and truth is fundamental to keeping audiences informed and equipped to act.

2020 has been a momentous year. With a global pandemic, economic crisis and a movement for social justice and police reform, journalists and writers are working harder than ever before to cut through the clutter to bring truth into focus. You can be a part of it all for only $99.

Livestreaming via the conference website.

All keynotes and planned sessions and panels will be livestreamed and archived on the Mayborn Conference website. You’ll receive access codes and instructions upon registration, which will begin in early August. Watch for further Mayborn communications with additional details.

A full weekend of awesomeness, just like every year.

As always, this year’s conference will run from Friday evening, October 16, to Sunday morning, October 18. We’ve lined up outstanding keynote speakers for our Friday Southwest Soiree, our Saturday evening Literary Lights awards event, and a Sunday closer.

We’ll share updates on our specific schedule and lineup over the coming weeks, but just know that we have a stellar group of speakers and panelists planned for the entire weekend.

Along the way, we’ll have writing workshops for qualified entries to our writing contests, plenty of built-in networking events and quite a few extra surprises.

This year’s keynotes? Voices you need to hear.

Friday Evening: Sarah Broom

Broom is the author of the 2019 National Book Award Winner and instant New York Times bestseller The Yellow House, a brilliant, haunting and unforgettable memoir about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East. Sarah’s previous work has appeared in the New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Oxford American, and O, The Oprah Magazine among others. Broom is also an alumna of the Mayborn School of Journalism.


Saturday Evening: Major Garrett

Garrett was named CBS News' chief Washington correspondent in December 2018. As chief Washington correspondent, Garrett reports for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Garrett is also the host of "The Takeout," a weekly multi-platform interview show on politics, policy and pop culture available on CBSN, top radio stations across the country, and all podcast platforms.


Sunday: Gene Weingarten

Gene Weingarten is a Washington Post journalist. He writes long-form stories as well as Below the Beltway, the weekly syndicated humor column. His previous books include I’m With Stupid: One Man. One Woman. 10,000 Years of Misunderstanding Between the Sexes Cleared Right Up (with Gina Barreca); The Hypochondriac’s Guide to Life. And Death; Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs; and The Fiddler in the Subway, a collection of his best-known work.

Expect a Few Special Extras

We also have some special virtual events planned, so you’ll want to follow every hour of this year’s conference. Expect some fun and challenging writing events, a few surprise guests and some valuable networking opportunities.

Writing Contest deadlines extended

The deadline for submitting to our Ten Spurs Journal writing contest (Reported Narrative or Personal Essay) or to our Manuscript competition has been moved to September 15 at 11:59 p.m. Submit your best work for the chance to win our $1,500 prize for First Place in each of these categories.

Enter your work in our Biography Fellowship contest for a chance to workshop with some of the nation’s best biographers, plus earn $500 and free registration to next year’s Biographers International conference.

Learn more

Registration now open!

The 2020 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference is one you won’t want to miss – nearly two full days of insights and introspective from some of the foremost journalists and storytellers in the country.

Watch for more information as we finalize our always-good lineup of panelists and speakers. Check for the latest updates.

Registration now open. And, for only $99, you get the best seat in the house – your own couch or office chair.

Help us keep the Mayborn Conference strong

Show your support by giving to the Mayborn Conference. If you believe in the important work we’re doing to create a stronger community of journalists, writers, authors and storytellers, you can help us financially to ensure that we remain viable for years into the future.

Here's how

Check out photos from the 2019 conference

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The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference is a forum for journalists, writers, readers, students, educators and the general public to listen to, be inspired by and practice their craft at the highest possible level.

Every year, the Mayborn Conference gathers some of the most talented storytellers in the country to share their stories, life-changing experiences and expertise with aspiring writers through three days of lectures, panels, one-on-one sessions, student classes and keynotes. Aspiring and established storytellers, reporters, photographers and narrative nonfiction writers from all walks of life come together to learn, engage and network with the nation's best authors, journalists, editors and agents.

In addition, the conference includes a variety of writing contests for anyone from high school students to Pulitzer prize winning professionals. Winners in our reported narrative and personal essay contests also have their work published in the Mayborn's journal, Ten Spurs. Winners in our longform narrative contest for previously published newspaper works are included in our anthology, Best American Newspaper Narratives.