MNF Storytelling course: Apply now!

May 2024 course enrolment open

The purpose of telling stories is to help people make sense and order of what’s going on around us, and to engage, inform and empower the public.

Choose what to cover. Use your knowledge, background and lived experiences to get to the core of what’s happening and why. Cover the stories that no one else will, and report on the big stories in your own way. Explain why the public should care, and advocate for the communities involved. Go even further and organise, bringing communities together to find solutions.

This is independent journalism through the power of storytelling and we need more of it.

Arranging the exhibition of my young students in Barrio San Cristóbal

I tell stories for El País, the Guardian, BBC, Al Jazeera, and, of course, my own blog, MNF. I cover a broad range of topics such as housing inequality and migration, but also food and culture. I’ve run headlining articles and broke stories to the world, and I’ve conducted my own investigations, for example, on Madrid’s human zoo, exploitation surrounding border deaths, and the life of a young migrant during his first year in Spain.

But one of my greatest passions is teaching. I run journalism and photography courses at universities, for professional journalists looking to expand their field, and for marginalised groups for whom journalism may not have previously seemed a career option, such as the kids of Barrio San Cristóbal, and the elderly residents of Carabanchel.

I also put on free educational talks in local community centres, in trade unions and in universities, in both English and Spanish. My most recent talk, The Violence of Gentrification, had over 300 people attend in Madrid.

And yet I have no training in journalism, like many good journalists.

My talk, The Violence of Gentrification, inside Espacio Loseta, Lavapiés, where this course will be held

You don’t need a degree in journalism to be a journalist – only 12% of journalists have one. Just start telling stories.

I acquired my earliest storytelling skills by creating MNF and now I’m also writing for national newspapers, but I could have accelerated much faster if I’d had the guidance I’m offering in this course – even just to know that it’s a genuine possibility for someone like me to be a journalist.

It’s so important that the people telling stories have a variety of perspectives. The journalism sector has systematically excluded people from minority backgrounds for centuries, meaning what we read has probably gone through an elitist filter. We need storytellers who reflect the general population: a diversity of class, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, geography, politics, background and lived experiences.

You don’t have to fit into the elite journalism world – I don’t and never will – but I’m not trying to. I’ve carved out my own niche and, though doing so, I’m the proud editor of a well-known and respected local platform, and make valuable journalistic contributions to the biggest newspapers in the world.

If I can do it, so can you.

Enrol onto my course now and become a Storyteller of the Future!

My Photographers of the Future class of 2023

About the course

I’m Leah Pattem and will be your teacher this semester. Having previously run five successful booked-out courses on blogging, photography and journalism, I’m delighted to be offering this brand-new course and bringing more niche storytellers into the industry.

Class 1: Investigation, ethics and media law basics

In the first session, I’ll show you how I began my career in journalism from scratch, and take you behind the scenes of my most iconic stories and through some of my biggest investigations.

We’ll examine the entire story-production process: how to acquire first-hand information and turn this into comprehensive and proportionate knowledge that empowers the public; how to use data, graphs and maps to assist stories; and how to ensure that numbers don’t dehumanise populations.

We’ll talk ethics, media law and professional standards. Learn how to approach and interview vulnerable sources, community leaders, politicians and more, and how to build trust with your sources – and keep it.

Class 2: Photography and visual storytelling

In session two, we’ll focus on the power of storytelling through photography. Learn how to create a visual archive of our time, from developing an idea right through to creating a finished reportage, and how to accompany your reportage with writing that both reflects and empowers the images.

We’ll explore various styles of photography: social documentary, street photography, portraiture and many more, which help us tell stories in different ways for different audiences.

Class 3: Hard reporting and creating your niche

Session three dives into hard reporting and fast news, and how to cover stories for both a local and global audience, quickly.

Then we’ll find your niche.

Thanks to blogs and social media, journalism now has the potential to serve everyone. What was once considered underground press is now in the mainstream, and diverse voices are creating their own spaces. In this final part of the course, I’ll show you how to create your own niche and begin your adventure telling the stories that you want to be told.

Workshop details

Who can enrol?

This course is for anyone interested in storytelling, writing and photography – no experience or equipment needed.

Course details

  • Three face-to-face workshops over three consecutive weeks in May and June 2024
  • Dates & times: Wednesday of 22 May, 29 May and 5 June from 19h to 21h
  • Course venue: Espacio Loseta, Lavapiés (Google maps link)
  • Limited places available

Prices & discounts

I’ve set my prices significantly lower than industry rates because I want this course to be accessible to everyone.

  • €100 early-enrolment price available until 3 May
  • €130 course price after 3 May
  • Discount: Become a €5 annual Patron and access a 10% discount (applicable to the early-bird fee too)

Student feedback from my class of 2023

My students have gone on to do many amazing things all around the world, including working for the BBC, El País, the Guardian and more. Others have pursued careers in grassroots journalism, working for local publications, or creating their own blogs and platforms, and their own community spaces.

I stay in touch with them, continue to be a mentor for them, and I now even work alongside some of them. I’m immensely proud that their storytelling and photography careers began with me, and that they continue to hold and practise the skills and values they learned through me.

Here’s what they say… 🫶🏾

Thank you for making me push myself out of my comfort zone and do something I never knew I was capable of.

It’s amazing to have a person like you doing what you do, you’re a role model.

What I found the most valuable about your course was feeling that we all got your individual attention and feedback.

Your course kick-started my career in journalism.

This course is everything I wanted it to be and more!

And my favourite quote of all…

More than just teaching us, you fostered a wonderful space for us to form meaningful friendships. So thank you for that.

Enrol now and become an Storyteller of the Future!

Simply send me an email to hola@madridnofrills or use the contact form below for all enrolment details.

Feel free to ask me any questions about the course, and please tell me a little bit about yourself if you like!

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Leah 🙂

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