We all know that Seattle — and the Pacific Northwest in general — is the best place in the world to live. But what makes a story in our little corner of the country worthy of coverage in a big-name publication? And how do you craft these stories differently for local, regional, national, and international outlets?

At our monthly meeting on Oct, 8, NSWA members and guests heard insights from Kirk Johnson, Seattle bureau chief for the New York Times, and freelancers Maria Dolan and Bryn Nelson, who have covered local stories for publications such as Seattle Magazine, High Country News, Smithsonian.com, Slate, Discover, Nature, and BBC Focus.

  • Maria Dolan is a Seattle freelancer who currently writes primarily on the environment and health. She has written for both local and national publications including Smithsonian.com, Slate, Newsweek.com, Sunset, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Metropolitan, and the Seattle Times. She has also paid the bills as a freelance researcher, corporate copywriter, and ghostwriter. She has written or co-written two guidebooks, includingNature in the City: Seattle.
  • Kirk Johnson has been a staff writer at the New York Times since 1984, covering multiple topics and beats, including law-enforcement, economics, politics and the environment. He has been a national correspondent since 2003, first in Denver, covering the Rocky Mountain region, and since 2012 in Seattle, writing about the Pacific Northwest — a territory that includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. As an environment-beat writer in 2001, he covered the health/science aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York the anthrax attacks later that same year. Covering the West over the last decade — a region where environment and wildlife issues are a constant of the news — has brought him back many times to themes and places where science, environment and society interconnect. He is originally from Utah, and received a degree in history from Hunter College in New York.
  • Bryn Nelson is a former microbiologist who decided he’d much rather write about microbes than mutate them. In 1999, he launched his new career in science journalism at Newsday with a gripping yarn about an electronic watermelon thumper. Since becoming a freelancer in 2007, he has contributed features and stories to The New York Times, Nature, Scientific American, High Country News, Science News for Students, MSNBC.com, ENSIA, Mosaic and other print and online publications. In addition, Nelson has written for a range of nonprofit organizations and trade publications, contributed a chapter to The Science Writers’ Handbook and edited two chapters for the six-volume Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. A resident of Seattle, he has a particular affinity for unconventional travel destinations and double tall lattes.