Narrative Medicine Journalism Workshop

Call for Applications

Narrative StudioLab

Columbia University


Columbia’s Narrative StudioLab, sponsored by the Division of Narrative Medicine of the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, announces a new nonfiction writing training program for persons who want to write and report about health and clinical matters for the public media and in nonfiction books. The Workshop seeks applications from faculty, trainees, and students at CUIMC. We are honored to have engaged Professor Stephen Fried as faculty for the seminar. He is an author of narrative non-fiction books and biographies, a journalist and magazine writer, and a journalism teacher who has been on the faculty of the Columbia Journalism School and has worked closely with Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry in writing about mental health issues for the public press. He has mentored psychiatry trainees and VP&S students for Scholarly Projects.


The Narrative Medicine Journalism Workshop is designed as a small group, intensive training workshop. We will select up to 12 participants in the workshop and hope to have a mix of disciplines and levels of training. The selection process will ask applicants for information about their past writing, writing training, hopes for future work in the public media, and a writing sample.


The group will meet either monthly or twice a month for 90-120 minutes. This will need to begin virtually, but once it is practical the meetings will be in-person. Each participant will have a turn to workshop their writing-in-progress. All participants will respond to the work both during the seminar and in written reader’s comments. Between group meetings, Professor Fried will meet individually, via zoom, with participants to discuss their projects. He will advise students about whether and where to submit their work and, in some cases, may help them to make contact with editors of newspapers, magazines, online-only outlets, or book publishers. The workshop will help teach skills used in writing narrative stories, op-eds, memoir, profiles, and investigative stories, as well as how to pitch nonfiction writing and work with editors.


The workshop will begin with a six-month commitment, through the end of December. In view of Covid and all that must be written about it, we will start the first cohort in mid-June, 2020. Date/time of group meetings will be determined with the cohort. With this note, we open the application period.


Applications Period Opens: May 4, 2020

Application Deadline: May 25, 2020

Announcement of Participants: June 1, 2020

Start of Seminar: Mid-June, 2020


Application Form









Email and phone:



Please answer the following questions in up to 500 words:


1. If you have writing training or experience as a writer, please tell us about them.


2. What, if any, are the particular topics or issues that you’d want to write about?


3. What are your hopes for your future work as a writer?


4.  Please attach or copy in a writing sample.


Copy and paste this form into a word document, and send this completed application with writing sample to:

Rita Charon

917-748-7812 for questions

Workshop Faculty

  • Stephen Fried

    Stephen Fried

    Columbia University: Adjunct Professor, 2002-present (Graduate School of Journalism, 2002-2019; Department of Psychiatry 2011-2012, 2018-2019; Narrative Medicine 2019-Present)

    University of Pennsylvania: Lecturer, 2008-present

    Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Collaborator, 2015-present



    RUSH: Revolution, Madness & the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father Crown Books/Random House, 2018

    A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction by Patrick J. Kennedy and Stephen Fried, Blue Rider, 2015 (New York Times bestseller)

    Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West—One Meal at a Time Bantam 2010 (New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal Ten Best Books of the Year, Philadelphia Inquirer Ten Best Books of the Year, Ten Best Business Books of Year, Kirkus Best Books of the Year)

    Husbandry, Bantam 2007 (essay collection)

    The New Rabbi, Bantam 2002 (Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of the Year; 10 Best Books on Religion and Spirituality)

    Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs, Bantam 1998 (Philadelphia Inquirer Best Books of the Year; Men’s Fitness Best Books of the Year)

    Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia, S&S/Pocket Hardcover 1993 (Philadelphia Inquirer Best Books of the Year; introduced the word “fashionista” into the English language, adapted into Emmy-winning HBO film “Gia”)


    Awards, Books:

    George Washington Book Prize, 2019 finalist (Rush)

    American Library Association, Notable Book of the Year, Nonfiction 2018 (Rush)

    Athenaeum of Philadelphia Literary Award 2011 (Appetite for America)

    Southwest Books of the Year, 2010 (Appetite for America)

    Kansas Books of the Year, 2010 (Appetite for America)

    Investigative Reporters and Editors book prize, finalist 1999 (Bitter Pills)

    Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Cheers Award 1999 (Bitter Pills)


    Awards, Magazine Writing:

    National Magazine Award: winner, Public Interest, 1994; winner, Special Interest, 1993; also finalist in Reporting, 1999, and Special Interest, 1989

    Benjamin Rush Award, 2017, American Psychiatric Association PA chapter, recognizing career of mental health journalism

    National Headliner Award: Outstanding Feature Writing, 1999

    National SDX/SPJ Award: Magazine Reporting, 1987

    Vidocq Society, Medal of Honor: 1998

    Clarion Award, National Women in Communications: 1999, 1995, 1989

    National Epilepsy Foundation: Distinguished Journalism Award 2005

    National Easter Seals Society: EDI Awards, 1995, 1993

    American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: MORE award, 2011

    City and Regional Magazine Association: Gold Medal for Reporting, 1998, Feature Writing, 1997

    Best American Essays: Notable Essays of the Year, 1994, 1993

    Best American Sports Writing: Notable Story of the Year, 1996


    Awards, Editing:

    National Magazine Award: finalist, 2000, in Feature Writing and Profiles

    Clarion Award, National Women in Communications: Best Magazine 100,000-500,000 circulation, Most Improved Magazine, 2000

    City and Regional Magazine Association: Gold Medals for General Excellence and Excellence in Writing, 2000


    Magazine positions:

    Philadelphia magazine, Writer-at-large, 2011-present, Editor-in chief, 1999-2000, Senior Editor 1982-1999

    Vanity Fair, Contributing Writer, 1994-1997

    GQ, Contributing Writer/Columnist, 1987-1991

    Glamour, Contributing Editor, 1996-1998, 2001-2008

    Ladies Home Journal, Columnist, 2004-2009

    Also contributor to: Smithsonian Magazine, Rolling Stone, Washington Post Magazine, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Parade, Business Week, British Vogue, The Jewish Forward


    Professional affiliations:

    New Mexico History Museum: director of annual “Fred Harvey History Weekend, 2017-present; co-founder Harvey Weekend, consultant and lecturer, 2010-2016; consultant for permanent exhibit on Fred Harvey (inspired by Appetite for America and opened 2014)

    National Council for Behavioral Health Medical Director Institute, expert panel member for “Mass Violence in America: Causes, Impacts and Solutions” white paper, 2018-2019

    Columbia Conference on Mental Health Journalism & Media, Founding director 2018-2019

    WHYY Behavioral Health Journalism Workshop Series, Co-director, 2016-2018

    American Psychiatric Association: editorial consultant, 2012-2014

    Columbia University Department of Psychiatry: instructor on writing for lay public, 2011-2012; presented at APA national convention, 2012

    The Kennedy Forum: founding board member, editorial consultant, 2013-2017

    Patrick J. Kennedy: speechwriting (including Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on mental health parity)

    Nora Magid Mentorship Prize, co-founder and chairman: 2003-present (founded and oversee mentorship for annual prize given by University of Pennsylvania media alumni to the most promising Penn senior planning a career in non-fiction

    American Medical Association, National Patient Safety Foundation, Pharmaceutical Safe Use Committee: member 1999-2002


    Invited Lectures:

    Park Avenue Synagogue, NY, Scholar-in-Residence, Brain Health & Faith, 2020; Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U. S. Senate, 2020; American Medical Association, AMPAC Capital Club 2019; Weill-Cornell Richardson Lecture, History of Psychiatry 2019; James Madison Program, Princeton University 2019; W.W. Smith Charitable Trust 2019; Dickinson College 2019; Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia 2019; Charaka Club 2019; Penn Club NY 2019; Missouri History Museum 2019; American Jewish University 2019; National Council for Behavioral Health annual meeting, 2019; Smithsonian Institute 2018, 2011; College of Physicians 2018; Kansas City Public Library 2018, 2011; St. Louis County Library 2018; University of New Mexico, Willard Lecture, Zimmerman Library 2017; Athenaeum of Philadelphia, Roger Moss Symposium 2017; New Mexico History Museum 2010-2019; National Park Service, Grand Canyon 2016, 2013; Heard Museum 2014-2016, 2010-2012; National Council for Behavioral Health, 2014; American Psychiatric Association, 2012-2013; National Archives Washington DC 2011; National Archives, Kansas City 2014, 2010; Leavenworth County Historical Society 2012, 2010; Purdue University, Darden Lecture 2011; Arizona Caregiver Consortium, 2011; Wichita-Sedwick County Historical Museum 2011; Philadelphia Free Library 2010; Chicago History Museum 2010; Autry Museum 2010; Post-Approval Research conference, Philadelphia, 2007; Brandeis University, Gralla Lecture, 2005; John Jay College, 2004; Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management, 2002; FDA, 2001; Investigative Reporters and Editors, 2001


    Grand Rounds:

    Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, 2019, 2006; Penn State, Hershey Medical Center 2019; Pennsylvania Hospital, 2018; NYU/Langone Department of Neurology, 2018; Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, 2014; University of Indiana Hospital, 2011; Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, 2006; Bassett Medical Center, 2002; St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, 1998


    Television appearances:

    C-SPAN Book TV; C-SPAN American History TV; CBS Sunday Morning; CBS This Morning Saturday; PBS Newshour; The Oprah Winfrey Show; The Today Show; Good Morning America; CBS Morning News; CNN; Fox News; Dateline; PA Books, PCN-TV


    Chapters in the following books:

    Our Times 2, 1991

    Magazine and Feature Writing, 1993;

    Deviant Behavior, 1997/1998

    Women’s Health Annual Editions, 1999/2000

    Union Station: 75 Years in the Heart of LA 2014

    La Fonda Then and Now 2017


    Contact Information:


    Twitter: @stephen_fried