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Last summer I founded the Institute for Writing and Mass Media at Southern Virginia University. One of its purposes is to bring together aspiring writers, videographers, editors and photographers with top professionals in those fields. Our facility is a post and beam building a few miles from campus, where we put on interactive workshops, house our guest speakers, and hold dinners and fireside chats that enable students and professionals to interact in an intimate environment.

This past semester our students heard from:

  • NFL Films filmmaker Chris Barlow, who premiered his film “Steve Young: A Football Life” before it aired on the NFL Network and taught a class on writing for film.
  • Houghton Mifflin executive editor Rick Wolff, who edited Steve Young’s autobiography, along with my books Little Pink House and The Mormon Way of Doing Business.
  • B.J. Schecter, former managing editor at Sports Illustrated, who ran SI’s website and oversaw its internship program.
  • Carolyn Lumsden, Hartford Courant opinion-page editor, who has edited and published more than a dozen of my stories.
  • John Kramer, VP of Communications at Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that has hired three of our students as interns, each of whom is now employed full-time.

The premiere of “Steve Young: A Football Life” at Southern Virginia University on September 23, 2016. (Photo by Matt Anderson, a student photographer enrolled at the Institute.)The premiere of “Steve Young: A Football Life” at Southern Virginia University on September 23, 2016. (Photo by Matt Anderson, a student photographer enrolled at the Institute.)

This semester the Institute is offering a 3-credit course called “Writing and Mass Media.” Classes begin this week. We are also offering a travel study course in March to New York City, where students will learn from journalists by visiting them in the workplace. If you are NOT a student at Southern Virginia University and you would like to attend one of our workshops or one of our dinners, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here is our lineup for this semester –

Jan. 19-20/Pulitzer-Winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice

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Deanne is a San Francisco-based editorial and commercial photographer whose clients include Nike, Google, Apple and Facebook. She has shot for Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, and ESPN. She was a staff photographer at the San Francisco Chronicle when she won a Pulitzer for her feature photographery about an Iraqi boy named Saleh who underwent treatment at an Oakland hospital after he was nearly killed by an explosion in Iraq.

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Deanne has also photographed everyone from the Dalai Lama to basketball star Steph Curry.

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She shot most of my feature stories at Sports Illustrated, including this one.

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On her visit to the Institute in January, she will teach a workshop on photojournalism. She will also speak at an Institute dinner.

You can see Deanne’s spectacular photographer at http://portfolio.deannefitzmaurice.com/index

Feb. 23-34/Emmy-Winning screenwriter Adam Mazer

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Adam is a graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University. He moved to Hollywood shortly after college and entered the movie industry as a writer. His specialty is adapting into films.

Adam spent years researching the life of Dr. Jack Kevorkian for his HBO Films debut “You Don’t Know Jack,” starring Al Pacino, Susan Sarandon, and John Goodman.

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Here is the trailer:

Adam also wrote the screenplay for “Breach,” the motion picture based on the true story of Robert Hanssen (played by Chris Cooper), an FBI agent convicted of spying for the Soviet Union for two decades.

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Here is the trailer:

These days Adam is working on the television adaptation of The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football. In his February visit to the Institute, he will teach a workshop on writing and storytelling. He will also speak at an Institute dinner.

March 13-15/Travel Study New York City

It’s one thing to bring members of the media industry to our campus. But in March we’re bringing out students to the media. In New York our students will meet with a network television producer, a television news magazine correspondent, a book editor, a book publisher, a literary agent, a publicist, and social media specialists. We will make on-site visits to CBS News; Simon & Schuster; the literary agency InkWell Management; and Houghton Mifflin. Students will also participate in a writing workshop in Connecticut, which I will team-teach with former New York Times editorial writer Maura Casey.

 Award-winning writer Maura Casey Award-winning writer Maura Casey

April 6-7/bestselling author and publisher, Sheri Dew.

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Sheri Dew has held virtually every position in the publishing industry — author, editor, publisher, president and chief executive officer. She has written more than ten bestsellers, including two biographies on leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her groundbreaking biography on Mormon leader Gordon B. Hinckley set the stage for Hinckley’s national bestseller Stand for Something.

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Sheri has been a Director of Bonneville International Corporation; she launched the wildly popular event series "Time Out for Women;” and she was at the helm when Deseret Book introduced Deseret Bookshelf, a free e-reader application for Apple and Android devices.

These days Sheri is Executive Vice President of Deseret Management and CEO of Deseret Book Company. During her April visit to the Institute, she will teach a workshop on writing and storytelling. She will also speak at a dinner at the Institute.

If you are NOT a student at Southern Virginia University and you would like to attend one of our workshops or one of our dinners, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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