Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Journalist takes reins at writers? conference

John Hockenberry looks forward to new role

Express Staff Writer

John Hockenberry-- Sun Valley Writers? Conference director

Three-time Peabody Award winner and four-time Emmy award winner John Hockenberry will take the helm of the Sun Valley Writers' Conference when it returns Aug. 22 through 25, 2008, in Sun Valley.

Hockenberry's esteemed career includes news casting in Washington, D.C., where he became a host for the two-hour nightly news show "Heat," from 1989 to 1990. For 15 years, he worked as an NPR reporter, including time in the Middle East covering the Gulf War in 1991 and 1992. In 1991 he became the first host of NPR's "Talk of the Nation."

In addition, Hockenberry worked for ABC News and in 1996 became a correspondent for Dateline NBC reporting on the Kosovo war in 1999. For the last eight years, Hockenberry's commentaries have been heard on the nationally broadcast public radio program "The Infinite Mind."

Hockenberry has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, I.D., Wired, The Columbia Journalism Review, Details and The Washington Post. He has written two books, "A River Out of Eden" and "Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs and Declarations of Independence."

"Moving Violations," a memoir on Hockenberry's life as a wheelchair-bound foreign correspondent, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1996. Hockenberry's "The Blogs of War" appeared in Wired magazine.

On a recent visit to Sun Valley, Hockenberry said he is getting acquainted with the area and wants to continue the spirit of the past writers' conferences.

"The conference is new to me," he said. "I will be much more involved in the selection of writers and how talks flow in and out of each other."

Hockenberry said he stumbled into the conference much like he did with his radio show for which guests have no idea why they are there except to get real.

"Writing is a celebration of independent motivated learning," Hockenberry said. "Writers are self-made learners. They have their own ideas, which they engage, and that is rare."

With a conference, Hockenberry said there is a fifth man, the audience, which needs to be taken into consideration at all times.

"My mission is to manage and be part of a transition," Hockenberry said. "I bring assets to the table, but there is nothing broken here."

And community, he said, is what it's all about.

"Clearly we are all part of it," he said. "We need to get through 2008 and get the conference running again with a good pass-off from the old team to the new team."

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