Neil Shea

writer | photographer | story consultant

Photo by Stephen Alvarez.


Neil Shea is a writer, teacher, and story consultant. He is a contributing writer at National Geographic magazine, and a contributing editor at The American Scholar and the Virginia Quarterly Review. His non-fiction has appeared in many other publications, too, including Foreign Policy, The Atlantic Monthly, The Christian Science Monitor, and Inversion Magazine. His work has been recognized nationally with gold and silver Lowell Thomas Awards for stories on Ethiopia and Cuba, and a team award for environmental reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the Overseas Press Club Award, and his story from subterranean Paris was listed in The Best American Travel Writing, 2012.

Since 2014 Neil has been a leading voice in social media storytelling, and with National Geographic and other clients he has pioneered the use of Instagram as narrative platform. His recent narrative series on NatGeo’s feed, in collaboration with photographers Randy Olson, Yuri Kozyrev, and Lynsey Addario, have been viewed more than 12 million times. He is the first writer to take longform narrative techniques to the new “shortform” word+picture environment of Instagram. He has been hired to teach and consult on social media best practices by clients including Instagram, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Passion Passport. Neil has also been invited to speak about digital and mobile storytelling at schools and conferences, including Harvard University, the Seoul Digital Forum, and the Power of Narrative conference.

When he’s not in the field, Neil teaches non-fiction writing courses and workshops. He is a visiting professor at Sewanee, the University of the South, and an adjunct professor at Boston University. He has also lectured at Furman University, UNC Chapel Hill, and the American University of Iraq, Slemani.

Neil grew up near Boston and worked as a wilderness guide and carpenter before becoming a journalist. From 2004 to 2008, he was a staff writer at National Geographic magazine. Before joining National Geographic, he was a reporter for The Providence Journal. He has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an M.S. in journalism from Boston University.

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