Out of Eden Walk on Campus


Photo by Chris Johns

In partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, I’m pleased to offer a half-day Walk on Campus Workshop based on the multimedia reporting of Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Salopek on his Out of Eden Walk project, a 7-year, 22,000-mile walk across the world in the pathways of early human migration, from the earliest Homo sapiens site in East Africa to Tierra del Fuego, Chile.

The Walk on Campus Workshop is an interactive, three-hour presentation of the Journalism curriculum based on the Walk that I developed at the Robertson School of Media & Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University and now teach at the University of Richmond. For more on that curriculum and to see a video on the Walk for educators, go here.

Practicing an extreme form of “slow” journalism, Paul is creating a unique, 150,000-word (and counting) multimedia resource that is being published, in part, by National Geographic with a grant from Knight Foundation. His cover story introducing the Walk appeared in the December 2013 issue of the magazine.imgres

In addition to narrative dispatches and the project’s state-of-the-art mapping and translations, Paul is pausing every 100 miles to create a systematic record of his surroundings through photography, video, audio, and old-fashioned interviewing. By the time Salopek reaches Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America in 2020 or ’21, he will have created an unprecedented record of human life across a transect of the 21st century world.

That reportage provides a unique learning resource for university professors of journalism, geography, anthropology, history, international studies, environmental science, English, education, and other disciplines—all of whom are invited to participate in the Walk on Campus Workshop.

If you’re an educator interested in hosting the Pulitzer Center/Out of Eden Walk on Campus Workshop at your university, please contact me, or Ann Peters of the Pulitzer Center.

Out of Eden Walk partners include the National Geographic Society, the Knight Foundation, the Abundance Foundation, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Project Zero at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, the Nieman Foundation, MIT MediaLab, and Harvard’s Center for Geographical Analysis.

On Slow Journalism

January 13, 2015—At the Newseum in Washington, D.C., hundreds of journalists gathered to discuss the theory and practice of “slow” journalism, and to hear from one of its most skillful practitioners: Paul Salopek, a National Geographic Fellow who skyped into the event from his current location near Tbilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia.

Paul’s project, the Out of Eden Walk, is perhaps the best example of Slow Journalism in the world today. Certainly, it’s the most extreme. What other two-time Pulitzer Prize winner would set off on a seven-year, 22,000-mile walking journey around the world, retracing the path of our human ancestors from East Africa to Tierra del Fuego, Chile?

Two years into the project, Paul has produced more than 100,000 words that have appeared either in National Geographic magazine (including as the cover story for the December 2013 issue) or on the National Geographic site dedicated to publishing Paul’s Dispatches.

A companion site, funded by the Knight Foundation, is devoted to exploring the frontiers of digital journalism, and serves as a kind of laboratory for experimental storytelling, including maps, social media, and interactivity of a type that has never been seen, including real-time translations of Tweets and Dispatches in various languages.

The panel (Ann Marie Lipinsky, Curator of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard; Evan Osnos, staff writer at The New Yorker, and Susan Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic) noted that Paul’s following has grown to include many thousands of people all over the world who marvel over the poetry of Paul’s dispatches and cheer him on, with a level of passion and loyalty that most journalists only dream about.

Moderator Frank Sesno, Chair of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, quoted from one of Salopek’s recent dispatches: “A donkey is a member of the equine family burdened by low self-esteem: a small, modest, long-eared creature from which mules are bred when mated with a horse. In other words, a donkey is the crude base metal from which a superior alloy—the mule—is forged.” As the laughter died down, he wondered aloud about the source of the project’s ongoing appeal.

“Fast journalism is mostly about information,” said Goldberg of National Geographic, who confessed that “Mule-ology” was her favorite of Salopek’s 99 dispatches to date.

“Slow journalism is mostly about meaning.”

For a summary of the event from National Geographic, click here.