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Don Belt Visits SDSU for Two-Day Event on Slow Journalism

March 08, 2017

Don Belt Visits SDSU for Two-Day Event on Slow Journalism

Don Belt, an award-winning journalist and educator, was on campus March 5-6 for a two-day event on slow journalism. As the former senior editor of National Geographic, Belt shared his own awakening to slow journalism and how it can have an effect in the digital age, using Paul Salopek's "Out of Eden" walk as an example. The event was co-sponsored by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and our School’s Center for Science and Media.

Belt kicked off his visit with an educator workshop on slow journalism, showing teachers how they can use this approach in their classrooms. Attendees took their own walk on campus and created a discovery map, like Salopek does on his legs of the Eden walk. During his second day, Belt presented a keynote lecture to students and community members, which can be viewed again on Facebook.

Photojournalist and SJMS lecturer Peggy Peattie participated in the workshop. Here are some of her photos and her recap from the day.

Don Belt is certainly a passionate storyteller, and he has found a wonderful way to incorporate the lessons of the Paul Salopek's epic "Out of Eden Walk" project into a teaching tool for the rest of us storytellers and educators. Having Lauren Shepherd from the Pulitzer Center there to talk about all the Center's outreach programs for students and educators is inspiring. It makes us feel that the future of journalism is in good hands!

A lot of the concepts from the slow storytelling playbook are things we use already in JMS 495, Advanced Topics in Journalism, Photojournalism. So it's wonderful to get affirmation from such an esteemed visiting duo whose professional credentials are a tour de force.

During the workshop, I worked with Jeanette Calo from Grossmont Community College, pictured here working with Don Belt, as she and I finish our storymap on the WPA benches and murals on campus.

SJMS graduate teaching associate Isaac Brambila went to both portions of Belt's presentation. Here is his feedback from the events:

I don’t think that Don Belt and Lauren Shepherd could have chosen a better story to illustrate their point than Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk to exemplify slow journalism, a style of writing that is often forgotten in the fast-paced reality of short and sweet tweets and do-it-all journalists.

Belt and Shepherd showcased much of the beauty and value of noticing the small details while on assignment and the stories behind those details. Just as valuable, they shared useful ideas to teach and inspire slow journalism. Some of their ideas, such as the simple exercise of walking around your environment and noticing new things around you, struck me as a useful tool for student journalists and writers alike. Sunday’s workshop provided useful insights for educators of different disciplines, and Monday’s talk provided yet another way to practice journalism for our JMS students, and maybe some inspiration as well.