One of the first things Paul Salopek did, even before he embarked on his epic seven-year odyssey in the footprints of early man, was to reach out to educational institutions. In these interactions, he explored the ways in which his journey could unlock fresh, young, open minds.
This thought prompted Paul — even in the midst of a punishing walking schedule that will span 21,000 miles over seven years — to put his time and energy into Out of Eden Learn, a free resource available to educational institutions around the world.
Paul spoke of this on a call with the Peepli team. He spoke of the importance of not confining ourselves to doing and learning. Slow, long-wave journalism is not everyone’s cup of tea, he pointed out on that call — there are too few media houses with the appetite for such open-ended work. Ergo, there are too few opportunities, too few examples, for young journalists to learn from.
Get in touch with educational institutions, Paul told us. Reach out to the young ones, the kids whose minds are open and who will readily imbibe the passions that drive you, the stories you tell. It is not enough, Paul said, to do and to learn — it is equally important to teach, to pass on what you learn.
So we reached out. And Sashi Kumar, Chairman, Media Development Foundation and the Asian College of Journalism and Priya Rajshekar, Associate Professor at ACJ, met us half way. The result: a teaching/learning partnership between ACJ and Peepli that begins in September. From our newsletter:
Starting in the second term in late September (the first term is for basics), Peepli team members will spend two days every fortnight at the Chennai campus of ACJ.
The course curriculum will cover the nuts and bolts of long-wave journalism: How to identify and think through story ideas and test them for feasibility; how to break a long-form project down into its component parts; the mechanics of primary research; the tools and best practices of immersive field-work; the stitching together of the narrative; the writing, editing, visualising…
The intent is not to lecture from the podium but to work in the field, alongside the students, on a live project. The desired outcome: By the end of the academic year, the students will have produced a long, layered narrative (or two) of the highest quality. And through doing, will have gained the passion, and the expertise, to power the work they do in their careers.
We’ll keep you posted on the progress of this initiative via this blog, and the ACJ website, Facebook page and Twitter handle. In passing, if you haven’t seen it yet, here is our latest newsletter, dated August 5.