Pulitzer Center Update

Exploring NOLA's French Quarter, Slow Journalism Style with Out of Eden Walk

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The Conti street team of reporters conduct their first interview in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Image by Lauren Shepherd. United States, 2016.

The Conti street team of reporters conduct their first interview in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Image by Lauren Shepherd. New Orleans, LA, 2016.

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Don Belt tells the story of Paul Salopek on his Out of Eden Walk. Image by Lauren Shepherd. United States, 2016.

Don Belt tells the story of Paul Salopek on his Out of Eden Walk. Image by Lauren Shepherd. New Orleans, LA, 2016.

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Jeff South introduces participants to the art of slow journalism. Image by Lauren Shepherd. United States, 2016.

Jeff South introduces participants to the art of slow journalism. Image by Lauren Shepherd. New Orleans, LA, 2016.

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A workshop participant takes a stroll down her assigned route before she delves into her reporting in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Image by Lauren Shepherd. United States, 2016.

A workshop participant takes a stroll down her assigned route before she delves into her reporting in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Image by Lauren Shepherd. New Orleans, LA, 2016.

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Student journalists listen to the video recordings from their reporting trip in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Image by Lauren Shepherd. United States, 2016.

Workshop participants listen to the video recordings from their reporting trip before building their StoryMap narrative. Image by Lauren Shepherd. New Orleans, LA, 2016.

"I really enjoyed the workshop and working with my Conti Crew on the Storymaps project. Getting to explore the host city and dig up some stories was the perfect way to cap off the conference," Ryan Delehanty, assignment editor for the Atlantic region at Accessible Media, Inc. wrote, reflecting on the Out of Eden Walk storytelling workshop in New Orleans.

Nearly 30 attendees of the 2016 Society of Professional Journalist Excellence in Journalism Conference followed in National Geographic Fellow and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Salopek's footsteps. They spent a full day focusing on the art of slow journalism during a deep-dive workshop, "Storytelling: Out of Eden, Into the Story."

The in-depth workshop, held on Tuesday, September 20, taught the practical value of slowing down to counteract the hyperactivity of today’s media environment. Don Belt, an adviser on Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk and journalism professor at the University of Richmond, and Jeff South, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University, led the six-hour workshop. The workshop included screening Salopek's video that introduced everyone to the walk and offered tips on using the techniques of slow journalism to build upon, and refresh, multimedia reporting.

"You may come across tiny details that tell a bigger story. Salopek uses very poetic text for his tweets and dispatches—poetic gems describe a society and that is what we can do today," Belt told participants before sending them into the French Quarter.

Each group of three was assigned one street in the French Quarter to explore, reporting on the small but meaningful dramas of life in the Crescent City. They returned with geo-tagged reportage including videos, notes, interviews and photos that could be shaped into a linear narrative of their journeys. Participants—including educators, aspiring journalists, and reporters interested in learning multimedia storytelling—considered different angles of reporting, from telling the story through the architecture of the historical buildings they encountered to comparing old street photos with the modern day street views.

The macro collections of praline shops and art galleries, voodoo shops and historical homes gave way to the macro theme of a diverse community banding together amidst shifting economic landscapes, natural disasters and complex histories. South walked the groups through the StoryMap data mapping tool to geotag the stories that they encountered along their individual routes. Here are some examples of the multimedia narratives created during the workshop:

Stroll on Royal St. by Jeff South and Don Belt

Conti Chronicles by Jessa O’Connor, Ryan Delehanty, Liz Enochs

St. Louis Street by Domanique Crawford, Jessica Bliss and Andrew Dunn

Between Two Worlds on Esplanade Avenue by Sharyn Jackson, Nick Theisen, Theresa Beverly

Taco Tuesday and Fire Drills by Flip Prior

Inspired by the Out of Eden Walk, an ongoing, 22,000-mile reporting project by Salopek, this workshop drew from Salopek's hard-earned experience to help aspiring and experienced journalists and educators alike to slow their personal reporting metabolism, notice telling details, interact with people, render sense of place, and discover a wealth of untold stories in the world around them—all by walking, and lingering, at a relaxed human pace of three miles an hour. The day's storytellers were given the challenge to find at least three interesting and authentic characters to interview, along with a number of small, telling details that help to capture the essence of the French Quarter—and New Orleans.

Belt’s curriculum is available online. Let us know if you’re interested in teaching the walk at your school.