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In this section, Bill Gentile looks at work from some of his peers, and points out why they demonstrate best practices for Backpack Journalism.

Travis Fox

We chose the work of Travis Fox to launch The Backpack Journalism Project because it embodies our definition of Backpack Journalism: “The craft of one properly trained professional using a hand-held digital camera to tell visual stories in a more immediate, more intimate fashion than is achievable using a larger team with a camera person, sound person, correspondent and producer. We do it all and, most importantly, we make the pictures which are the driving force of visual communication.”

Travis understands the visual language and he knows how to speak it. He knows how to use these cameras to drive the stories he wants to tell. His work reveals none of the “spray and pray,” hit-or-miss technique (or lack of) that characterizes and undermines the efforts of so many amateurs.

On the Margins in Mauritania

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His stories are character-driven. His Mauritania piece is a classic example of this methodology. Travis selects one goat herder and his family to help explain the deepening food crisis in that part of the world. The herder and his family are a prism through which Travis explains a broader phenomenon – the price of food is surpassing the poor’s ability to purchase it.

Travis has the luxury of time to tell a story that includes information from aid workers and that morphs into a broader story about how climate change and desertification of once-productive land threaten vast regions of Africa and the people who live there.

View more Travis Fox videos here.

A Journey into the "Emerald Triangle"

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Though Travis’ Emerald Triangle story is less character-driven than the food crisis story in Mauritania, he still delivers a more immediate, more intimate version of visual communication than is achievable using the traditional, multi-person model.

View more Travis Fox videos here.