Backpack Journalism Arrives in Havana, Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba, 5 September 2011 — I gave a two-hour presentation on backpack journalism to reporters from Cuba, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela at the Jose Marti International Journalism Institute (IIP) in Havana.

My presentation was part of a week long International Press Photography Workshop sponsored by the institute. During the workshop, I stressed to participants how the old model of cameraperson, sound person, producer and correspondent to acquire and to disseminate news is yielding to a leaner, more mobile methodology that delivers a more intimate, more immediate version of visual communication. We call this methodology backpack journalism. (In Latin America we call it “periodismo de mochila.”)

And the advent of this methodology, made possible by the advances in digital cameras and the Internet, is good news for those of us who practice it.

IIP Director Antonio Molto and I discussed how this shift, which has been occurring in the United States to varying degrees for some time now, is beginning to happen in Latin America and the Caribbean. The change is occurring in many parts of the world as a result of economic exigencies as much as journalistic preferences.

For practitioners like myself, the key issue is not that the shift is happening because of economics, but that it is actually happening.

(Photos by Esther Gentile.)