Colin Mulvany Weighs in on Backpack Journalism at Newspapers

WASHINGTON, 18 June 2010 — The essay by Colin Mulvany, a member of the Board of Advisors of our Backpack Journalism Project, is a valuable contribution to our craft, to aspiring backpack journalists and to anyone working at a newspaper who manages, trains or supervises backpack journalists. See the essay here.

Colin details his experience at the Spokane, Washington, Spokesman-Review, from the advent of “backpack journalism,” also referred to as “video journalism,” through dark days of layoffs and payoffs, to the present day. And there are many lessons to be learned.

Colin has seen it all, has survived it all, and now is a leading advocate and spokesman for the craft – and for the appropriate application of that craft. And his work reflects the years he’s spent honing it in the real world of everyday journalism.

I particularly liked the piece, “In the Realm of Fairies,” in which he explores the Fairy and Human Relations Congress that meets each year near Twisp, Washington. For those practitioners who insist there’s no place for narration in our model of visual communication, take a listen to Kevin Graman, who wrote the narration and who uses his Rod Serling-esque, two-pack-a-day voice for maximum effect.

It’s a great example of how words and images can conspire to deliver a form of communication whose impact dwarfs that of either words or images when these stand alone.