Backpack journalism is a method which is getting more and more popular in the world of media. It is so simple to take a notebook, pencil and smartphone, go to the city and write an article just about life. The inhabitants are the heart of your city, so go to the city centre and meet them and convince yourself that only one person can make big things. And maybe you get to know something new about yourself.
- Teenagers (cca. 13 – 18 years)
- Young adults (cca. 17 – 26 years)
- Youth workers
Backpack journalism is based on the individual, who is editor, publisher and photographer in one person. So basically you carry the whole editorial office in your backpack. Everything is built on the idea that you write about the life around you without thinking about the number of readers. The articles describe the world through author's own experience, who is often the part of the action (unlike the classical editor). The topics of the articles are not based on research or press releases; you just pack and go out, there are a lot of topics around you.
The participants of this activity will go to the city centre to write a “backpack” article about the life story of an inhabitant. They will be facing a difficult mission alone and it will depend solely on them, how they will deal with this challenge. They will discover the border of their comfort zone, as well as their own reaction after they cross this border. They will have to talk to strangers, filter data and be creative. The stories of the city’s inhabitants are really often inspiring and motivating for civic engagement.
This is the content we use with the method. However, the method is general enough to be used for other content.
MaterialsNotebook, pencil, smart phone
Specific goalsMotivation, support and encouraging young people to engage into initiatives groups, Non-Governmental organizations, volunteering, youth councils and other bodies to act socially for the local communities; Advise young people how to identify, diagnose or just name challenges and problems of their social environment.
The output of this activity will be an article with some photos about the life story of one inhabitant of the city.
Motivational introduction (0.3 hours): Participants are acquainted with the basic ideas of Backpack journalism. There are a lot of descriptions on the internet, which can be used for this purpose (for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backpack_journalism)
Collecting the stories (2.5–4 hours): The method is based on the individual person, so the participants will go alone to the city centre, look for a suitable topic, talk with inhabitants and write the article. The outcome of this phase should be the final article and it depends on us, whether we need the article electronically for future use.
Sharing (1–2 hours): The participants share the adventures and experience, which they gained during the process of looking for the topics, read the articles together, discuss about individual human life stories. In these stories we are trying to find a moral and inspiration for the whole group. We moderate the discussion and try to identify the moment, when the individual participants had to leave their comfort zone and how they reacted to that, how they chose the person to talk to, etc.
The written articles can then be put together into a brochure for all participants or be shared publicly.
Outcomes and its measurability
Project in which the method has been used
We use this method during training courses for our lectors. Thanks to this activity, they have to cross the border of their comfort zone really often and they realize the diversity of civil society.