How Do I Become a Backpack Journalist?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Satellite phones are often used by backpack journalist.
Satellite phones are often used by backpack journalist.

A backpack journalist is a person who documents a story both in writing and images; he or she must often carry the necessary equipment in a backpack to remote locations or other places where traditional news crews cannot go. In order to become a backpack journalist, you will first need to obtain a degree in journalism or a related field such as English, photography, new media, or broadcasting. Once you complete your education, you will be able to become a backpack journalist by working for a news outlet such as a website, television station, magazine, or newspaper.

A hand-held camera is useful for taking quick snapshots while traveling.
A hand-held camera is useful for taking quick snapshots while traveling.

These media outlets may hire you on as a more traditional journalist who only writes or only documents a story with photos or videos. You may end up starting as the low man on that journalistic team. Do not be discouraged; this is important experience that will help you become a backpack journalist in the long run. While you are working such jobs, become familiar with the journalism techniques your superiors employ, and also familiarize yourself with all the equipment you will use if you become a backpack journalist. Cameras, laptop computers, satellite phones, and GPS units are all pieces of equipment you will need to know how to use.

A small journal for taking notes in is useful for backpack journalists.
A small journal for taking notes in is useful for backpack journalists.

When an opportunity comes up for you to become a backpack journalist, apply for it or otherwise express interest in the opportunity. You may not end up getting the first position you apply for, but persistence is key. This ever-expanding field is in need of qualified candidates who are not only knowledgeable about the process, but also who are passionate about reporting and well informed about the topic to be covered. Be ready to take on the responsibilities at a moment's notice, and try to take whatever assignments come along, even if they are not glamorous. The more experience you gain, the more likely you will be to get hired as a backpack journalist.

A backpack journalist is generally required to have a degree in journalism.
A backpack journalist is generally required to have a degree in journalism.

A person who has no experience with a professional news outlet can still become a backpack journalist with the right equipment and mindset. The Internet makes reporting of current events much easier, but not all reporting from amateurs is quality reporting. You can distinguish yourself from the rest by doing a few backpacking journalism stories on your own and posting them to your own website, which should be professionally designed. You can gain the attention of news outlets this way and establish yourself as a prominent backpack journalist in the industry.

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    • Satellite phones are often used by backpack journalist.
      By: morane
      Satellite phones are often used by backpack journalist.
    • A hand-held camera is useful for taking quick snapshots while traveling.
      By: beto_chagas
      A hand-held camera is useful for taking quick snapshots while traveling.
    • A small journal for taking notes in is useful for backpack journalists.
      By: Microstock Man
      A small journal for taking notes in is useful for backpack journalists.
    • A backpack journalist is generally required to have a degree in journalism.
      By: gstockstudio
      A backpack journalist is generally required to have a degree in journalism.
    • Backpack journalists carry their equipment to remote locations.
      By: ARochau
      Backpack journalists carry their equipment to remote locations.