The country is starting to take note of the way we do journalism here at Richmond.

This week, National Geographic published a piece by Don Belt, an adjunct professor of journalism at Richmond.

Belt, whose career at National Geographic spanned 30 years before coming to Richmond, has been pioneering slow journalism on college campuses since 2014. The concept is inspired by his former colleague Paul Salopek, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who is currently writing about his 21,000-mile, seven-year journey on foot using literary journalism as he recreates the path our ancestors took some 60,000 years ago out of Africa. Salopek’s project, Out of Eden, focuses on slow journalism and the art of storytelling.

For our students, Belt gives the same simple assignment: Take a walk, find something interesting, rinse, and repeat.

“Like Paul’s slow walk, my course was designed to explore the creative frontiers of slow journalism, a movement away from the super-fast, superficial coverage that dominates modern news media, and toward a more in-depth, deliberate, mindful approach to narrative journalism using the very latest tools of digital technology,” Belt wrote for National Geographic.

That translates to students of all majors setting out to explore Richmond on foot, to really get to know the blocks and the stories of people in some of the neighborhoods.

“It’s a real eye-opener for many of our students to meet and interview people whose lives are nothing like theirs,” Robert Hodierne, journalism department chair, told Belt. “This course fits perfectly with the goal of our department and the University as a whole in getting our students engaged in the community around us.”

Belt’s piece continues his effort to share the slow journalism curriculum with universities around the country via a partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Eventually, he’d like to see this take off around the world, connecting educators from disciplines as varied as journalism, anthropology, geography, and history, to name a few.

We’re excited to see where this initiative goes, and we’re also thrilled at the role Richmond students are playing in engaging and innovative training! It’s continuing a great tradition of journalism at UR.

Our journalism department is small, but mighty. Graduates go on to jobs at national outlets. They win Pulitzer Prizes and finalist nods for their work.

If history is any guide, we can expect many more journalism students to chart successful careers after Richmond.