In the context of the modern news cycle, American journalist Paul Salopek’s plan to spend seven years walking across the world gathering stories is radically slow.
In the context of human evolutionary history, his journey is running at warp-speed. Salopek’s route — moving from Ethiopia into Israel, continuing across Eurasia, and finishing at the very tip of South America — retreads the path our earliest ancestors took as they radiated out of the “cradle of humankind” and into new continents, a process that began 60,000 years ago.
Both contexts are necessary to understand Salopek’s “Out of Eden” walk, which begins in January.
As an experiment in reporting, Salopek is calling the project “slow journalism.” It is an attempt to capture the stories that he missed as a foreign correspondent by hopping from one part of the world to the next. He hopes to emerge a better storyteller.
But science is as important a thematic strand as storytelling for the 50-year-old, California-born Salopek, who holds a degree in environmental biology.
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