An Interview with Paul Salopek

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek has dedicated his life to bringing stories of the world to life. His most recent project, Out of Eden, is a seven-year walk around the world tracing the footsteps of our ancestors out of Africa.

In an interview with Salopek, he discussed the importance of storytelling, his journey, and the lessons he has learned along the way.

His passion for the written word, his commitment to understanding the world, and his desire to share stories of humanity are all evident in his words. He speaks with a sense of purpose and a drive to make the world a better place.

His journey is a testament to the power of storytelling and the importance of following our own paths.

The importance of storytelling

Storytelling has been a constant throughout human history. It is a crucial way to pass on information, to connect people with each other and understand the world around us, and to build empathy and relationships with others.

Storytelling has been used by cultures around the world, across time, and across mediums, from cave paintings to clay tablets, to carved wood figures, to the present day.

Humans have used storytelling to create a shared knowledge, to pass on information about the world, and to inspire others. Storytelling is a crucial part of culture, bringing individuals together and creating a shared understanding of the world.

It is also an incredibly powerful tool for change: storytelling can be used to inform, inspire, and build empathy. It can be used as a tool to create change, to bring communities together, to inspire people to act, and to help people better understand each other.

Overview of Out of Eden project

Out of Eden is a seven-year project in which Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek is tracing the footsteps of our ancestors out of Africa by walking from Ethiopia to the west coast of South America.

The journey began in January 2016 and will end in January 2023, a journey that will cover over 9,000 miles through 12 countries, using archaeology and genetics as tools to understand the spread of Homo sapiens around the world.

The project is also a collaboration between National Geographic, the Knight Foundation, and the Pulitzer Center, and it is both a piece of global journalism and an experiment in long-form storytelling.

Challenges faced during seven-year journey

The project faced a number of challenges during its seven-year journey. The first challenge was funding.

The project is quite expensive to produce: Salopek is travelling the world by foot, and he has a team of about a dozen people, including photographers, scientists, and editors, with him.

The project received funding from the Pulitzer Center and the Knight Foundation, but could not rely on one source of funding.

Salopek also had to be flexible in his choice of medium. He originally wanted to write a book, but later decided that a physical book would not be able to convey his story. Instead, he decided to produce a podcast. Salopek also had to deal with physical challenges.

He walks an average of 15-20 miles a day, and therefore is often contending with pain, blisters, and muscle aches. He also has to contend with the environmental challenges of the places he walks through.

Impact of Salopek’s work on global understanding

Salopek’s project has already had a tremendous impact on global understanding, and it is only half way through.

By bringing attention to the movement of people out of Africa, Salopek hopes to shift the focus of the world’s attention away from the Arab-Israeli conflict (which has become a focal point for many countries’ collective anxieties) towards the more global issue of migration.

His project also hopes to challenge the prevalent, but misguided, narrative that America is a “white country” that was founded and shaped by white Europeans. Instead, it hopes to highlight how America is, and always has been, shaped by immigrants.

Salopek hopes that his project will challenge the current public discourse and help to create a more accurate picture of both world history and contemporary reality.

Salopek’s reflections on his journey

Salopek is not just a journalist; he is also an explorer, albeit a very slow one. His project is a reminder that the world is much bigger than our daily lives and social media feeds.

Despite the instantaneous nature of the internet, our planet is an enormous place, filled with diverse cultures and landscapes.

The project also demonstrates that journalism is not just about reporting the news, but is also a way to connect with people, understand the world around us, and bring knowledge to others.

Journalism is more than just facts and events; it is about connecting people, cultures, and ideas, and sharing stories. It is a tool to build empathy, understand the world around us, and bring communities together.

Salopek hopes that through his project, people will be able to form a stronger connection with the rest of the world and understand the diversity of cultures that exists on our planet.

The power of storytelling

The power of storytelling lies in its ability to connect people and create a shared understanding of the world. It is a way to bring people together, to inspire change and act, and to help people better understand each other.

We live in a time when people are increasingly isolated and disconnected from each other and the world. Social media does not inherently bring people together. It is a tool that can be used for good or for ill.

It can be used to bring people together and create a shared understanding or to isolate people within echo chambers.

In an increasingly divided world, it is important to remember the power of storytelling to bring people together and create a more connected and shared world.

In order to do so, we must use our stories and the media we produce to bring people together, not tear them apart. We must use our words and stories, not only to inform, but also to inspire: to bring people together, to help them understand each other, and to create a better world.

Advice from Salopek for aspiring storytellers

There are two pieces of advice that Salopek would give to aspiring storytellers: First, follow your own path. Salopek emphasizes the importance of following your passions and your interests, even if they seem unlikely or out-of-the-ordinary.

He also emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusion. The world needs all kinds of stories, told by people from many different backgrounds and perspectives.

We cannot create meaningful connections and understanding without bringing people together, with all their differences and diversities, behind a shared story. Second, be patient, persistent, and resilient.

The world is a big place, and it takes time to understand it. Be patient with yourself and persistent in your journey, and prepared for challenges and setbacks along the way. Remember that it is important to be flexible, to listen to others, and to create your work with the world in mind.

Salopek’s hopes for the future of storytelling

Salopek hopes that future storytellers will use their work to bring people together, to help them understand each other, and create a more connected and empathetic world.

He hopes that they will use their skills to create a better and more connected world, one story at a time.

Salopek hopes that storytellers will focus on creating work that is accessible to as many people as possible

While it is important to experiment and explore new ways of telling stories, it is also important to remember that we must create work that is accessible to people across a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.


Storytelling is a crucial way to pass on information, connect people with each other, and understand the world around us. It is an incredibly powerful tool for change that can be used to inspire and build empathy, challenge the current discourse, and bring communities together.

Storytellers can bring people together, help them understand each other, and create a more connected and empathetic world. In order to do so, storytellers must use their words and stories to bring people together, not tear them apart. They must use their skills to create work that is accessible to as many people as possible.

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