billgentile.com, WASHINGTON, DC, 10 August 2011 -- Dan Sullivan produced this profoundly moving piece during the 4-7 August 2011 Backpack Journalism Workshop in Washington, DC. It's about his family's struggle with the loss of his own brother, Tom, who suffered and died from unexplained illnesses after returning from a tour of duty as a Marine Corps sergeant in Iraq.

Dan was quick to learn the power and the promise of the methodology that we refer to as "backpack journalism."

For the record, I define it as the craft of one properly trained practitioner using a hand-held digital video camera to tell character-driven stories in a more immediate, more intimate fashion than is achievable using a conventional, shoulder-held camera and a team that includes camera person, sound person, correspondent and producer. Backpack journalists do it all and, most importantly, we make the pictures, which are the driving force of visual communication. (There's a reason they call it tele-VISION.) In the field, a backpack journalist shoots, acquires sound, produces, reports, interviews. We write the script. In some cases we narrate the piece. Depending on circumstances, we either edit the piece on our own, or we sit side-by-side with an editor assigned to the task.

Backpack journalism is not the 6 o'clock news reported by a single, multi-tasking journalist. It is a character-driven methodology with a specific, time-consuming approach and application that yields unique results and that does not work in all situations.

I think you'll really like, and will be moved by, Dan's piece.

For more information, go to billgentile.com.

-- Bill Gentile

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