The first Backpack Journalism project took place in the Dominican Republic. Creighton already has a relationship with the ILAC Mission in Santiago, so this made logistics relatively easy. During a scouting trip in 2009, we identified the urban slum of Cien Fuegos and the ministry of Catholic deacon Pedro Pena as our first story.
In May 2010, nine students and three faculty members took off for the DR to make our first film. This film, Esperanza, taught us a lot about filmmaking in the developing world. We learned, for example that students often forget to hold their shots and that Dominican police radios use the same frequency as our wireless mics. Lesson learned: Having a plan B is a good idea.
We also learned a lot about the crushing weight of urban poverty. Our students struggled with their journalistic roles, often feeling awkward about pointing their cameras at the suffering of others.
In response to this experience, one of the Backpack Journalism faculty members wrote an essay reflecting on why we believe it essential to tell these stories.