Getting the Story: 125 Years of National Geographic Writing

Paul Salopek, the literal globe trotter, strokes a camel. Photo by John Stanmeyer

For 125 years, National Geographic writers have travelled around the world and lived the adventure.  Their stories provide glimpses into exciting, stunning and sometimes dangerous places.  The world’s best-known magazine received the 2013 National Magazine Award for General Excellence in its quasquicentennial year.

To celebrate more than a century of expeditions, National Geographic is hosting some of its premiere writers and editors for an inside look at the challenges and thrills that come with getting the story.

The event, “Getting the Story: 125 Years of National Geographic Writing,” will give an inside look at the work that goes into capturing a National Geographic assignment with a conversation between six editors and writers.  These contributors’ beats have covered different corners of the globe.

Joining the conversation from the Middle East, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, National Geographic Fellow and literal globe trotter Paul Salopek shares a whirlwind of adventures and wisdom from his seven-year walk around the world. Salopek’s “Out of Eden Walk,” is an exercise in “slow journalism.” His international experiences tell the “major stories of our time,” from climate change to technology to survival.

David Quammen, winner of a National Magazine Award for National Geographic Magazine, has travelled to Africa, chronicling stories from the lions of the Serengeti — including the life and relationships of a male lion named C-Boy — to the chimpanzees of the Congo, where he travelled in a group with Jane Goodall.

From Latin America, Alma Guillermoprieto has recorded the ruffles and grit of Bolivian women’s wrestling — where women scrap in petticoats — and the elevation of unholy saints in Mexico. For this piece, Guillermoprieto interviewed a murderer about his faith in “La Santa Muerte, Holy Death,” who she described as the “guardian of the most defenseless and worst of sinners.”

Editors Oliver Payne and Barbara Paulsen will moderate the event with contributing writer Cynthia Gorney, whose human rights work covering child brides spanned countries and cultures.

To celebrate 125 years of excellence and hear the stories behind the articles, join these six renowned contributors at “Getting the Story” on Thursday, November 21 at National Geographic’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by phone at (202) 857-7700 or online.

Changing Planet

Caroline Gerdes recently graduated from Louisiana State University where she studied journalism and history (her major and minor, respectively). As a native of the Greater New Orleans Area, she decided to explore her own backyard with help from a Young Explorers Grant. Caroline is currently conducting an oral history project about the New Orleans Ninth Ward. She seeks to record the community’s full history — its immigrant beginnings, the development of jazz, the depression and prohibition, desegregation and hurricanes. Caroline’s exploration is also a personal quest as her father and paternal grandparents grew up in the Ninth Ward. Her blogs reflect an inside look at New Orleans life and culture, especially the edible aspects.