What does It Take to be a Backpack Journalist?

Sharon Heilbrunn and Joe Little

Two of the best at the demanding job of backpack journalism provided tips to an eager audience of journalism students and local media at a recent SDSPJ event held at KGTV, 10News.

Sharon Annie Heilbrunn, with the San Diego Union-Tribune and NBC, Channel 4, is a true “one-woman band,” who covers the San Diego Chargers with her creative multimedia skills. A self-declared “Type-A,” Annie said she finds a special satisfaction in video-editing her stories for the most effective storytelling she can provide through the synergy of sounds, words and pictures.

Joe Little usually shoots, writes, edits and reports on his own, covering primarily the South Bay and water issues for the 10News afternoon and evening newscasts. Three of Joe’s bullet points for backpack journalists:
1. Take your time but manage your time wisely.
2. Check your gear before heading to a story (there’s no one there to back you up).
3. Just because you’re by yourself doesn’t mean you can’t be creative.
Both Joe and Annie emphasized the value of trial and error—“Just do it!” And the audience who engaged in lively Q & A took in the advice with great eagerness.

As PLNU broadcast journalism major Hannah Faria said: “It was really amazing seeing how good the reporters were at the jobs they do. They shared so many of their skills, and I will definitely take advantage of the tips they gave me.”


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