Note: Mark Schulte was a plenary speaker at this month’s 2014 ADP/TDC National Meeting in Louisville, Ky. You can learn more about his organization, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and their work in the blog post below.

By Mark Schulte, Education Director, Pulitzer center on Crisis Reporting

In my plenary I use journalism supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to hop to some of our global economy’s rougher spots, sharing stories of people on the front lines of commodities extraction and manufacture.

These include:

  • Larry Price’s still and video images on gold miners in Burkina Faso, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and PBS NewsHour. I also refer to his work on compression mining in the Philippines, also published in the Inquirer and broadcast on NewsHour.
  • Jason Motlagh’s photographs and article exposing abuses in the Thai shrimp industry, published in the Washington Post.
  • Sean Gallagher’s video project on the toxic price of leather.

I tell these stories not to shame us into a life apart from the bargains we can find online or at discount stores, but to encourage us to reflect on the information we consume and the broader responsibilities that go with citizenship today.

We can’t pretend that our daily existence here in the US can be separated from that of the rest of the world. These commodities are just a few examples of the day-to-day reminders of globalization that surround us.

And as much as we might know about the finished goods we shop for online and in discount stores — especially their prices — most of us know little about the whole story, the one that really tells us who and what pays these hidden costs. We are bombarded by information, yet there is little to help us cultivate a healthy news diet, and much to distract, divide, and misinform.

Why not take charge of our news habits, by slowing down and thinking carefully about the distractions that arise and the patterns that evolve in an ever-quickening digital economy? One journalist has embarked on a walk around the world to show us the value in a more deliberate and reflective pace.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Salopek has finished the first of a seven-year trek, retracing the footsteps of our ancestors out of Africa, eastward through the Middle East and Asia, and down the western flank North and South America to finish in Tierra del Fuego. At three miles an hour, he seeks to find the ground truth of the big stories of our time, from mass migrations to food security to climate change.

Follow along on the Out of Eden Walk website and read his blog posts on National Geographic’s site. This remarkable journey invites us not just to learn more about the untold stories of our world through Paul Salopek’s eyes and pen, but to reflect on the value in questioning the pace and direction of our own news consumption, our own place in a changing democracy.