Reporting on the Outdoors

By ALEXANDER B. PEARCE

By and large, journalism is considered an urban activity. Reporters spend their time tracking people down and writing about their lives or holed up in office buildings behind a computer screen trying to bang out a story before the deadline.

But the great outdoors have a place on the printed page as well. While most hard news happens within city limits, journalists in this specialized niche can carve themselves a role writing for hiking enthusiasts and outdoorsmen.

The primary medium that outdoor journalists write for are magazines like Outside or Backpacker. These magazines cater especially to hardcore enthusiasts brought together by their love of the outdoors and often little else. So, while a hard-hitting examination of the presidential policy might earn you nothing more than angry mail, a comparison on the comfort of backpack straps and buckles can earn you a promotion.

Oftentimes, the journalists who go into this specific field do so out of their own love for the outdoors. While a reporter on the education beat doesn’t need to have a child or an interest in teaching to perform his job, outdoors writers need to be involved in the world for which they write. Many staff pages feature a different writer each month and tell in excruciating detail of their adventures complete with pictures.

Although it’s beyond the ken of most journalists writing about the great outdoors can be an enjoyable way to earn a living, combining the lifestyle and workload of a city journalist with the hobbies and attitudes of an avid outdoorsman.

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