Most kids who spent childhoods thumbing through the pages of the canary-yellow-framed National Geographics on their coffee tables, marveling at titular photos of exotic people and places, only imagined a day when they’d travel the world and see their own names attached to such stories and photos. Scott Wallace made it happen. Actively into his fifth decade of reporting, writing, and shooting stills and video for not just National Geographic but Smithsonian, Travel & Leisure, Harpers, and the like, the journalism professor illustrates his trade secrets and advice to students with real-life narratives that sound straight out of a big-screen blockbuster — one in which the pursuit of truth and justice is filled with as much trauma as triumph.
Telling us how he uses these exploits to illustrate the tenets he most wants to impart to his students, Wallace checks himself. “I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about my own career, but I think I do have a rich trove of experiences to draw on.”
It’s an understatement. Wallace has traveled on assignment to the remotest of remote places on Earth and had a career most storytellers and adventurers only dream of. His recantations arrive humbly, however, with thoughtful pauses, counterquestions, and intellectual insights that serve to remind he’s usually on the other side of the interview.