Travel journalism. It’s a glamorous profession, you probably think. Expense accounts to eat in fancy restaurants, free stays in luxury hotels, endless offers to trek the globe — sounds good, right?
Well, travel journalists don’t actually do those things as much as you think. Not real ones, at least. And now that anyone can publish online, from blogs to Instagram, it’s all become a bit more complicated. Being a travel journalist is actually much more complex and nuanced than writing about your latest trip to some coastal town. There’s a lot at stake when you write about a foreign place.
That’s the takeaway from my book, Travel Journalism: Informing Tourists in the Digital Age, published by Routledge this year. The culmination of nearly 6 years of research at the Sorbonne, it covers travel journalism from a variety of viewpoints. How has social media affected travel journalism? How can it be a constructive practice? How has the sharing economy intersected with journalism?
There are a lot of questions, and many answers to choose from, but this book, I hope, gets the conversation started.
Heather — founder of Secrets of Paris, in case you didn’t know — gave me my first break into travel journalism years ago when she took me under her wing. A true journalist herself, she instilled a lot of the values and practices in me that I discuss in this book. She’s proof that travel journalism can be better than what most of us are seeing online. As we led our trave writing workshop a few years ago, we discussed many of the ideas I wrote about in this book, and I hope that they can now be useful to a new generation of travel journalists.
Make note, however, that this is not simply a how-to guide for wannabe journalists. It’s more of an ethnography, a snapshot of the profession in the early 21st century. If you are familiar with the basic tenets of journalism or have worked in travel media, you’ll probably find it informative. There are a lot of academic references in it, but don’t be daunted. The principle messages should be fairly straightforward to any reader with some journalism experience.
If you’re a media student, a practitioner, or simply curious about travel journalism and its changes with the internet, this book might be of interest to you. I hope to see what sorts of ideas and research spin off it, because my work is far from the last word on travel journalism!
Check out Travel Journalism: Informing Tourists in the Digital Age on Amazon here.