Jan 15, 2010
IS TRAVEL-JOURNALISM GOING TO SURVIVE?
This crisis has put the most of us travel professionals in a state of complete confusion, if not real depression. Let me make my point.
The job of travel-journalist (I'll talk of the travel photographer in a future post) was in dire waters well before the economy crashed: uncertainty on subjects and contents, the reality of the Internet real time information, the few space for publications left, the miserable compensations, had everybody complaining. But the financial crash came like a storm, pulling down the dead branches to which many of us were still hanging, barely... Travel magazines are now folding in scores, and news publications are equally reducing the space dedicated to travel.
If you look at this from a detached point of view, it's a good thing. What we were doing was of scarce interest to the multitude, good only to fill pages between and advert and the other. If we pride what we do we could only be frustrated by this reality.
But here we are, with a lot of ruins under our feet, and with the difficult task to rebuild a profession that must be new, different, interesting to the public. Easily say then done. Especially for the large number of under-talented professionals that were parasites to the system and produced more sponsored works then real information.
The way I see it (as I said in previous posts, and I know that to many I'll say something very obvious) is that being a pure travel-journalist (telling and showing how a place is) is real nonsense today. Same nonsense is jumping disorderly from a travel story to a documentary one, and back. The task is to identify reasons to travel, reasons that are in fact "stories", and tell them in a modern way with the advantage (not the conservative rejection) of the new technologies. This, in fact, is much harder then what it may appear: the hidden obvious is transparent to experienced eyes, and to imagine what the larger public may be attracted to, is everybody guess. And note that I say the "larger public": to produce something for an passionate few is easy, but "evolutionary" useless. We need to target a large scale audience!
Because the real problem, my friends, are the media! Talented journalists may develop interesting ideas and present them in a modern, even interactive way, but they are left in a confusing vacuum if there is no a counterpart to discuss and then publish them making sure that they reach this large audience. And publishers will be the real obstacle to the revival of our profession if they don't show the guts and the will to invest in talent and ideas like the big names did in the past. It's money at the base of everything, of course we know, but is only investing in quality and ideas that projects become economically remunerative.
So, on the optimist side, wishing and hoping for a market that will recover, publishers that will invest and (the toughest part) a public that will be interested, we should start on our paths of evolution, or revolution, and be ready for the coming "new". Because is us that must create this "new"!
at 7:54 AM