Travel Journalism: What it is and its Relevance
As a child, when my father would insist that I make notes on how we spent time during a family trip, I would resist. “Why? Aren’t we on a break?”
But slowly it became more of a habit as I enjoyed putting my thoughts on paper; thoughts that soon turned into beautiful memories. The people we met, the food we enjoyed and the innumerable experiences that we shared together over the years- all were documented in the pages of hotel notepads or my fancy spiral notebooks, my handwriting legible for once.
Rummaging through my vacation notes, I’m reminded of the quaint yellow flower growing in the wilds of Patnitop and the hot Maggi we relished after a slide down through the snow in Manali. Memories of that amazing drive through the clouds en route Cherrapunji, or that feeling of almost holding the heart in my hands when the boat overturned in the chilling waters of the Ganges in Shivpuri during a rafting trip, are so stoutly etched. I can still feel that same ticklish feeling I got when fish nibbled at my feet in a Panchmarhi waterfall and recall the taste of the Shirmal served with kehwa that we had near the Dal Lake in Srinagar. These stories and more, all written as a teenager, still have the power to transport me into a world filled with wonder and nostalgia.
Travel Journalism vs Tavel Writing/Blogging
But travel journalism is not about travel writing or blogging. It is a genre of journalism all on its own. It means serious business and has assumed more significance especially in the era of globalisation. It is all about informative, skilfully written, insightful stories covering a billion dollar worth industry—the travel industry and all its various ramifications. On the economic side, the focus is on government policies, investments, new ventures, jobs, infrastructure, and the overall health of the industry in general. The social aspects cover stories related to the history, culture, social fabric of places, food etc. Then, another focus area of the travel beat could be events like tourism festivals, etc.
Specializations in Travel Journalism
In this age of specialisations, even within the field of travel journalism, there can be various segments like the museums, architecture, wildlife, sport, motoring etc that the journalists can specialise in.
As per the basic tenets of journalism, travel journalists too must stick to facts, be non-biased, accurate and raise and discuss issues related to the beat. Travel journalism is not just about describing a place or an event (that the brochures anyway do) but goes much more beyond that. It involves in-depth reporting, with proper sources and good amount of background research.
What it takes to be a Good Travel Journalist
Travel journalism can be fun to pursue but is pretty demanding too. To be a good travel journalist, one must have a passion to be on the go (obviously!). He or she must be keen to explore new places and willing to adapt to the challenges that the journeys may throw up. Most importantly, as a reporter, he/she must have a good news sense or ‘nose for news’ and the ability to sniff out good angles to write their stories. He/she must be observant and have an aptitude for research too—to understand the culture and importance of the places they visit, find the hidden gems or insider information. He/she must have the ability to write well—to produce engaging copy, filled with fascinating insights. At the end of the day, the travel journalist must be a good story teller.
Travel Journalism Course And Eligibility
Do you need any formal degree to be a travel journalist? Well, it definitely helps. A course in mass communication/journalism helps one learn how to process information and turn that into media products. It helps the students to pitch ideas, learn the reporting techniques and hone their skills in writing. They would also be well-versed with the ethics of reporting which is very important in their practice of journalism—in whichever field. The journalism course will expose them to the nuances of working of the media industry and help them choose the medium in which they want to work—print, electronic and digital.
If you are interested to become a travel journalist, as mentioned earlier, you must have a passion for exploring places and a keen interest in history and cultural studies. In addition, if you arm yourself with a degree in Journalism—it will be like the icing on a cake.
Travel Journalism Scope
The field of travel journalism offers plenty of opportunities for upcoming travel reporters or writers. Apart from the newspapers or general news magazines, radio and television channels that regularly feature travel stories or issues related to the travel industry, there are many specialist magazines, television channels that only cover the travel beat. The OTT platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix also have focussed on travel and culture programmes and documentaries.
Written By :- Ms. Mitali Mohanty, Assistant Professor, JMC, FMeH