Wednesday, 3 September 2008

#3 – Know your place in the greater scheme of things.

Or how all travel writers are really working in advertising.

In my time, I have come across a few rather high-minded travel writers. They are thankfully rare, but these people appear to be under the impression that they are doing something vitally important. They are creating high art on a par with the Sistine Chapel and great literary works that knock Shakespeare into a cocked hat.

Sparkling prose about exciting destinations
Well, they’d like to think they are. But really they’re selling things. They may be writing sparkling prose, throwing the spotlight on exciting destinations or tackling the big issues. But, deep down, they’re flogging all manner of products.

The multi-billion dollar travel industry
The travel industry is huge. It incorporates everything from airlines, package holiday companies and booking engines down to the man in the cafe serving the odd tourist. It is worth multiple billions of dollars. Without the travel industry, there would be no travel writing.
Put simply if people didn’t buy travel products, and spend money while on holiday, there would be no call for travel journalism.

Travel journalism and advertising
There’s a possibility that I am wrong here, but I am happy to state that every single outlet for travel journalism exists because it is funded by advertising. Without the advertising, the outlets – be they newspapers, glossy magazines or websites – would not make money. And thus, would not exist. Those that disappear do so because they are not making sufficient money – irrespective of how good the content is.

The purpose of the story
In blunt terms, the writing is there to support the advertising. It is there in order to make people pick up the publication/ visit the website and look at the adverts. The ultimate purpose of your 2,000 word masterpiece is to flog whatever’s being plugged on the page alongside it. This is worth remembering, and not only to keep you in your place. In a future post, I will discuss how to use advertising to your advantage when getting work.

Don’t get too precious
The important thing is to not get too precious about your role. By all means, write to the highest standard you can muster, be diligent in your research and sensitive to the impact your article could have. But by remembering your place in the greater scheme of things, you can become a much more successful writer. And far less annoying to talk to.


ritu said...

The post makes a lot of sense. The other posts are informative as well. Looking forward to reading more.

David said...

Thanks Ritu. Glad it's of some help. I'm trying to get four or five tips a week uploaded, so keep coming back.