Our new Travel editor, Amy Virshup, says she will be rebooting our travel journalism for the digital age. Send her your suggestions or ask a question here.
I am thrilled to be The Times’s new Travel editor, taking over a department that has offered great writing and photography to Times readers for decades. As I look to reboot our travel journalism for the digital age, there are a few big themes I am thinking about, all aimed at helping our readers travel the world better, more knowledgeably and with more understanding.
[[Leave your feedback and questions for Amy on her plans for our travel coverage in the comments.]]
One is how we tell stories. The classic storytelling mode in travel writing (not just at The Times, but pretty much everywhere) is the first-person travelogue, in which someone parachutes into a location and brings back the tale of the journey. That has resulted in some wonderful writing and terrific insights into far-flung places. But it made more sense when travel was harder, when most people were never going to take that trip to Patagonia or the Australian outback, so the writer really was the reader’s window into a different world.
Now, people can much more easily visit places themselves, and they don’t necessarily want our take on a place; they want the tools to discover it for themselves and find their own take on it.
There will always be room for well-written pieces of discovery — I recommend our recent story about walking the periphery of Paris, for instance — but in general I want to take the word “I” out of our coverage.
People also increasingly want an “authentic” take on a place. When they travel, they want to feel as if they are slipping into the lives of the locals, not standing outside that life looking in. That, as much as saving money, is one prime reason behind the incredible growth in the sharing economy of Airbnb, VRBO and the like.
Those places, unlike hotels, give you the opportunity to really live in a neighborhood and partake of its charms — shopping at the grocery store, finding “your” bakery where you can pick up croissants each morning, or going for a run in the local park.
To tap into that hunger, I am looking at using more writers who actually live in the places readers want to visit.
We hear from locals all the time when we write stories about where they live, and often they want to tell us what we missed. That’s partly a result of the expansion of The Times’s readership around the world and also thanks to the strength of social media.
Years ago, if we wrote about Los Angeles, for instance, few people there would read it. Even if they did, if they found what we wrote lacking, the only way we would know is if they wrote a letter to the editor. These days, they take to Twitter and we hear them loud and clear.
As Travel editor, I want to harness that energy to amplify our coverage. One writer and one story can’t tell everything about a place, but if we can add readers’ voices and knowledge to what we do, we can get a fuller picture. And that’s what we all want.
Let’s get started. What suggestions do you have for our Travel desk? What kinds of travel tips would be useful to you? What do you think we’ve been missing? Please leave your suggestions and any questions you might have for me in the comments section.
Portrait by Earl Wilson/The New York Times
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