Lynn Ferrin on Press Trips

February 8, 2004 | Comments Off on Lynn Ferrin on Press Trips

Thanks to Lynn Ferrin, long-time freelance travel writer who was a travel magazine editor for 37 years, for this in-depth discussion of press trips and other “perks” travel writers should think carefully about:

“You’re probably aware that subsidies and “freebies” are one of the thorniest issues in the travel writing profession.

First of all, reputable publications keep their editorial and advertising content strictly separate; it’s generally accepted that advertising in a magazine does not buy any editorial coverage. Publications will, of course, have “cruise” issues, or “resort getaway” issues, to please their advertising departments, which hope to attract advertising in general, but not on specific properties or other providers. Also, most travel publications don’t do stories featuring one hotel or resort –they’re included in larger stories on a destination. Also, hotels and travel providers are already streetwise about travel writers asking for perks–and often require written proof of a valid assignment before providing any financial consideration.

And these days many magazines and large newspapers (the San Francisco Chronicle among them) now do not publish stories resulting from any kind of subsidies or freebies. Others specify in their writing contracts that asking for any kind of discounts or freebies is prohibited, or that the writer must have the publication’s permission to seek any financial help with a story. It’s all part of the reason why it’s so difficult to make a living at travel writing; travel is expensive, and payment for stories, even in big magazines, is notoriously low. Only the most affluent and prestigious publications will pay the expenses of a freelancer. Bottom line: the purpose of travel writing is to serve your readers; to share information with them about great travel experiences or destinations, or good values. Even if you do get some kind of discount or other financial help–such as on an organized press trip–you should write critically and honestly. You owe it to your readers.” [Emphasis mine.]


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