To be completely frank, I don’t really know what specific realm of journalism I want to go into. When I started in this program, I was deadest on becoming a travel writer. Hob-knobbing around the world, getting paid to experience new cultures was a dream.
Now that I’ve gained more experience, I feel like travel writing is mostly self-indulgent and vapid. There is so much more that can be done with journalistic skills than chronicling the baguettes in Paris.
What I’d like to do now is marry that urge to travel and thirst for foreign experiences with the mindset or a real reporter. I want to use travel as window to report the world. I want to shine light on real-life issues that have tangible effects to real people.
However, I am torn on this front because I feel like my best asset as a writer, really as a person, is my humor. I can’t imagine a career in which I don’t have an outlet to capitalize on a printed voice that I have spent a lot of time cultivating. The world-changing work on Darfur by Nicolas Kristof, for instance, doesn’t allow much room for chuckles.
So ideally I want to find an outlet to satisfy both of these urges en route to the same goal. I want to use my humor to build rapport that allows me to hold onto readers that may check out to dryer, heavier reporting. I want to travel and use those little trivial quips of a travel writer to humanize a place before drawing attention to the more significant issues it faces.
So much of international reporting fails to draw connections between cultures. It’s so often, “here’s the plight of a people you have no relationship or reference to. Now care damn it.” I denounce this approach. There are intersections between all people. Viewers need to see them before they can empathize. I basically want to be a fusion of Kristof, Anthony Bourdain, Tom Robbins and the character Hank Moody from Californication.
I don’t really care about the medium, whether it’s online for a publication, freelancing, feature writing for magazines or even in front of the camera. I think my greatest opportunity to be successful is to be myself, whomever that happens to be. Some specific outlets for this would be Nat Geo and Nat Geo Travel, Lonely Planet’s publication (not guide books), international sections of papers, the travel channel (sometimes), vanguard reporting, etc.
In order to do this, I need to develop the interviewing skills to get quality human copy. I also need to master multimedia (video, audio, photo, Web) since the field is shifting toward people who do every step of the reporting process. I need to improve my language skills and knowledge of international issues. Obviously i need to improve my writing. I can effectively write news stories, or really funny stuff. I haven’t yet figured out how to fuse those two skills. All that will come with time and experience, hopefully.