Andrew Eames is a travel journalist and author specialising in global travel destinations. For the latter part of his career, Andrew has worked primarily for the national press, who, Andrew says, “generally don’t want to know the hows, whys and wherefores of a freelance’s travel writer’s travel, provided it doesn’t cost them anything. It is rare, these days, for any freelance to be able to put anything on expenses, so everything has to be hosted either by a tour operator or by a tourist board, usually via a PR.” A large percentage of travel content is therefore generated via group press trips: “This makes the mechanics of travel very easy, but they are also a lazy way of getting the same story as everyone else on the trip, and the group dynamics can easily end up dominating the destination”.
Generally, Andrew won’t visit a destination unless he knows the story will work for him. “I would have researched it before I left, adjusting my itinerary according to my editorial angle, and I would know that it was the sort of thing that I liked to do. On the odd, very rare, occasion where something hasn’t worked out, I have discussed it with the relevant editor, and we’ve agreed that they’d rather not publish stuff that is negative”. In the same vein, travel sections of a newspaper also favour a more positive angle: “They prefer to carry editorial encouraging people to travel, rather than putting them off. I once did a critical piece for a newspaper about a well known holiday village operator that resulted in the paper losing thousands of pounds worth of advertising”.
Andrew believes travel journalists are paid less than they were a few years ago, with their work ending up as smaller articles in smaller sections, while also fending off competition from celebrity columnists. “There are also many more round-ups, 10 of the best of this or that, which are largely done by in-house staff, reducing the need for anyone to actually travel.” He attributes these changes to the internet and the recession: “The net provides lots of blogs and bite-sized up-to-the minute info, which newspapers have tried to emulate. Meanwhile the recession has hit the travel business hard, and advertising budgets which would once have supported the print travel sections have now moved online. Of course the net has also enfranchised a huge tribe of people who want to do what I do, and some of them do it very well. The problem for the likes of me is that many of them are prepared to do it for free, for the glory, or in the hope of a future fee, and that makes it increasingly hard to make a living.”
About Andrew Eames
“After university I travelled to Asia, initially working as an English teacher, and then starting to contribute features to the Straits Times in Singapore. These were human interest topics from the surrounding countries, and when I returned to the UK (this was the early 1980s) I realised that I knew a lot about a part of the world that was just making its first appearance on the tourist map. So I fell into travel writing more by circumstance than by careful planning, and even wrote a book about that time and those places, Crossing the Shadow Line.
“My first proper media jobs were on trade publications in the UK. Then, after a brief stint as editor of Business Traveller magazine, I moved across to newspapers, working for a while as a sub-editor on the Times. From there I spent some years in the guide book world, as managing editor of Insight Guides, before going freelance around 16 years ago. Since then I’ve written more books (currently in the shops is Blue River, Black Sea, the story of my journey down the Danube) and I have contributed to most national newspapers. Whilst continuing to do the freelance balancing act, I also run a website, www.germanyiswunderbar.com, give seminars on book writing, and coach rowing on the Thames in London”.
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