Sunday, July 03, 2011

A few thoughts about travel journalism

1. Is this really all it takes to write a travel piece on Latin America for a U.S. newspaper: a few anecdotes about how poor and dangerous the locals seem -- no specifics about places to go or things to see -- mixed in with a couple of lines about the current political situations? I followed a stoned 19-year-old up an active volcano, almost died, and made about $2.38 in Google ad revenue. The author of the piece in question came out of their rum-and-coke fueled haze just long enough to write 800 forgettable words about . . . where did they travel again? . . . and probably made a few hundred bucks. Boo.

2. There are tens of millions of Spanish speakers in the United States. There's really no excuse for a paper the editors of The Seattle Times to not be aware of the rather significant differences in meaning between año and ano, or for the writer not to educate them and insist they get it right before their piece goes to print (psst: one means anus).

3. Which brings me to this anecodote from the author's trip to Mexico City:
All New Year's Eve, rather than wish the police gathered on major corners "Feliz Ano Nuevo," I'd say, "Police Ano Nuevo" ... and they'd return big smiles and answer, "Igualmente" ("Same to you!") [sic].
Uh, what? "Feliz Año Nuevo" -- with the crucial tilde -- means "Happy New Year." "Police Año Nuevo" means jack shit. First, "police" in Spanish is "policía." Second, "Happy New Police"," outside of a haha-police-kinda-sounds-like-feliz doesn't make any sense whichever language one's using.

Dear Publishers of the World: If you want a gringo to wander around and get lost in major Latin American cities for the benefit of your readers, I'm your guy. I'll even check Google Translate before submitting my piece.

1 comment:

  1. I ordered a few polla burgers before I got it straightened out. But I'm not a travel writer. Or an editor.