|Getting ready for the editors' panel.|
First came the internet, and with it, websites, e-zines or online zines and web-logs, a.k.a. "blogs."
Then came the era of social media: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest - the list is a l-o-n-g one.
It's an era we're still in, barely into, really - and it's still evolving. However, although social media has certainly grabbed a large portion of the media landscape, traditional media is not dead yet, despite rumours to the contrary.
In fact, to paraphrase the immortal words of Mark Twain, "Rumours of its demise are greatly exaggerated."
That became very apparent at the 2015 B.C. Assocation of Travel Writers symposium that took place in Vancouver's Century Plaza Hotel, on April 18, 2015.
The theme of the event was "Ecotourism: Tread Softly, Write with Impact."
It could just have easily been "Traditional Meets New Age Travel Media."
That's because the symposium organizers did a very good job of blending elements of the old with elements of the new in putting together the day's program.
|Photographer David Smith provided great ideas |
to help us improve our travel photography.
The keynote speaker, Vancouver author Jack Christie, provided a very informative and entertaining address.
He also provided living proof that you can still write books about travel - and write them very successfully.
So as you can see, there are still many ways to be published in hard-copy, although online publishing does offer a nice alternative.
Now, before you start to think this is just an old-school guy, extolling the virtues of an older type of travel publishing...
The organizers also incorporated a Twitter contest into the day's events, so people were tweeting away furiously on smartphones and laptops about what they were hearing from the presenters. At the end of the day, the top three tweeters were presented with prizes.
(I'm not modest, so I have no trouble telling you I placed second, and won a great prize from Cycle City Tours - their Grand Tour - which I look forward to enjoying later this summer).
The organization is also holding a contest for bloggers who attended the event, one that involves writing a post about the event.
Of much greater note, however, is the fact that the BCATW recently made a huge move in terms of its membership criteria.
|The event also offered a chance to connect|
with friends met through social media...
While some bloggers may feel this is long overdue by such associations, and others may feel, "Meh? What's the big deal?" in the big picture, it is huge, and should not be dismissed lightly.
We really are at a crossroads in terms of media and how it is published and how it is used. Magazines that would never have thought of publishing online versions of articles already published in hard copy are now routine doing that. They are also finding new ways to include online articles into the mix that would perhaps not have made it into the hard-copy magazines.
For writers, while this is great news for those publications that do this, it can still be a bit of a Catch-22. Not many travel magazines offer this alternative of hard-copy vs. web. And while this atmosphere certainly provides more opportunities to be published, most of the straight online sites do not pay anywhere near as well as most of even the lower-paying hard-copy publications.
|...as well as a chance to make new connections.|
In terms of monetization, the blogging model for travel writers is completely different from that of the traditional freelance travel writing model. While writers don't have to wait for an editor to purchase a story, it can take a long time and require much patience - and often, more than a little luck - to earn much from a blog, whether you're writing about paddling in Ecuador, diving in Maui, parrot-watching in the Caribbean or just camping in B.C.
So the challenges are there, as they always have been for those of us who earn a living as self-employed writers, photographers, and more recently, videographers.
It really is a Brave New World of travel publishing. Foward-thinking organizations - like the BCATW - that want to grow and thrive realize this, and we saw this in action, Saturday.
Really, the only action for all of us travel writers who value what we do, is to recognize the obstacles, embrace the challenge, and plow on, furiously typing, snapping and posting to bring the world out there back to our readers.