4 Ways Travel Makes You a Better Journalist

4 Ways Travel Makes You a Better Journalist

Foreign correspondents are not the only journalists who benefit from exploring the world. Any and every journalist can better their craft, and themselves, by expanding their horizons, experiencing new cultures, and learning about the world outside of their home country. 

Travel is expensive, unfortunately, meaning not all journalists have the opportunity to visit other countries. Luckily, Newhouse students have the opportunity to participate in seminars in other states and countries, free of charge. Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) invites journalism graduate students to visit Germany and Poland to investigate how the media allowed the Nazi government to enforce their destructive policies. Investigative Reporters and Editors 2020 Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference in New Orleans gives journalists a chance to learn more about digital and data journalism, and this year, Newhouse is covering the travel expenses for a limited number of students.

Taking these opportunities to travel will undoubtedly prepare Newhouse students to be the best journalists in the field. Here’s how travel makes journalists more experienced, adaptable, and confident in their work.

1) Travel broadens perspective

The Allée des Nations at the United Nations Headquarters in Switzerland | Credit: Stephanie Macrinos

Exposure to other ways of life allows a journalist to write from varying points of view. Newhouse graduate student Veer Badani, who spent his life between the U.S. and India, credits his multicultural childhood and travel experiences to his skill and passion for sports journalism. He said, “Travelling abroad gives journalists another perspective, be that culturally, religiously, economically or politically. In order to understand a place and people that you wish to cover and report on, it is very important for journalists to travel when and where possible.”

2) Travel teaches you to adapt and improvise

Lake Geneva, Switzerland | Credit: Stephanie Macrinos

Travel can be stressful. Traffic is backed up, airports are packed, and once you escape the pandemonium of travel, you’re in an unfamiliar environment. Whether your destination is abroad or in-country, this forces you to make quick decisions and adjust to new surroundings.

Honing these skills is necessary for any journalist. Sources will cancel, the news will break, and stories will change. The ability to roll with the punches and adapt to sudden changes makes for a better journalist. 

3) Travel puts you in the moment

You can’t comment on the energy of the crowd if you aren’t in it | Credit: Stephanie Macrinos

You can write about an event from anywhere, but it’s best to be there. This is especially true when covering breaking news and sports. Badani said, “It’s possible to cover a game without being at the stadium, but you cannot fully understand and accurately report on the atmosphere if you are just watching on TV.”

If a journalist needs to write a piece about the political climate of a certain state or country, previous experience with the people and culture is an advantage. They can write on the impacts of political policies because they’ve seen them first hand. They can report on the views of the people because they’ve spoken to them. Travel gives journalists the ability to write with a greater sense of detail.

4) Travel helps you understand the importance of journalism

Journalists Memorial at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. | Credit: Stephanie Macrinos

A key component of democracy is a free press. Traveling to nations where a free press does not exist reiterates this. Newhouse graduate student Sarah Midani, who is Syrian-American said, “Traveling abroad gave me a better understanding of why a free press is so important. I visited Syria in 2006, about five years before the war started. I remember seeing political propaganda everywhere, at a much larger scale than we see in American political campaigns. People were cautious with what they said about the government, and that sentiment grew once the war broke out. Despite censorship from the Syrian government, we’ve stayed informed through the work of courageous journalists, and I’m even more thankful for the freedom of speech and press that we have in America.”

Experience is the best teacher, and traveling is the best way to get it. Take advantage of the travel opportunities offered afforded to journalism students, and you’re sure to be better prepared for your future career.

Stephanie Macrinos
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