Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quality: Why We Travel vs. Reader Hot Shots

Quality: today's missing ingredient. (Actually, it was yesterday's missing ingredient, too. And it probably won't be as common in the future as it should be either.)

Quality is what drove Robert Pirsig to stumble about for hundreds of pages in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. As I recall, Pirsig felt strongly that we all are able to recognize Quality. Maybe; I don't know. I do think we have a hard time with day to day quality. You know, the kind without the capital "Q".

Which brings us to today's little itemtravel pictures. The London Free Press devotes half a page of newsprint every Saturday to publishing snapshots of local folk on vacation. This weekend there was a couple from Sarnia in front of some greenery in Antigua, a little London toddler in the water at Tobermory, a whole mess of young people in Italy on a field trip with Clarke Road Secondary School . . .

The Free Press dropped the stock and mutual fund tables months ago. It was determined that the Internet was a better place for publishing that kind of limited interest stuff. Maybe it is time to move the Reader (not so ) Hot Shots completely to the Web.

I'm sure, for those who know these people, it is fun seeing them on holiday and in the weekend paper. For the rest of us, with no connection at all to these people, it' s not so much fun.

But, you know, I bet many of these people have some great pictures from their trips, some great stories and some good travel tips. It is too bad a reporter cannot be assigned to interview them. Each week the best pictures and stories could run in the paper with more on the Web. Hey, it is the Information Age, right?

All the vacation pictures could be posted on the web, on a site run by Sun Media and devoted to the sharing of on-line travel albums with relatives, friends and others interested in "zip-lining in Antigua." To add quality, the newspaper would work closely with these people guiding them through their first venture into the world of travel writing.

Now, compare the Free Press approach to that of The New York Times and their Why We Travel series.

London Free Press Gallery - Reader Hot Shots

The photo on the left should be run only on the Web. A picture with more action, one capturing the feel of the holiday, is needed for publication. Add some stories, tips on canoeing in Algonquin Park and you've added quality. This would serve the general reader and the people in the picture far better.

Why We Travel - The New York Times > Travel > Slide Show > Slide 1 of 30

Some of the pictures run by the NYT are admittedly amazing but I have seen travel pictures from friends and relatives that equaled the NYT stuff.

Newspapers should work with their readers. Strive for quality. Everyone would benefit.


Addendum: I actually tried this approach for my Rockin' On: Travel. All pictures illustrating the article were shot by the person on holiday and they were all shot with a simple point and shoot by a non-professional.

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