Bill Reed is the travel editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is responsible for deciding which stories go into the publication, as well as handling photos, editing stories and occasionally writing stories. Reeds schedule is extremely busy, but I was able to get him on the phone for 15 minutes and ask a few questions on his opinions on journalism, as well as some other tidbits concerning his experience in this field.
Q: What got you into travel writing?
Reed: “It was both personal interest and preference. There are always new places worth visiting, but people may not know about them and they might want to know. I also used to work nights and when the opportunity opened up, I wanted to spend more time with my kids and work days.”
Q: Biggest challenge faced thus far?
Reed: “Well I can’t just go anywhere and write about it. There just aren’t enough resources like time and money. There’s also the issue of finding new places, with fresh angles. We have tons of stories about Tuscany and Italy, and the angles might be slightly different, but we don’t want the readers to see the same story multiple times.”
Q: What’s the best place you’ve been to?
Reed: “I enjoy every place I go. My trips are personal, so they’re always with family. We like to make it special. We make it a point not to go back to the same place twice. As much as we may like a certain place, there are so many other places we have to see. We have a time share that we use for skiing every year, but we really like to explore new places.”
Q: Any advice for aspiring writers?
Reed: “First keep an open mind. You might hear about a place and think I don’t want to go there, but you might find it more interesting than you thought. Second, look for unique aspects of your trips. Always look for what’s unique, new and different. Also, when organizing your stories, try and think of it as a story you’re telling your friends. Start with what you would tell your friends, like “So I almost got run over by an elephant.” You wouldn’t go in chronological order. You have to paint a picture for readers. And take photos. Give specifics, find what is unique and interesting and paint a picture.”
Q: What direction do you feel journalism is heading, and is it a good or bad thing?
Reed: “This is a general question. There will always be a need for communicators to keep people informed. The medium will change however. Newspapers are endangered from people getting information from the internet. But most of the information from the internet comes from newspapers. So if newspapers dry up, the internet would suffer. There will always be a need for journalists, it’s just a matter of how the news is put out.”
Mr. Reed gave some great insight into an ever evolving career that many are blindly entering into. His advice to be prepared and open-minded is definitely something that many young journalists continue to hear today, so hopefully these words will resonate and help create better writers for the future.