Is a Travel Blogger a Travel Writer or a Journalist?

Is a travel blogger a travel writer or a journalist? Let’s put this down to black & white, shall we? There is a difference between a travel blogger, travel writer and a professional journalist. There is, there really is.

Really? Yes, really. Many very talented travel bloggers out there could easily be professional travel writers, and many do write for online or print publications as well as their personal blogs.

I have seen many travel blogs by folks who have had careers as professional travel writers – with undergraduate or graduate degrees in journalism – then went solo online. There is a lot of cross-over.

But is every travel blogger a travel writer?

And then to stretch that… a journalist? Of course not and the push in the travel blogger community to start to call themselves ‘travel journalists‘ I find a bit ridiculous, and quite possibly insulting to the folks who actually have training, skills and a background in journalism.

That is what I see as the distinction, and to be clear again, IMHO the answer is “no”.

Many travel bloggers have been writing sweet little 500-800 words posts on blogs for a few years – awesome and many very fun to read with some great photographs – then want to call themselves ‘journalists’.

Er, um, no. Just because you write doesn’t even make you a writer (so much uninspiring crap out there), much less a journalist. That’s just being ignorant and possibly a bit arrogant.

I was a nursing major in my late teens at a private university. I didn’t fit in that well, and due partly to continually being told how smart I was despite around a B- / C+ grade point average… decided I should be a physician, studying something more intellectually challenging instead.

Re-read the grade point average part… and that was mainly in science classes, ‘applied’ science classes no less, for a bacclaureate nursing degree, not pre-med. And I had health issues to boot, not exactly pre-med much less medical school material.

But for the sake of my argument here, let’s say I started calling myself a doctor. I was smart, I had some science background so why not?

Get my point? That anyone would see as ridiculous. The same rationale should apply to the field of travel writing and the field of journalism.

Journalism is a professional field of study, with code of ethics, required skills qualifications for employment, etc. Similar to the medical profession.

Formerly, before all this crazy travel blogging hit the Web, travel writing was a subset of journalism, something professional journalists or those with a communication background specialized in, like politics or science.

They didn’t just wake up one morning and call themselves travel writers and then start applying for jobs. Today you can start a blog and then start calling yourself a ‘professional travel writer’ in a day. A bit silly, don’t you think.

Folks who love to travel and start a blog, are travel bloggers. Some hone their skills and work hard, attaining the status as travel writers – someone who a professional publication would hire for an assignment.

So I guess my definition for a professional travel writer would be:

“Someone who either by self-study, or professional training, has the skills and experience to produce quality content for travel publications.”

A journalist by definition is similar, yet you won’t find many professional publications (print, radio or TV) hiring folks without an undergraduate degree at minimum in the field of study.

Travel bloggers and travel writing has some blurred pink in the distinction between one or the other, whereas journalism is much more black and white.

In my humble opinion again, how it should be. As travel bloggers, let’s stick to striving to become travel writers, and leave journalism to the journalists.

What Does The Blog Say?

The Blog: “I like this article.”

Me: “Thank you blog.”

The Blog: “I am a doctor too.”

Me: “What?”

The Blog: “I said… I am a doctor too.”

Me: “I think you are missing the point Blog, I was saying if someone calls themselves that when they don’t have the qualifications, it is not true… and a bit silly, kind-of like these blogger folks calling themselves journalists.”

The Blog: “Oh, I thought since I was so smart, I could.”

Me: “How about we give you the title “Dr. Blog”

The Blog: “No, thanks.”

Me: “Gonzo Blog?”

The Blog: “Better… but I don’t have the qualifications.”

2 thoughts on “Is a Travel Blogger a Travel Writer or a Journalist?

  1. I’ve been writing for my travel blog (and other publications) for nearly 5 years now, and I’m always puzzled by this stuff because I have never aspired to be a journalist. I just like to write about travel, the label stuff is not important to me at all.

    Most of the travel bloggers I know (including the one I’m married to) seem to feel the same. There might be an odd few trying to present themselves as journalists, but I really don’t see any of us posing a real threat to travel journalism anytime soon.

  2. I’m the same Steph, just on some Facebook groups there was discussion of professional titles, and when folks suggest they give themselves the label – or all of us as a profession, what travel blogging has become in many respects – the title “Travel Journalists” it makes me cringe!

    It’s not far-fetched, just when you think about it a bit is a tad arrogant and not really applicable.

    I do, though, think bloggers are competing with professional journalsits who write about travel (many bloggers are very talented, and skilled, regardless of no formal training or schooling) – not only getting assignments that otherwise would have gone to a journalist, but some have large followings on the Web and that takes away mainstream pubs readership to some extent, for better or worse.

    Half the fun is talking about these things, as it is a profession (that I do believe, though maybe not as formally organized as most) and a very unique one at that.

    Cheers to travel bloggers 🙂 Molly

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