Arlington's Clarendon Center was ground zero for Travel Writing, A One-day Short Course available through the county's Adult Education program. Our teacher was Jerry Haines, a former lawyer and college journalism teacher turned Washington Post columnist. The class was made up of 7 women and 3 men, ranging in age from early twenties to late forties. — So You Want To Be A Travel Writer, March 2007
As part of my effort to reconnect with everyone since returning home, I invited Jerry out for coffee. Since taking his travel writing course, we'd loosely stayed in touch. While I was traveling, he'd check in on this blog from time to time, and when I had the opportunity to write about Medellin for AskMen.com, he was able to offer me some guidance from his 12 years of travel writing experience which I greatly appreciated.
We met at a Starbucks in Clarendon, near my old apartment. It was good to see him again. I felt more worldly and accomplished having blogged for 2 full years, through 20 countries, since taking his class. We talked about a variety of subjects, and shared stories from abroad. An interesting theme that came up was the changes rippling throughout the traditional print media and how it is affecting the travel writers and editors. Basically, contractions in budgets and staffing at newspapers across the country has lead to editors taking early leave, and looking for freelance work on websites. Jerry said that he has lost a lot of the contacts he use to have relationships with at print publications as a result.
While this trend may increase competition on the bigger travel blogs, it also appears the web is becoming an equalizer of sorts. The ability for a travel blogger to develop a wide audience and personal platform for his/her travel writing can lead to opportunities to be published alongside those former travel section writers and editors.
You can read Jerry's good-humored writing at a few of these online publications:
Do you want to hear more of Jerry's perspectives on the state of travel writing – past, present, and future? If yes, please leave a comment and I will see if he is open to a written interview.