SATW 60 Second Travel Writer #1 Reporting

computer keyboard

catharine hamm 1Good writing begins with good reporting.

Here’s an SATW 60-Second Travel Writer Tip from LA Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm:

A well-known travel writer used to insist, “I’m NOT a reporter. I’m a writer.”

Yet her stories brimmed with facts, figures, and imagery collected by carefully questioning sources and recording observations.

Think about the reporting it took for the New York Times’ Timothy Egan to write this paragraph in his book The Worst Hard Time, which chronicles the Dust Bowl years.

“They had been on the road for six days, a clan of five bouncing along in a tired wagon, when Bam White woke to some bad news. One of his horses was dead. It was the nineteenth-century equivalent of a flat tire, except this was the winter of 1926. The Whites had no money. They were moving from the high desert chill of Las Animas, Colorado, to Littlefield, Texas, south of Amarillo to start anew.”

Reporting details—and skillfully incorporating them into a story—paints a picture for your reader.

Using facts also helps writers avoid another deadly sin of writing: telling, not showing. We’ll talk about that in the next edition of The 60-Second Travel Writer. For SATW professional development, I’m Westways Travel Editor Elizabeth Harryman.