Why Perceptive Travel Matters

Come January, Perceptive Travel web magazine will turn three. We’ll celebrate by going monthly from here on out and of course will give away some cool travel gear and books as prizes.

I started the publication three years ago as I watched a continuous decline in quality with travel print media. Some great magazines had gone under, newspapers were scaling back on thoughtful travel pieces, and “Top-10 whatever” lists were everywhere I looked. So I fought back instead of whining, creating a home for book authors to follow offbeat angles and write about things and places nobody else was covering.

Three years later, the print picture is even more grim. How bad is it? For a great rundown from an insider, see this World Hum interview with John Flinn, the resigning editor of the revered San Francisco Chronicle travel section. Even I was shocked by the number of respected, high-profile travel editors Flinn mentions who have either recently resigned or are on their way out. It’s ugly out there. And here’s the kicker:

I think the longer narratives that were the foundation of most newspaper travel sections are starting to fade away. Papers want more “top ten beaches”-style content, and lots of “charticles.” That’s not always a bad thing—there’s a lot of information that can be better conveyed in a list or a graphic than in a narrative. But I think there’s a growing assumption that readers don’t have the attention spans to wade through an 1,800-word travel narrative, no matter how well it’s written.

Well, we will continue to publish those 1,800-word narratives, the kind of articles that are meaty enough to make the “best travel writing anthologies” instead of being used to line bird cages. Despite conventional wisdom, our stats say real independent travelers—our audience—are still reading them. And we’ll continue to supplement that with interesting and thoughtful blog posts here from Sheila, Liz, and Antonia.

Thanks for hanging in there with us, supporting our advertisers, and allowing us to make it to the toddler stage.

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