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If you thought the New York Times travel coverage was based on the tarmac during the pandemic, think again.
With travel regulations changing from day to day – and sometimes hourly – the office has been busier than ever trying to keep readers informed. There are actually more journalists on staff than before the pandemic, said Amy Virshup, editor-in-chief of Travel. In April 2020, a new section called ‘At Home’, which has helped readers cope with the lockdown, replaced the eight to 10 page section on Sunday travel. (“Home” lasted until May 2021.) But travelogues continued to appear in other sections of the diary, such as a article on why airline customer service was so terrible during the pandemic, which featured in the Business section.
But readers who opened The Times on November 22 got a surprise – and a dose of travel envy. After a year and a half, Travel was back with an article on fly fishing in Italy. The redesigned one-page section will be released every Monday. (On this week’s page, a writer travels through coastal Virginia, New York, New Orleans, and other places to learn more about the traditions surrounding oysters.)
During a conversation, Ms Virshup and Elisabeth Goodridge, deputy editor-in-chief of the office, discussed their goals for the section, returning to traditional travel stories and how the pandemic could change their coverage. Their answers have been modified.
Why did you decide to launch a printed travel page now?
AMY VIRSHUP: We focused on news and service stories, which can be shared in other sections. If we make a story about the cruise industry, it could be corporate, or maybe national or international. But there’s a certain type of travel story – the wonderful destination where you can bask in the place itself, often written in first person – that just doesn’t feel right in another section.
What was your thinking behind the redesign?
VIRSHUP: One of the things we try to do is showcase our beautiful photographs. We did this article on fly fishing in Italy, and the photos were just spectacular. We hope the page serves as a place of inspiration for old school travel.
With variants of the coronavirus making their way around the world, how do you plan and assign stories?
ELISABETH GOODRIDGE: We had to be very careful, as the rules and restrictions changed almost daily. With this new variant, Omicron, countries have once again closed their doors or made re-entry rules much stricter. We try to make sure that we provide up to date information to our travelers.
Are Do you rely more on freelance writers and photographers who already live in the places you cover?
VIRSHUP: Our coverage of travel news has always focused more on the staff than on the self-employed. But we have sent fewer people on long journeys, and more often we have used people who are in an area to report on that area. Right now, if people give me a big trip to Europe, I have to think, can a person actually go and will they feel comfortable going? Are we going to run into any restrictions that will be an issue when we try to publish this? Can we send a photographer?
GOODRIDGE: We also wonder not only if these countries are open, but do they have high rates of Covid, and should we actually be writing stories that encourage travel?
Do you think the pandemic will change the way people travel in the long term?
GOODRIDGE: I think travelers will continue to go to vacation homes with their families. We’re also still seeing huge demand for national parks and state parks – people keep going outside, which makes sense with social distancing.
What did you start doing in your blanket during the pandemic that you want to keep doing?
VIRSHUP: Travel was never really an information desk. But when the pandemic hit it became clear that we needed to tell people in real time what they needed to know to be safe and comfortable while traveling, and we started to focus more on the everyday stories. . So we will continue to do this even as we return to the most beautiful and inspiring pieces.
Do you have big dreams for the travel cover in the future?
VIRSHUP: Eventually, I wish I could start covering the world in all its glory again – being able to not only send people around the world again, but also encourage that. But there is no timetable on this. It all depends on the evolution of the pandemic.