The Reporting Vacation

Going on a reporting trip outside the country is a great way to get a taste of working abroad and see whether you’d like to pursue it long-term. Here are some thoughts on planning a trip:

  • Go for at least a week. Two weeks is better if you can swing it. The more unexpected things you leave time for, the more unexpected things will happen.
  • Do some research and line up interviews and markets for your story ahead of time. You don’t want to be on your cellphone for a whole day in Timbuktu, pleading with editors to listen to your pitch.
  • Look for “evergreen” topics that won’t be out of date by the time you get back to the US.
  • Leave some time for exploration, both for your own enjoyment and as a way to understand the place better. Half work and half play is usually a good balance. And don’t forget that the work portion is likely to expand once you start reporting. Don’t jam your days too full to start with.
  • To find stories, search Google News for your country of interest or go directly to that country’s local news sites. A lot of interesting stuff happens that never makes it into the big American media outlets.
  • Gather stories as you go. I went to Iceland once to report on their commitment to hydrogen power. I came away with all sorts of other great story ideas, from the rituals surrounding the annual puffin migration to the luxury spa at the local geothermal plant. I’m still trying to get back to do them all.

    hydrogen bus engineer

    Interviewing an engineer while looking at the top-mounted engine of a hydrogen bus.

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