The Critics: ‘Confessions of a Travel Writer’*

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  08.11.09 | 5:02 PM ET

So “Confessions of a Travel Writer” debuted last night, and the response—at least from the commenters on our interview with host Charles Runnette—has been ... colorful. But what did Runnette’s fellow travel writers think? I dipped into the blogs and my Twitter stream to find out.

Gadling’s Mike Barish was “embarrassed, appalled and disappointed.” In his post, he acknowledges that the show captured the “frenetic energy” of press trips, but then follows up with this devastating quote from an unnamed fellow writer: “[T]he show focused on a small subset of the industry—the most parasitic, entitled subset. I hope my friends and family don’t think that’s what I do for a living.”

Meanwhile, Shannon Hurst Lane of the Traveling Mamas offered an open letter to the Travel Channel:

I applaud you for airing the pilot of “Confessions of a Travel Writer”. The concept is fantastic, and many of us in the travel industry have been discussing the idea of Press Trip: The Reality Show for years ... Charles Runnette, in his whining wisdom, does make it known that a press trip is not a free vacation. It is work. But, as my grandmother says, “Pick a flavor of s*#% you like. You’ll be eating it the rest of your life.” Judging by the comments on World Hum, Charles needs to pick another flavor.

Jaunted editor Victor Ozols was a rare voice of dissent: “I, for one, appreciated the way you gave voice to your thoughts. The National Geographic Traveler guy *was* a bit of a dork (in a good way). Shira *was* a shameless self-promoter (and a fine blogger). And mosquitoes *are* annoying, so now I’ll know to bring along some insect repellent on my trip ... Keep up the good work, Charles, and don’t let the criticism get you down.”

Opinions on Twitter were a little more varied. San Francisco Chronicle veteran Spud Hilton called the show “catastrophically whiny,” while World Hum contributor Kristin Luna wanted to see more balanced screen time for the five journalists on board. Alison Stein Wellner wanted more drama, lamenting the lack of confessions, meltdowns, and tantrums, and finally, Traveling Mama Kara Williams thought the depiction of the press trip was “spot on.”

*Update 9:19 a.m. ET: Shira Lazar, Jaunted blogger and one of the five writers featured on the show, has responded on her blog. On her colleague Charles Runnette, who’s taken the brunt of the criticism, she had this to say: “In the end, I just think people need to know that he’s actually an accomplished, compassionate, sincere and hard working individual and friend. But, people love to hate à la Simon Cowell, and the fact is that if there’s five people on a show, there’s always going to be one person that brings that out.”

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

4 Comments for The Critics: ‘Confessions of a Travel Writer’*

Cliff 08.11.09 | 5:36 PM ET

Of course jaunted liked it, Shira is their contributor.

LJ 08.11.09 | 11:52 PM ET

Finding a travel writer that one likes is much like finding a literary or music reviewer. Youíll find that the most useful reviews are from those writers whose tastes are closer to yours. If the four writers shown on the press trip are any indication of what is typical in the travel publishing business, then the rest of us are going to be very hard pressed to find writers who arenít filtering their observations through their self indulgent whiny condescending northeast urban attitude. In fact, the rest of us find these bums quite tiresome.

The world doesnít owe these losers a living. They should at least quit their sorry-assed bitching and get on with the job at hand. The only humor in this episode is the irony that is lost on three of these writers when they make snide remarks about the bloggerís narcissism.

John Matthew 08.13.09 | 5:17 AM ET

Confessions of a travel writer, looks interesting! Will look it up :)

Claire Walter 09.08.09 | 11:55 AM ET

I’m a travel writer and I blogged it too. Here’s what I wrote:

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.