One common mistake new travel journalists make in the field is they bring their sense of entitlement with them into a country that is very different – although not necessarily in a worse situation – than the country they come from.
Therefore, it’s really important to practice the art of listening, openness and acceptance when you are in the country where you are reporting. Just because someone is different than you are – and their way of life is different – does not mean they have a lower quality of life or are less intelligent. You may not believe this outright. However, it can be surprising how this line of thinking can sneak in and disrupt your ability to report as fairly as possible.
It’s important to remember, as novelist and international speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche has noted, that no person or country is a “single story.” That’s powerful if you think about it carefully. Keep this as your mantra – and you’ll work toward being fair and open to everyone you interview.
Reporting in the most ethical way possible also is a lesson you should learn early on as you report across the globe. You will be presented with opportunities to film children doing drugs or engaging in illegal activities, for example — and you’ll need weigh whether you are doing more harm or good to the world’s understanding of their story to actually report it.
A good rule is to be wary of reporting – with names – illegal activities of minors. At the end of the day, they are children, and they deserve to live as children even if their current circumstances are creating an environment in which they are being harmed. Your first aim as a travel journalist is to report without doing intentional harm. Think carefully about that.
Please take a look at SPJ’s journalism standards.