When you arrive in a new country to begin searching for stories, you usually want to have done as much research as possible before you go. Make sure most of that homework is not on the plane! Read on to get a few pro tips for preparing before you book your trip:
- Read as many articles as you can from major newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, L. A. Times, etc.). Be exhaustive in your reading so you know the stories and angles that already have been told.
- Touch base with your embassy in the country where you hope to travel to connect with the press liaison. You’ll want to have as many official government contacts as possible to verify information when it involves your country.
- Conduct interviews with as many people who have lived in the country or who are currently living in the country. This will give you a sense of living conditions, good places to stay while you are reporting and recommendations for trusted people who can help you with translation services and transportation.
- Contact journalists who have reported in the country before you to get their tips and advice.
- Read non-fiction books of the country you are traveling to in order to understand historical landscapes, tensions and nuances.
Once you get on the ground, your skills can really shine because you’ve done such thorough research. Just make sure you are spending a lengthy amount of time interviewing multiple people about the topics you are covering. This helps you avoid a fatal newbie mistake – basing an entire story of a country on one source’s testimony.
Listen, be observant, take note, immerse yourself in the country. But also be vigilant in interviewing multiple people to make sure your story is, indeed, accurately representing reality.