12 Do's and Don'ts of Pitching Freelance Travel Journalists

 This is something I've been meaning to write myself, but this blogger has done a fine job, so I'll share it here instead. 

Lavanya’s Media Newsletter

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"Travel writers have many responsibilities these days: writing, editing, marketing, invoicing, acquiring images, and keeping track of constantly shifting mastheads. But if our work days are in constant flux, one thing remains constant: Our inboxes are always overflowing with press releases and pitches."

A related story I wrote may apply:

Why should you always credit shared photos on social media.

Source: creativecommons.org

The various social media platforms we are all familiar with see an explosion of lovely images that engage, inspire and titillate us.

But before you share, there are some things you should consider.


It’s just good form to acknowledge the originating artist for any image you find and share even though your source may be Flickr, Instagram, Facebook or just ‘the internet’. For example, would you post a picture of the Mona Lisa without acknowledging Leonardo da Vinci? No. So even if you find a random picture of a building, landscape or public figure somewhere on the web, so too it follows that you should make every attempt to credit the originating artist, not just the place you found/stole it.


Now, this is where you can come unstuck. Intellectual Property (IP) is protected by law, specifically the law of copyright, and there are many lawyers and quasi-lawyers trawling the web looking for violations and issuing scary notices that will either instruct you to remove the image immediately or, worse, pay an outrageous fee. Even if their basis of claim may be fragile, can you afford the expense and hassle to defend yourself?

Making clear and precise acknowledgement of the artist/photographer/writer in any IP you are sharing, gives you a measure of protection under what is known as ‘fair use’.

Here are some key points sourced from the Copyright Council

• Copyright is infringed when copyright material is used without permission in one of the ways exclusively reserved to the copyright owner.
• There are some situations in which people can use copyright material without permission, either for free or on other terms.
• A copyright owner is entitled to commence a civil action in court against someone who has infringed his or her copyright and may be entitled to various remedies.
• Some infringements of copyright (usually those that involve a commercial element) are also criminal offences, and various penalties can be imposed if someone is convicted of a copyright offence or issued with an infringement notice.

It should be noted that if you find an infringing image (for example) and proceed to share it, you can be held responsible for the same infringement. An area of danger in this regard is when you find a stock library image being used by someone who may or may not have paid for the right, you run the risk of getting a knock on the door from the legitimate copyright owner or their lawyer asking you to demonstrate your right to use the image.

Trademarks are another whole area of law, so when you use a corporate logo, be very sure you have permission.

When is ©opyright expired or not applicable?

You’ve probably seen the term ‘Public Domain’ meaning that the work is published (like uploading to Wikipedia)  and the artist has deemed the work ‘copyright free’. But this doesn’t mean you can use it anywhere and anyhow. Even Public Domain work has limits and you should know them.

‘The photographer is dead. It should be okay.’ 

Not necessarily. Even though the rule of thumb is that copyright expires 50 years after the death of the author, this is not a hard and fast rule. Copyright can be owned by the estate of the artist or the originating publication, like a newspaper or magazine. Be careful.

Copyright is a complicated area of law, so it can be dangerous to assume “she’ll be right”. So, if in doubt, posting a detailed credit or acknowledgement can sometimes shield you from ravenous copyright lawyers.

This article is published as a guide only and should not be construed as legal advice.

Roderick Eime is a professional writer and photographer with 40 years of experience. He holds tertiary qualifications in journalism from the University of Queensland and taught photojournalism at Charles Sturt University - Mitchell.

Five reasons to like Google Docs


Have you ever been embroiled in one of those content projects where docs are flying back and forth and everyone has their tuppence worth scrawled in the margin? Yeah, that would be all of us, right? Well at least with Google Docs everyone is working on the same document together, more or less simultaneously. While they're not eliminated, crossover edits are greatly reduced - and with version history, at least you know who to blame!

Optical Character Recognition

Once upon a time, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was so clunky, you'd spend more time correcting the mistakes than it would have taken to type the whole thing out with one finger. Google Docs has a surprisingly accurate and useful OCR function that does all the work online. For example, just upload an image with text, open in Docs and 'Hey Presto'. Text.  It's a thing of beauty.

Back-Up and Share

Google Docs (and now the whole Drive system) creates a safe, searchable archive of all your documents, so when your dog eats your homework, you always have a backup. Where's that story on Belgian waffle face treatments you wrote last year? Can't find it on the hard drive because you gave it a stupid name, but just search Docs and .. shazam! There it is.

Spelling and Grammar

Google Docs has pretty decent spellcheck and now that it works hand-in-glove with Grammarly (a powerful third-party spelling and grammar checker) your embarrassing mistakes are minimised.

Recognise and Download in multiple formats

Choose a whole bunch of different formats to download including PDF, MS Word, HTML and even ODT, a format used by MS Word's big free competitor, OpenOffice. We'll discuss that later.

Buzzsaw's 2020 Hall of Shame: The top 15 eye-rolling cliches and buzzwords.

Don't you just love it when someone says what everyone is thinking? Thank you Buzzsaw.

This top 15 list reflects this year’s most frequent submissions to www.thebuzzsaw.co.uk, now in its 10th year.

The Buzzsaw, an online tool that strips the buzzwords out of press releases, speeches and blog posts, today announces its awards for the worst jargon of 2020.

The list is based on frequency of submissions from editors and correspondents worldwide.

The 2020 Buzzsaw Hall of Shame (Comments below are supplied by judges).

Judge’s comment: “A word that has been brutalised by Hipster culture. Google practically anything – potatoes, burgers, you name it – and there’ll be a curated list somewhere in the world. To make it worse, lists are often ‘carefully curated’, which is tautologous.”

Judge’s comment: “Second only to the vacuum of space as the emptiest thing in the universe. It’s like calling literature or journalism ‘words’. It’s the high watermark in the commoditisation of writing.”

Judge’s comment: “A word that rather cleverly obscures the thing it seeks to clarify. Like spraying mud on windows to clean them.”

‘Human Capital’.
Judge’s comment: “The latest in the personnel department’s march towards balance sheet.”

‘The new normal’.
Judge’s comment: “Unfortunately it is catching on. I get hundreds of emails a week that reference this phrase.”

‘In the time of Covid’.
Judge’s comment: “Gabriel Garcia Marquez it ain’t.”

‘Reach out’.
Judge’s comment: “My standard response is ‘back off’.”

‘Circle back’.
Judge’s comment: “Sigh. Incoming Halley’s Comet press release.”

Judge’s comment: “A bold attempt to make a bad idea sound better than it is by diverting our attention.”

Judge’s comment: “Please stop using this as a noun. It is a loaf or a cake. It is not a bake.”

‘Fake news’.
Judge’s comment: “An oxymoron of such heft that only a moron could coin it. Unfortunately it has caught on.”

‘Mainstream media’.
Judge’s comment: “A tedious blamefest, thinly disguising a lack of ability to debate properly.”

‘We remain cautious’.
Judge’s comment: “On a quarterly basis, listed companies invite their advisors to visit them and help them draft their financial results statement, including the outlook statement. These three opaque words are the most overused and expensive a company will ever buy.”

‘Going forward….’.
Judge’s comment: “I long for the day someone writes ‘going backward’.”

Long-time Hall of Shame member, best exemplified by the sticker company that describes itself as ‘a global leader in adhesive labelling solutions’.

Dishonourable mentions:

Judge’s comment: “A word that seems to mean that something has been brought forward, potentially resulting in a missed flight, etc.”

Judge’s comment: “As a sign-off on an email, this feels really ill-judged. If you can’t be bothered to say ‘best wishes’ or ‘best regards’, it’s not a great start, is it?”

Judge’s comment: “Rule of thumb: if someone describes themselves as an entrepreneur, they probably aren’t. Worse still ‘cakepreneur’, ‘burgerpreneur’, etc. Fun game: try putting ANY word in front of preneur and googling it. Chances are, there is one.”

Judge’s comment: “Not since the devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar, has something devalued as much as the word ‘awesome’. To be full of awe in the presence of a tea towel or poached egg is setting a very low bar.”

Final note to PRs:
Paste a press release or speech into the Buzzsaw and the document is checked against a database of thousands of buzzwords and clich├ęs. The document is returned with all matches struck through in red.
www.thebuzzsaw.co.uk is used by thousands of organisations worldwide.

Same old Instagram cliches.

Now, call me an old fuddy-duddy, but as an early adopter of the Internet (first pages published mid-90s) I've seen most of the good, bad and ugly of the web and social media even before it was called that.

I've seen trends and fads come and go. MySpace, CompuServe, OzEmail, Lycos etc

As a former university photojournalism lecturer, I do believe I have an eye. Two in fact. And both give me the same feedback when I see some Instagram feeds.

I'm singling out Instagram because it is the pre-eminent visual social media tool and one that seems to be 'hot' right now. Okay, and Pinterest. But let's stick with Instagram.

Perhaps I'm not the right guy to be jabbering on about Instagram as I have a pathetic number of followers and I don't own a swimwear range and would fail the Men's Health cover model test. Badly.

Now, there's an old quote that says "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like (or hate)" and the same goes for me. Especially on Instagram.

Just like in travel writing, the same goes for images. Same old subject matter. Same compositional treatment. Same filter overdose. Same narcissistic crap.

What am I on about exactly? Well, here's a collection of images that would definitely NOT get my click of approval.

It might have been clever once, but now .. not so much.
Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Sphinx, Devils' Marbles. Give it a rest.
Okay, the LEGO one is funny, but now that you've seen it, you're just a copycat.

Unless you have the body of a deity, leave it alone. Please

Eeks! Throttle off the HDR filter. That 'Woodstock' effect is way too much.

Are you endorsing a leg wax? Then don't.

Centering our chakra, are we? Spare me.

Have to 'hand' it to the guy you started this craze, but now I want to shoot him.
Let go already!

Hey Moses, did you just part the Red Sea? Nuh. 

Got tickets on yourself? Unless you are a proper A-Lister, give us a break.

The best Instagram feeds IMHO are those that surprise. Be original. Be new. Be dazzling. No one likes a copycat. Even if you only have 12 followers from your knitting circle.

Want to pick me to pieces? Go ahead. Here's my Instagram.

Blogger fined $420k for #fakenews

The 'Belle Effect' is an age-old syndrome already rife across all our media platforms. When will we learn?

Australia’s Federal Court in Melbourne has handed down a verdict following an investigation by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) which determined that the blogger and self-proclaimed cancer survivor, Belle Gibson, had misrepresented herself and made fraudulent claims.

In a landmark case that should get the attention of all social media gurus and ‘influencers’, it highlights the vulnerability of the public in getting their news and advice from so-called experts via unverified social media sources ie #fakenews. A glaring case of ‘people believe what they want to believe’, fueled by a popular media hungry for sensation and a complete lack of fact-checking in their rush jump on the bandwagon.

Young, blonde and vivacious, Ms Gibson seduced not only the public, but also the media and publishing industry with her story of self-curing brain cancer with diet and alternative therapies.

Even when exposed, 60 minutes saw a way to keep the gravy train rolling

She was frequently seen on TV chat shows and obtained a book deal with Penguin who also copped a $30,000 fine for being part of the “unconscionable sequence of events”, although we hope this error was unwitting. The book, ‘The Whole Pantry’ has since been removed from shelves. All this gleefully gobbled up despite the fact that Ms Gibson refused to show any proof of her diagnosis for cancers she claimed to have in her blood, spleen, uterus and liver by a German magnetic therapist who she consistently declined to name. In the end, it was former friends who blew the whistle on Gibson, not any decent journalist or investigator.

What do you think it was about your Instagram posts that attracted so many followers? "Authenticity and integrity. It really is that simple. There’s not enough honesty out there." — The Whole Pantry, Belle Gibson

Whether it's the likes of Peter Foster and his amazing herbal tea, 'Dr' David Kaye and his Sydney Trauma Clinic or the perennial 'snake oil salesman', the 'Catch Me If You Can' fraudster seems to be a permanent part of our landscape that now extends to social media.

Con artists have been around forever. Social media gives them a new global platform.

“It should be no surprise that these (falsehoods) have adapted for the times and can now be found in a variety of TV shows, apps and websites peddled by a cacophony of wellness bloggers (who strain both credulity and grammar), lifestyle gurus or outlier doctors,“ wrote SMH columnist Amy Gray, “The surprise is that we still fall for them."

PAUL BARRY: ...what’s remarkable about Belle’s remarkable story is that no one who swallowed it apparently bothered to check it was true. Not the publishers at Penguin. Nor the chaps at Apple. Nor a parade of media admirers at The Sunday Telegraph, News.com.au, Cosmopolitan, Australian Women’s Health, Marie Claire, Elle and Channel Seven’s Sunrise, among others.
— ABC, Media Watch, 16 March, 2015

As the many thousands of dollars rolled in, the glamorous huckster promised to make donations to various cancer causes, specifically one to assist the family of young Joshua Schwarz, a boy with an inoperable brain tumour who she said mirrored her own experience. She failed in all these promises, donating a paltry $10,000.

In handing down the fine, Federal Court Judge Debbie Mortimer said, "If there is one theme or pattern which emerges through her conduct, it is her relentless obsession with herself and what best serves her interests."

We swallowed it whole. Every last morsel of bullshit.

Ms Gibson refused to appear in court for any of the hearings and has never issued any sort of apology.

While there may not be many on the scale of Ms Gibson’s scandal, social media is rife with biased opinions paid for by PR-hungry brands looking to muscle in on media attention, social or otherwise. Nevertheless, many small-time ‘influencers’ in the travel, lifestyle and fashion space are having a similar effect on the opinions of the public, hopefully without such potentially disastrous consequences.

Pleased with the fine and ruling, Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Marlene Kairouz said Ms Gibson “... knew exactly what she was doing and thankfully there aren't many people out there like Belle Gibson."

Or are there?

Sources include ABC News

Guidelines for starting a travel story

Writers Block (BigStock)

Remember standing up if front of your primary school class and reciting “what I did in my holidays”? Did they stay awake? The same is true for travel writing and unless you grab your audience’s attention early, you’ve lost them forever.

“We did this” and “then we went there” are the travel writing equivalent of watching paint dry. Travel writing needs colour and excitement. It needs to transport the reader into the middle of the location, immerse them in the experience and leave them wanting more.

When I’m trying to start a story, I always remember some advice given to me by Don George of Lonely Planet.

“Find the passion point,” he told me.

By this, Don means pinpoint the one key moment in your journey, trip or experience that encapsulates the event. It might be an encounter with an interesting person (this is always good) or a moment of visual climax that was why you went there in the first place. There are no rules to this except to say that if the moment excited you for whatever reasons, then chances are if communicated correctly, it will excite your reader too.

The theory behind this is as much to capture the attention of a commissioning editor as it is to immediately glue your reader to the rest of the story. If you can’t get attention in the first paragraph, or two, then you don’t have a story – or not a saleable one anyway.

Hence, your first paragraph should begin with this event and your last paragraph should be the resolution or conclusion of this event ie the lasting experience or lesson you derived from this event. That way your reader will continue through the story, picking up the important practical information and advice you also want to impart before the finale. Here is where you might want to include the input from your host if this was a sponsored trip, perhaps in the form of a quote pulled from a short interview.

Look who's talking

12 Do's and Don'ts of Pitching Freelance Travel Journalists

 This is something I've been meaning to write myself, but this blogger has done a fine job, so I'll share it here instead.  Lavanya’...