Update (January 11, 2018): Out of the 13,000 applicants it eventually received, The New York Times chose Jada Yuan, a longtime New York magazine editor with experience covering celebrities, presidential conventions, and more. Ultimately, according to the NYT, it was important to choose someone with a talent for telling stories. “[H]aving somebody with a robust reporting background is going to be a really important tool,” said Dan Saltzstein, the 52 Places coordinating editor.
Update (November 1, 2017): The deadline to apply for this job was yesterday, and The New York Times says it has received over 9,000 applications.
Update (October 25, 2017): As of this morning, New York Times Travel Editor Monica Drake says the publication has received 3,100 applications to the position. The deadline to apply is October 31.
This story was originally published on October 24, 2017, at 10:30 a.m.
Travel the world and get paid for it? Sounds like a dream job to us. No wonder a recent posting for a yearlong travel-journalist stint on The New York Times ignited such a tweetstorm and so much discussion in every corner of Journalist Internet — and beyond.
The writer would be working on the NYT ‘s annual 52 Places to Go. According to the post, “We are seeking a correspondent who will go to every destination on our list and tell us the story of each place and the story of life on the road. The ideal candidate is a permanent student of life and astute documentarian of the world.”
Just how many applications has the paper received? Oh, a casual over 2,400 as of this morning, NYT Travel Editor Monica Drake tells Refinery29. She says the listing was posted in the early morning of Monday, October 23.
We asked Drake the question on everyone’s lips: Aside from the requirements stated in the job posting, what are you actually looking for?
“We’re looking for the unicorn who has it all,” Drake says. And with such a huge applicant pool, it looks like they’ll be able to find it.
She says the paper has been receiving a lot of queries from nontraditional applicants; people who have experience with traveling and writing but not necessarily former journalism majors. “There are teachers…I think, at least, one bartender — people who know a lot about life but didn’t all get a Master’s in journalism and intern at progressively larger publications.”
We’re looking for the unicorn who has it all.
As long as they also have the requisite writing and multimedia experience, Drake says she’s open to this type of applicant. Social media expertise is also an asset, and it seems, Drake says, the NYT is reaching the right people since this posting has been shared like hotcakes.
Drake says the Times has a recruiter to help whittle through the digital stack of applications. The publication plans to choose someone by the end of next month, and the person will start in January. They will spend most of their time on the road, but she says she cannot share the upcoming destinations yet.
The Times’ strict no-comps policy will apply to this job, says Drake. (Staff members may not accept gifts, discounts, or compensation.) Sorry, but no free stays at fancy resorts or complimentary cocktails allowed. “They’re not going to be flying around in a private jet,” she says. “We’re going to treat the correspondent as one of our regular contributors.”
Olivia Balsinger, a travel writer and editor at various publications, is one of the thousands of hopefuls. Like many journalists we’ve heard from, she says she woke up yesterday morning to several people who had already messaged or texted her the application. Her mom even called her at work to tell her about her new “dream job.”
“I think far too often the idea of travel — especially paid travel — is romanticized in people’s minds and they neglect to prioritize the writing element of it,” Balsinger tells Refinery29. “What people don’t know is that for every picture they see of me lounging in an infinity pool in Thailand or taste-testing a five-course meal at a posh restaurant in Tel Aviv, I am spending triple that time trying to articulate my experience for my outlets that sent me.”
She adds: “Though this is totally competitive, in order to be a travel journalist, you have to be one thing: and that thing is ballsy.”
Michele Herrmann, a freelance travel, lifestyle, and food writer, says she first learned about the job when her friends shared it on Facebook. She knows quite a few other people who are applying.
“I decided to apply on a whim,” she tells us. “It’s a dream job, as you have the task of creating destination guides that readers can follow. You have to go beyond the usual tourist sites and delve into finding places that locals go to.”
However, not everyone thinks the job will be as cool as it’s cracked up to be. Romina Spina, a freelance journalist who frequently travels for work, says she thinks traveling to 52 places a year would be incredibly stressful — even for the most seasoned, well-traveled correspondent.
She’s also skeptical about the method. The posting reads: “This person should have a well-worn passport, the ability to parachute into a place and distill its essence, and to render a compelling tale with words and images.”
“I’m not sure how ‘parachuting’ into places would produce great travel journalism in the end,” she says. “Where is the time to prepare and read up on the destination, and above all, the time to engage with locals and understand a bit more about the place you’re visiting?”
Reservations aside, this is the opportunity of a lifetime for the right person — and we cannot wait to see who gets the job. But if you are applying, Drake has one more teeny-tiny request: “Emailing me or anyone else at the company won’t help your case.” Please take pity on the busy editor and apply through the website.
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