Take Control From Your Host: Maintaining Focus on Press Trips

by David Miller Feb 25, 2010
Direct from email exchanges among Matador crew, here is a transparent way of dealing with press trips.

Who do you talk to on press trips? Photo: Sergio

MOST press trips are inherently tweaked.

For example, check out the following sentences in a press trip alert I received this morning:

“. . . there is some scope for sponsored participation in our expeditions in conjunction with corporate sponsors, usually if a commission in a well-known medium has been obtained and the sponsor can be given exposure. In that case the airfare, all meals, activities, lodging, and in country transportation are likely to be included. “

I interpret that as meaning “if your shit is big-time enough to adequately pimp us / our sponsors, we’ll pay for you to come.”

Which is the essence of most press trips.

And that’s fine. Any worrying about, romanticizing, or deluding yourself in any way about press trips is a total waste of time. The reality is that they can be positive or negative experiences, depending mostly on your ability to maintain your focus and find a good story.

With that in mind, I wanted to publish an email exchange from last week. This was from an editor in the middle of a press trip, and was answered by Matador CEO Ross Borden. More than anything, it shows the focus necessary when dealing with hosts and “handlers,” especially when you know you have a potentially good story:

turkey project was WEIRD today. an entire day of corporate sales shit and nada on the eco-angle – just men in suits sporting sinister black moustaches and loose-toothed smiles. if you don’t mind i’d like to sack all that crap and interview ken yeong, the malaysian eco-architect don whose vision this is, and whose words would surely be more suited to CHANGE than those of the investment people.

And the response:

dude, TAKE CONTROL from your host. In my experience, a good press trip usually involves strong arming your handler into allowing you to do what you actually want to do / write about / photograph. even if the person is afraid of losing their job over it, calmly explain that you’re going to scrap the rest of ‘today’s itinerary’, and wander around the city / markets snapping sick photos for a photo essay for MatadorTrips.com, and while you’re doing that, they should set up an interview with homeboy.

seriously, drop the hammer and don’t take no for an answer.

Community Connection

Most of us at Matador have been on multiple press trips. We teach how to apply for them at the U. And over the past couple years we’ve published various articles about them, everything from tips on how to “survive” your first press trip, to the way that certain publications’ policies regarding press trips tends to undermine honesty and transparency in journalism.

What experience have you had with press trips? How have you dealt with overbearing hosts?

Please share your comments with us below.


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