I lost my job at Yahoo Travel this week.
It’s my first involuntary separation. I initiated all of the previous ones. The first time was in college. I had a stellar work-study job – bartender at the campus pub. When I returned from summer break my senior year, the pub was transformed into a sleek food service operation and I was told that my beertending responsibilities now included food prep. Like Norma Rae, I cried “Hell no! I won’t fry!” and was promptly reassigned to a position as receptionist at the Cultural Center.
For the past year I was fortunate to participate in an innovative program called the Yahoo Explorers. I first heard about it at the New York Times Travel Show in January 2015. I attended a panel discussion and Yahoo Travel Editor Paula Froelich was one of the speakers. Her presentation made me chuckle and snort so I liked her immediately, and she mentioned that the company was rounding up travel bloggers to launch an initiative called the Yahoo Travel Explorers. Writers would contribute articles and, if selected for publication on the main travel site, they would be paid. Paid? Money? For generating content? There must be a catch. I assumed payment would be made in bitcoin or Dunkin’ Donuts coffee chits.
I cast out an email to Paula who generously passed me on to Annie Daly who was the first coordinator of the group. After a few weeks, the program launched, and it was exciting to be part of an experiment. Like Dr. Frankenstein, I was curious to see what we’d create. The Explorers had a group Facebook page, a Tumbler feed, and a Pinterest board. On a daily basis, I had the opportunity to connect with passionate, like-minded people, to read some great writing, see beautiful photos of faraway places, and get input from editors who tweaked my work for the web. What I learned from them is that the public will consume anything if you package it as a list and a headline isn’t a headline until it includes at least one superlative. This partially explains Jeb!
Unfortunately, Yahoo’s stock has tanked and executives are initiating a turnaround strategy, so 7 of the site’s digital magazines were shuttered this week, including Yahoo Travel. I received notice on Wednesday and by Friday, the magazine was removed from the Yahoo home page. Things happen fast in the digital sphere. In the real world, I’d still be loading the contents of my desk into a copy paper box.
Fortunately, I still have the 8:30-4:30 job that pays my bills and provides my health insurance. But my Yahoo Travel Explorer position fed my soul. So I return to life before Yahoo, to walking the harsh path blazed by solitary freelancers before me. Before the Yahoo Travel site evaporates into internet ether, I invite you to take a look, identify someone who speaks to you, and follow them on their individual sites and feeds. Besides Paula and Annie, I enjoy reading family travel articles by Laura Begley-Bloom and Kim-Marie Evans. In my next life, I hope to be Sherri Ott, and the Past Present Project is very cool – Christian Carollo is recreating his grandfather’s travel photos. Speaking of photos, follow any or all of the contributors to this piece about Instagram; they’re very talented.
To Yahoo Travel – thanks for the ride – and, to my fellow Explorers, Mark Twain said the sure way to tell if you like people or hate them is to travel with them. You know what? I like you guys. I really do. Bon voyage!
The Open Suitcase on Yahoo Travel: