As a human, I try to adhere to that old golden rule, “do unto others.” It’s served me pretty well so far but apparently there are some of our journalistic brethren who don’t hold to that tenet. I was on a culinary press junket to one of the major Deep South cities recently and it was truly a magnificent time: great food, great experiences, excellent lodging—plus, I got the rare chance to hobnob with other journalists from around the country and, in this case, the world.
As these outings generally go, everything was handled for us: it didn’t cost the journalists anything and it certainly didn’t cost our publications anything. Our accommodations weren’t at some hotel out by the airport—we were put up in THE top luxury hotel in this particular destination.
But as I mingled with my cohorts, I started hearing some very disturbing stories from the trip. Specifically, some of the other members of the press were getting pretty prickly with our hosts and sponsors as well as with other journalists.
One journo decided that the hotel’s food and beverage manager was also a part-time cobbler. When her sandal strap snapped, she decided it was up to this hapless yet helpful fellow to get it fixed. Which he did.
Then there was an author who complained—rather loudly, I might add—that the light switch in her hotel suite was too far away from her bed. I suggested she use the broom she rode in on to shorten the gap, a suggestion the other writers appreciated. This same writer arrived at all the events late and rushed through meals to get to other appointments thus making our various hosts have to work doubletime to accommodate her needs specifically while still entertaining the larger group.
Since I felt fortunate to be included with these prestigious writers, I was somewhat dumbfounded by their actions. But I’ve come to learn that this is not an unusual occurrence; my fellow junket junkies had their own tales of woe about traveling with other writers. (Many, as you would probably guess, involve way too many comped drinks, unseemly bartenders and exploits not appropriate for family-friendly business blog!)
Granted, we work in an industry where we often have to “invent” our own fringe benefits. Early in my career I took advantage of business trips to Toronto, San Francisco, San Antonio and more by visiting friends or relatives. However, acting as if you’re owed something just because you chose to show up is beyond the pale.
Thankfully, not everyone on my trip behaved badly. But if you’re a lousy guest—no matter who you write for—don’t be surprised when you’re not invited back.
On a final note, I should let my fellow magazine pros know that the writer who behaved the worst was a newspaper journalist! Go figure!
If anybody else has had nightmare experiences with fellow members of the press while traveling on various junkets, drop them in the comments section below.
I’m sure readers of this blog would love to hear about them … I know I would!