Matt Gross and multimedia travel journalism

What’s the best way to tell a travel story?

Newspaper and magazine travel journalism, as we know, typically aims to pair descriptive, compelling text with illustrative photography. But what if you add complimentary video and a blog to the mix?

The New York Times‘s Matt Gross — the Times‘s Frugal Traveler — has been producing some really, really good travel journalism over the last few years. ((Disclaimer: I’m lucky enough to call Matt a pal, but I was a fan of his work before our paths ever crossed. In fact, before I ever moved to Bangkok, I ate up his NYT travel stories from Southeast Asia, particularly “To Be Young and Hip in Bangkok.”)) And he’s been doing so using not just well-crafted words accompanied by well-shot images. He’s also been using a blog and sms alerts to connect with his readers. And some of his stories are plotted on Google Maps. There’s even a Frugal Traveler Facebook group (latest count: 1,345 fans).

Matt has traveled around the world in 90 days; he took a road trip across the US; and he re-created the European grand tour. All of his stories are formatted as blog posts, and many of them receive over a hundred comments. In some of the comments, readers give him travel tips on where to go and what to do when he gets to future destinations.

In short, though I’m not a fan of the phrase “Web 2.0,” Matt is a travel writer for the Web 2.0 age.

His stories are not only rich in practical details that are helpful in planning a trip, but his dispatches are often emotionally revealing. For example, during his grand tour last summer, he filed a story called “Tracing Family Roots in Vilnius.” The article describes how he tracked down his Lithuanian ancestors. And the accompanying video (embedded below) is also interesting — but it’s more lighthearted:

The written article, blog post, and images were one story. The video was another.

I also like “Spying on Bucharest’s Cool Underground,” which ran with this video (embedded below):

In the end, I think that traditional newspaper and magazine travel journalism will continue to thrive, as will travel TV shows. These meet a need. But it’s interesting to see how Matt’s work has blended traditional and multimedia elements to create something different entirely.

For more reading, I suggest:

Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal, based in New Delhi. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I read, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. Join the growing group of readers who get my weekly email newsletter.

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  1. Nice to see the bit about Bucharest. I was born in Romania (haven’t been back in quite a while though), and I think it is underrepresented in news for some reason or another. Parts of Bucharest remind me of BKK actually (or the other way around), and rural Romania is not that different from rural Malaysia. I must be going native 🙂

    Julian/zzkj