2020 November Featured Journalist of the Month: Jacqueline Swartz
Sunday, November 01, 2020 12:00 AM

My writing career has been varied, with topics ranging from European politics and culture to health and relationships. I have written about politics from Greece, philosophy from France, health from California, where I grew up. Now based in Toronto, I have written for most of the major Canadian publications, including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Saturday Night, Chatelaine, CAA, Macleans. I also contributed to CBC radio programs. In the US my work has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and eastwestnewsservice.com. In the UK, my articles have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler and Philosophy Now. I am interested in many topics, from cuisine to art, wildlife to history. I always search for what is authentic.

 What got you into travel writing?

I was in Greece sending political dispatches. There wasn't a lot of time to do much outside of Athens, but I did make it to Delphi and wrote a piece about the Oracle and her site there.  Then I was in Cyprus, and wrote about the wonderful food and its many influences. Still, it took me many years before I wrote about travel full-time.

What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?

Aside from the current pandemic, which we all hope is temporary, I would say the debasement of travel writing. I don't think that serious travel writing is something that anyone with a laptop can do. Also, I think there should be a clear line between travel writing, marketing, and advertising. I wrote about this in a piece on ethics. 

What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?

Of course my multi-outlet adapter. I'm grateful that more and more hotels do not require guests to get on their knees and hunt for a place to plug in.

What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?

There have been so many!  There was the time in Botswana when  I was on a jeep that nearly ran into a group of lions. At first, I was alarmed, then I laughed at their loud, competitive snoring.  (Sleep apnea does not seem to be a problem for lions).  Another time I and a colleague landed at a Caribbean airport and were ushered into a windowless room by armed guards. They took us to the Prime Minister's residence, where we were to interview him. Such is the importance of travel writers, I guess.

How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?

A colleague urged me to join NATJA. One reason I am still a member is the prompt, personal response to any question. 

What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?

These days, make sure you have another source of income. Know that the majority of blogs are travel related. On the writing side, read! And don't think that readers will necessarily be interested in your take on things. Research: Check out what others have written about a place, look into its background and history. You don't have to use most of what you find, but it will enrich your work.