Contribute to the conversation

By Armond Noble
This item appears on page 77 of the July 2011 issue.

by Armond Noble, Publisher

Contribute to the conversation! This magazine, quite different than others, is not a monologue. It is a dialogue. It’s a two-way chat. What has that resulted in? In mid May an ITN reader from Grand Rapids, MI, wrote, “It is the most genuine magazine, on any subject.” Naturally, I was quite thrilled by that. As you should be, too. Because it is your reports that have made it what it is.

Now I’d like to address all those folks who have never sent anything in. You may be thinking (as I’ve heard people say), “They wouldn’t find what I’d say to be interesting.” Or maybe you have anxiety about a feeling of rejection if we didn’t print your report.

Well, if we end up not printing your prose, it’s probably because we just don’t know any better. Think about what happened to Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss). I’ve heard that about 30 book publishers rejected his first book. Then one accepted it and made a ton of money.

Also in publishing lore is the story of one publisher that in the morning turned down “Born Free” and that afternoon rejected “Catch 22.” When Thor Heyerdahl submitted “Kon Tiki,” a publisher told him that if he shortened it, it might make an article for National Geographic.

So if we don’t run your writing, you’re in the pretty good company of great writers who were rebuffed by the unknowledgeable. Or, in the immortal words of William Goldman, “Nobody knows anything.”

Amusing things happening here! One woman didn’t renew her subscription to ITN because she felt that all the articles we ran were about very expensive tours. Another woman dropped her subscription because it seemed we only printed letters and articles about low-priced budget tours.

It reminds me about TIME magazine and the Kennedy-Nixon presidential contest. TIME would get letters accusing them of being in favor of Kennedy, but the magazine also got letters berating them for their bias in favor of Nixon. Rather than count the thousands upon thousands of letters individually, they just grouped them together in mail sacks. On election night, magazine staffers weighed all the opposing sacks and found they were within one pound of each other!

The owner of a travel company said to us, “We’ve been looking at ITN, and it seems your readers go on individual travel, but we sell group tours.” (No sale.) The exact same week, another travel company owner told us they considered advertising here but, “It seems your readers go on group tours and we are selling individual travel.” I’d call that self-defeating. (Or, as Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”) There are many people (supposedly in business) who, if they saw success coming down the sidewalk, would cross the street.

A few months ago I wrote about photography and recommended the consideration of adding a wide-angle lens. One reader took me to task. Another travel magazine just ran the results of their photo contest. Eight of the ten winning entries were taken with wide-angle lenses. ’Nuf said.

In mid May I saw a video made by some people who went to Togo (a place I enjoyed some years ago). Since I know the video maker will never see an issue of ITN, I can comment on the video. (I’m sure this doesn’t apply to you. I’m writing it for someone else.)

A video camera is not a water hose; you are not watering your garden with it. Those back-and-forth and back-and-forth shots are punishment for the audience. Look at your favorite TV show. Rock-steady camera work and NO zooming in and out and in and out. Take heed.

Oooh, Ouch! Just heard of someone who was heading off to Sweden but was stopped at the airport. It seems their passport had expired! They did use a passport rush service in San Jose, CA. It took two days and they were back on the trip. It’s best to check, often.

And let’s hear from you.