Press Trips are the devil!!!
Twelve tired and sweaty journalist climb into a van in northern Argentina, for a ridiculously long ride after an equally ridiculously long day. Half of them dead sick from the cold weather near Iguazu Fall. The other half, starving after a mix-up with lunch left them stranded and hungry. Needless to say this was three days of annoyance and frustration which set the tone for my distain of press trips. On the word of a trusted blogger friend I decided to attend this #priNeamt which has more bloggers in this trip than all of my others combine. Did I come to regret it?
Press trips are a strange thing for us journalist. In one breath you’re aware that you are being catered to. Your entire itinerary being carefully planned and coordinated to ensure you see all the best and none of the worst. Within this cookie cutter format you’re forced to find some semblance of authenticity. Some idea of what the “real” story is. And #priNeamt was no different. A carefully orchestrated program whose sole purpose was to highlight Neamt County and the Moldova region of Romania. Organizers Alex and Toma, along with their team of Adi and Andra, coordinated a damn good program. To my surprise it wasn’t a train wreck which is what I expected when dealing with 60 bloggers. Not the most punctual and serious group around.
In my previous piece I pointed out that I wasn’t particularly impressed with Neamt County. Although it had its moments I didn’t find myself inspired by the region. But despite that, I came away from #priNeamt change forever. What Alex and Toma may not have known is they actually highlighted the best part of Romania without even knowing it. The fledgling blogger community they choose.
Romanian Bloggers a look at the Future
During my time in Romania I’ve noticed that Romanians aren’t particularly kind to each other. Tourist? Absolutely. But to each other I’ve noticed a sense of resentment and anger. During the communist rule Romanians were encouraged to “snitch” on each other. To backstab and put the needs of the state beyond the needs of the individual and community. Unfortunately this resentment for one another has remained even after the fall of communism. However, I’ve been introduced to another side of this perception. The exception to the rule. The young Romanian blogger community.
Prior to this trip I had met and befriended three Romanian bloggers. I should have known then that these artist are a special breed within Romanian culture. The artist and journalist on this trip represented every genre from fashion and travel to photography and politics. A mixed bag of talent which wasn’t predicated on outdoing each other but working together to become better. Better journalist, better artist, better people.
As the international face of Romania, as many of their blogs are internationally accessible, they represent their culture and history with grace and positivity. And their industry is still young by international standards. Which is why I believe they haven’t fallen victim to the infighting, jealously, and backstabbing you see with so many other groups of “bloggers”. It’s quite refreshing to be around them. They don’t do what they do for fame or money. Many are doing it because they truly love their crafts. Being around them made me rethink why I’m doing what I do.
Self Reflection through Others
If you truly want to become better at your craft, surround yourself with people better than you are. HOLY SHIT!!!!! These are some talented photographers. I swear that a few times I wanted to throw my camera off a mountain out of pure jealousy. Some of them don’t see it in themselves. And the others who do, are humble as hell. Being around not only talent but humility makes one reflect on their craft and strive to be better.
Despite the color of my skin I’m free. Socially, economically, logistically. I’m able to go anywhere I want and do pretty much anything. Sure, my talent is a large part of that but it’s also a result of my birth in the U.S. My passport gives me access to the world. Something that’s not reciprocated for Romanians. One of these outstanding photographers won a major U.S. photography award but couldn’t fly to the U.S. to receive it because of visa restrictions. I’m able to step off a plane in Romania and instantly get stamped through. Something I have a new found appreciation for.
Too often we as journalist forget that our craft is an ever evolving one and the world is full of those pushing the limits and boundaries of what is and can be done. Because we don’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The Romanian (and Moldova) blogger community pushes the boundaries of political discourse, fashion, and photography. They push us as journalist to reflect upon our global impact in a way that not only benefits ourselves but our craft as a whole.
“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”
The International Ties of Friendship
Travel is a beautiful thing. Sometimes you must leave home to find truly where your heart lies. Where you can find kindred spirits and your true family. Not the family you’re born into. One has no choice in the matter. But the family that truly defines who you are and what you stand for. If you want to know the true character of a person look at their friends. You will quickly realize that those people are a direct reflection of said person. #priNeamt introduced me to some true kindred spirits.
We may look different, speak different languages, and have different political outlooks but we are the same. Our humanity binds us. Our compassion defines us. Our passion molds us. We are friends and we never knew it, until now.
Shout out to my new Romanian and Moldovian (and yes British,Brazilian,American, and Canadian) brothers and sisters. Through your example I am truly a better journalist and artist. I hope to return the same gift of inspiration to you as you have given me someday. Never lose your passion for what you all do. It’s what truly makes you all outstanding.
And now, My favorite 30 images of these fantastic journalist!!!!!!
Here are links to some of my favorite sites from the group. I would have added everyone but I’m too lazy to add 61 sites. lol
www.blogink.ro (his food work is ridiculously good)
www.voyagerblog.ro (one of the few I had actually seen before the project)