Article written by 2012 DPDF Mediated Futures: Globalization and Historical Territories Fellow Katie Day Good:
Travel journalism provides unique insights into changing notions of culture, media, and mobility. This study examines ‘Why we travel,’ a New York Times collection of over 2000 reader-submitted photos and captions about travel. To locate trends within this multi-authored text, the author refers to the theories of tourism scholars MacCannell and Urry to distinguish between enduring and emergent travel representations. The former include unequal distributions of certain subject matter across regions, emphasis on ‘authentic’ touristic experiences, and visual methods for minimizing signs of western culture. Within the same collection, however, emergent representations feature ‘new’ tourisms, highly reflexive portraits of tourists, and conscious confrontation of interconnectivity. In conclusion, the study considers some of the cultural messages communicated by ‘Why we travel’ as it coheres under the New York Times’ authoritative aesthetic. More than a travel feature, the collection can be read as a guide to global mobility in the 21st century.