How Social Media is Changing Not Only Travel, But the Journalistic World

Today’s celebrities aren’t astronauts or firefighters, as they were 50 years ago. The people that are influencing millennials are aptly termed influencers, and have the qualifications of simply being social media savvy. Influencers promotion of products and destinations impacts their follower’s consumption.

Frequent National Geographic contributor and free-lance journalist Carrie Miller recently wrote a hot new piece, entitled “How Instagram is Changing Travel” on the effects this orchestrated tourism has on destinations. This powerful piece features images of nature overburdened by tourism, and influencers Lolos and Burkard weighing in on the duality of the venturism, exposure and overburdening they are responsible for.

Q: How did you begin writing for National Geographic?

A: When I was at university I started writing editors and one of them opened the door for me to have an interview for National Geographic’s paid internship. Then I just worked my way through the company at headquarters; I then decided that I wanted to write and the only way to write for them is to do to be based somewhere outside of the company and then to freelance back in.

Q: Why did you choose to write this piece, about social media/Instagram?

A: I live in a very small town in New Zealand; most tourists go to Queenstown and they bypass where I live, which is Wanaka. In order to start getting visitors to stop off here overnight, Wanaka’s tourism board started hosting social media influencers. That resulted in Wanaka suddenly getting a huge influx of tourists. I thought other places in the world must be experiencing this rise in popularity due to Instagram.

Q: How do you think this social media influence affects the world as a whole?

A: I think like anything there’s positives and negatives to it and it’s about anticipating the negatives and trying to mitigate them before they become a problem. There’s a lot more millennials out there exploring the national parks and that’s largely due to the fact that they’re seeing other people post about it on Instagram. The first step to conservation is to get people to care about wild places, but the risk is that people are just replicating experiences and are overburdening the destinations.

Q: Does social media affect your life, personally speaking?

A: Instagram in particular allows everybody to be a journalist or photographer. So as professional storytellers we battle against people who are acting as influencers, so rather than having experience as storytellers they have a lot of followers and have cultivated kind of an immediate profile. That’s becoming just as relevant to some people in some organizations as what kind of background you have.

Q: How do you think we as a society should combat our social media dependence?

A: I think balance in all things. I am a big fan of not overindulging in social media, especially in the current political climate, because I find that you never get a break from it. There’s a lot of research that’s coming out now that’s proving that engaging in nature and detaching from technology actually has a lot of physiological and psychological benefits and I think that that’s definitely the case.

Q: How do you use your writing to benefit society?

A: I think that the role of a writer is to present a scenario and then step back and let people make up their own minds, or follow up depending on their level of interest. But I think that one thing that’s happened in journalism recently is that a lot of the pain creeps in. There used to be a very severe line between editorial and observational writing and I think that line has been blurred a lot. What I try to do, for example with this article on Instagram, is to present how Instagram is having a positive impact on people, in prompting travel, but also to present the fact that there are negatives that come along with that. Then I let people make up their own minds about what they think about that. They can take it for what it’s worth, they can pursue it and learn more about it if they want to. But I think that the role of a writer is to present experiences and facts and create a picture and let somebody view that how they want to.

Q: What advice do you have for young journalism students?

A: It’s really tricky for journalism students these days. With the advent and accessibility of the internet everybody can write and everybody can post. The best thing to do is to start writing and start getting yourself published, because you need to have clips and reliable publications. If you’re lucky enough to get in the news room you’re going to be underpaid and overworked and it’s going to be that way for a long time. If you go free-lance don’t get discouraged if you’re doing part time work just to pay the bills. Most of my career I had people telling me that it wasn’t going to work out, that I was never going to be able to write for Nat Geo, that it was never going to be able to do this. But somebody’s got to, so if you just keep at it that person might be you.

(Interview has been edited for length and clarity)


Halloween in Salem can be both a thrilling and taxing experience for Salem residents, as massive amounts of people pour into town. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the year, or even November 1st.  Former Mass Representative John Keenan, and Salem High Senior Sophia Blake offer their perspectives.

Though Salem’s economy remains dependent on the Halloween season, the town has been working to spread tourism around the year. This is done through expanding community events and the publicity of them.

The strong maritime history found in Salem is a commonly overlooked aspect of the local culture.

Salem has a vibrant local community.  Accomplished groups such as the Salem High Marching Band have a significant presence in the community.

Community traditions such as the Thanksgiving Day football game, which features one of the oldest rivalries in the country, also draws residents together.

Salem’s community is especially unique, in that it is one of the most diverse and accepting in the North Shore.

Though the Halloween season is an amazing time to be in Salem, Salem is much more than the Halloween Capital of the World.


(painting of historic downtown on a local mailbox)

New Project Ideas

For my final project I would like to shoot pictures and video while I am home in Salem for Halloween.  Salem, Massachusetts is a town that is renowned for the experience it provides during October.  This is the Halloween season, which is especially important in Salem because the witch trials took place there.  This causes hundreds of thousands of people to be drawn to Salem throughout October and for Halloween weekend, leaving the town somewhat of a disheveled ghost-town in the days following this huge event.  I would like to take photos and video of Salem in the aftermath of Halloween, now that the tourism that keeps the town afloat has died down.  I could videotape and photograph key community events such as the Thanksgiving football game, and the Deck the Halls seasonal competition, as well as obtain footage of the town in it’s relatively empty state.  I do not have footage of Halloween, but could probably obtain some photos from other people, for an element of contrast.  I could also shoot interviews with longtime residents or potentially community leaders such as Representative Keenan.

Rugby Explained

Here at Brandeis University there are many different women’s club sports, of varying popularity.  Some, such as frisbee, have a huge following.  Others, such as rugby, struggle to maintain a full team, despite excellent coaches and leadership.  What follows is an exploration of the differences between those two particular sports, and what draws girls into less popular sports such as rugby.

Second Video Pitch

My second story idea for the video project is to focus on Brandeis’ a cappella groups.  There are many a cappella groups on campus, and the audition process to be in them is selective.  Students go through try outs and call backs, ultimately hoping to land a coveted spot in the group of their choice.  I could interview students who recently went through the selection process on that procedure, as well as how they are enjoying the group they have been placed in.  I could also interview group leaders on the exclusivity of the system, on their practice and performance schedules, and on the sense of community and culture within different groups.  It could be interesting to compare the differing cultures that have emerged in different groups.  A cappella often has movement incorporated, in addition to the obvious musical components of their performances.

Tal Richtman: A Leader from Israel to Waltham

For many freshman students college is an in-between point bridging high school and the adult world.  For Brandeis freshman Tal Richtman college is simply the next step in his life, as he has already spent years as a leader in the Israeli Army, as well as in the Israeli Scouts Movement.  Tal came to Brandeis in order to futher his education, but soon realized that his strong leadership qualities made him a natural fit for the class of 2020 senator, leading him to run for office so that he can apply the skills he gained in his military service to his life here at Brandeis.

Video Project Story Pitch

For my video project I plan on focusing on a few of Brandeis’ women’s club sports teams, theoretically soccer, lacrosse and rugby.  Lacrosse and rugby have encountered a lot of trouble with recruitment, and with maintaining enough players to not forfeit games, let alone to win them.  Soccer however has a surplus of players, so I think it could be interesting to explore any contrasting recruitment methods, or why those girls chose not to play the other two sports.  I could potentially interview the captains of these teams, or senior members.  This could prove interesting, as they could speak to numbers in past years.  I also could speak to a friend of mine who is on all three teams, and the differences she notices between the teams.  These teams are all full of girls who are passionate about their respective sports (or several as some girls play on multiple teams), but who are facing a challenge in what is for many of them their final season, as they are unable to gain enough players to stand a fighting chance.  Whether this is due to the markedly technical aspects of the sport such as in lacrosse, or the intimidatingly aggressive nature of the game such as in rugby, it will be interesting to see if these sports could benefit from any recruitment methods that soccer used.  Another fascinating storyline could be exploring what drew specific interview subjects to play the respective sports over each other.

Pulling the Heartstrings- the stories we want to read

As humans we are primarily interested in ourselves, then in our neighbors, then in the rest of the world, according to sociologist theory by Walter Lippman.  In searching for interesting stories, I have searched for relatable stories, which readers will feel a personal connection to.  Tal’s electoral debut is a story that effects Brandeis students, as he is our newly elected representative.  But he is also our neighbor, who we live with and see everyday, making him an intuitive subject of curiosity.  This desire to know what is going on around us, combined with the emotional appeal of Tal’s time in the army and his heartfelt desire to lead the Class of 2020, makes this a prime public interest story.

Ashley and Josh’s story is very interesting to the reader, because it is a tale of friendship.  Friendship is a universal experience, and their particularly close friendship inspires elements of nostalgia in the reader.  As male/female best friendships are more unusual, this creates an underlying theme of potential story-tale romance, further hooking the reader.  The promise of a kitten or puppy is the clinching aspect of this story, as baby animals are widely loved, and cats and dogs are considered to have near-familial levels of importance here in the US.  All in all, this is a sweet, quirky story, that is a fun read for all audiences.

Friends Theme Breeds Friendship in Electoral Race

Class elections typically come and go with little fanfare each fall.  A nonevent, they are compiled of people voting blindly for friends, deleting the email in a bout of apathy, and abstaining due to lack of knowledge of candidates.  This past month marked a change in this pattern, as Senator to the Class of 2020 Tal Ritchman went above and beyond his opponents, uniting quads and setting the bar high for future candidates.  Having served in the Israeli Army for the past four years, Tal felt that he was a natural choice to lead the Class of 2020, and intended to leave no doubt in his classmates minds that he was the best choice for senator.  He combined forces with a diverse group of students to shoot a promotional video in the style of the friends theme song, which he then posted to the 2020 Facebook page.  This campaign tactic was the brainchild of fellow first-year Hannah Cook, who recognized Tal’s potential and took on the role of his campaign manager.  Despite not knowing each other, the two gathered friends and shot the creative video.  When combined with Tal’s extensive election day campaigning in the lunch room, this dogged and unique take on political campaigning resulted in a decisive win for Tal, and for the Class of 2020.

A Kitten Bridges the 333 Mile Gap Between these Lifelong Best-friends

Since childhood, Brandeis first-year Ashley Bass has been joined at the hip with her SUNY counterpart, Josh Tokman.  Though their bond has always been indisputably strong, attending colleges 333 miles apart was a daunting concept to the pair, and so they developed a plan to keep their playful friendship active despite the distance.  Josh challenged Ashley to complete 5 consecutive pull-ups, in order to receive a kitten from him as compensation for this extreme show of strength.  This much anticipated pet has resulted in Ashley working out daily to build her strength, and enlisting the help of her fellow students to create a engaging and effective training regimen.  Ashley in turn has challenged Josh to do 25 push ups with her sitting on his back, in order for him to receive a puppy.  This contest has had the friends’ competitive nature’s stoked since August 5th when they developed the challenge, and is keeping them in constant contact as they update each other on their progress.  This fitness challenge will culminate when the pair finally reconnects over the holidays, and they can go head to head to prove their strength.