Gabriel O’Rorke is a freelance writer working in both print and digital media. As she says, she hopes both continue to complement each other (because there’s nothing like holding a glossy spread in your hands!). In our interview, we talk about how she got her feet wet in the business, what it takes to sell a pitch, and where she sees the future of journalism. Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started in the journalism industry and where does your love for writing and travel come from?
My background is in TV journalism. I started out on the newsdesk at ABC News in London before moving to the BBC where I was a producer for World News for three years. I also spent a stint trying my hand at financial news working for Bloomberg.
As for my love of travel, travelling and writing have been two things I’ve always loved. From inter-railing around Italy to doing a solo backpacking trip around the world at 18, I’ve always taken every opportunity to travel. During university I travelled from Peru down to Argentina, and after graduating I backpacked (again alone) around Cuba for a month catching carnival in Santiago de Cuba.
After a bunch of years working in news, I began the mission of getting my first commission. Editors would reply (some of them anyway) to my pitches, but they’d always ask to see cuttings. I could send news and features articles, but no travel. My break came after I produced a BBC programme on Mexico and pitched an idea for a travel piece on Puebla to CNN Traveller. It was commissioned and the rest snowballed from there.
On your website, you say you write about adventure, luxury, and sustainable travel. How do these three niches intersect, or are they all distinct for you?
There are many things I love about travel, but I find adventure (or action – things like horse riding or sky diving) gives me a buzz like nothing else. Also, these days more and more hotels are growing an eco-conscience and it’s exciting to find out what sort of things they are doing. As for luxury, I fell into luxury without meaning to. This sounds silly, but I suppose it’s because there’s more money in it. And who can say no…
In your personal opinion, where do you see the future of print journalism? Do you think it’s doomed (as many do) or do you think it will prevail? Also, what influence has digital media had on your opinion?
There’s no doubt print journalism is shrinking, both in terms of jobs and content. But there’s nothing like seeing a lovely spread – glossy or in print – of your work. And the same goes for holding an article in your hand rather than always staring at a screen. I hope print and digital continue to complement one another…
If someone was just starting out and wanted to be a travel journalist, what advice would you give this person?
Perservere, be patient, file copy on time and come up with original ideas.
If this same person asked you how to “break in” to some of the larger publications, such as Conde Nast Traveler or National Geographic, what would tell her/him?
Start smaller and build up. Don’t go for the biggies first of all, but you will get commissions there eventually if you produce enough good content elsewhere.
As a freelance writer, how do you see your income stream changing in the next 5 years?
I hope that unpaid work becomes less prevalent, and editors realize you need to pay for good content. But, realistically, I think wages for travel content will continue to go down and writers will have to move with the times, thinking of apps and web content that readers will pay for.
Gabriel O’Rorke is a multimedia journalist based in Santiago, Chile. Working in broadcast, print and online, she started her career in TV and has worked for ABC, BBC and Bloomberg. She travels all over the globe but specializes in Latin American travel. You can find her articles in a range of UK and international publications, including the Financial Times, Daily Mail, Tatler, Conde Nast Traveller (UK), Wallpaper*, Luxury Latin America, CNN Travel, and Lonely Planet Traveller.
Interview conducted in April, 2013 by Kristin Mock.