Remember Thomas Kohnstamm? Well, he’s in the news again. His claims that Lonely Planet guides are not entirely trustworthy have irked a number of people, including, er, Lonely Planet. On their site, they address his charges, although they respond to one of his biggest complaints in a fairly vague manner:
5. Thomas claims he was not paid enough by Lonely Planet to do the job without shortcuts. While we ask a lot of our authors, we lead the industry in the fees we pay, and are committed to a yearly review of author fees.Â
Yes, but what if no one in the travel-guide industry pays their correspondents enough to do a thorough job? Wouldn’t that be an interesting story? (And hardly unimaginable: many freelancing gigs pay so poorly that they rely on the notion of writers doing the work for free/for fun/for their resumes….)
There’s plenty of chatter at the Lonely PlanetÂ forums.
BBC, which owns 75% of Lonely Planet, reports on the foofaraw (“Lonely Planet rebuts ‘fake’ claim“), and–hey, this is interesting:
Other travel writers, while not endorsing Mr Kohnstamm’s methods, said he was reporting genuine failures in the travel-writing industry – that writers are poorly paid, have to cover their own costs, and were expected to check a vast amount of detail.
As for myself, when Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? came across my desk, I had a strong feeling of deja vu, given that I had recently published a short story about a Hunter S. Thompson-wannabe travel writer (“If You Should Have Any Need at All“) in the Chicago Reader last December.