Saturday, February 09, 2013

The Formula For Writing About Mallorca

Travel and tourism are such big industries, they are such big parts of many people's lives that they have spawned their own media bigness. This has been assisted by the sheer bigness of media that nowadays has to be filled. A consequence of this is the frantic search for parts of the globe over which a writer can swoon; touristic nooks and crannies to be revealed, the writer might hope, for the first time. A further consequence is the endless listing of the ten this-and-thats. Go to pretty much any newspaper and you'll find evidence of both these phenomena. Or go to a blog, a website, wherever. Travel has eaten the conventional media and is now also consuming the internet.

A further consequence is that, when not sending writers on expensive trips to remote parts of the globe (or just getting them to research YouTube and other parts of the internet), media bosses and editors are engaged in a constant rotation of destinations, the sort that most readers might actually be able to afford to go to. I have a theory that offices of travel editors are hooked up to databases which schedule when a particular destination should be given a treatment. I also have a theory that there is a different database, one which outlines how writers should treat their subjects. There is a formula, and nowhere better demonstrates this formula than Mallorca.

I don't mean to pick on one article, but there was one recently in the "Daily Mail" which serves as a template for precisely this formula. The template could have been chosen from a host of other articles and from a host of other newspapers or websites.

The formula goes something like this. The article starts with the writer expressing surprise that he or she had even contemplated going to Mallorca or by highlighting the surprise that has been expressed by others that he or she would be going to Mallorca. The reason? Well, Mallorca is the epitome of high-rise, Brit-bar, lager-lout tourism, isn't it. Or something along these lines. The writer then spends the rest of the article revealing that actually it isn't and that Mallorca has all manner of wonderful hidden secrets. And more often than not, they involve Pollensa.

The article quite frequently also adopts a coy style: let's hope no one finds out about these hidden secrets. No one, that is, apart from the many thousands of readers, assuming the article has appeared somewhere that can boast many thousands of readers, and I guess the Mail is an example of a publication which can.

This coyness is matched in its daftness only by the formulaic step-by-step approach of the article (and steps are themselves quite important to the formulaic article, as the Calvari steps in Pollensa invariably feature). Because the article has been written many, many times before by different writers and for different publications, there can surely be no reader anywhere in the world who believes that Mallorca is just high-rise, Brit-bar, lager-lout excess. Just as there can be no reader who doesn't already know that Mallorca has hidden secrets, ones which are that hidden that everyone knows about them.

Then there are additional bits of information, those that might have the reader think: "ooh, I never knew that." Except of course, they will know, because the additional bits of information will have also appeared previously. Hence, in my Mail template, we learn that Agatha Christie used to stay in Pollensa (see, I told you that Pollensa was part of the formula) and that she was inspired to write, I quote, "her novel Problems At Pollensa Bay". Ah, but what's happened here? A slight slip. There was only one problem at Pollensa Bay, and it was a short story not a novel. But let's not quibble too much.

It's a pretty good gig writing travel articles. Sometimes you even get to visit the places you are writing about rather than simply cobbling together research extracted from the internet (and I am convinced that I have come across such examples in the past). And what is more, some benevolent business or businesses might have contributed to the cost of the visit, which may have something to do with why their website address appears at the foot of the article.

If you want to write about Mallorca, it is really very simple. Start with the naffness proposition, refute it by means of discovering, to everyone's amazement, the unspoiled Mallorca, and slip in Pollensa along with a smattering of appropriate adjectives (attractive, gorgeous and so on). Job's a good 'un and here's the invoice.

Any comments to please.

1 comment:

Son Fe Mick said...

And don't forget the in depth interview with local expert (a salesman from Engel and Volkers) who says that he is seeing unpresidented growth in the holiday home market and that there are some real gems for sale!
Keep up the good work