2021 September Featured Journalist of the Month: Janet Forman

A journalist and film producer, winner of more than sixty writing and photography awards, including two Lowell Thomas Gold Medals and a Silver, the 2014 Bill Muster Gold Medal for Best Cultural Photo, the 2011 Bill Muster Photo Gold Medal for her Single Subject Portfolio on Abu Dhabi and was named Pacific Asia Travel Association Journalist of the Year 2000. She has received awards from SOLAS, NATJA, the governments of Belgium and South Africa and numerous SATW Eastern Chapter First Place awards Forman holds an M.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and writes from the brownstone she renovated in Harlem, New York, with her husband, the cinematographer Tom Houghton.

Also a member of SATW, NY Women in Film, IATSE Local 52 – Motion Picture Studio Mechanics, Mensa, ASJA.

1. What got you into travel writing?
I was bewitched by distant places, even as a small child. After receiving my MFA in film from NYU, I became a line producer for international TV commercials. Working in foreign countries gave me an insider’s view of the culture and I began writing short dispatches for travel newsletters, the equivalent of today’s Internet. When major magazines noticed my writing, the assignments started to flow.

2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
Choosing where to go next from the two-dozen places on my Go Here Next list. The dilemma arises between diving deeper into a region I loved and exploring someplace new.

3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
My sense of humor. Like a Swiss Army Knife for the mind, it helps create lemonade from lemons when faced with flight delays, irrational Garmin directions, and appreciating the finer points of insect-based cuisine.

4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
It was the moment I found myself on a chilly English back road thumbing a ride from truckers. As a college student in the late 1960s, I began my first trip to Europe with a proper suitcase and romantic visions gleaned largely from Three Coins in a Fountain. But once in London, where the Sixties counterculture was a wild leap ahead of America’s, I felt I’d landed on a different planet. I traded my valise for a rucksack and melted into the throng of European students.
I traveled much further than the road from London to Greece that year. My worldview expanded beyond the borders of middle-class America: I read furiously to keep up with my better-educated European peers, and honed my primitive foreign-language skills, since to Europeans, conversing in the local tongue is simply good manners.
I never stopped traveling, first as a film producer, then as a journalist, and always with a mission to kindle wanderlust in everyone I encounter, since I feel we’ll never really understand another culture until we meet people face-to-face.

5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
I saw NATJA as the scrappy kid sibling to SATW. I thought, “Hey, I’m scrappy,” and felt it would be a good fit.

6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Sit still and peer into the shadows. I rent houses, often at the end of a press trip, so I can shop the markets, cook the food, and have time to unearth unexpected secrets.

Share the Post:

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Sign up to receive our latest news and special offers!

Your Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.