2018 October Featured Journalist of the Month: Arnold Wayne Jones
Monday, October 01, 2018 06:21 PM

Arnold Wayne Jones

Arnold Wayne Jones has been involved in journalism since college, and his made it his living for nearly 25 years. In that time, he has been a film critic, theater critic, restaurant critic, music critic, travel writer, entertainment reporter, celebrity interviewer, editor and photographer for publications including Dallas Voice (where he has been since 2001), as well as Dallas Observer, Fox4, Backstage Magazine, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is the recipient of a Katie Award (Press Club of Dallas), 6 Lone Star Awards (Houston Press Club) and a finalist for the NATJA Award.

Arnold's Q&A:

What got you into travel writing?

I was already a restaurant critic when my then-editor gave me my first official assignment about 15 years ago —  Las Vegas, a world-class restaurant town, so it was a good fit. I came up with an approach (breaking options into "high rollers," "dollar slots" or "penny-ante") so that readers could design the trip they wanted at their price point. I thought it would be a one-off, but then my editor asked me to do Beverly Hills and then Galveston and I had to come up with a new approach each time! I liked the challenge, and so did more and more travel writing.

What’s the most challenging part of travel writing for you?

Coming up with a way to organize the practicalities of a visit with a compelling narrative, and conveying a genuine sense for the destination in words. A chronological recitation of restaurants, hotels, parks… that’s too dry. And I constantly worry that my perception of a destination is overly skewed in one direction — I want to write about a travel experience, but want the visitor to understand something deeper about the locale. Striking that balance is to me the value of travel writing. 

What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?

I’m pretty old school, so a pen and a pad for taking actual notes are still essential. It used to be my expensive digital camera, though I find smartphones nowadays can often take excellent photos in a pinch. 

What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?

I was on a visit to L.A., but flew in a night early and was free until the next afternoon. I called up a local guy — not in journalism or travel at all — and asked him for suggestions in the four or five hours of downtime I had. He was off work that day, so he drove me around the city. When I met my hosts later, they could not believe how many diverse and interesting things we did … especially since they thought it impossible to drive around L.A. in that amount of time!  That guy was the best tour guide I’ve ever had. 

 What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?

If you’re in a group, be on time for meet-ups — you don’t want to get a rep for being the one everyone waits on. Always ask questions you’re really interested in of almost anyone you meet (ideally, outside the earshot of any other writers) — it’s good to have a unique take on a place that nobody else does. And be honest when you write.

 

Find Arnold's work here: http://dallasvoice.com/

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