Site-Seeing  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Drop Cap
From AJR,   December/January 2006

Site-Seeing   

By Matt D. Wilson
Matt D. Wilson is an AJR editorial assistant.     


Go here. Do this. See that. Eat there. For essentially their entire existence, the goal of travel articles has been to give readers a sense of what's available in a locale rather than attempt to re-create the feeling of actually going there. But Neil Schwartz of Pology.com wants to change all that.

Schwartz, 26, started Pology (as in "anthro-"), a monthly online magazine, in April after working in public relations. "I was never a travel writer by trade," he says. "I just kind of felt there was a large disconnect between what I experienced when I was traveling and what I was reading in various magazines."

Stories on the site, written in a narrative, first-person style, are more travelogue — or maybe "travelblog" — than itinerary. An article by Anne E. Campisi in Pology's October issue — one of Schwartz's favorites, he says — tells of the experience speaking with a young boy selling a pack of postcards outside a temple in Palmyra, Syria. Writers for Pology — who currently are not paid, but may be soon — range from experienced journalists who have worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe and NPR to previously unpublished writers who simply submitted their work. Same goes for the photographers who have had photo essays published on the site.

Pology gets about 60,000 to 70,000 page views per month, Schwartz says, and the audience has been growing by 5 percent to 10 percent every month. There's no advertising on the site now, but Schwartz says that ads or maybe a foundation to "promote cultural exploration" are options for future funding.

Focused on covering both the developed and underdeveloped world, Schwartz says that Pology has grabbed the attention of the mainstream travel media, though he's not looking to have the site's articles syndicated in the immediate future. "I'm not sure we've really influenced anybody yet," he says, but "I feel like we're on their radar screen."

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