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I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote

- Herman Melville


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Editor's Letters

Dec 14, 2017

Editor’s Letter. Issue 14. Winter 2017.

“Memory conspires against nature. The forgetting can begin in the instant that a change takes place… if you’re unaware of the animals’ past presence, then their absence will seem perfectly natural, and the question of whales* in the future simply will not occur to you.” J.B. Mackinnon, The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be.

WRITTEN BY

Apoorva Prasad

You can subscribe to the Outdoor Journal here.

As a journalist-turned entrepreneur, I created The Outdoor Journal to inspire people to travel and spend time outdoors — and thus spark a desire to protect the outdoors and nature. So I was a bit befuddled when many readers asked us in a more generic way, “and when will you do trips?”. My initial response was, “there are so many great adventure outfitters out there, why should we do trips?!”. The readers would ask, “well, there are many, but we just don’t know which one to trust…”.

That was when the lightning bolt struck. People wanted the outdoors in their lives, but they did not seek risk — they sought the perfect illusion of risk, of adventure. Simply creating a media platform wasn’t enough — we needed to tie it all together and engineer an online platform capable of not only listing all the existing companies in the adventure travel industry, but also build an transparent system that could objectively promote good actors and eliminate bad actors from, quite literally, our ecosystem. How could we ensure that companies that willfully damage the environment not get unknowing customers, simply because they had a good website with great SEO or used Facebook for digital marketing better than the good companies? How could we help promote businesses that genuinely that cared about their customers, guides and the environment — but didn’t necessarily know how to build a great website or have a credit card payment gateway or reach international customers via all the confounding means of digital marketing that exist today?

In the last century, media businesses were the “platforms” that performed exactly the same function, relying on editorial integrity to recommend the best companies hence the success of the travel guidebooks, in that ancient era. But the 21st century decimation of the media industry by internet giants has created a deeper problem of trust, than reducing it — from fake reviews to fake news, from meddling in democratic elections by foreign agents, to the lack of authenticity in a world driven by optimizing “likes” and clicks.

On the other hand, we wanted to build an ethical, social impact startup, with the goal of using adventure travel as a way to make the world a better place. This vision was recently validated when we won a major grant award from Booking.com, as an early stage startup in sustainable tourism. Now I would like to invite you, our readers who started us on this journey in the first place, to begin your own journeys with the best partners — on OutdoorVoyage.com.

*Ed’s note: or tigers, or lions, or elephants or…

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Editor's Letters

Aug 14, 2018

Welcome to the new OutdoorJournal.com

A reflection of our new team and iterative process of regular updates to our design, editorial content, business model and much more.

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WRITTEN BY

Apoorva Prasad

In order to achieve our long-term goals, we’ve had to learn some hard lessons, undertake pivots and become more of a tech startup than “just a magazine”. I’ve personally had to go from being “just a journalist” to being the CEO of a tech startup, raise outside funding and relearn software development, nearly 20 years after I quit engineering school in Maryland to climb in the Himalayas, travel and become a storyteller.

You’ll start to see a brand new look to our website and other properties, as well as be able to undertake trips on The Outdoor Voyage (www.outdoorvoyage.com), which we’re also launching via trip pages on The Outdoor Journal itself.

Call us what you will, but The Outdoor Journal & Voyage stands for one thing: to educate, inspire and enable all peoples to enjoy, experience and protect wilderness.

This is also an acknowledgement of the reality that the media industry as we knew it for the last hundred years is essentially dead, that nearly all advertising dollars are scooped up by Facebook and Google today, not independent media businesses like ours; as well as the fact that our readers have constantly asked us who the best travel companies are, globally, and how they could book with them. Our business model is henceforth evolving into a hybrid travel + media model, where a sales commission from a scalable travel booking business is what (we hope) will fund our honest, authentic and independent editorial journalism. Importantly, our marketplace side seeks to promote ethical travel and sustainable development in local communities globally – a mission that received a boost when Booking.com awarded us their second-highest startup grant award last December. Some links you follow may earn us a commission, and we will continue to have some sponsored content or advertising on our channels, but we will always strive to be transparent and explicit about what’s honest, genuine journalism, and what’s not – a rarity in most travel and outdoor media.

We’ve remained a family & friends-funded startup, but sometimes we pitch ourselves to investors calling it a future “Wirecutter for adventure travel” and other times, a potential “NatGeo + Expedia for Adventure”. Call us what you will, but The Outdoor Journal & Voyage stands for one thing: to educate, inspire and enable all peoples to enjoy and experience wilderness. That is our purpose, and we will continue to build and grow towards goals that help us achieve it.

It’s been a long journey, and I invite you to retrace my steps by reading all of the previous Editor’s Letters, which can be found under The Journal.

Finally, should you wish to support our journalism, and everything we stand for, please subscribe to our print magazine here.

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