The Top 10 Reasons I Loved Working At Gadling

Stephen Greenwood, AOL

We used to joke over the years about how lists in the media were increasingly trivializing the way in which content is consumed. Top 10 nude beaches. Top 10 Disney rides. Top 10 top 10s. I’ll admit, they can be ungratifying to write, but the platform in which we live now thrives on short form content, and the list has a significant role in that ecosystem. Ask Conde Nast how their slideshows with 2827 different slides are going.

It makes sense to leave Gadling with a top 10 list. I owe much of our success to our slideshows and lists, and though publishing our narrative work was always a point of pride, there was also a balance. Besides, you guys don’t need a long essay on blogging and my state of the travel media. We will always travel, we will always write, or at least I will. That’s most important.This is my last post at Gadling and a farewell, so to speak. It’s been a great six years, and I’ll miss some of this stuff the most.

Connectivity: I often compare Gadling to a house that’s on fire that will completely burn down unless I keep dumping water on it. Strangely, a part of me – a large part of me – will miss waking up at 3 a.m. confused and worried, making sure that Kraig Becker’s posts are scheduled for 8 a.m. the next day. I’ll miss stratifying features throughout every morning and wrestling with the frontpage of AOL.com for article placement. Being that connected with the news world is incredibly stimulating, and it’s something that I may never see again in my life.

Travel Conferences and Meetings: Vanity is a trait that runs too deep in writers, but if you look at conferences from the community rather than the career development perspective, they change a lot. Some of the best moments of my last six years have been sitting in bars after a Restless Legs reading (thanks Farley!) or at brunches in Vancouver. It’s a great time to catch up with old friends, Media 6.0 panel be damned.

Don George: In addition to being a legendary travel writer and Gadling’s features editor, Don has been an exceptional mentor to me and he’s turned into an incredible friend. Though I’m sure we’ll work together in the future, I’ll look back on this chapter of our working relationship with fondness.

The AOL community: Working at a media giant has been an eye opening experience for me (free Redbull?!) and I’ve been exposed to a great deal of really outstanding people on my journey through the system. Thanks to Willy Volk (now at The Huffington Post) and Justin Glow (now at Vox) for bringing me into the fold, to Kaylee King and Neil Katz (now at Weather), Patrick Batu (now at Time Warner), Beth Caulfield (now at Hilton) and Jared Smith for making me part of AOL, to Adam Rose and Adam Goldberg for dragging me through The Huffington Post and to Arianna Huffington, Fara Warner and Michael Yessis for letting the show go on.

I would be remiss to not mention some of the best support staff in the world at AOL as well. Cheers to Greg Roman (the developer), Dori Solomon (the lawyer) and Ken Shadford (the video producer) for helping us along the way. Gadling would have never been successful without you guys.

Access: Though I never used my press credentials for free rooms at the Ritz Carlton or upgrades on Singapore Air, working with Gadling gave me great access to the inside of the travel industry. I met the head pilot at V Australia, got to see the insides of numerous airports and had phone calls returned when I needed a quote for a story. That sort of access is precious.

The Nice PR People: I’m still convinced that several of my friends in public relations are paid to be nice to me, but I don’t care anymore. You know who you are. Thanks.

The Ridiculous Email Avalanche: About eight months after starting as editor at Gadling I got put onto the hit list for PR contacts. Now I get hundreds of emails a day pitching everything from iPhone cases (why?) to hotel packages in Vanuatu (nope) to misdirected emails for random team members.

My favorite email came after Chris Elliott wrote a joke post on April Fools this year claiming that he was the new editor of the site followed by an obviously fake post. The nice folks from Cision almost had a heart attack.

Funny thing: I actually enjoy getting a deluge of email every day. There’s something about an inbox that’s constantly churning that makes me feel needed. Vanity, I guess.

The Ping-Pong Table at 770 Broadway: Yes, I came in on several Saturdays and played a few games over beers. Sorry TA.

The peanut gallery of travel writers: Twitter has done wonders for keeping the travel writing community connected, and I’ve made many friendships there and across other media. Standout journeys include tracking down CBC Radio’s Jonathan Goldstein to eventually put together the wonderful series “In Bali with Baggage,” working with puzzlemaster Will Shortz on the “Four Down Two Across” Vines, numerous secret brunches with Jason Clampet and hundreds of nights out with the Nomading Film Fest founders or the Farley brigade.

My team, the Gadling bloggers: At this point on the job I think I hired every single person on our blogging team at Gadling, and I’m pleased to say that they’re the most respectable and intelligent group in the community. They were gracious when working with sponsors, not demanding when applying their credentials and smart about working with AOL. And they put up with me, a constantly stressed out and always-traveling editor. Keep up the good work guys. I love you all.

That’s it. Six long years ends with the June payroll and me locking myself out of the CMS. It’s been a great trip everyone. See you out on the road.

– Grant Martin