We thought a lot about the No. 1 choice — ultimately selecting New Orleans, on the occasion of its 300th birthday (see the item by yours truly, the project’s coordinating editor) — and tried to make sure there was a little something for every type of traveler through the rest of the list, providing a geographic and thematic mix.
So what about that 52 Places Traveler? It’s an idea that has been percolating for the last couple of years, but always seemed too daunting to pull off. This year, we finally posted the job. We expected a passionate response from a group of inveterate travelers — but I can’t say we expected 13,000 submissions.
A team of four, including myself, divided up the applications and took at least a glancing look at all of them, diving into the ones we thought showed the most promise. Over many multi-hour sessions, we narrowed the list to 139 people — including a father-daughter team and Buzz Bissinger, the author of “Friday Night Lights” — and asked each to send a video introduction, as well as a sample video story from the road for posting to Instagram.
We narrowed the list further, to six finalists. One is an editor at a major travel magazine. Another works as a breaking news videographer for a TV network. Another is a lawyer-turned-journalist. (Mr. Bissinger, sadly, did not make the cut, though his submission video was as compelling as one would expect.)
A team of folks from around the newsroom — representing the Travel section, the video department and the photo department — met with those applicants either in person or by video chat. All were impressive — indeed, any one of them could have done the job.