On Jan. 31, I was laid off after the Aol-owned MapQuest decided to refocus resources away from publishing original travel articles.
Were you surprised?
For several reasons, no:
- I work in media.
- I work in travel media. (Getting laid off from a travel media job made me feel like Goodfella‘s Henry Hill when he first got pinched—it wasn’t a good thing, but it kind of added to my bona fides.)
- A couple weeks earlier, Aol-owned Tech Crunch reported in a widely circulated article that its parent company was restructuring and layoffs and site closures were likely. To the best of my knowledge, no one at Aol refuted these rumors. Additionally, for months media coverage of Aol has focused on the company’s transition from content creation to selling online ads.
Do you regret putting aside freelancing to work full-time at MapQuest?
Not at all. My experience at MapQuest was fantastic and I learned a ton. For the first time since I started travel writing in 2005, I worked in-house with other travel writers and editors. Day in, day out I got to talk travel, writing, editing, social media, media strategy, journalism ethics, and the like with colleagues whose backgrounds differed from mine.
Also, I got to do some challenging work at MapQuest. And I picked up a bunch of new skills, most notably with video.
MapQuest was a fun place to work and there’s a lot of enthusiasm around the site and apps—which are much better than their reputation. It’s ridiculous that in tech, being around for a couple of decades is a bad thing. MapQuest’s apps are very competitive with other mobile-navigation options.
I’m thankful MapQuest ventured into publishing original editorial content and gave me the opportunity to be part of that effort.
That sounds like a lot of corporate speak.
You’re probably right. But it’s heartfelt.
What are you doing for work now?
As great an opportunity as MapQuest was, I am very excited to be freelancing again (I freelanced from 2004 to 2013).
Yes, I know you freelanced. I’m you.
Quiet, you’re ruining the structure. Since leaving MapQuest, I’ve already had three articles published on Condé Nast Traveler’s website and had some good conversations with editors for other publications.
I got into travel writing because I like (wait for it) travel and writing. Over the past five years at Louisville.com, Eater Louisville and MapQuest, I devoted a lot of attention to web traffic, editorial and social media strategies, managing freelancers and interns, template design, and a bunch of other areas. While I enjoy that stuff, I’m excited to devote all of my energy now to creating fun and engaging content.
If you’re an editor looking for articles that’ll be amusing and insightful, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That was shameless. You’re not looking for full-time employment?
If I found the right opportunity, I’d jump. But I’m not just looking for a full-time gig for the sake of employment.
Are you moving back to Louisville?
While I miss parts of Louisville dearly, my family is staying put in the DC area. We’re a lot closer to our families, my wife has a fantastic job that she loves, and we have roots here (we’d lived in the DC area for 10 years before heading out to Louisville).
Any missed opportunities you regret at MapQuest?
Yes—a thousand percent! I wanted to interview Shingy, Aol’s digital prophet, when the Internet was at peak Shingymania. I’d been assigning Q&As with notable people who travel a lot for work (celebrity chefs, actors, authors). Aol’s CEO Tim Armstrong told Details that “David Shing is an explorer of the future. He lives in multiple worlds and interacts with multiple worlds, and he really goes out into the future and sends us road maps back. I look at him as mapping the future landscape, the same way that the early explorers did.” So Shingy sounded like the perfect subject for a travel Q&A with MapQuest. Also, Shingy attends a lot of conferences, so I figured he’d have some practical advice for travelers too.
Sadly Shingy was off limits at the time. I’d still love to interview him though, maybe over carrot sticks at Applebee’s.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.
The pleasure is all mine.