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In 2012, an idea was formed. An idea to create a travel publication that would utilize new digital media platforms, provide appropriate benefits for contributors and team members, follow a strict ethics code that would decline compensations from travel operators, and only feature destinations that were sustainable. With time, lots of hard work and support from friends and family, the idea transformed into Immersion Travel Magazine LLC.

Immersion Travel Magazine is a digital publication that showcases culturally sensitive and environmentally conscious travel destinations across the nation and the world. Readers are invited to escape to vivid landscapes, explore welcoming and spirited communities, taste exotic cuisine from colorful markets, sample captivating music and art, discover wildlife in thriving habitats, and learn what people around the world are doing to improve the travel experience for visitors, locals and the environment.

Each issue features one region in all its glory, including favorite local hangouts, delicious restaurants, exciting tours, comfortable lodges, national parks, and anything else that is environmentally friendly and culturally conscious. The goal is to fully investigate the environmental impacts that destinations may have, get acquainted with the local communities and cultures, and leave as little an impact behind as possible.

Like travel ninjas, the Immersion Travel team leaves only footprints and takes only memories (in the form of photographs and film). Ethical practices and transparent operations are the pillars of the magazine. That means that what you read and see is what really happened; no rose-colored lenses, no manipulations, and no compensations to skew reviews.

Immersion Travel Magazine delivers genuine and reliable content for travelers, who are curious about their world; aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty; enjoy putting their feet up once in a while; and are craving a new and honest look at travel. Experience the thrill of Immersion Travel Magazine, where every article, photograph and video will keep you coming back for more.

Clare Hancock

Editor-in-Chief

Raised among cacti and cowboys in Arizona, Clare Hancock has always had an appetite for adventure. By the time she was a sophomore in college, she had her sites set on becoming a travel writer. However, after earning a master’s degree in journalism, she realized that travel writing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and she decided she was going to change that. Her vision was to create a magazine that not only featured ethical and responsible destinations but also took care of its contributors. No more trading compensations for positive reviews. No more traveling on an insufficient budget. No more shady deals with bloated companies. Just pure travel, the good, the bad, the breathtaking, and even the not-so-glamorous. That is what Clare stands for and its what you can expect from Immersion Travel Magazine.

Chris Scotti

Creative Director

Chris learned the joys of traveling by escaping the hustle of his native Southern California. Numerous trips to the Southwest’s bountiful open spaces instilled a love of the outdoors and a healthy respect for nature. After a friend convinced him to study Spanish in Madrid, Chris fell in love with learning about new cultures and capturing their beauty in his images. He studied studio art at the University of California, Riverside and Journalism at the University of Oregon. While in Oregon, Clare Hancock recruited him as a business partner for “an insane idea” that became Immersion Travel Magazine. He now serves as the Creative Director for Immersion.

Preamble: Being Ethical in the Travel Writing World

In this modern age, where photographs are easily manipulated and travel writers are pressured to compose less-than honest reviews in return for free hotel stays and plentiful drinks, it is hard to know if you can really trust what you are reading. For years, I have read about how the travel writing field is continuing to misguide readers. As journalists and readers, our team at Immersion Travel Magazine strives to provide the best possible information in the most ethical way. We want readers to know that they can trust everything they are reading, from the features to the advertisements to the behind-the-scenes bloopers at the end.

Our goals are to prevent disrespectful and ignorant portrayals of people, nature, and animals through our articles and multimedia as well as instill awareness in readers about how tourism can help or hinder the well-being of communities and ecosystems. Ultimately, we want to inspire a shift in the travel paradigm from frequenting corporate Americanized playgrounds to favoring locally owned venues that provide meaningful and beneficial experiences for all parties involved. We will do all this without manipulating our content or allowing businesses to dictate their own reviews. We also won’t allow for advertisers to guide our material, including travel gear reviews, causing unsavory situations involving conflicts of interest. Several publications state that they only accept compensations when they can’t afford to pay the full price. Even though these publications state that the compensation doesn’t skew the review in any way, it is often impossible to write a non-biased review after sampling everything for free. Venues aren't covered unless Immersion Travel Magazine has the budget to pay full price to visit them and freelance writers are fully reimbursed for their travel expenses. This keeps everyone honest. Each venue is investigated thoroughly and anonymously before being featured. This ensures that the experiences portrayed in the magazine are the same experiences travelers will have when they visit. It is these principles that set us apart from other travel magazines.

To help remind us of our commitment to truth and transparency, Immersion Travel Magazine's code of ethics will be written in chalk on a large black board and will be hung on a wall where everyone can see it. This will help remind everyone that our principles are what set us apart from other travel magazines. The chalk is also a reminder that ethical details should not be permanent. New experiences will present complex problems and with those will come new and improved ways of handling ethical dilemmas. One method that worked for one problem may not apply to another problem. Each time a complex issue arises, the team will come together to strategize the most ethical way of going about solving it.




Values and Guidelines

All Immersion Travel Magazine team members are:

1. Honest

  1. We share the whole experience. If there are mosquitos, we say so. If there are dangerous parts of town, we point them out. If tours didn't fit their descriptions, we explain why.

  2. We are truthful in our interactions with others, from interviewing employees at travel venues to working with fellow teammates.

  3. Honesty with oneself is incredibly important, especially when traveling. We do our best to step back from our own bias and see the world through different lenses. We also know our limits when traveling and investigating venues.

2. Professional

  1. It is our duty to present work we are proud of. We believe in taking responsibility for our actions. Immersion team members and contractors are expected to represent Immersion Travel Magazine in an energetic, curious, responsible, and investigative light.

  2. We are prudent to decline all bribes, gifts, discounted services, or preferential treatment from any element of the travel industry, especially in return for positive reviews (including hotels, resorts, lodges, restaurants, tour operators, airlines, railways, cruise lines, rental car companies, tourist attractions, and others). This works both ways; we respect legal and ethical limits to methods of acquiring stories such as refusing to trade personal or professional goods for services.

  3. Immersion Travel Magazine team members have the utmost respect for the material they create. Plagiarizing (including using information from other sources without attribution as well as selling Immersion Travel Magazine's content to other publications) or infringing upon the rights and copyrights of others will result in termination from the magazine.

  1. We strive to demonstrate compassion and care for other sentient beings (humans, animals and insects) as well as ecosystems and we show ultimate respect for local customs, beliefs, religions, laws, and points of view.

  2. Negative reviews should be handled with care. While the truth about a particular place should not be understated or misleading in any way, writing a review based on a mood swing, hangover, unfortunate event, or a single flaw is unprofessional. Our reviews must be written with open minds and open hearts and we must be savvy enough to know the difference between a bad day in the kitchen and a systemic problem with the company.

  3. If any of us are or have been affiliated with companies or organizations that Immersion Travel Magazineis having or will have direct or indirect involvement with, we announce our connection to the rest of the team. This ensures the avoidance of conflicts of interest.

3. Transparent

  1. Everything we do is out in the open. From candid references in feature articles to behind the scenes videos that display our reporting techniques, subscribers are not left wondering how we obtained information or if we are doing things behind closed doors. We conduct our work honestly and we are not afraid to share our methods with others.

4. Diligent

  1. As professional journalists, we conduct comprehensive research and extensive fact-checking before publishing anything. We take part in as many activities as time will allow and represent as many sides of the story as possible.

  2. We edit each other's work as well as our own and then we edit again. Mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation cause readers to doubt the reliability of our publication.

  3. It is important to stay ahead of the game with learning new technologies and being up to date with what new public interests are. It is part of our duty to provide material people are looking for as well as new content that is surprising, thought-provoking, and inspiring.

5. Courageous

  1. We know that courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to not let fear stop us from doing what needs to be done.

  2. We try new things every day; we step outside our comfort zones; and we look through the lenses of other perspectives as often as possible.

  3. If any of us are at fault for something, we have the strength to admit it to the rest of the team and our subscribers when necessary. We learn from our mistakes and face consequences head-on.

6. Innovative

  1. Each of us has a voice and the ability to foster new ideas and support each other’s right to be creative and spontaneous.

  2. With so many projects keeping us on our toes, it is critical to remember to take time out for ourselves to reflect on recent events.

  3. We are free to contribute ideas in any way we feel is most constructive.

7. Tenacious

  1. Stories can be slippery and unwieldy. We owe it to our readers to get the facts for a great story and to not let it slip away from us.

  2. If there are obstacles with culture, local law, logistics, or anything else, we do our best to work with them instead of against them. We enjoy finding new ways of telling stories that benefit all parties involved.

8. Thrifty

  1. We use only what we need and refrain from spending beyond our means. Even though we love sharing treasures with family and friends, we follow the wisdom of taking only photographs and leaving only footprints. This means that we refrain from buying excessive souvenirs and we don't sample more than one specialty cocktail.

  2. We take on the challenge of being creative when finding exciting activities that appeal to a variety of price ranges. Our readers come from myriad walks of life and deserve to see a selection of eco-friendly vacation options.

  3. While on the clock (and often times off the clock), we endeavor to keep our carbon footprint small and our compassion footprint large. We ride our bikes to work, take the bus, and carpool whenever possible. We eat local, organic, and compassionately produced foods that help promote social and environmental justice causes. It is important for us to educate ourselves on modern methods of producing goods and services and we do our best to minimize harm wherever we can.




Immersion Travel Magazine's Pledge of Truth in Media Photography

While enjoying Immersion Travel Magazine, you can believe what you see. Our photos depict the reality that our photographers witnessed and experienced. If we pose or “set up” a photo, it will be due to an instructional or illustrative purpose, as when a person is posing for a portrait or objects are arranged to illustrate an article on travel gear or food preparation. Captions will clear up any ambiguity pertaining to posed photographs. Otherwise, if it looks like a photo of an event or a moment that our photographer captured, then that’s exactly what it is.

Once a photo has been taken, it is processed in accordance with long-established photojournalistic rules that guarantee that what you see is what the photographer saw through the viewfinder. We do allow traditional techniques such as cropping (trimming around the edges), correcting color, improving contrast, and the like as long as it doesn’t mislead the viewer in any way. Excluding minor touch-ups of temporary imperfections that are distracting, such as noticeable blemishes or bruises from volley ball games, we do not add, delete, reposition or rearrange people or objects within the frames of our photos.

If we make exceptions to the policy detailed above, we will tell you what we did and why. Legitimate examples might include a photo of a wildlife preserve altered to illustrate how it would look if every visitor planted a tree in the next ten years or an aerial photo shaded to reveal how many communities are positively affected by a nearby ecolodge. Disclosure of any such alteration will be explicitly explained in the caption.

With digital technology, it is easy to manipulate entirely fictional or partially fictional illustrations to look like photographs. We will avoid these techniques unless we are sure readers will immediately recognize the images as obviously implausible. An unambiguous label will also accompany the images such as photo illustrationor digitally altered photo montage

We intend for this policy to assist us in our efforts to use new technologies to do a better job to inform, educate, and enlighten our audience. This is our pledge of integrity in visual journalism. Your comments are greatly appreciated.




Immersion Travel’s Policy on Photo Alterations

Photographs

All photo submissions must include the original raw images as well as full disclosure as to the techniques used to take the image (colored filters, staging of scenes, extended exposure time, etc). Photos that don’t portray the reality of the scene as closely as possible will be thrown out.

Acceptable digital and dark room manipulations include: color correction, cropping (as long as it doesn’t mislead the audience), dodging and burning, improving contrast, and touching-up temporary imperfections such as noticeable blemishes, embarrassing bodily secretions, bruises from playing volleyball, or other similar instances. These touch-ups are minor and are only used to eliminate distractions, as the audience should be focusing on the content. For instance, touching up a noticeable zit on a teenager’s nose is acceptable but smoothing out the rest of the acne on his or her face is not.

While all photos will be edited according to the guidelines above, each one will be treated with individual and critical attention when decisions on alterations need to be made.

Photo Illustrations

The only time a photo illustration will be published is if it is obviously implausible to the general audience, instructive, and accompanied with an explicit description in the caption of what it is and why it was created. Even when an illustration is obviously implausible, it will have a disclosure. If there is a photo illustration in an issue Immersion Travel Magazine'sdefinition of photo illustration will be included in the masthead. Our photo illustrations are defined as: images designed to represent specific instructional paradigms and are not authentic depictions of real scenes.

What to consider when editing:

  1. Was the photo spontaneous or planned?

  2. Did the photographer shoot what they saw upon arriving on the location, or did they pose, place, or rearrange elements?

  3. How significant are aspects of the scene or event that were ignored or overlooked by the photographer?

  4. If it’s a photo of people, did they know they were being photographed? Did they sign a model release form according to legal regulations?

  5. What was the subject’s relationship with the photographer?

  6. Did the subjects alter their behavior because of the camera? To what extent?

  7. Are they looking at the camera?

  8. Might the photographer’s gender, race, or social standing have affected the taking of the photo: conscious or subconscious tastes, philosophies, or agendas?

  9. What was the effect of commercial considerations?