Post and Courier launches high-end expeditions for revenue generation and community building


In an era when local newsrooms are looking for creative ways to bring in revenue, The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, is putting its latest bet on a new high-end international travel program hosted by Editor-in-Chief Autumn Phillips.

Phillips, a veteran journalist and world traveler, says the new travel program is something close to her heart, and she credits the paper's publisher, P.J. Browning, with supporting new ideas. “I wanted to travel, I wanted to write and I wanted to do things to build community. The thing about the Post and Courier is we do have a culture of innovation, and people are encouraged to be entrepreneurial inside of it. And I think that's one of the reasons we’ve thrived.”

Autumn Phillips walks down the street in Bcharri, Lebanon. (Photo by Suzanne Pollak)

With the help of Academic Travel Abroad, an agency that has coordinated similar programs for the Smithsonian and National Geographic, Phillips envisioned a unique travel program that would provide readers with an immersive and transformative experience.

To build a program that would appeal to the paper’s readers, they conducted a survey asking where readers would be interested in traveling, how much they would pay and what kind of activities appealed to them. Academic Travel will handle all the logistics for the program, and the paper will get 25% of the profits from the trip.

Autumn Phillips holds a golden eagle at the home of Aitbek, a famous eagle hunter living near Tuura Suu, Kyrgyzstan. (Courtesy photo)

After considering reader feedback, they will launch the program’s inaugural year with trips to Cuba, Cambodia, Morocco, Rwanda and Northern Ireland. The excursions are curated to offer much more than a typical travel itinerary, and participants will meet with local experts, including historians, chefs, conservationists and artists, ensuring a well-rounded understanding of the cultures they explore. They’ll also be given a suggested reading list to help them have context and points of conversation.

Phillips wanted these trips to be linked to the paper and built the program to allow participants to learn how they travel and practice their craft from herself and other Post and Courier journalists. Phillips and her colleagues will host the trips and hold symposiums with participants about how journalists and travel writers approach learning about a new place to make their writing more thoughtful and evocative.

Autumn Phillips walks down the street in Lamu Old Town, off the coast of Kenya. (Photo by Earl Bridges)

The prices for these exclusive trips range from $4,800 to $11,000 per person, depending on the destination and accommodation preferences. The response has been positive: the March trip to Cuba is currently at full capacity with a waiting list.

Phillips said when she was researching the idea for this revenue project, she found several other local newsgroups who shared advice about their experiences doing travel programs, including the team at and the Herald Tribune in Dubuque, Iowa. She said a community of publishers advises each other on how to successfully run a travel program for revenue generation.

The Undertaker Pub in Wexford, Ireland (Photo by Autumn Phillips)

Phillips said she hopes the program fosters deeper ongoing connections. “The next layer of the idea is that alumni of these trips will stay connected, and we’ll get together for intellectual evenings. So that’s another layer I’m looking forward to bringing to our readers and community.”

Diane Sylvester is an award-winning 30-year multimedia news veteran. She works as a reporter, editor and newsroom strategist. She can be reached at


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