Normally I am a modest sort of fellow, having much to be modest about. However, the idea here is not only to introduce myself but to promote myself as well. Here goes.
I am a travel columnist in Mexico City, where I have lived since 1958. For more than a decade I have written a weekly piece – in Spanish! -- for the travel section of the newspaper Reforma; it is now syndicated. In addition, I contribute reports on the hospitality industry to every issue of Turistampa, Invertour and Dimensión Turistica, plus sporadic pieces (in English) for Watch Boom and some other on-linepublications. On occasion I have been referred to as the dean of travel writers in Mexico (which merely means I am the oldest), and as the most widely-read and the most-respected, flattering but possibly true.
What I do is write about tourism, telling people where, in my opinion, they might like to vacation. True travel writers, as I understand it, report on journeys only the daring or foolhardy might be willing to take.
That I do what I do never was planned. Fresh from the Graduate of Journalism at Columbia University, I came to Mexico City with dreams of becoming a foreign correspondent, inspired by Hemingway and films like “Roman Holiday” and “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.” Considering the fate of the protagonists, this may not have been a very bright idea, but the alternative was reporting on sewage board meetings at some small town daily while I gained on-the-job experience. Instead, I found employment at The News, a small newspaper in big Mexico City. I labored there for more than a dozen years, the final six of them as editor.
From The News, I moved on to become editor of the then new Spanish-language business magazine Expansión. From there I went on to become the foreign correspondent I had dreamed about, first for Copley News Service, then United Press International, next The New York Times, and finally Time-Life. In late 1976, I visited Nicaragua on assignment for Time-Life and within months was employed by a public relations firm to write nice things about Anastasio Somoza. The pay was better than at Time-Life. Much better.
I lost that job when Somoza lost his, but I managed to keep body and soul together – as well as to support my Mexican family – with various public relations writing assignments. All were related to tourism. Over the years, I had contributed to guide books and written pieces for travel publications. In 1982 (if I remember correctly), Travel Weekly appointed me contributing editor for Mexico with a handsome monthly stipend. Not quite as handsome as what I received from Somoza, but the perks were better. I remained at Travel Weekly until 1995, when the publication, facing financial difficulties, disposed of much of its staff, including me. Happily, by then, I had become known among the travel and tourism press in Mexico. When Reforma instituted a travel section, I was summoned.
Reforma, which takes its name from the best known avenue in Mexico City, brought from Monterrey to
Mexico City a new form of journalism. Editorial space no longer was for sale and reporters were not expected to double as advertising salespeople. Accepting payment from sources – a common practice in Mexico -- was forbidden. This probably is why I was selected as a columnist. Perhaps it was known that I never had accepted a bribe. Perhaps it was unknown that I never had been offered one. In any event, the rules were spelled out: I might not request free transportation or accommodations, although I could accept them if offered. Acceptance did not guarantee publication and any report I wrote should include mentions of any imperfections.
That said, I am including in this site my column of the week, in English. The Spanish-language version belongs to Reforma. Oh, yes. Why Jimm? Thank AOL and the Internet. When AOL came to Mexico, they asked me to write an on-line travel column for them. Since AOL already had a Jim Budd as a client; they suggested Jimm. And when I went on to get my own domain name, Jim Budd had been taken. Jimm Budd, however, stands alone.