ieiMedia Alum Becomes Travel Editor

Jan 8, 2013   //   by Rachele Kanigel   //   Alumni News, Blog, Magazines, Travel Writing, Urbino, Italy  //  No Comments
Rachele Kanigel is an associate professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. She directed ieiMedia projects in Jerusalem (2013), Perpignan (2010 and 2011) and Urbino (2009) and taught reporting in Cagli in 2007. In 2017 she will co-direct ieiMedia's new international reporting program in Kyoto, Japan.

In 2009, Leah Bigelow, who had graduated the year before from San Jose State University, served as the student editor for the first issue of Urbino View (now called Urbino Now), the annual travel magazine put out by ieiMedia about Urbino and the Marche region of Central Italy. It was a tough job, wrangling 24 other student journalists, editing their copy, checking Italian phrases with interpreters, working with InDesign, and putting out a professional-quality magazine — all in one month — but Leah thrived under pressure. (An occasional glass of vino rosso frizzante a 24-hour getaway to Venice and a day at the beach helped.)

And the work prepared her well for her new job as managing editor of Jetset Extra, an online travel resource.

We caught up with Leah at her new job. Here’s what she had to say about travel writing, freelance opportunities for ieiMedia alumni and her experiences in Urbino.

What is Jetset Extra?
Jetset Extra is an online travel resource for anyone who is interested in exploring the world. We have writers worldwide who submit articles about the cities they live in and the trips they’ve taken. We also create and post videos, hold a weekly Twitter chat about all things travel, and host an annual event called the Jetset Social to discuss the latest trends in the travel industry.

What do you do in your new job?
As managing editor, I oversee the production schedule and determine what articles will post and when. I also copyedit the articles, put together a weekly e-newsletter, and write my own pieces based on press releases or industry events that I attend.

Will you be working with freelancers? Any opportunities for ieiMedia alumni?
I hope so! Unfortunately, we cannot pay our writers at this time, but we do offer a great outlet for journalists who love to travel and want to build a portfolio. If any ieiMedia alumni would like to be featured writers for our site, they can send clips to

What have you been doing since you left Urbino in 2009 and you graduated college?
I was lucky enough to have a job waiting for me when I came home from Urbino, as circulation and special events manager for Where Orange County magazine. I spent two and a half years with Where before taking a job as associate editor for a business-to-business magazine for physical therapists. While the year I spent there was a great learning experience, I am so happy to be back working with the travel industry.

How do you think your Urbino experience shaped your career path?
The time I spent in Urbino really solidified the fact that journalism was the right career choice for me. Putting together a magazine/visitor’s guide for the city in a short amount of time was crazy and stressful … and I loved every minute of it. I learned that this was the type of job I was truly passionate about and that I was ready and willing to work hard and put my all into more projects like this one. My experience in Urbino also gave me an introduction to travel writing and taught me how to see the unique and wonderful aspects of the places I visit and the place where I live.

Fondest memory of Urbino?
Dining al fresco in the Piazza della Repubblica, touring the ducal palace, seeing the rolling green hills outside my bedroom window every morning, wandering through the city’s cobblestone streets, using my own special form of English/Italian/sign language to meet and talk to the locals, having an amazing wine-tasting dinner hosted by a top sommelier (even though I had a horrible head cold and couldn’t actually taste anything), dancing to ’80s classic rock at the beer festival, drinking vino rosso frizzante, going to the Bosom Pub, eating gelato at least once a day (and telling myself it was OK because I walked to and from the gelateria), getting lost in Venice with Alyson and Alyssa, taking a quick trip to Lucca just to see James Morrison play live, researching the history of Urbino for my article, taking hundreds of photos….. Traveling to Urbino was the experience of a lifetime. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could and absolutely plan on returning to visit someday.

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Students Say...

I really don’t know how to convey what an incredible opportunity it is. I guess the coolest part for me was getting to investigate an issue, work with a local fixer, interview locals, talk with experts and officials, and be mentored by journalists who are actively working in the field. If you want to be a journalist, this is your chance. This program is seriously the real deal.
by Patrick Torphy, Emerson College, Jerusalem Project 2014