This weekend I leave for a 10-week adventure in China, India and Vietnam. While in Southeast Asia I will be researching how independent, locally owned electronic and print outlets are competing with global media conglomerates in these three nations where nearly 40 percent of the world's population lives. I will also do lots of trekking and exploring.
My longtime friend and mentor Fran Zankowski will serve as "Visiting Publisher" while I am away. Fran joins the Independent after serving as group publisher of a four-paper group of award-winning newsweeklies headquartered in Hartford, Conn. Fran has served on the board of directors for the national Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and has been featured in many trade publications including the cover of Editor & Publisher magazine. Originally starting as a copyboy for The Baltimore Sun, Fran has been involved in publishing newspapers for more than two decades.
I am also thrilled that Cecelia Jacobs will coordinate the Independent's philanthropic arm, the Independent Community Partnership, while I am away. Cec will have the pleasurable and difficult task of helping the ICP board select this year's recipients from 47 strong nonprofit applicants. She will also help the board determine who will garner the 2005 ICP Community Builder Award.
I'll return stateside in early May -- with stories to tell.
This will be an adventure of a lifetime. I am grateful for Fran, Cec and everyone at the Independent for giving me this opportunity to take a sabbatical after nearly 12 years running the Independent (or more accurately, having the Independent run me.)
With gratitude toward all,