Now that you have finished unwrapping all your gifts and are ready to tackle the coming new year, let me present two more of the top-notch journalists who are participating in creating our regional Business Quarterly. One is a photographer who has done more than her share to make this magazine a reality, and the other is a former co-worker that I've known longer than most anybody else on our team.
Michelle R. Thomas worked at the Mobile Press-Register for 17 years, culminating in a position as photography manager. Later she became an insurance broker and also opened her own business, MRT Images.
She has won multiple awards for her photography, including a national award for work that appeared in Alabama Living magazine. She graduated from the University of Mobile with a bachelors in business administration, management and leadership. She teaches Sunday school and sings in the choir. Mother of three and wife of a local sports writer, she lives in Daphne, Ala.
I met Michelle when we both worked at the Mobile Press-Register, and she ended up being one of the most critical players in producing the paper's business magazine. She was responsible for doing all the research for the middle-of-the-magazine two-page spread that featured a map and detailed information on whatever subject we were working, such as ports, military installations, airports and more.
"I decided to participate because I love journalism andphotojournalism. There is very little local economic news coverage with any depth. People need to know how our region is growing and changing," she said.
In the January issue, one of her photos is on the cover, and she also supplied many of the photos inside the publication. I can't begin to tell you how much more work she has done getting this magazine off the ground, but it was considerable.
Cindy West, who has a bachelors degree in communications arts, worked 14 years as a reporter for the Pensacola News Journal, and then another five years freelancing for Reuters, the Mobile Press-Register, Newsday, and other publications before being hired by the Pensacola Police Department. She has been the media relations coordinator for the department since 1995. During her career in journalism she won local, state and national awards. She lives in Pensacola, Fla.
I first met her in the late 80s when I was UPI's bureau chief in Pensacola, and we would occasionally cover the same stories. Then later, when UPI pulled out of Pensacola, I got a job at the Pensacola News Journal and sat next to Cindy. I got to know her as not only a solid journalist, but she also became a dear friend.
"Why do we need a quarterly business publication? That’s a no-brainer. We don't have one. We don't have a publication committed to bringing in-depth business news to the public, while this one is. In this 'get it out there first' mentality in the media, they are very quick to just use press releases and not explore the possibilities behind them. This quarterly will allow that.
"Second, I wanted to participate in this magazine venture because not only will it be educational to the public, but also it will give writers and photographers an opportunity to share their skills and knowledge instead of them being limited to a six-inch fluff piece in a periodical."
Cindy has written for some of my other projects, and for the first issue of the magazine she's helping me with editing chores. But she'll also be showing you her writing capabilities in future issues.