Irwin Robinson, Travel Weeklys founder,
could not have known it at the time, but when he gave a
writer/editor job to a former deejay in 1966, he was reaching into
the future, into the next century.
Within a few years,
the new kid at Travel Weekly became editor in chief. He stayed
editor in chief for 25 years, and retained an active role in this
newspaper thereafter as editorial director, advisor, columnist and
who died last week at the age of 70, was the third person to hold
the job of editor. He followed two tough acts -- Robinson, the
founder, and Wesley First, a former managing editor of the New York
World Telegram. He not only rose to the challenge, but raised the
Over the years,
Alan Fredericks trained, supervised and influenced more journalists
here than we can count. You see some of their names regularly in
Travel Weekly. Alans legacy, a tradition of clear writing, factual
reporting, fairness and integrity, is very much alive.
Whats gone is the wit, the
wry humor, the knowing wink to fellow Yankee fans, the astonishing
grab-bag of Broadway and show-biz trivia, the cannon of anecdotes
about travel and travel people, the curiosity, the courtesy, the
A list of his
better qualities can no more define a man, however, than it can
explain the subtle power of his influence. Alan Fredericks began to
leave an imprint on this publication over 30 years ago, in numerous
direct and indirect ways.
He did so as editor
and mentor, as a manager and promoter of people, as a defender of
editorial prerogatives within the company, as an ambassador outside
changes of ownership and several complete turnovers in the
management and staff, his stamp is upon us and we are proud to bear
" " "
A few years ago,
when Alan was no longer in charge of day-to-day operations, a big
news story broke in the evening, after the last pages had been
prepared and sent to the printer.
An editor, who was
a few notches down from the top of the masthead, recognized that it
was big news and starting calling other TW staffers at home and on
their cell phones. Eventually, a skeleton crew was assembled to
call the printer, work out a new deadline, write the story and
redesign Page 1.
They worked late
and produced a revised edition.
Alan later heard of
the heroics and offered his congratulations, to which the editor
replied, We just did what you would have done.
Maybe it sounded
corny then, and maybe it sounds corny now, but its true.
" " "
One of the enduring
stories that circulates in the Travel Weekly newsroom concerns an
incident some decades ago, when a man called to complain that we
had referred to him as the late so-and-so. He assured us he was not
The phone call
triggered a memorable conversation between Alan Fredericks and the
then-managing editor, Darrell Leo, a newsroom wit who was beloved
by all for his editorial skills and quick mind. When Alan brought
up the matter of writing a retraction, Darrell came back with the
deadpan retort: Well, its his word against ours.
one-liners the way Mozart collected notes, so the story went into
his vast repertoire of anecdotes; he delighted in the retelling of
When Darrell died
of AIDS some years later, Alan recounted the story at the memorial
service, telling those assembled that when Travel Weeklys newsroom
received word that Darrell had died, our collective response was,
Well, its their word against ours.
And that was our
collective response to the news that Alan Fredericks had left us:
Its their word against ours.