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American Universitys School of Communication Honours Lonely Planet Founders with Eric A. Friedheim Travel Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award

Travel News Asia 22 September 2005

The American Universitys School of Communication (SOC) and the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation has honoured Lonely Planet founders, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, with the first Eric A. Friedheim Travel Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award at the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) annual conference in Las Vegas.

The Travel Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes two icons of travel journalism. It honours the integrity and high ethical standards of the Wheelers body of work, which has inspired their colleagues and earned the trust of travellers the world over.

The Lonely Planet guides redefined travel writing and independent travel, observed AU School of Communication Dean Larry Kirkman. Maureen and Tony Wheeler have given us the compass points and courage to explore our world. With this award, the AU journalism program challenges all travel writers to match their high professional standards. At a time when barely a quarter of Americans have passports, we need the Lonely Planet vision of an interdependent global community more than ever.

Tony and I are thrilled to receive such a prestigious award from such prestigious organizations, said Maureen Wheeler who was present to accept the award.

When Tony and Maureen Wheeler arrived in Sydney on December 26, 1972, they had 27 cents left between them after their six-month overland trip from Europe and across Asia. A year later, they founded Lonely Planet Publications to publish Across Asia on the Cheap, the story of their trip from London to Australia. From that self-published guidebook Lonely Planet Publications has grown to become one of the worlds largest independent guidebook publishers. Headquartered in Melbourne, today the company has over 400 staff members, offices in London and Oakland (USA), more than 650 titles in print in English, Japanese and Korean, as well as a multi award-winning website, a television production company and a digital stock library.

In the past 12 months, the Wheelers travels have taken them to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America. Their most recent trip was an outback road journey in Western Australia, South The Travel Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award is named for American University alumnus Eric A. Friedheim, a journalist and author who was best known as editor-in-chief and chairman of Travel Agent magazine. Friedheim was a White House correspondent, book author, and travel columnist for the Los Angeles Times for years. He was also a philanthropist, who created the Eric Friedheim Library at the National Press Club; the Journalism Lab at SOC, as well as American Universitys main quadrangle are named in his honour.

My husband was a man of many passions, said Mrs. Edith Friedheim. The Eric A. Friedheim Travel Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award honours three: superior travel writing, the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation, and the School of Communications at American University. Eric would be proud to bestow this award on Tony and Maureen Wheeler whose Lonely Planet guidebooks have shown us how to know the world in new ways.

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