Tony and Maureen Wheeler Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

OAKLAND, CA (Sept. 19, 2005) – American University’s School of Communication (SOC) and the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation honored Tony and Maureen Wheeler, founders of the Lonely Planet travel guidebooks, with the first Eric A. Friedheim Travel Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award at the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) annual conference in Las Vegas today.

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

“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 the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher with more than 500 titles in print, over 400 staff members and offices in London and Oakland, California as well as its headquarters in Melbourne. The Wheeler, who still travel nearly half of each year, have been to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America as well as around their home country, Australia, in the last 12 months.

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 University’s main quadrangle are named in his honor.

“My husband was a man of many passions,” said Mrs. Edith Friedheim. “The Eric A. Friedheim Travel Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award honors 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.”

American University’s School of Communication is a laboratory for professional education, communication research and innovative production across the fields of journalism, film and media arts, and public communication. Located in Washington, DC, the university is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the U.S. and nearly 150 countries and providing opportunities for academic excellence, pubic service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.

For more information about Lonely Planet or the awardees, contact Cindy Cohen, publicity manager, at 510-893-8556 ext. 221. For information about American University, please contact Maralee Csellar, AU Media Relations, 202-885-5952.