R. Michael Fishman has been named president of Lakeway Publishers Inc., the company that owns the Vandalia Leader.
Fishman has served as editor/publisher of the company’s flagship paper, the Citizen Tribune in Morristown, Tenn., and Lakeway Publishers secretary/treasurer since 2007. He succeeds his father, R. Jack Fishman, who is stepping aside as president but will continue in his role as chairman of the board.
“We are very fortunate to make this announcement,” Jack Fishman said.
“I’m confident that Mike’s experience will continue to be of assistance to all our communities’ growth and development. His dedication in providing news and advertising on a fair and accurate basis to the communities we serve is essential and critical to help maintain the freedoms that are so important to our country.
“Mike understands well the role of a community newspaper, but it is just as important that he has a passion to serve outside the walls of the Lakeway Publisher’s offices. He has devoted his time, energy and efforts to organizations that make our communities a better place to live.
“Finally, I’m proud of Mike’s dedication to his work, to his community and to his family. I’m proud of him, his wife Angie, and the family they have raised.”
For his part, Mike Fishman said, the work he has done will continue.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve,” Fishman said. “I am part of a hard-working team. It’s just what we do. We are devoted to the principles of good community journalism; we work hard. We support our communities. We strive to keep our communities well and accurately informed. This is an honor and an opportunity that I greatly appreciate. We will continue to strive and meet the standard of excellence set forth by the generations of journalists who have come before us.”
Fishman began his formal employment with Lakeway Publishers in 1988 after graduating from East Tennessee State University with a bachelor of arts in business administration, but he grew up working in many areas within the paper, which was founded the same year he was born, 1966.
After college, he began his career as a sales manager with Lakeway Printers, Morristown; sales representative with TnPak, the company’s commercial printing division based in Tullahoma, and as the company’s human resource director. He was named assistant publisher in 1996 and became editor/publisher in 2007.
Fishman pointed to his father—who founded the Citizen Tribune and later Lakeway Publishers—as an example of a community journalist who has responsibilities that go far beyond the printed edition.
“I’ve watched my father give his life to the community and our broader communities and that is what we do within our organization,” he said. “We, as community newspapers strive, not just to cover the news, but to tell the stories of our readers, the stories that matter to our readers and supporting our communities and the people and organizations who make them great.
“The role of a community newspaper, ultimately, is one of service to its community.”
Fishman said he followed his father’s example from an early age. Mike adds that his goal has been to be self-driven, motivated by the desire to reach the vision and mission upon which the Citizen Tribune and Lakeway Publishers were founded.
“From a work ethic standpoint, he set the bar pretty high,” Mike said. “For me, I just set out each day to do the work that needs to be done, to work hard and to be a part of the great team of employees who make Lakeway Publishers a family.”
And although Fishman is proud and honored to be named president—and excited to further apply his own leadership style and ideas—he admits it is a little difficult to see his father transitioning to less of a day-to-day role.
“He’s not going away,” Mike said. “So, his wisdom and counsel will continue to be invaluable to us. I had the opportunity to grow up watching somebody who founded the company pour their heart and soul into the company, unselfishly for all these years. Having his role change is a little bittersweet, I would have to say.”
Fishman said he does feel a certain level of responsibility stepping into his new role. It’s the responsibility that can really only be understood by someone who has worked in a family business.
“Unless you’ve worked in a family business and worked specifically for your father, I don’t think anyone could quite understand the many dynamics,” he said. “It’s not about legacy. It’s about continuing to do the job well with an innate understanding of the years of work and toil and sacrifice that got Lakeway Publishers to this point. It’s about continuing the work and doing the job that the communities we serve deserve.”
Over his decades in the business, Mike Fishman has played an integral role in press associations as well as non-profit organizations.
He is a past president of the Tennessee Press Association; a board member for America’s Newspapers and is vice president for the National Newspaper Association Foundation.
He is on the Tennessee Press Service Board of Directors. He is a board member of the McNabb Center Foundation, and chair of the Board for the Morristown Hamblen Hospital Foundation
A graduate of Morristown-Hamblen High School West, he is a past chair and campaign chair for the United Way of Hamblen County; a past chair of the Boys & Girls Club of Morristown, where he continues to serve on the board, a past president of the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and a current director on the Walters State Community College Board of Trustees.
He and his wife, Angie, have three children, Lucas (Madison), Leabeth and Lydia. They are active members of First United Methodist Church where he is a Sunday school teacher.