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And now back to our regularly scheduled programming!



It's been great...

A Word from the Editor

By Marc Garman


Today it is with a mix of sadness and anticipation that I am announcing what I believe will be a new chapter in my life. In the past almost six years, VIB has seen considerable growth in both reach and popularity due to the many contributors who have worked hard to research and write the sort of probing journalism we have become known for. During the years of Vallejo's bankruptcy much attention has come to focus on our city and this humble website. Many VIB articles have garnered attention from both national and international news sources. I personally have been interviewed by the NY Times, Washington Post, BBC(twice) and Manchester Guardian to name a few, and have appeared on television in the Netherlands (GDP Netherlands), Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Belgium as well as in coverage of Vallejo's financial issues by Reuters and Al Jazeera. VIB even gained a mention in the book Boomerang by noted author Michael Lewis.

Well, they used to say that everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame. It would seem that I have gotten more than my share over the past few years. This was never the plan. It just sort of happened when the eyes of the nation and world focused on Vallejo as the first American city of any size to declare bankruptcy, and the first in recent memory to go through the process and emerge. 


Surprisingly, I have found myself developing both an affinity and some capacity in media and reporting despite not having originally chosen such pursuits as a career. Despite this, I never imagined that the prospect of working in the field professionally would ever present itself as an option, especially considering the financial pressures facing many news agencies, both print and digital in the US and abroad. That changed when I received a call from Tom Friedman, a locally (Berkeley) based producer for Al-Jazeera. Some years ago, Tom interviewed me regarding Vallejo in the context of a larger story he was working on covering the US recession for the greater pan-Arabic viewership at Al-Jazeera. We have stayed in touch, with Tom contacting me for periodic Vallejo updates. He recently asked me if I would be interested in an opportunity to work for Al-Jazeera. It seems that Tom, and his immediate supervisors, Sheik Aleg and Sheik Abooti in Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based were impressed with my written stories and video work on VIB.

After much thought, I have determined this is an opportunity and a career direction I just cannot pass up. The job would be as a cameraman and sometimes English language correspondent for the Al Jazeera Northeast Africa bureau based in Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden.

The chance to expand my personal experiences and work in a new and challenging environment is something I have thought of during the long hours spent keeping VIB going without pay. And quite frankly, the pay and benefits of a job working, in essence, for the royal family of Qatar are quite handsome. Full benefits, retirement plan, translator, beautiful accommodations, car (armored) and driver, camera allowance, company time-share on the Gaza Strip, sunscreen, level 3 flack jacket etc.

The potential range of assignments is also captivating. According to Tom Friedman, I would likely have the opportunity to interview members of Al Queda in the Arabian Peninsula, or other insurgents. As he explained, the network likes to have employees of Jewish descent (Friedman is also Jewish) for the Al Queda etc. assignments and for terrorist and insurgent updates because the on screen tension drives viewership. (The word JEW will flash across the screen.) The chance of being shot, blown up or taken hostage is also said to be overblown. Both the insurgents and the network are in the business of increasing viewership, and the American Jew interview series is expected to do just that! Nobody wants to rock the boat on a winning media strategy.

And so, while running VIB has been great, I will be heading off to Qatar in two weeks and then points unknown in the Middle East and Africa for my first assignment. And while my departure and the demise of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin will bring joy to some of my detractors, be assured that I will be in a far better place. I feel confident that I leave Vallejo in good hands. Expect updates of my exploits on this site in the coming months, perhaps combating sand fleas and sun stroke, but pursuing a new and fascinating dream career to be sure!

P.S. It has been recommended that any care packages you may wish to send me should contain baby wipes to keep any crevices clean of the penetrating (yes, there) desert sand. I will post my new home forwarding address as soon as it is determined. So long Vallejo and go in peace! (Salem - Shalom)




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