By Judy Wakefield
---- — The Andover Townsman, a sister paper of The Eagle-Tribune, has a new editor.
She is Sonya Vartabedian, now city editor at The Daily News of Newburyport.
She replaces Neil Fater, who is leaving the Townsman after 20 years to become the first marketing director for Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm in Andover. Challenge Unlimited is a nonprofit organization that uses horseriding to provide therapy for people with physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities. Ironstone is expanding to offer additional services, including therapy for cancer patients and for veterans with post traumatic stress.
“I am honored to take over for Neil and to build on his success in providing Andover with its own hometown weekly newspaper,” Vartabedian said. “I believe very strongly in the value of a community paper and the role it can play in uniting its residents. Joining the award-winning team at The Andover Townsman offers a great opportunity to further that commitment,” she said.
She wants The Townsman to continue to be local residents’ source for all things Andover.
“I’m hoping to spotlight everything from the triumphs of the town’s Little League teams, the benevolent work of its civic groups and what’s new and trending in the dining and arts scenes to the latest developments in town government affecting taxpayers. My hope is to fill The Townsman’s pages each week with stories and photos about the people of Andover,” Vartabedian said.
“From the triumphs of its Little League teams and the benevolent work of its civic groups to what’s new and trending in the dining and arts scene to the latest developments in town government affecting taxpayers. My hope is to fill The Townsman’s pages each week with stories and photos about the people of Andover,” Vartabedian said.
In the coming weeks, she will introduce herself throughout town and get to know more about Andover.
“Also, I want to hear about what people would like to see in the Townsman’s pages. I truly believe this is Andover’s newspaper, and I want it to deliver the news and information its residents most desire to read,” she said.
Vartabedian has spent most of her career at The Daily News, arriving in Newburyport in 1990. She spent her early years at The Daily News as a reporter covering Amesbury and later Newburyport. In 1995, she took over as features editor, and in 2010, she was named city editor. She is also the editor of the award-winning Newburyport Magazine.
A Haverhill native, she said she inherited her passion for community journalism from her father, Tom, who spent 40-plus years as a reporter, columnist and photographer for the then-daily Haverhill Gazette. He retired in 2006 but still writes a weekly column for the Gazette.
Vartabedian, 47, majored in journalism at Northeastern University, graduating in 1988. She and husband Pat Sico live in Amesbury.
Karen Andreas, regional publisher of the Townsman and its sister publications in the North of Boston Media Group, said Vartabedian is committed to quality local news.
“Sonya is one of the very best community journalists I know. She is smart, experienced and very personable, so I’m confident she’s the right person to lead the Townsman,” Andreas said. “Sonya understands local news and the importance of community. Along with stories about how your tax money is spent and the goings-on of town government, Sonya will ensure the Townsman is a reflection of the community -- with news and photos about kids, shopping, restaurants, youth sports and the like. Local is key.”
Andreas praised Fater for his outstanding career with the Townsman.
Fater started at the weekly newspaper in 1993 after graduating from Tufts University. He was named editor in March 2000. Fater, an Andover High School graduate, lives in Haverhill with his wife Rebecca and their three children, Neil Jackson, Gwendolyn and Paige.
The Townsman and The Eagle-Tribune are part of the North of Boston Media Group, which also includes The Salem News, The Daily News of Newburyport, the Gloucester Daily Times, the Derry News, The Haverhill Gazette and the Carriage Towne News.