What is it?

We are preparing to launch an online publication devoted to high-quality, responsible, in-depth local journalism. Expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2018, this publication will focus on the complex challenges facing the Rochester region. Through informed opinion, analysis, commentary and narrative journalism, we aim to highlight the community’s most pressing needs and drive conversations about solutions.

We will operate as a nonprofit, allowing us to draw knowledge from the growing ranks of nonprofit news organizations around the country. We are provisional members of the Institute for Nonprofit News, a membership group of more than 100 media organizations including ProPublica, which has received four Pulitzer Prizes.

Who's behind it?

A group of veteran journalists and others with deep ties to the community. Collectively, we have more than a century's worth of experience providing local news coverage and analysis. Meet our co-founders:

Publisher Alex Zapesochny is an experienced technology entrepreneur and attorney who co-founded iCardiac Technologies in 2006. As president and CEO, he led its rapid growth, guiding the firm to its acquisition by ERT in late 2017. Before that, he was general counsel and director of business development for Lenel Systems. As an attorney, he has provided legal and business counsel to early-stage companies and he was a trial attorney during his tenure as a New York City prosecutor. He also co-founded an award-winning non-profit that expands the national registry of potential bone marrow and blood stem cell donors. 

Executive Editor Paul Ericson is an award-winning journalist with nearly four decades of editing and writing experience. He spent 30 years as editor of the Rochester Business Journal, where he also was vice president and part-owner. In October 2016, the business was sold at a substantial profit to GateHouse Media. Currently, he is a part-owner and member of the leadership group at Dumbwaiter Design LLC, a website and app development firm.

Managing Editor Smriti Jacob is president of Bold Letter Marketing, which develops and executes marketing and communications strategies for clients ranging from local nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies. Previously, she was senior manager of marketing and communications for iCardiac Technologies, an ERT company. A seasoned journalist, Jacob grew up in India, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry and biochemistry at University of Pune. A research chemist for a pharmaceutical company, Jacob turned to her love for writing and switched careers to become a business journalist. She was an award-winning reporter and editor at the Rochester Business Journal for nearly 16 years.

Opinion Editor Kent Gardner joined the Center for Governmental Research in 1991 as chief economist and served as its president from 2002 to 2015. His public policy expertise ranges from public finance and public administration to health care and education reform. The media frequently seek his comments on matters of local and national significance, and from 2004 to 2017 he wrote the monthly Policy Wonk column for the Rochester Business Journal. In addition, he serves as adjunct professor of health care policy at Rochester Institute of Technology. He holds B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Senior Editor Sally Parker is an independent writer and editor who explores the past to better understand the present. Her writing has appeared in the Rochester Business Journal and alumni magazines at Duke, Cornell, Oberlin and other colleges and universities. As special projects editor at RBJ for 14 years, she led production of a dozen annual publications, including the official visitors guide, Explore Greater Rochester. Parker has won awards from the National Newspaper Association and the New York Press Association and was included in New York Archives magazine’s Best of 2001-2011 volume. 

Senior Editor E.C. Salibian is a nonfiction writer whose work has appeared in The Sun, the Los Angeles Review of Books and numerous business publications. A former reporter and associate editor at the Rochester Business Journal, Salibian has worked as a freelance writer for the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Xerox Corp. and Eastman Kodak Co. She currently writes business case studies, articles and brochures for companies including Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics and Dassault Systèmes. Salibian has won awards from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers, the New York Press Association, the Society for Technical Communication and the American Advertising Awards.

Senior Writer Will Astor is an award-winning journalist who has worked primarily in print but also in broadcast media. He concluded a 25-year career with the Rochester Business Journal in February 2017. For five years before starting at RBJ in 1992, he wrote for City Newspaper in Rochester. His broadcast experience includes five years as a reporter and on-air anchor for radio stations including WXXI Public Broadcasting in Rochester. He also worked for one year as assignment editor at WROC, Channel 8 News in Rochester.

Our principles

Our mission is to build a stronger Rochester by serving as a source of and forum for ideas and perspectives that are rooted in intellectual openness and drive informed public action.

  • We will explore the complex challenges facing Rochester through informed opinion, analysis and commentary that is insightful and diverse. 
  • We are committed to the disciplined work of illuminating truth’s complexity with factual accuracy, thorough research, and inclusion, recognizing that journalistic objectivity is an unattainable ideal.
  • We will highlight the community’s most pressing needs, participate in critical public discussions, and drive conversations about solutions.
  • We will reveal the hidden, give voice to the voiceless, challenge the status quo and support community efforts to create a better future for all.
  • We will foster open-minded discussion of important social, economic and political issues, providing a forum for diverse voices.
  • We will pursue an enduring business model for responsible, high-quality journalism in the online era, emphasizing innovation and embracing experimentation.
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