VPM, the public broadcaster in Richmond, calls itself “Virginia’s Home for Public Media,” but not long ago it had only a skeleton news staff that basically was just reading news briefs, according to Elliott Richardson, the current news editor. “It was effectively three people.”
WHRO Public Media began broadcasting educational television shows in Norfolk and Hampton in 1961 and went on to expand in reach and capabilities through four television and five radio stations.
Two weeklies in rural counties near the Blue Ridge struggled to get by with staffs too small to cover all the issues important to residents’ lives. Then they got help from two tax-exempt community organizations created to save local journalism.
The Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a national network of nonprofit, digital news enterprises stretching across 33 states that relies on philanthropy and other donors and doesn’t run ads or accept corporate donations or underwriting.
The site was launched in 2005 by civic activists to provide nonpartisan information on land use, public education, transportation and other issues to “protect and build upon the distinctive character of the Charlottesville-Albemarle area.”
Former employees of the Roanoke Times launched Cardinal News in September 2021, setting out to fill gaping holes in news coverage of rural Southwest and Southside Virginia from the Appalachians across the Piedmont.
Family ties run deep at the Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal. When nonagenarian John Warren Cooke died in 2009 after 55 years as president and publisher, the former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates was succeeded by his daughter, Elsa Cooke Verbyla, who had been the editor and a reporter at the weekly since 1976. Its main office and printing plant have sat on Gloucester Courthouse’s Main Street for 75 years and its roots go back more than a century.
The biggest story Brian Carlton has tracked since becoming editor of the Farmville Herald is one that might come as a surprise to most Virginians: the possibility that mining companies might resume digging for gold as was once commonplace in the 1800s and even into the 1940s.
When Tom Lappas graduated from the University of Richmond with a journalism degree in 1998, his dream job was to become a sportswriter at a daily. But he also wanted to stay in Richmond and wound up at a community paper in nearby Henrico County, Virginia’s sixth largest county by population (333,000). Something clicked, and three years later he left to launch his own twice-a-month paper, the Henrico Citizen, and convinced three fellow reporters to join him.
Six years out of college, Sarah Vogelsong made $11 an hour when she landed her first newspaper job at the Caroline Progress in 2014. The minimum wage in the Commonwealth was $7.25 at that time. She left in 2016, two years before the paper closed.
By Christopher Connell for Foothills Forum It is, unfortunately, old news. Virginia’s newspapers, the single biggest source of local news, face unprecedented challenges, with their readers, revenues and staffs steadily …