The Central Virginian

Follow Us On:

Editorial: A newspaper’s role in the community

Posted on Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 10:42 am

It was a sad blow to all of us at The Central Virginian last week when we learned that two of our sister papers, The Herald-Progress and Caroline Progress, would close their doors last week.

The two had served their respective communities for a combined total of 237 years. The good folks in Caroline and Hanover counties relied upon their local newspapers for so many things that larger daily newspapers don’t have the time, interest or resources to cover.

The staff at both publications worked hard, many had been there for years and they dedicated themselves to providing their readers with everything they needed to know in any given week.

They provided news such as the local high school sports reports, the opening of a new restaurant on Main Street, the burglary down the street, the profile pieces on the interesting citizens of each community, not to mention coverage of actions taken by local governments, school boards and planning commissions.

Where will the people in those communities get that type of information now? Not from Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, and not even from large daily metro papers or television stations.

Here at The Central Virginian, we take our role in the community seriously. We take pride in the product we produce each week and work nights, weekends and often long hours to make it happen.

We do it for the faithful subscribers who rely on us to find out what our local leaders are doing, where certain crimes are taking place, what is going on in the schools and so much more. It only takes a late delivery truck for the phones to start ringing off the hook because people didn’t get their CV.

We don’t mind the phone calls one bit. It shows you care.

I’ve been involved with The Central Virginian for 16 years and have seen many things change. I was here when we got our first email account, launched our first webpage, when we modernized from a scissors and wax page layout to completely digital page design, and even when we converted to digital cameras.

Reflecting back, I can honestly say those were the good old days. The paper was larger, we had immense business and community support and we really had a whole week to get it all together.

Over time, with the widespread use of the world wide web and social media, people can get “news” with the click of a mouse. But how can they know that what they’re reading every time is accurate or truthful and not simply based on a rumor? That’s where good old-fashioned gum-shoe reporting comes in. 

The reporters and correspondents at The CV make the phone calls, pound the pavement, interview the decision-makers, sit in the courtroom, take a front seat at government and school board meetings, meet with business owners and dig in dusty files to research an investigative piece.

We know that we are writing Louisa County’s history every week and that accuracy and truth is of the utmost importance.

With that said, our staffing levels have grown smaller over time,  the number of pages each week are fewer and that does impact just how much news we can get out to readers each week in our print edition. But we do continue to push out news on our  website and on social media as it happens throughout the week.

But it does cost money to do. The advent of Craigslist has sharply cut into our classified ad pages, most car dealerships advertise online and local businesses and organizations have slashed their print advertising budgets in the belief that print media doesn’t achieve the same results. Interestingly, we hear differently from those who do continue to advertise in the local newspaper.

Without the local newspaper, how else will people know where to find the best prices for products and services, which business needs to fill a job vacancy, who has a car for sale, or when the library is having a special event?

How else will they learn when the supervisors are planning a special hearing to consider rezoning property next door, or want to accept trash into the landfill from other localities or plan to raise taxes or any number of important things that affect real people in our community?

Our sister papers closed because they were no longer financially viable. Just like the local grocery store, restaurant or auto repair shop—enough revenue has to come into a newspaper to cover the everyday overhead costs such as staff wages and benefits, electric and phone bills, rent or mortgage, liability insurance and other bills.

The closure of a newspaper, just like any other business, means that not only do staff lose jobs, the localities lose revenue from taxes that the company paid, and other businesses can no longer benefit from the salaries those jobs produced when the unemployed can’t afford to shop there.

We don’t want The Central Virginian to ever suffer that fate and don’t see it happening in the foreseeable future.  We’ve been blessed to have strong support during our lengthy history. That’s not to say we couldn’t use more.

Take a moment to think about what you’d miss most if The Central Virginian were no longer around. There may be some who couldn’t care less, but I’m confident there are many who do.

If you value what The Central Virginian offers, take out a subscription if you don’t already have one. Let the businesses you shop with know that you rely on their ads in our newspaper to find out when they are offering sales, when they’ve added a new product line or are having a special event.

In the meantime, I hope that you will reach out to us and let us know what you’d like to see more of in the newspaper, and it’s okay if you tell us what you’d like to see less of.  We appreciate your feedback either way.

You can reach us by calling (540) 967-0368, sending an email to tcveditor@lcs.net or mailing a letter to The Central Virginian, 89 Rescue Lane, Louisa, Va., 23093. Visit our website at www.thecentralvirginian.com or reach out on our Facebook page.