On occasion, The Central Virginian has visitors to its archive room. People come to research family history, points of interest, news stories, community life, extraordinary weather events, advertising and local government.
Since The CV’s inception in 1912, the newspaper included popular world events such as Titantic findings, information on The World Fair, World War II and at least one article on the exploration of space.
The style of writing and layout is very different than what readers see today when they pick up a current edition of The CV or any other weekly or daily publication.
Today, a large headline with a picture may catch a reader’s attention whereas in the 1920s and 30s all the headlines were somewhat the same size and the story continued down the column until it was finished. Jumping the story to another page was not that common. Few pictures appeared and when they did, the story accompanying it may not have been located nearby.
Agriculture was important in this rural community, so information on droughts, floods and snowfall filled the pages as well as farm reports, monthly weather data and livestock pricing.
Churches also played an important role in the community and it was not uncommon for an article about a missionary group meeting, youth meeting or church social to be located on the front page. At the time, the paper acted more as a news curator–collecting stories and placing them on the page as they came into the newsroom. The paper did not have pages dedicated to specific news section and many articles did not include reporter bylines.
During the 1950s and 60s, education became more prevalent with school news and Louisa High School Rebels sports news. News from various scouting groups told of accomplishments, camping trips and community service. More notices began to appear for those entering military service and where they would be stationed.
The paper began its transition from collecting news to covering the news, which focused on Louisa County and its small communities but also included the neighboring counties of Culpeper, Fluvanna, Goochland and Orange and on some occasions, Richmond and Charlottesville. Reporters were conducting multi-source interviews and their bylines appeared with their articles.
When The CV entered the 1970s, the front page became the place to find the top stories for the week. Other pages were reserved to include church news, weddings and other social news and obituaries.
The 1980s brought a new look to the front page. There were fewer stories, but more pictures, harder-hitting news and the addition of special sections starting with the back to school section.
The 1990s brought a single color on the front and back pages of each edition, usually somewhere in the masthead and in an ad on the back page. By the late 90s, full color was added to the front page, allowing more options for art to be considered on the front.
Changes in the paper’s design were followed by the addition of a website and by 2006, The CV started phasing out its coverage of the neighboring localities, began focusing on the news, events and people of Louisa County.
Currently, the paper has numerous full-color pages in each issue and the front page contains a mix of feature, government and local news stories.
In the not so distant past, news coverage was limited to the weekly print edition. Current technology allows The CV to cover news as it breaks, such as plane crashes, weather alerts and earthquakes. Social media also allows the The CV to share other important community information with readers.
While The CV’s content, composition and communication methods may have evolved through the course of its first 100 years, the paper remains dedicated to providing full-coverage news for Louisa County.