Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Once Again, Where Is the Roanoke Daily's Reporter?

President Teresa Sullivan (blue suit) after being re-instated.
I continue to be both befuddled and bemused (as well as bewitched, bothered and bewildered) by a Roanoke daily paper's absolute refusal to send a reporter to Charlottesville (two hour drive) to cover the biggest education story in the Commonwealth of 2012. It had a story last night on its website, but it was an AP dispatch.

When I checked the website at 2 p.m., the AP story was not there. It reappeared at 2:18 and here it is. Looks like the Daily Progress' piece.

The paper will send a sportswriter to C'ville for the announcement of the signing of a football player, for a lacrosse or baseball game, for a basketball exhibition game or a non-competitive game against Longwood, but not for something as big as the firing of the president, the re-instatement of said president (though it sent a reporter very late in this process after being criticized) and now for the accreditation organization's decision to look and see what all went wrong and whether it should be punished. That means UVa--one of the finest universities in all the land--is having its accreditation questioned.

That's a pretty damn big story. It was a huge story when large crowds were gathering to protest the firing by a small cadre of power-hungry trustees, a fact that was later determined to be both unethical and illegal. Gov. Bob McDonnell re-appointed the head of this little group to the board, a move that could cost him heavily in coming months or years when his ambition starts to outstrip his good sense.

If you're interested in the story, here's the Daily Progress' report. The best reporting on this has actually come from a small alt paper called C'ville Weekly. My guess is that there will be some awards showing up for its excellent job. The Roanoke paper? Not so much.

But if you're looking for news out of the Roanoke daily, I was told yesterday by somebody who'd know that Sherrie Yates, the long-time HR professional who was everybody's go-to gal when they needed something important, is "leaving for another job," after 35 years, according to a contact at the paper. She was not the HR director, which is almost always a political position that is basically useless. Sherrie did the work. She's a big, big loss to the people in the trenches remaining.

(Photo: Washington Post.)


  1. As I mentioned previously, the Toy Department at the paper (for non-newsie folks, that means sports department) remains fully staffed with eight reporters. More than any other department.

    The ongoing trend continues the publisher's, chief editor's and managing editor's goal of doing less with less.

  2. A couple of years ago, a reporter suggested to me that the current exec ed was out to "create the finest 42,000 circulation newspaper in Virginia." Seems well on the way.

  3. Audited average daily circulation Sept. 2011 - 78,797

    Audited average daily circulation Sept. 2012 - 69,883

  4. Anon: That's the point of the reporter's joke. (And look at that 69,883. When was the last time circulation was below 70,000? My guess would be the 1960s. When I worked there 25 or so years ago, we had a Sunday circ of 125,000.)