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Local Newspapers Continue to Disappear Across Virginia

Several communities across Virginia are saying goodbye to their local newspapers. Michael Pope has the story.

In the last five months, five local newspapers across Virginia have closed up shop and ceased publication: The Hopewell News, the Hanover Herald Progress, the Clinch Valley Times, the Caroline Progress and the Tazewell County Free Press.

John Edwards at the Smithfield Times worries these communities will no longer have journalists writing obituaries, digging through police reports or watching local governments.

“They are the first to pick up on a problem in many instances," says Edwards. "I’m talking about problems of corruption or just bad government. And so all these things go missing once you close the doors.”

Betsy Edwards at the Virginia Press Association says it’s not just new technology killing these papers. Some of this has to do with shifting populations.

“Some of these are places where the population has dwindled so much that the newspaper isn’t viable anymore," she says. "And in southwest Virginia that’s probably part of the problem, and that’s happened for hundreds of years in America with newspapers.”

The five Virginia newspapers that recently closed had an average lifespan of 134 years, a combined total of 673 years serving their communities.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.