Cardinal News is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan news site that serves Southwest and Southside Virginia. Our mission is to report the untold stories of Southwest and Southside Virginia, and strengthen the voices of the people in our communities who have been sidelined in the commonwealth’s political, economic and cultural conversations simply because of where they live.

Our history

Cardinal News was created in the summer of 2021, as legacy newspapers throughout Southwest and Southside Virginia suffered additional devastating staff reductions brought on by an out-of-state corporate owner.  

These brutal cutbacks followed several years of belt-tightening that already had brought painful reductions to newsroom resources. And, most importantly, these contractions were bringing real harm to the communities that had long depended on their newspapers to tell their stories and to hold the powerful accountable. 

The journalists and long-time newspaper leaders who would become the start of Cardinal News mourned this loss. So did neighbors, community leaders, businesspeople and even politicians. 

For years, conversations always ended the same way: Someone should do something. But no one did anything.

But then, in April 2021, when nine more newsroom staffers were on the chopping block at The Roanoke Times spelling an end to consistent in-depth and political reporting, longtime journalist Luanne Rife and former publisher Debbie Meade, soon joined by others, became the someones who would do something.

Along with Carilion communications expert Chris Turnbull, they began exploring the possibility of creating a nonprofit, online newspaper that specialized in in-depth reporting of three topics: politics, the economy, and culture.

They started with a foundational principle: People need independent, unbiased information about their communities in order for their communities to be vibrant.

They knew people living in the forgotten, easily dismissed parts of Virginia – Southwest and Southside – yearned for stories that told them more about themselves, and that were heard in the state’s political and economic center. Cardinal couldn’t stand by and allow powerful people to make policies and decisions that affect us and our communities without knowing who we are, what our assets are, and what our challenges are.

Cardinal did not seek to replace local newspapers, or to duplicate their stories. Rather, it set out to tell the types of stories legacy newspapers decided they would no longer do.

To do this, Debbie Meade asked her former CFO Tonya Hart for help. Tonya readily volunteered, drew up a budget, and gave the nascent effort its first fundraising goals. The fundraising efforts began with The Secular Society issuing challenge grant of a $100,000 a year for three years that was matched by Carilion Clinic and Dominion Energy.

Cardinal Productions was incorporated on June 22, 2021 with Luanne Rife as the president, Debbie Meade as the secretary and Chris Turnbull as the treasurer. Dwayne Yancey formally joined the team in August as founding executive editor. Cardinal began publishing at a month later on Sept. 27, 2021, aided by a dozen generous donors who placed their faith in a start-up.

Cardinal is a nonprofit 501c3 corporation that relies solely on gifts from foundations, corporations and individuals. It believes strongly in transparency and publishes the names of all donors to its website with monthly updates.

In January 2022, Luanne Rife resigned from the board and became Cardinal’s founding executive director and chief development officer. Retired journalist Caroline Glickman joined the board as president.

Since its founding with an editor and two reporters, Cardinal has grown its news team, adding positions as funding becomes available to more fully tell the stories of our regions.

Cardinal publishes new content weekdays to and offers four free newsletters: Daily, Weekly, Weather and West of the Capital.

Cardinal’s story is just beginning.

Don’t miss reading the next chapter. Subscribe to our free morning newsletter and add to our support.

Corrections policy

We correct all errors that are brought to our attention, and note on the story when and how it’s been updated. If you see an error, let us know at

Commentary policy

While our focus is on news, we do accept a limited number of commentary submissions, provided they relate directly to our coverage area and come from subject matter experts on topics that we cover. For more information, contact editor Dwayne Yancey at

Donor transparency policy

We disclose all donors who give $100 or more. Find the list, and how you can donate, on our “how we’re funded” page.

Whenever we write about a donor who has contributed $5,000 or more, we disclose this in the story. 

Editorial independence policy

Donor contributions have no influence on news decisions. That’s fundamental to journalism. It’s also written into our bylaws and is requirement for membership in the Institute for Nonprofit News of which we are a member. We are also a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and the Virginia Press Association.

Ethics policy

We subscribe to the ethics policy established by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Reprint policy

Cardinal News content is copyrighted.  Other websites may post a brief excerpt with a link to the story on our website. We do not permit full reprints of our content on other websites, on social media, in newsletters or in any other electronic form. News organizations seeking permission to reprint our content in a print publication should contact editor Dwayne Yancey at

Donation policy

Cardinal News does not make donations to any political or advocacy group directly or on behalf of any provider of service to Cardinal News.

Book a speaker

Want someone from Cardinal to come speak to your civic group? Let us know at

While we enjoy speaking to groups, we cannot accept invitations to moderate forums or speak at fundraisers that are organized by political or advocacy groups.

Are you hiring?

We expect to add new positions and are currently looking for a health reporter and experienced development professionals. Check out our careers page. In addition to staff positions, Cardinal News regularly contracts with experienced freelancers. Cardinal News is an equal opportunity employer. We shall not and will not discriminate in employment, recruitment, board membership, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, or for any other discriminatory reason. Direct inquiries to

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