Cardinal News is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan news site that serves Southwest and Southside Virginia.
Cardinal News was created in the summer of 2021, as legacy newspapers throughout Southwest and Southside Virginia were facing 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 of course, 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, the conversations always ended the same way: Someone should do something.
But then, when it became known in April 2021 that nine more newsroom staffers were on the chopping block at The Roanoke Times — and with that consistent in-depth and political reporting, longtime reporter Luanne Rife and former publisher Debbie Meade, soon joined by others, became the someones who 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: political, economic, 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 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 would do the types of stories legacy newspapers decided they would no longer do.
To do this, Debbie asked her former CFO Tonya Hart for help. Tonya readily volunteered, drew up a budget, and gave the nascent effort its first fundraising goals.
Cardinal Productions was incorporated on June 22, 2021 with Luanne as the president, Debbie as the secretary and Chris as the treasurer. Dwayne Yancey formally joined the team in August as founding executive editor. Cardinal began publishing at cardinalnews.org a month later on Sept. 27, 2021, aided by a dozen generous donors who placed their faith in a start-up.
The fundraising efforts began with The Secular Society issuing a $100,000 a year for three years challenge grant that was matched by Carilion Clinic and Dominion Energy.
Cardinal is a non-profit 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 updates at least weekly.
In January 2022, Luanne resigned from the board and became Cardinal’s founding executive director and chief development officer. Retired journalist Caroline Glickman joined the board as president.
Cardinal’s story is just beginning. Don’t miss reading the next chapter. Become a member and receive our free morning newsletter.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com
Donor transparency policy
We will 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 will 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 by-laws 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.
We subscribe to the ethics policy established by the Society of Professional Journalists.
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