SOUTHWEST AND SOUTHSIDE, Va. (Sept. 2, 2021) – Cardinal Productions, a newly formed nonprofit, announced it has created Cardinal Press, a digital news service to provide substantive, in-depth coverage of political, economic and cultural stories from Southwest and Southside Virginia. The news organization will begin publishing stories in late September.
Dwayne Yancey has been named the inaugural editor of Cardinal Press.
“We are thrilled to have a journalist with Dwayne Yancey’s impeccable credentials join Cardinal as we launch a nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent news service to tell the often-ignored vital stories of Southwest and Southside Virginia,” said Luanne Rife, president of Cardinal Productions.
“Unfortunately, local news is in a state of decline. With fewer resources, traditional media outlets have found it increasingly difficult to cover news of substance – in-depth stories on the political, economic and cultural matters that our communities care about,” Rife said. “That’s why we started Cardinal Press.”
Cardinal was incorporated as a nonprofit in June by Rife, a veteran enterprise journalist; Debbie Meade, former publisher of The Roanoke Times, and Chris Turnbull, long-time strategic communicator in the region and currently senior director for corporate communications at Carilion Clinic.
Cardinal will operate as a nonpartisan, nonprofit news agency, publishing original stories five days a week.
It joins a growing number of similar nonprofit news sites. According to the Institute for Nonprofit News, 300 nonprofit news sites now exist across the U.S., a number that doubled over the past two years as the newspaper industry’s decline has accelerated.
“Nonprofit news is the way of the future,” Meade said. “People consume news in very different ways than they did 20 or 30 years ago. Our news will be provided free of charge to readers, and Cardinal Press’s success will be contingent on the financial support of the communities it serves.”
Cardinal’s content will differ from existing media in the region in that the news organization will provide enterprising, in-depth journalism about the issues and people living in the largest geographical area of Virginia whose voices have been minimized by more populous regions.
Yancey had been with The Roanoke Times for 39 years as a reporter, newsroom editor and, for the past seven years, as editorial page editor. In that role, he has twice won the Virginia Press Association’s D. Lathan Mims Award for Editorial Leadership. He is the author of a book on Virginia politics – “When Hell Froze Over,” about Douglas Wilder – and a member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.
“It is an honor to help Cardinal take flight,” Yancey said. “Southwest and Southside Virginia are the most overlooked parts of the state, but there are a lot of stories worth telling, and we want to tell them.”
Yancey is assembling a staff of seasoned reporters and freelancers as he readies Cardinal for its September launch. He will also contribute signed columns.
Significant Community Support
Cardinal is modeled similarly to public radio and will not sell advertising or subscriptions. It will solicit donations, grants and sponsorships from foundations, corporations and individuals who understand the value of a robust, independent press. It will disclose the names and amounts from donors and has created a firewall between fundraising and editorial functions.
Since May, Cardinal Press has been quietly gaining support from civic and business leaders, small and large businesses, and several non-profits. So far, early contributions total nearly $400,000 for 2021, and donors have committed to investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to sustain the news organization’s operations over the coming three years.
“When Cardinal Press approached us with the idea of a nonprofit, non-partisan news site dedicated to telling our region’s stories, it didn’t take us long to say we could support that,” said Charles Majors, chairman of the board of American National Bank, headquartered in Danville, and an initial contributor to the news agency. “Engaged citizens in our communities are eager for stories that connect the dots, give a well-rounded picture of the happenings here and challenge us to think in new and different ways.”
To make the news agency a reality, Cardinal Press initially sought donations from some of the area’s largest organizations. In addition to American National Bank, early contributors to Cardinal Press include The Secular Society, Carilion Clinic, and Dominion Energy, as well as more than a dozen individual donors.
A fundraising campaign will launch soon after Cardinal Press begins publishing. Those who would like to support the organization now may go to www.cardinal.press and click “donate.”
In the coming weeks, Cardinal Press will introduce its team of journalists – some full time, some freelance – who will lead the way with quality journalism in Virginia, along with members of its Journalism Advisory Committee and Community Advisory Committee.
“This is truly an exciting time to be launching a fresh new approach to news gathering in the commonwealth,” Rife said. “The community’s response has already been tremendous, and we can’t wait to get fully underway in September.”
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Cardinal Press is a non-profit, non-partisan digital news organization, telling the stories of the people of Southwest and Southside Virginia. To support independent journalism, go to www.cardinal.press and click “Donate.”