Blast from the past
Seeing the News Virginian series on the local Latino community reminds me of my early days in journalism. I was the ace cub reporter at the NV in 1996 when the editor assigned me to do some digging on the growth of the local Latino population. For two months I talked with new immigrants, church pastors, police, school officials and others to try to get a feel for the impact the growing Latino presence was having on homogenous Waynesboro.
The resulting eight-part series never ran. It was to have debuted in the Saturday paper – back then the NV didn’t have a Sunday edition, so this was the big paper of the week, with all the sales papers in it and everything. The publisher, on an out-of-town trip, called in late Friday night and ordered the story off the front page. The reason: He’d been getting phone calls all day about the teaser that we’d run in the paper promoting the series.
Apparently, our effort to shed some light on how Waynesboro was embracing a new immigrant community didn’t sit well with the people who had the publisher’s ear. I resigned in protest, returning to the paper a year later after the publisher had been sacked, and in 1998 led a staff effort to chronicle the local Latino community that won the paper an award from the Virginia Press Association for in-depth and investigative reporting.
That feels like a hundred years ago now. Waynesboro has matured a bit since the old days. Which isn’t to say that we still don’t have some growing up to do.
Column by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.