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.

More columns from Chris Graham at

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.

Link to the News Virginian series.

Column by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

augusta free press news