Newcomer Cardinal News
By Frances Stebbins
There’s a new source for reading about happenings, especially as they occur in Southwest and Southside Virginia.
It’s called Cardinal News and it’s an “independent, nonprofit, online news site.” Several of its major supporters are former editors and veteran reporters for The Roanoke Times and other news outlets in the Commonwealth.
The online publication will be focused on Southwest and Southside Virginia, according to Executive Editor Dwayne Yancey of Fincastle. During the seven years before his retirement the past October, Yancey edited the Editorial and Opinion Pages of the daily Roanoke Times. He often expressed his views there that the part of the state west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and south of the James River is often neglected in news coverage and attention by those who make policies in Richmond.
Over the past half century especially, attention has been focused on an urbanized strip running from Norfolk north to the Washington suburbs, Yancey often lamented. Now he and three other experienced news writers, Luanne Rife, Markus Schmidt and Megan Schnabel, will make an effort to fill that gap.
The new enterprise is set up much as the Public Radio and Public TV stations are. The two corporations are entirely separate, as listeners and viewers are reminded at times on the air.
In the informational material regarding funding, it’s stated: “We’re funded by you. We sell no advertising and have no paywall …we rely on donations. If you’d like to make a donation, you can go through our online donation portal or send a check to Cardinal Productions, P.O. Box 4455 Roanoke, Va. 24015.
A gift of $15 is suggested to put you on the receiving end of getting the daily reports. Naturally, a bit more is welcomed.
The promotional material firmly states that donations have no influence on news coverage . The by-laws commit the corporation to disclose donations of $100 or more.
Now, for my own interest in this enterprise, which naturally is entirely separate from the daily papers as well as from the chain of weekly papers such as the Salem, Botetourt, Craig and Vinton publications issued by Mountain Media, Inc. based in Lewisburg, W.Va.
As a news reporter for both dailies and weeklies and a monthly magazine columnist for nearly 70 years, I ‘m acquainted with some of the major supporters of “Cardinal News.”
Though the Executive Director/CDO Rife joined the daily paper staff several years after my late husband Charles H. Stebbins and I were let go from it, I remember Yancey from the days he became a features writer soon after his graduation from James Madison University. Both of us were part of the Features Section and worked under the direction of Sandra Kelly, who herself is still a contributor to local publications and especially a supporter of Western Virginia history.
I’ve admired Rife’s superior in-depth medical stories as well as the business commentaries of another leader in the new enterprise, Megan Schnabel.
Perhaps I’ll become an occasional contributor as I certainly admire the enterprise and wish my younger colleagues well. From 1953 to 2017 I wrote faith-related and news of churches and human-service organizations before “retiring” to this memoir column.
I’m already enjoying the information coming out of the Virginia General Assembly where Cardinal News has a seasoned political writer.
The four major players in Cardinal News are:
Yancey, with his more than four decades of Virginia journalism. He rose through the ranks of The Roanoke Times, has published a book on state politics and is a playwright. In a United Methodist family, he and his wife recently became grandparents.
Rife, who has specialized in medical issues including mental health, has worked for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Alabama and Tennessee as well as at the Roanoke daily for the past 16 years. Like Yancey, she has won numerous awards.
Schnabel, who covered business for the daily paper and also has worked for The Blue Ridge Business Journal and served as an editor for more than 25 years, lives in Roanoke. She’s a Northwestern University graduate.
Not as well known locally but a vital part of the enterprise is Schmidt, the political reporter. A native of Germany, he now lives in Richmond where for four years he wrote of politics for The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Most recently he has served as associate editor of Virginia Living, a widely read lifestyle magazine.
Information about the board of directors includes Caroline Glickman of Lynchburg as its president and Debbie Meade, secretary, once a publisher of The Roanoke Times. Chris Turnbull is treasurer.
Cardinal News is operated by Cardinal Productions, which incorporated in July 2021 and is in the process of obtaining 501c3 status.