As we head into the Memorial Day weekend and summer 2021 (hopefully featuring long-delayed, in-person gatherings among your families and friends), let us share a few insider news morsels.

Detailing a unique partnership in local news

“It’s about collaboration between a business, an important business, a service business like a newspaper, and people like you in the community.”

That’s how the executive director of the Virginia Press Association analyzed the partnership between the Rappahannock News and Foothills, as part of an illuminating panel discussion on “New Journalism through Collaboration”.

“We have to be constantly educating the public about the importance of a shared truth in a community,” reflected Andy Alexander, Foothills board member, during the virtual discussion, part of the press association’s virtual convention last week.

“The main thing is continuing a strong collaboration with Foothills,” said Dennis Brack, publisher of the News.

Also contributing to the panel were Bud Meyer, chair of Foothills, and Bo Jones, chair of the Piedmont Journalism Foundation (the nonprofit owner of the Fauquier Times).

Welcome, Julia Shanahan

We are pleased to welcome to Rappahannock its second Report for America corps member, Julia Shanahan, following in the footsteps of Rachel Needham.

“Report for America is a great national program that brings quality journalists to our county,” says Meyer. “We welcome Julia in Rappahannock and look forward to introducing her to our community of local news aficionados.”

A recent graduate of the University of Iowa, Shanahan has been politics editor of the Daily Iowan, the daily newspaper serving 8,500 readers in Iowa City and its university community, and an intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association.

Report for America, which shares with the host news outlet the cost of a reporter for one year, is a program of the GroundTruth Project and Google News Lab, with funding from the Knight Foundation and others.

The stealth epidemic

“Covid’s Hidden Toll,” Foothills Forum’s occasional series reported by Randy Rieland, continues to inform readers about the widespread but less visible impacts of the pandemic.

The latest installment – “The stealth epidemic” – detailed how addiction rates and overdose deaths have increased in Virginia (by as much as 41% in the past year).

The in-depth reporting spoke to at least one fan.

Robin Earl, managing editor of the Fauquier Times, which also ran the series, recounts: “A gentleman called to say how amazing the package was. A former journalist, he recognized the tremendous amount of work that went into it and appreciated the depth of coverage –  sidebars, graphics. We so rarely get laudatory phone calls. He was very enthused.”

Rieland’s series (complemented once more by stellar data journalism graphics by Laura Stanton) and more are made possible thanks to community support of our nonprofit community news organization, now in its seventh year. Visit Foothills Forum’s recently updated website here to donate.