“When the only newspaper in town goes down, my thought was, ‘I don’t have a lot of experience, but I’m better than nothing,’” said Tony Ares, a pastor who had done podcasting but had no formal training in journalism before he started The Virginia Connection.
Ares and his wife, Kim, kept the publication going for about a year before it became too much in terms of financial losses and long hours. They struggled to build an audience that could sustain them, in part because even though he tried to produce news that was “objective” and “down the middle,” he said he discovered “people are looking for affirmation, not information.”
Ares said in a phone interview this week that The Virginia Connection still has a Facebook page as he and his wife attempt to reboot and turn their enterprise into a statewide news aggregator, along the lines of Drudge Report. He discovered what others who have been in the newspaper business for much longer already know: “It’s tough,” he said.
For those not in the business, it’s understandable they do not necessarily realize what goes into producing a newspaper, Mathews said, and to take the finished product for granted.
“I think that’s the case of journalism overall is that readers all across the country take what they’re reading for granted,” he said. “That there are resources, that there’s money, that there’s love, that there’s heart, that there’s care behind this product. I think the people in Caroline County who may have taken that for granted realized they shouldn’t have once it shuttered.”