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Northern Virginia Daily marks 80th anniversary

By Sally Voth - svoth@nvdaily.com

Saturday may mark its 80th birthday, but the Northern Virginia Daily is far from ready to slow down.

"Everybody knows how much the industry has changed in 80 years," publisher Mike Gochenour said Friday afternoon. "Really, the change in probably the last 10 years has been at a faster pace. There's been a lot of change. We're doing our best to adapt to that change and still give our readers what they want.

"If we reach out to the community, they will support us. We're trying to support our hometown communities."

While change will continue at the Daily, it won't be as dramatic as it has been in the recent past, Gochenour said.

Gochenour stepped into his role in late March following the paper's purchase by Ogden Newspapers of Virginia. After nine years at the paper in the advertising department, Gochenour left the Daily in 2009 to join the advertising staff at the Northern Virginia Group of Media General, where he most recently served as advertising director of The Progress-Index in Petersburg.

For its first 79 years, the Daily was owned by the Keister family of Strasburg.

Twenty years after buying the Strasburg News in 1912, E.E. Keister merged that paper with others he'd bought in Woodstock, Edinburg, Front Royal and Marshall to launch the Northern Virginia Daily on Sept. 15, 1932. He had incorporated Shenandoah Publishing House Inc. In 1928.

Thirty-one years ago, reporters gave up their typewriters for computer terminals.

2002 was a big year technology-wise: photography at the paper went digital, and its website, www.nvdaily.com, was launched.

Earlier this year, Keister's son John "Pat" Keister and his wife Dee sold the paper to Ogden, which is headed by President and CEO Robert "Bob" Nutting. It joins the company's 40 other newspapers, but marks its first Virginia paper.

The sale came after several financially difficult years at the paper.

"We are here because we believe in the future of newspapers," Nutting said at the time of the sale. "You all have published a very good newspaper for a long period of time. We're very pleased, very pleased to be here.

"We are committed to the printed newspaper and know newspapers continue to be the best source for news and advertising in every community we serve. We are also well positioned for the growth of online news and advertising.

"We want our newspapers to be strong, active, community-minded, locally edited newspapers. We intend to present balanced and complete news coverage, which we hope will be of interest and service to our readers throughout our circulation area."

The new company selected Linda Ash as editor. She had been digital media manager at the Daily for the past four years. Prior to that she was content manager for the Sacramento Bee websites in California.

Gochenour, too, stressed on Friday the desire to make the Daily as interactive with its readers as possible, pointing out that the paper has dedicated parts of the print edition to a community page where local photos and information are placed. The public can also post items to the website's Virtual Newsroom, nvdaily.com/virtual.

"We want to print their news," Gochenour said.

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