A familiar byline returned to The Daily Progress earlier this year when Reynolds Hutchins, a name that peppered the paper’s pages a decade ago, became the city editor. Now, Hutchins has been promoted to the role of editor, and he said that he’s excited by the opportunity to shape Charlottesville’s newspaper of record.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Hutchins said. “But I relish hard work and always have.”
Although he has worked for such national and international publications as the Washington Examiner, the Journal of Commerce and the real estate-focused CoStar News, Hutchins said he thrives in the whirl of local news.
“It was a career aspiration to be named editor of a newspaper,” Hutchins said. “And there was only one newspaper that I genuinely wanted and yearned and strived to be a part of again.”
Longtime Progress readers may recall that Hutchins covered government and politics in 2013 and early 2014.
“I cut my teeth in journalism at The Daily Progress,” said the 33-year-old Wake Forest University alumnus and native of Wilmington, North Carolina. “It was not my first job in journalism, but it is where I became a journalist.”
In January, he returned to The Daily Progress to become the city editor after last year’s departure of long-time Progress writer and editor Bryan McKenzie. Three months into his return, editor Lynne Anderson announced that she was leaving to become the weekend editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“It’s good to know the paper is in the hands of someone who cherishes the community as much I have,” said Anderson.
Hutchins said he has hurled himself into the task of keeping the Progress pages vibrant and engaging. He said there has already been a return on that investment, citing strong growth in subscribers and readers on dailyprogress.com in just the first few months of guiding local coverage, which includes news in the city of Charlottesville and the surrounding towns and counties of Central Virginia.
“Our trend lines are great,” said Hutchins.
Since he was named editor, Hutchins has hired former BBC fellow Jason Armesto to cover government and politics and recent Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Faith Redd — who has written for the Chesterfield Observer, Suffolk News-Herald and Farmville Herald — to cover education. A new deputy editor is planned to join the newsroom by month’s end, and the paper is preparing to open a position for a breaking news reporter.
At the same time, he has brought on two summer interns from leading universities.
He said his goal is to bring on quality content producers who can bolster civic coverage and complement the paper’s award-winning sports, culture and photo departments.
“My top priority is content, and it will always remain content,” he said, “which is why my first objective is to hire a full staff of content producers, reporters, journalists and storytellers.”
Another one of his priorities is outreach and accessibility.
“I want our readers and anyone in the community to know that we are listening,” he said. “As part of that promise, my phone number and email appear in every edition of our newspaper.”
That promise of accessibility extends to anyone interested in submitting letters to the editor or guest commentary to the paper.
“I am always available,” he said.
Hutchins said he has been a digitally focused journalist since he began his career. The Daily Progress digital product is where the news can and should thrive, he said.
“’Daily’ from our founding has always meant that we report daily news,” he said, pointing out that when the paper was founded in 1892 it was only printed six days a week.
But even in the digital age, Hutchins said that he gets many story ideas on his walks downtown from the home he shares on West Main Street with his fiancé Nicholas Morrow and their Alaskan husky Bardot.
“There’s something about this place that clearly resonates with people,” said Hutchins. “For me professionally, it’s a great news town.”