Help us protect local journalism and preserve local history - restore The Hook website!
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Last year, the publishers of C-Ville Weekly, who also published The Hook newspaper before they shut it down in 2013, transferred ownership of The Hook's website/archive to an anonymous buyer. Earlier this year, that anonymous buyer removed the website/archive from the internet, effectively erasing over a decade of award-winning local reporting from the web. C-Ville Weekly's publishers have so far refused to explain why they made the decision to sell the website/archive to an anonymous buyer.
The Hook won over 150 awards from the Virginia Press Association (VPA) during its 12 years of publication. While other fine newspapers (and online-only news websites) in town have won VPA awards, The Hook also won the VPA’s highest honor, the Award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service, three times. To put that into perspective, the only other newspaper in Charlottesville to win the award, which was first handed out in 1947, was the Daily Progress in 1964.
It was not uncommon for The Hook to follow news stories very closely over time, building on past reporting with new information, and thereby creating a powerful archive of that particular subject or issue. For example, when The Hook covered the attempted ouster of UVA president Teresa Sullivan – the story for which the paper won the VPA’s Award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service in 2012 -- there was no stone left unturned. The Hook’s coverage provides extensive background and detail on a local story that received national attention for weeks.
“The Hook provided a seamless mixture of reportage, speculation, analysis, and context to give the U.Va. community in Charlottesville and beyond insight and presence during and after the turmoil of the president’s ouster,” said the VPA judges in 2013. “Aggressive inquisitiveness beyond a daily’s or even a weekly’s normal scope produced unusual facets of the story that went uncovered by other news outlets. This includes the pursuit of angles that, while risky, opened the aperture for the audience.”
Similar Hook investigations, and coverage of courts, crime, development and planning, culture, politics, and equity and justice, provide extensive, unparalleled detail on important issues and events during the first part of the 21st century in Central Virginia. In addition, at a time when social media was just emerging, the comment sections under Hook stories (which often numbered in the hundreds) are a treasure trove of community conversation on a variety of issues.
As a whole, The Hook's journalism archive created a historical document of a certain time in Central Virginia that had become an invaluable community resource in the years since the paper shut down, one used often frequently by journalists, historians, and archivists.
Unceremoniously removing The Hook website, which was expertly archived, easily searchable, and available across the web in general searches, as the new anonymous owner did this year, is nothing less than erasing local history.
We are shocked and saddened that C-Ville Weekly's publishers, who worked closely with us in developing The Hook after they became owners, would transfer ownership of a web archive of our work without contacting or consulting us, and to an individual or organization too cowardly to identify themselves - in an apparent “catch-and-kill” operation - and with so little regard for local journalism.
Please join us in requesting that The Hook website/archive be restored.
David McNair, Hawes Spencer, Lisa Provence, Courteney Stuart, Rosalind Warfield-Brown