The Virginian-Pilot

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The Virginian-Pilot front page.jpg
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)Tribune Publishing
Founder(s)Samuel Slover
EditorPosition vacant. Ryan Gilchrest, managing editor, is acting editor
Headquarters150 West Brambleton Avenue
Norfolk, Virginia 23510
Circulation156,968 Daily[1]

The Virginian-Pilot is a daily newspaper based in Norfolk, Virginia. Commonly known as The Pilot, it is Virginia's largest daily.[1] It serves the five cities of South Hampton Roads as well as several smaller towns across southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina. It was a locally owned, family enterprise from its founding in 1865 at the close of the American Civil War[2] until its sale to Tribune Publishing in 2018.[3]

Pulitzer Prizes[edit]

The newspaper has won three Pulitzer Prizes. In 1929, editor Louis Jaffe received the Virginian-Pilot's first Pulitzer Prize, for an editorial which condemned lynching. Jaffe mentored the paper's next editor, Lenoir Chambers, who in 1960 received the paper's second Pulitzer for his editorials on desegregation. The paper was one of the few in Virginia to publicly support the end of Jim Crow. In 1985, Thomas Turcol was awarded a Pulitzer[4] for his coverage of corruption in Chesapeake. Reporters at The Pilot have also finished as Pulitzer finalists three times since 2007[5].


The Virginian-Pilot and its sister afternoon edition, the Ledger-Star (which ceased publication in 1995) were created by Samuel L. Slover as the result of several mergers of papers dating back to 1865.[6] The Virginian-Pilot covered the Wright brothers' early flights.[7] Slover's nephew Frank Batten Sr. became publisher at age 27 in 1954. He expanded the Virginian-Pilot's parent company, which soon evolved into Landmark Communications and later Landmark Media Enterprises, by acquiring other newspapers and radio and television stations and by creating The Weather Channel, now owned by a group of investors led by NBC Universal.[6] In Norfolk, on September 1, 1923, the company founded Virginia's first radio station, WTAR.[8] In 1950 it added Channel 4 WTAR-TV (now Channel 3 WTKR) and in 1961, it signed on 95.7 WTAR-FM (now WVKL).

The paper was among the first available online as a part of the Compuserve experiment in early 1980s where the paper and 10 others around the country transmitted text versions of stories daily to Compuserve's host computers in Ohio.[9]

Frank Batten Jr. became publisher in 1991 and expanded on digitizing the paper. In 1993 The Virginian-Pilot was one of the first newspapers in the country to launch a sister website,[10] Batten Jr. stepped down as the paper's publisher, becoming Landmark Communications' Chairman and CEO. "Dee" Carpenter became publisher in 1995, followed by Bruce Bradley in 2005, Maurice Jones in 2008, David Mele in 2012 and Patricia Richardson in 2014. The paper published a podcast in 2017. The Shot was created by reporters Gary Harki and Joanne Kimberlin and dealt with the unsolved 2010 murder of Norfolk police officer Victor Decker.

After The Pilot was sold to Tronc in 2018, no new publisher was named. Marisa Porto was named the newspaper's editor[11], but she left the next year[12]. Interim General Manager Par Ridder said a search would begin for a new editor for the newsroom and a new general manager to oversee the business side of the newspaper[13].

Offices and corporate[edit]

The paper's offices remains in their original downtown Norfolk headquarters on Brambleton Avenue, where it has been based since 1937. The paper operates satellite offices in Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Portsmouth, and Chesapeake, and on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in Nags Head. The paper's printing facility, once located also in the downtown Norfolk headquarters, is in Virginia Beach.

The Virginian-Pilot is a division of Pilot Media Companies, which includes, Pilot Direct printing, LNC (Local News on Cable)/Pilot13 News,, Inside Business, Link, The Flagship, Military Newspapers of Virginia, and other supplemental print and web businesses.

A January 3, 2008, report suggested a possible sale of The Virginian-Pilot's parent company, Landmark Communications.[14] In October 2008 Landmark's vice chairman said the company was continuing negotiations to sell the newspaper.[15] After much debate, The Virginian-Pilot was taken off of the selling block.[16]


Since December, 2014, the Pilot's single copy prices are: $1 Daily, $2.50 Sunday/Thanksgiving Day.

Sale to Tronc[edit]

On May 29, 2018, The Virginian-Pilot announced they had been purchased by Chicago-based media conglomerate Tronc, formerly known as Tribune Publishing, for a cash price of $34 million. The deal included the Pilot and all of its "outstanding interests" — including its subsidiary publications, the paper's Norfolk headquarters and its printing plant in Virginia Beach.[17]


  1. ^ a b "Virginia Newspapers". MondoNewspapers. Mondo Code. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  2. ^ "The Virginian-Pilot". Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  3. ^ Sidersky, Robyn. "Virginian-Pilot sold to Chicago-based publisher Tronc". Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  4. ^ Poulter, Amy. "Virginian-Pilot reporter Tim Eberly named Pulitzer Prize finalist". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  5. ^ Poulter, Amy. "Virginian-Pilot reporter Tim Eberly named Pulitzer Prize finalist". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b Hays, Jakon, and Maureen Watts, "Pilot Media History". Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  7. ^ "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough
  8. ^ "WTAR-TV Marks Its First Year" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 30, 1951. p. 62. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  9. ^ Ferrarini, Elizabeth M. (1982). The Electronic Newspaper: Fact or Fetish. pp. 45–57.
  10. ^ Hays, Jakon; Watts, Maureen. "Pilot Media History". Pilot Media. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  11. ^ Sauers, Elisha. "Pilot Media History". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  12. ^ Pierceall, Kimberly. ""Editor of The Virginian-Pilot, Daily Press leaves amid restructuring"". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  13. ^ Pierceall, Kimberly. ""Editor of The Virginian-Pilot, Daily Press leaves amid restructuring"". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  14. ^ Walzer, Phil, "Landmark considers possible sale of Pilot, Weather Channel", January 3, 2008.
  15. ^ Walzer, Phil, "Landmark suspends sale of assets, but not The Pilot", October 30, 2008.
  16. ^ Walzer, Phil, "Sale process for The Virginian-Pilot is put on hold", December 3, 2008.
  17. ^ "Tribune Publishing | News Release". Retrieved Feb 5, 2019.

External links[edit]