|Headquarters||150 West Brambleton Avenue|
Norfolk, Virginia 23510
The Virginian-Pilot is a daily newspaper based in Norfolk, Virginia. Commonly known as The Pilot, it is Virginia's largest daily. 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 until its sale to Tribune Publishing in 2018.
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. The Virginian-Pilot covered the Wright brothers' early flights. 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. In Norfolk, on September 1, 1923, the company founded Virginia's first radio station, WTAR. In 1950 it added Channel 4 WTAR-TV (now Channel 3 WTKR) and in 1961, it signed on 95.7 WTAR-FM (now WVKL).
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.
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.
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, Pilotonline.com. 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. No new publisher was named when the Pilot was sold to Tronc, but Marisa Porto was named the newspaper's editor.
The paper also began publishing podcasts in 2017. The first of those, The Shot, was created by reporters Gary Harki and Joanne Kimberlin and dealt with the unsolved 2010 murder of Norfolk police officer Victor Decker.
Offices and corporate
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 Pilotonline.com/Hamptonroads.com, Pilot Direct printing, LNC (Local News on Cable)/Pilot13 News, Hamptonroads.tv, 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. In October 2008 Landmark's vice chairman said the company was continuing negotiations to sell the newspaper. After much debate, The Virginian-Pilot was taken off of the selling block.
Since December, 2014, the Pilot's single copy prices are: $1 Daily, $2.50 Sunday/Thanksgiving Day.
Sale to Tronc
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.
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