The plan was simple: The owners of the Hopewell News website let the domain expire because they killed the website last year. The Appomattox Regional Library System had digitized much of the newspaper’s archives. Once the site went up for sale, I’ll grab it (because who else would want it) and give it to the library to house the archives. If I’m lucky, I’ll get some donations over and beyond the cost of the site and also give them some money that would go toward finishing the digitization.
It didn’t go according to plan.
I’ve never done any crowdfunding before, and I’m not in any circles of people who would care about Hopewell. Additionally, someone who’s probably a cybersquatter set a very high proxy bid amount. (When I saw that there was an autobid every time I tried to end up on top, I went up to the max on my card. I hope dude enjoys the site for how much I made him pay for it.)
I probably should have approached the previous owners about turning the site over to me, but I figured they’d wouldn’t be amenable to any of my proposals. I still might contact them, though.
I still made a donation to the library. It wasn’t the grand gesture I had hoped it would have been, but it was better than nothing.
Until the library digitizes the last 14 years of the paper, there’s a gap in that city’s history. And that gap includes my entire time there. But this isn’t just about having not a lot to show for a lot of years of hard work.
Local news is important. It’s often the first and only draft of history. There were rivals in surrounding areas, but the Hopewell journalists were in that community daily. We amplified what’s been missing, and that’s why I still do what I do. I don’t want narratives to get lost.
I hope the current paper there, the Hopewell Herald, gets a proper online presence and is getting preserved. I hope the Hopewell News gets fully digitized. I hope the Hopewell News website serves the community once again.
But that’s it. It’s gone. It’s over. It was a formative period of my life but it’s time, about 11 years after I first stepped into 516 E. Randolph Road, to truly move on.