Illustration by Kristen Rebelo
What started as a harnessing mechanism to yoke together all the region's blogs grew into RVANews.com . The website provides weekly content and news-you-can-use for its audience in the world of paperless media.
Eight years ago, Ross Catrow and business partner Scott Pharr ran the PharrOut web design company. Catrow, a Richmonder since 1994 via Chicago, Brazil, Virginia Tech and marrying local native Valerie Catrow, née Harris, started RVABlogs.
"Back then," Catrow says — sounding like he's talking about 1905, not 2005 — "everybody was blogging. People weren't using Google Reader."
Amid an explosion of neighborhood blogs, Catrow says, "We herded them together." The technical term is "aggregator."
The various blogs generated virtual reams of content, from kittens needing homes to real estate for sale. But actual reporting about goings-on led to the company's decision to set up RVANews. The site went live Nov. 1, 2007.
"We decided we can write an original story a week. If we try, two stories a day. Now we're up to seven a day," says Catrow. Valerie, who wrote for the site when it started, took a break to stay home with the Catrows' son, Jackson. These days, she edits the "Raising Richmond" family section of RVANews.
A team has come together that works well — designer Brandon Gibson, Lauren Eubank in sales, and senior writer Nathan Cushing. Catrow is proud of their coverage of manslaughter charges brought in Czech court against Lamb of God's Randy Blythe and last year's controversy over Art 180's Monument Avenue art display.
Newsgathering has eclipsed web design, Catrow says. "I was a mathematics major in college and ended up doing web design. Now I'm a publisher of a magazine that doesn't apply to any of them. We've become part of the city. People recognize us. I never would've been able to predict this is where we'd end up."