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Stories from the front lines of local news reporting in Virginia

Mixing small town politics and journalism

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Mixing small town politics and journalism
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When the Christmas parade float bearing grand marshal Billy Coleburn, longtime mayor of Blackstone, Va., rolled through the small Southside town, he hopped down and began snapping photos of the colorful marching bands, cheerleaders, elves, beaming bystanders and a prize cow. He knew the local paper, the Courier-Record, would run a bunch because he is also the owner, publisher and editor of the weekly.

Billy Coleburn

Billy Coleburn, owner, publisher and editor of the Courier-Record in Blackstone, Va. — and until recently the mayor. He is pictured with his daughter, Caroline Coleburn Noblin, a reporter for WTVR in Richmond.

It's an unusual combination, but one Blackstone voters and readers both countenanced for 16 years until he decided not to seek re-election last year. Mixing local politics and newspapering is a family tradition. His grandfather Curtis, who acquired the paper in 1946, and father, Doug, were both longtime Nottoway County supervisors as well as editors.

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