History buff takes the helm

The new editor of the Fauquier Times comes to his position with an abiding love of history and a sense of the responsibilities that come with community journalism.

Ray Finefrock, a former staff writer with the Culpeper Times, assumed the role of editor last week.

The former executive editor, Bill Walsh, resigned to pursue other interests.

Finefrock joined Times-Community Media full time in 2010, working for the Culpeper Times. Before that, he served as assistant managing editor of the Culpeper Star-Exponent, managing editor of the Culpeper News, editor of the Greene County Record, news and sports editor of the Couer d’Alene Press in Idaho and business editor of the Coos Bay World.

Finefrock said his first and strongest impression of the value of news media came from the Watergate-era reporting of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Their writing showed him that newspapers have the power to serve their readership – and that such power needs to be used with care, he said.

Finefrock got his start as a sports writer in his hometown of Yuma, Ariz. In the years since, his experience in daily media outlets has led to work in community news.

In his eyes, a community newspaper should reflect, not whitewash, the community it serves.

“What we write should be talked about,” Finefrock said. “Some people will say ‘yea’ and some people will say ‘nay,’ but the worst thing that can happen to a community newspaper is to become irrelevant.”

As for Fauquier’s community, Finefrock described himself as a proponent of smart and clean growth – the kind that does not obliterate the county’s rich history in favor of strip malls and big-box retailers.

Finefrock wants to see a prosperous future for Fauquier. But it’s the past that called him here.

“Being a history buff, in this area, I could have died and gone to heaven,” Finefrock said.

Peter Arundel, owner of Times-Community Media, said he chose Finefrock for the job because of his respect for community news and his engagement with local readerships.

“We’ll continue to have the spine and serve as the watchdog that residents should expect of a great local newspaper,” Arundel said. “This essential role is the reason why local newspapers will always have a place in the media spectrum.”

Finefrock will be the vanguard of a newspaper that resonates more deeply with the Fauquier community, Arundel said.

“Since I bought the paper from the family a year ago, I’ve spoken to a lot of folks in the community and conducted several focus groups to gain a better understanding of what readers want,” Arundel said. “In early September, the community will see a paper that better reflects what I interpret to be what they want. We all at the Fauquier Times are terribly excited about this.”

Arundel’s prior focus has been on the company’s newspapers in Loudoun and Prince William counties. The Loudoun Times-Mirror was ranked by the Virginia Press Association as the best weekly in the state three years in a row in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

To that, he remarked, “Yes, we’re very proud of that.”

In addition to his responsibilities as editor, Finefrock also oversees the Culpeper Times, Gainesville Times and Prince William Times newspapers as executive editor.

He, and his wife Carla, have four grown children. Currently living in Culpeper, they have plans to move to Fauquier.

To contact Finefrock, email rfinefrock@timepapers.com.