Stephanie Sanford’s career with the Northern Neck News group began on October 25,1993, when she started as a part-time typewriter. She just recently retired nearly 3 decades later, but her impact on the Northern Neck News, Westmoreland News and Northumberland Echo continues.
While her daughter, Mildred Lee was in school, Sanford submitted Cople PTA info to Lynn Norris, the Westmoreland News editor at the time. This familiarized Norris with Sanford’s writing, and the rest is history. A few months later, she was working full-time in the newspaper industry as front desk coverage, typesetter and classifieds.
“Gradually, I took on more duties to include legals, community calendar, proofing and page layout,” stated Sanford. “At that time we did paste-up. We had no real internet access except for the editors’ computers and nothing was automated. Our delivery person picked up our paste-up pages and drove them to VA Gazette in Williamsburg for printing, stayed overnight and brought papers back for delivery the next day. At that time we were a Thursday publication,” Sanford recalls.
She continued with the Westmoreland News until 2004 when she moved on to take over circulation duties for the Northern Neck News, Westmoreland News and Northumberland Echo. The Caroline Progress was added to this group; when Lakeway Publishers purchased the papers, the Herald Progress was also included. She continued these duties, and more, until her recent retirement.
The newspaper industry has changed over the years, and Sanford has been there to see it grow and morph into what it is today: “Oh my, the paper industry has changed so much in my 27 years,” she began. “We have gone from paste-up to sending floppy disc then CD to printed to now it is all electronic and the paper itself is available online as well as in print. There is digital access to previous editions - not all as this is relatively new technology to us in the Northern Neck - but at least since 2007 editions… Advertising is also very different as folks don’t seem to see the need for print advertising anymore as they have the internet. What they don’t realize is that not everyone uses the internet and some don’t even have access - which has become so very apparent during the current COVID-19 Pandemic… There are still locations in the Northern Neck where internet access is simply not available and is beyond the financial reach of some because of the cost of running cables to have access. It’s not all truly wireless, folks.”
Sanford reflects on her favorite story during her time at the papers: “My absolute favorite story was Lynn’s coverage of a major drug operation which resulted in WMN full front page coverage with mug shots - that was a complete and total sellout with police from all over requesting extra copies of that edition. Even months afterward we would get requests from police departments.”
Over the last three decades, Sanford has made numerous life-long friends and remarkable memories. “There are many good memories from my time at the papers,” she reflects. “The 50th anniversary celebration of WMN in December 1998; Steve Weddle had come on board at WMN as ad compositor in October of that year. He quickly became sports writer/photographer and associate editor before moving to NNN as editor in 2000.
“I miss the camaraderie of my co-workers and writers - Carol Yerby at NUE and Rosalyn Parker Gray at NNN - and picking on Cheryl Angolia, who I have known the longest and we won’t even go there.”
With great memories in hand, Sanford says she is excited for life’s next phase. “I look forward to being able to help out with the grandchildren, spending time with family, and finally having time to do all the things around the house that have gotten shoved to the back burner for far too long.”
Stephanie Sanford will be missed by all of us at the Northern Neck News, Westmoreland News and Northumberland Echo; we wish her happiness as she explores this new chapter of life!