Bristol Herald Courier staff members brought you the defining local stories of 2019.

You, our loyal readers, helped make this happen.

As the year progressed, you guided coverage with story tips, constructive feedback and on-the-record accounts that gave our reporting strength and credibility.

You pointed news team members toward the unexplored, underserved and unfamiliar across both state lines.

The Herald Courier published more than 2,800 stories and 1,000 photographs produced by staff members in 2019.

We brought you stories about the image problem created by homeless people in downtown Bristol, the emerging health crisis linked to vaping and the rise of unregulated and untaxed skill games in Virginia.

We kept tabs on the efforts to bring a casino to Bristol, Virginia.

We focused attention on newly legalized hemp farms in Tennessee and the problem for local law enforcement officers who try to distinguish between a legal crop and illegal weed.

Our sports reporters delivered stories about the uncertain future of Appalachian League baseball. They provided sweeping high school game previews and coverage. They owned the coverage and analysis of both NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

All newsroom staff members helped with the breaking coverage of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s plane crash in August.

Readers helped us have fun in the year just ended. For our “Reader’s Ride” feature, you submitted photos of hot rods, street rods and hobby cars. Folks viewed these images on our website,, more than 50,000 times in 2019.

You, the reader, contributed to this Opinion page. We published 290 of your letters to the editor.

In October, we published a special report, titled “Critical Mass,” that focused on the problem of jail overcrowding in both Bristol, Virginia and Sullivan County, Tennessee. Reporters, photographers and editors invested eight months into researching and producing the project.

The weeklong series featured 24 stories, dozens of photos, colorful graphics, videos and podcasts, all aimed at helping readers understand the magnitude of the issue. Every staff member had a hand in the project.

Below are even more examples of in-depth journalism that Herald Courier staff members produced for you in 2019:

» Marion site has the only state mental health graveyard in far Southwest Virginia.

» Rise in unclaimed bodies stretches budgets of several counties.

» Debit cards used for lotto sales in Virginia, but not Tennessee.

» A look back at a fatal military jet crash on Holston Mountain.

» There are military training flight routes within miles of Tri-Cities.

Accurate, meaningful and deeply reported local journalism will remain our stock in trade for 2020, the Herald Courier’s 148th year of publication.

All best in 2020,

Rob Walters | Managing Editor

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