The inaugural edition of the Richmond Free Press hit the streets of Richmond on January 16, 1992. Raymond H. Boone, a veteran newspaper reporter, editor and executive and a former associate professor at Howard University, was the founder of the prize-winning, independent weekly newspaper. He continued to serve as editor/publisher of the newspaper until his death on June 3, 2014.
Under his bold leadership, the black-owned Free Press has changed the media landscape of Richmond, the former Capital of the Confederacy. In the best tradition of journalism, the Free Press has honored and defended the First Amendment. It has successfully championed causes that promote equality with justice and opportunity for all people.
The newspaper has always enjoyed a downtown presence. Its first site of operation was at 201 W. Broad St. On April 19, 1992, it moved to 101 W Broad St. On December 10, 2001, the Free Press, in response to growth demands and its commitment to downtown revitalization, relocated to its current classic, federal-style building at Fifth and Franklin streets. The stately, three-story, historic building is a prominent landmark in downtown, adorned with highly visible Richmond Free Press signage on the three public sides of the building. In 2002, the Free Press won a major award for “Best in Commercial Renovation” in recognition of its leadership in a revitalization project that cost nearly $2 million. The Free Press building initially housed the American headquarters of the Imperial Tobacco Company of London.
The primary mission of the Free Press is to provide solid, fair-minded news stories and informed opinion to empower its readers and to motivate them to take enlightened action on important issues that touch their lives.
This mission has served to produce a long string of positive results. They include news stories and editorials that, among many other accomplishments, have caused: A Richmond judge who used racist comments on the internet to immediately resign; the rewriting of the city code that expunged unfair gender references; the abandonment of plans to relocate the city’s Main Post Office to the suburbs; the exposure that contributed significantly to the granting of a gubernatorial pardon to a wrongly convicted Richmond man on a murder charge; and the inauguration of a prize-winning “Love Lights” program that gives Richmond a bright, impressive skyline to keep aglow holiday lights through Valentine’s Day.
In recognition of its outstanding performance, the Free Press has won awards for journalistic excellence from the Virginia Press Association, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, in addition to numerous other organizations that include the NAACP and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
While maintaining its editorial integrity, the Free Press consistently has won top statewide and national awards in the advertising category through the leadership of Jean Patterson Boone, advertising director and wife of the founding editor/publisher.
At a time when most newspapers — dailies and weeklies — are experiencing a steady decline in readership, the Free Press circulation continues to grow, illustrating the newspaper’s relevance, credibility and value to people in the Richmond area. The Free Press has a readership of more than 135,000 with an audited Verified circulation of more than 35,000.
Community service is a cornerstone of the Free Press. Raymond H. Boone emphasizes that commitment, saying, “If a newspaper is only looking at its bottom line, it is looking too low.”