On U.S. House Floor, Spanberger Honors Former Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star Executive Editor Phil Jenkins for his Commitment to Virginia & Local Journalism

Mar 31, 2022
Local Issues

**VIDEO FOR DOWNLOAD: Congresswoman Recognizes Jenkins for his Focus on Community Journalism, His Mentorship of Virginia Reporters & Editors, and his Widely Praised Leadership in the Newsroom

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today honored Phil Jenkins — former Executive Editor of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia — on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize his nearly 24 years of service to his community, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the spirit of local journalism.

In her remarks, Spanberger shared reflections from Jenkins’s former colleagues and underscored his years of mentorship, his steady eye for news, and his commitment to making The Free Lance-Star an enduring local paper.

Click here to watch Spanberger’s remarks. A full transcript of her remarks is below.

Mister Speaker, I stand here to recognize the remarkable contributions of Phil Jenkins — who recently finished serving as Managing and Executive Editor of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Phil gave his time, his energy, and his dedication to The Free Lance-Star for 24 years.

“Equally wise and unflappable.” That’s how his colleagues describe him. “A trusted leader, gifted editor, and generous mentor.”

When he arrived at the paper in 1998, Phil made sure the paper stayed at the top of its game. As the years went on, his determination guided the paper through difficult stretches and through thousands of local news developments.

He oversaw critical investigations — including those related to the D.C. sniper trial. He managed major transitions — such as shifting from an afternoon to morning production cycle and moving the paper’s offices to downtown Fredericksburg. 

And under Phil’s leadership, The Free Lance-Star was nine times judged as Virginia’s best midsize daily between 2011 and 2020 — winning first place for its writing, design, and photography.

In Fredericksburg, Phil supervised dozens of people — including writers, photographers, designers, editors, web producers, and clerical staff.

Those who worked with him over the years said that “few knew a more journalistically savvy, more even-handed, or more calming influence in the newsroom.”

When asked to describe Phil’s tenure at the paper, a former colleague said that Phil showed “unparalleled leadership,” as well as “an uncanny ability to measure and satiate the community’s hunger for the news that makes it unique.”

Today, Phil’s staff, the entire Fredericksburg region, and The Free Lance-Star readership will greatly miss Phil’s hand at the helm of The Free Lance-Star.

One former Free Lance-Star editor said, “Working with such a gifted journalist and wonderful person as Phil Jenkins was one of the highest honors of my life. There is no way to adequately thank him for all the contributions he has made to the paper and to the community.”

Phil’s service to the Fredericksburg area and Virginia overall speaks to the enduring importance of local news — including print journalism.

Local news keeps us informed about the day-to-day events in our communities. It allows us to share in the triumphs of our neighbors. It holds those in power to account. And it brings to light the challenges we face together — as a community, as a Commonwealth, and as a country.

As another former colleague of his said, “Nobody gave more to the cause of community journalism than Phil Jenkins.”

And today on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, I’d like to thank Phil Jenkins for his service to the people of Virginia. We thank him for his devotion to his colleagues, his commitment to accuracy, and his love of a good story founded on the truth.


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