Why the Hook? We unveil a new motto for this newspaper


We recently came up with a new motto for the Hook. Before I tell you what it is, let me tell you how the Hook came into existence.

It was early 2002, and I had just lost my job at C-ville Weekly. So I created the Hook.

But the funny thing was that at first the Hook didn't really know what its mission was. You get a sense of the aimlessness in our first ad campaign. It was a radio spot that senior editor Courteney Stuart and I recorded in a local radio studio. In that ad, we proudly proclaim (to the tune of "Mr. Sandman") that the Hook has two crowning attributes: a cartoon by the creator of the Simpsons and local movie times. Underwhelming, isn't it?

We knew we weren't C-ville, which had its own identity, but we didn't seem able to express an identity for the Hook.

Since then, we've experimented with another slogan: "We love this place!" That's a cute one, and it looks great on the ceramic coffee mugs our sales staff hands out to top advertisers. And, hey, we really do love this place. But that phrase doesn't really say much about what you get with the Hook.

So we started looking at the stories we were doing, the 120 Virginia Press Association awards we've won, and we started seeing a pattern. The Hook covers stories that nobody else is doing– stories that connect dots and ask hard questions.

Ever hear about the taxpayer bailout of Biscuit Run? How about the Nature Conservancy's quiet conflicts? Or about the state program that pays millionaires to renovate their houses? Then there's the sabotage of Peter Van der Linde's recycling trucks and the story about the Albemarle School Superintendent who spent $2 million for a faulty software system.

Seeing a pattern?

Enterprise, investigation, and quality writing. These are the Hook hallmarks, and they're the reason we recently created a new motto that we hope will eventually rank up there with "All the news that's fit to print." So without further ado:

"You can handle the truth."


Read more on: the hook



I like it, which is rare for the curmudgeon I'm happy to be.
I know *we* can handle the truth, but can *they*?


Great ! This is why I read the Hook.

Well, while you're on the subject, how about an explanation of the paper's NAME? The "Hook?" Where'd THAT come from? Maybe a "hook" as in a letter, "C," which would stand for Charlottesville? Or perhaps more like a fishing hook, which you drag along the bottom of the pond, to snag those otherwise hidden stories which lurk beneath. Then again, it could refer to the somewhat addictive experience of reading your paper.

Whatever it was, please tell us!


I like it! I hope that you can present 3 of our City Councilors with coffee mugs emblazoned with your new motto. Perhaps it might be helpful to them...

JSGeare - please mane - da HOok is da city nickname, erybody kno dat mane.

Love it!

Keep up the good work, guys.

(and gals!)

@ JSGeare

I always interpreted the hook name as having to do with a story's hook? You know, the juicy info. that hooks you in?

The sentiment in your new motto is spot on, but sorry to say that the phrase leaves me a bit flat on first impression, especially since you had to italicize the 'can' in order to make your point. Maybe it will grow on me and roll off the tongue with more satisfaction later on. As a former reporter and a staunch free press, open government, First Amendment, transparency, and FOIA advocate, I have always been impressed with The Hook's hard-hitting, investigative digging and reporting on topics no one else will touch. The public does want the truth, no matter how ugly, and you do provide it. Contrary to what rulers and their spokespersons want us to believe, the public can handle anything and everything pried out of government's tightly clenched fists. Keep pulling as forcefully as ever on the governing class's elected, appointed, and/or hired fingers. We need to know what's hidden in sweaty, bureaucratic palms in all divisions and at all levels of government. See you at the Virginia Coalition for Open Government annual conference on October 29 at Monticello.

Right on! It's fun to call you on your gaffes and use a gaff on you when you're in abeyance of the truth and taste, eg recent Rob Schilling contributions, but that's just family squabbling.

Always thought "The Hook" was a stupid nickname for Cville (sorry but that's the only true nickname says me). But I love this paper; keep up the good work.

Love the slogan--also love the paper. Now, if you'd just ditch that awful column "The Rant," which, in my opinion, serves no useful purpose and is often very offensive. Leave that stuff to FaceBook and Twitter, please.

Grace, they left "The Rant" to the other local weekly. Can't really blame the Hook for you sleepwalking through life.

@ Grace Cangialosi

What cookie jar said. Time to stop sleewalking through life. "The Rant" isn't in The Hook.

Also, since when is The Hook a nickname for Charlottesville? (according to Biff Diggerance.) That's the first I've heard of that. Anybody care to comment?

Truth and Love, the two most powerful forces.

I like the motto. But the plain simple fact is most people ....can't.... handle the truth. Especially if the truth resembles something you might see in a made-for-TV movie.

"The Hook covers stories that nobody else is doing– stories that connect dots and ask hard questions." -- The Hook as watchdog journalism? On the subject of the Fourth Estate and watchdog journalism, Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, recently said: “If we don’t have a watchdog function, then we have a lapdog function, and that doesn’t serve the voter very well. We need journalism that goes out and challenges what is being given reporters as the facts. We need to look behind the facts and find out where they’re coming from, and what the interests are of the people who are giving us those facts. Local government and state government and the federal government today are even more than ever in the news business themselves. They are putting out news as if it was the entire package and expecting people to buy it and I think Americans have to be a little bit skeptical and have to look behind where those governments are putting out facts.” (Gibson appeared on the Charlottesville, VA, politics interview program Politics Matters with host and producer Jan Madeleine Paynter discussing journalism http://bit.ly/pm-gibson)

The Hook has been a nickname for Charlottesville for many years, also often called Hookville. I've heard that it refers to students staying on after graduating UVA. Also heard that it refers to people leaving and coming back so often.

GSOE is correct. Many people either can't handle, or simply don't want to handle, the truth. A good example of this is recent Council candidate Kathy Galvin's exhortations that we must all move on regarding topics that she simply doesn't want to talk about, or that she is incapable of dealing with. Poor thing. Fortunately for us, there are candidates running who can handle the truth and aren't disturbed by opinions that differ from theirs.

like it!

Getting to the truth is not easy, given entrenched cultural values to believe things other than the truth, given far flung endeavors, i.e., marketing, public relations, political campaigns and government propaganda, to twist the truth for corporate hegemony, political gain and personal profit. For The Hook or any other news gathering operation to dig down to the plain, unadulterated truth, to package it and deliver it to readers in an understandable, digestible fashion is no mean feat. The Hook has set the bar high, very high. Go for it, and let's see how we handle it.

I don't know that the press has any monopoly on the truth; or, at least, I have never seen any evidence that they do. But they sometimes have access to portions of the "truth" which would not have been disclosed, had they not revealed it. I would bet, for example, that the article about the failed technology for the school system has a HUGE back story, some of which we won't be told because the Hook reporter promised to keep it quiet. As is typical for news agencies, there is often an agreement NOT to publish, in order to have access to material which CAN be published. Which simply means the media, like everyone else, is caught up in a quid pro quo.

But a good reporter will write a story which does not directly say what the reporter has sworn NOT to say, but nonetheless will leave the informed reader with enough data to make some good guesses about the material that saw no ink. Such a reporter enjoys, and suffers, a dual role. Those who wish for something to be more widely known will seek out that reporter; those who have something to hide will avoid the same reporter. The only thing the reporter has in common with each is his or her integrity. Those who seek him out will do so because of the journalist's integrity; those who run away will do so for the same reason.

What else is there to say? Beats me. Not being a religious type I can't thank God for the Hook so I'll just thank its founders. Thanks. Now go out and dig up some more dirt. I know its there, it just needs to be uncovered. Oh, by the by, its not us that can't handle the truth, its those politicians and others in "authorities" that can't handle the truth.

oh hook, you gotta love being the primary source for the newsplex's article on abshire. the only information they presented was prefaced with "the hook reported"..." and "according to 'the hook'..." - glad i learned long ago to check here first for the local story - thanks, hook, i CAN handle the truth! ;)

Miss Juicy knows what hook means...

Feel the love!

Well done Hawes!

Hookville? I have lived here all my life and have never heard Hook or Hookville used as a nickname for Charlottesville.

"Hook" was UVA slang for a C grade ("How did you do on the test?" "I hooked it.") The term had fallen into disuse by the time I was there in the early 80s. I'm not sure how slang for a mediocre grade became the name of this fine newspaper, but I would love to hear the story.

Here is some etymological background from the Hook's inaugural issue: http://www.readthehook.com/78789/about-why-hook

Newspapers all over the country are struggling and we are so fortunate to have such a first rate weekly that gives us truth based journalism.

The print addition is so well laid out and attractive, that I even read the ads which I don't do anywhere else.

This weeks cover story is a perfect example of the in depth reporting that goes behind the scene to give us the whole story.

Thanks keep up the good work ! We depend on you to try to keep our officials honest and making decisions that serve the public good.

yeah a "C", not even for your all the mistakes you make

wow, not surprised you are ripping off a crappy movie, can you come up with anything original?
Obviously NOT... hacks.

C'villians can handle the truth...as long as it's politically correct. If not, look out!

Billy- "you can't handle the truth............"

Who cares. Sounds like fox news spin to me.

Can you guys find out what's up w/ Ragazzi's restaurant? It's doors were shut today 10/12 - chained up. But no sign or anything.

In response to another poster who commented on the lack of in depth reporting by other so called news outlets in this town. The bottom line is the holy grail for news these days. How you get there is incidental. Unfortunately for us the only way they have found to get there is sensational journalism. If you can call it journalism. The HOOK proves you can develop and keep a loyal readership by giving people responsible and real investigative journalism. The other outlets have a bottom line that prohibits them from retaining "reporters". So again, thanks to the HOOK we can make well informed decisions on current events in this town. The funny part is imagining the groans coming from the throats of those the HOOK chooses to bring to light in a particular issue.

So you hook fellows are arbiters of 'the truth' now, eh? And you have determined that the collective 'we' can handle it? Sounds like a fairly audacious claim. I mean, Bounty may indeed be the quicker picker upper, but then again, relative paper towel absorbency hasn't been debated by great minds over the centuries. Since it seems your marketing department has mistaken their grandmother's adderall script for coffee table mints, why not go all in and just capitalize the 'T' in truth? Go on, I double dog dare you. No? Why?

Look, some words are bigger and more important than others, and when you toss them around in cute slogans their meanings are relatively diminished, if only ever so slightly. I believe the casual and decorative repetition of words that are powerful in their centrality to our human language leads directly to the willful incuriosity and intellectual dormancy that so encompasses our current cultural discourse of late.

I mean, go ahead and puff yourself up if you really feel the need, thats perfectly fine, I guess. Just seems a cheap way to get there. I mean, if you are such gritty, truth seeking news missiles, it occurs to me that that should be self evident, and there should be no need to beat us over the head with the slogan hammer. Ah well.

What is truth? Why it is what the hook gives me, and I can handle it. Not only is it a clinically proven fact, but four out of five dentists agree.

Kepp up the good work! Love your paper, especially the current coverage of Abshire's trial...

Oops...I meant "Keep".

What's my cut?