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The February 29, 2012 front page of
The Charleston Gazette
|Editor||Lee Wolverton |
|Headquarters||1001 Virginia St. E.|
Charleston, WV 25301
The Gazette traces its roots to 1873. At the time, it was a weekly newspaper known as the Kanawha Chronicle. It was later renamed The Kanawha Gazette and the Daily Gazette—before its name was officially changed to The Charleston Gazette in 1907.
In 1912 it came under the control of the Chilton family, who have owned it until its bankruptcy in 2018. William E. Chilton, a U.S. senator, was publisher of The Gazette, as were his son, William E. Chilton II, and grandson, W.E. "Ned" Chilton III, Yale graduate and classmate/protégé of conservative columnist William F. Buckley, Jr.. Ironically, the paper's opinion page, usually on the left, carried Buckley's column until Buckley's death.
In 1918 a fire destroyed the Gazette building at 909 Virginia St. The newspaper was moved to 227 Hale St., where it remained for 42 years.
Ned Chilton used to claim that the job of a newspaper was to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." The newspaper's liberal reputation was enhanced by principal editorial writer and columnist L.T. Anderson, associate editor and two-time runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. Anderson later moved to the rival Daily Mail as a columnist after he was passed over for an editorial position at the Gazette, and often used his Daily Mail column to snipe at his former employer.
Charleston Daily Mail
The Daily Mail was founded in 1914 by former Alaska Governor Walter Eli Clark and remained the property of his heirs until 1987. Governor Clark described the newspaper as an "independent Republican" publication. In 1987, the Clark heirs sold the paper to the Toronto-based Thomson Newspapers. The new owners moderated the political views of the paper to some degree. In 1998, Thomson sold the Daily Mail to the Denver-based MediaNews Group. Editorial writer Jack Maurice won the Pulitzer Prize for editorials in 1975 for a series of editorials he wrote the year before amid a battle over textbooks in Kanawha County. It was the first Pulitzer won by a newspaper in West Virginia.
The newspaper published in the afternoons, Monday-Saturday, with a Sunday morning edition, until 1961; Monday - Saturday afternoons from 1961-2005, Monday - Friday afternoons from 2005-2009, and Monday - Friday mornings from 2009-2015.
Under a Joint Operating Agreement the two newspapers merged their production and distribution from 1961, while maintaining completely separate editorial operations. A combined Gazette-Mail was published on Sundays from 1961 to 1991, produced by both papers' staffs, and from 1991 - 2015, produced by the Gazette staff alone.
A similar combined Saturday edition was produced from 2005 to 2015. It was likewise produced by the Gazette staff, but featured two editorial pages, one produced by each paper's staff.
Eric Eyre, a Gazette-Mail reporter, won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for his documentation of the 780 million prescription painkillers that multibillion-dollar drug companies poured into small West Virginia towns via pharmacies.
Ken Ward Jr., a Gazette-Mail reporter, received a 2018 fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation (commonly referred to as a "genius grant"). Ward also was one of the first reporters chosen for ProPublica's Local Reporting Network, which began in 2018.
The newspaper has won the top award for general editorial excellence from the West Virginia Press Association each year since the Gazette and Daily Mail were combined.
Merger, sale, and bankruptcy
In 2004, the Gazette purchased the Daily Mail. In May 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit, alleging that the Daily Mail had been operated in an uncompetitive manner. The newspaper settled without trial and agreed a federal injunction prohibiting it from shutting down the Daily Mail until July 20, 2015. The previous owner was to be paid a fee to produce the paper during that era, and controlled its editorial content.
On July 20, 2015, owners merged the Daily Mail and Gazette without prior notice and renamed the paper the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The entire staff of both papers was given two-weeks notice and told to "reapply" for jobs at the new paper. The combined paper includes both former Gazette and Daily Mail staff members, and includes two separate editorial pages that are intended to represent the Daily Mail's more conservative views, and Gazette's more liberal views, on current topics.
- In the event the Daily Mail was ever shut down, the intellectual property of the Daily Mail, including the domain name dailymail.com and the trademark "Charleston Daily Mail", were to pass to the previous owner.
- Instead, the domain name dailymail.com was sold to the London paper, without MediaNews' permission, and the proceeds were spent by the Gazette's owners.
- The "merged" paper was named the Gazette-Mail, and continues to use the "Daily Mail" trademarks for its editorials, thus depriving MediaNews of the trademark's reverted value.
- The merger of the papers was announced unilaterally and subjected the MediaNews Group to possible antitrust liability.
- The MediaNews Group had not been paid its production fee for over two years, amounting to over $450,000.
- The merger required a "super-majority" of the combined papers' board, 4 of the 5 board members, with 2 of the members having been appointed by the MediaNews Group. No board meeting was ever held.
The matter was taken to arbitration and the Gazette was found liable on all counts. A judgment was awarded for almost $4,000,000. The Gazette appealed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia but was again found liable on all counts.
In October 2017, the newspaper ceased physical printing of a Monday edition, substituting a "virtual edition" and website updates.
In January 2018, the company settled for an undisclosed sum with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Trust, filed under the WARN Act notice that up to 206 of its 209 remaining employees "might" be subject to termination and then filed for bankruptcy. This set up a 60-day period during which bids for the paper can be made, with the opening high bid coming from Ogden Newspapers, which publishes five other daily newspapers in the state. However, local politician Doug Reynolds, owner of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, together with investors he declined to name, entered a higher bid and Ogden withdrew.
On March 9, 2018 bankruptcy judge Frank Volk approved sale of Gazette-Mail to HD Media. The company having met the conditions set forth in a February order, including bidding at least $500,000 more than Ogden Newspapers' initial bid of $10,911,000. The final sale price was $11,487,243. The previous day, Ogden Newspapers announced that they no longer intended to pursue purchase, leaving HD Media as the highest bidder.
Business practices and controversies
Former West Virginia Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. derisively renamed The Charleston Gazette "The Morning Sick Call" in the mid-1970s, after the Gazette kept reporting critically on the Moore administration. Moore later pleaded guilty to federal crimes and was sentenced to federal prison. The day he was indicted, the Daily Mail — which had long supported Moore — ran an editorial titled "Moore: Yes, he is a crook".
Three days after running an editorial relative to a pension dispute between Patriot Coal and some of its former workers, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation filed a $1.3 million lien on the company because of "years of unpaid pension deposits".
- "Charleston Gazette-Mail - Gazette announces promotions". Charleston Gazette-Mail.
- "Charleston Gazette-Mail". wvgazettemail.com.
- "Publisher's statement (9/09)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
- Dickerson, Chris (July 24, 2015). "CN Papers' missed pension payments, distress plan not related". West Virginia Record. Archived from the original on July 25, 2015.
- Dickerson, Chris (October 2, 2015). "Former owner of Daily Mail claims Gazette pushed merger without consent". West Virginia Record. Archived from the original on October 11, 2015.
- Dickerson, Chris (September 6, 2017). "Arbitrator says Gazette owes nearly $4 million to Daily Mail publishers". West Virginia Record. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017.
- Asbury, Kyla. "Judge upholds arbitration ruling against Charleston Gazette-Mail". wvrecord.com.
- "Charleston Gazette-Mail plans online-only Monday edition". The Washington Times. Associated Press. August 31, 2017. Archived from the original on October 5, 2017.
- "Declaration by MediaNews". DocumentCloud. United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. January 10, 2018. Archived from the original on January 13, 2018. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- "WV MetroNews – Gazette-Mail filing for bankruptcy; Ogden Newspapers current high bidder". wvmetronews.com. Archived from the original on 2018-01-31.
- "WV MetroNews – Ogden out as Gazette-Mail bidder, leaving Herald-Dispatch". wvmetronews.com. Archived from the original on 2018-03-08.
- "Bankruptcy judge approves sale of Gazette-Mail to HD Media". wvgazettemail.com. Charleston Gazette-Mail. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
- Grimes, Richard (June 21, 1972). "Moore Raps Journalism's 'Sick Climate'". The Charleston Daily Mail. p. 1A. Retrieved October 5, 2018 – via https://www.newspapers.com/.