Charleston Gazette-Mail

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The Charleston Gazette-Mail
Charleston Gazette frontpage.jpg
The February 29, 2012 front page of
The Charleston Gazette
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) The Daily Gazette Company
Publisher Susan Chilton Shumate[1]
Editor Robert J. Byers[2]
Founded 1873
Headquarters 1001 Virginia St. E.
Charleston, WV 25301
United States
Circulation 40,671 Daily
68,940 Sunday[3]
Website wvgazettemail.com

The Charleston Gazette-Mail is the only daily morning newspaper in Charleston, West Virginia. It is the product of a July 2015 merger between the Charleston Gazette and the Charleston Daily Mail.

Charleston Gazette[edit]

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 ever since. 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[edit]

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.

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 2005-2006, and Monday - Friday mornings from 2006-2015.

Combined operations[edit]

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 2009 to 2015. It was likewise produced by the Gazette staff, but featured two editorial pages, one produced by each paper's staff.

Merger[edit]

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 .

On July 23, 2015, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation filed a $1.3 million lien on the company because of "years of unpaid pension deposits".[4]

On August 19, 2015, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's Consumer Protection Division announced it was investigating the company for state anti-trust violations. On November 4, 2015, Putnam County Circuit Judge Philip Stowers threw out Morrisey's attempt to force the newspaper to produce large numbers of documents related to the combination. The judge said Morrisey's office had shown no probable cause that would require the information to be turned over,

On October 6, 2015, the previous owner of the Daily Mail, the MediaNews Group, filed suit in the Delaware Court of Chancery against the Gazette's owners. They alleged that:

  • 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 anti-trust 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.[5]

Business practices and controversies[edit]

Despite an almost automatic editorial support for labor unions in other industries, in 1972, the company employed strike breakers to eliminate unions of its own. The company remains non-union.

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 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".

References[edit]

External links[edit]