The February 29, 2012 front page of
The Charleston Gazette
|Owner(s)||The Daily Gazette Company|
|Publisher||Susan Chilton Shumate|
|Editor||Robert J. Byers, Brad McElhinny|
|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 wealthy 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, Ned Chilton, Yale graduate and classmate/protégé of conservative columnist William F. Buckley, Jr.. Ironically, the paper, otherwise 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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2004, the Gazette purchased the Daily Mail, with the intention of shutting it down. In May 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the Chiltons for their purchase of the then rival Daily Mail's financial interests, alleging that the Daily Mail had been operated in an uncompetitive manner. It was discovered during the lawsuit that the Gazette had applied for a loan based on a projection of shutting down the Daily Mail no later than 2007. 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 is produced by the Gazette staff, uses its standard subscription number, and counts its volume number back to the founding of the Gazette. It is thus the legal and ideological successor to the Gazette, although a group of former Daily Mail employees produce a single editorial page which is supposed to represent what the Daily Mail's conservative views might have been on current topics.
On August 19, 2015, the West Virginia Attorney General Consumer Protection Division announced it was investigating the company for state anti-trust violations.
- 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.
Business practices and controversies
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. The paper also classifies its delivery staff as independent contractors, meaning they are poorly paid and receive no benefits.
Former West Virginia Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. derisively renamed The Charleston Gazette "The Morning Sick Call" in the mid 1970s. This was in reference to the Gazette's reporting of constantly negative articles about life in the state.
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). Retrieved 2010-04-18.
- Chris Dickerson (24 July 2015). "CN Papers' missed pension payments, distress plan not related". wvrecord.com.