Archive for the ‘1A’ Category

How West Virginia newspapers played the death of former Gov. Arch Moore

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The death of former WV Gov. Arch Moore at age 91 was big news for the entire state. Moore’s death was announced, though, shortly before press time in most West Virginia newspaper newsrooms. Still, most scrambled to give the charismatic and controversial three-term governor’s death the prominent treatment it merited. Here’s a look at the front pages in some of West Virginia’s larger communities: dailymail The Charleston Daily Mail staff ripped up its original page 1, which had included a photo illustrating the current incredibly cold weather and a story about Marshall University’s interim president, to go big with the Moore story. Staff updated a story left behind by former West Virginia government reporter Ry Rivard to include reaction from the Moore family and from current West Virginia leaders. The newspaper’s iconic Charley West figure, who usually offers a quip about the news, was updated to demonstrate sadness over Moore’s passing. Gazette The Charleston Gazette, with which Moore famously feuded (regularly calling the paper “The Morning Sick Call”) also went big with the former governor’s death. The Gazette’s story was written by longtime statehouse reporter Phil Kabler. Both the Daily Mail and Gazette went dominant with black and white photos, a rarity these days. wheeling Couldn’t get a big image of the Intelligencer in Wheeling. Moore was from the Northern Panhandle, so the Wheeling paper treated Moore’s death as that of a native son. A mainbar was accompanied by a sidebar with reaction from Marshall County. 



The Parkersburg and Martinsburg newspapers gave the story similar treatment, with the Moore headline stripping across the top of each paper. Reporter Michael Erb wrote the article that appeared in Wheeling, Martinsburg and Parkersburg, although each was tweaked by editors for the particular publication. Each of those newspapers is in the Ogden chain, so sharing material was a natural.


The Moore story didn’t make the front page cut for the Dominion Post in Morgantown, according to the image posted at the Newseum. Not sure if this was a deadline issue or what. On page 1 was a swearing-in for a county commissioner, a weather story and the 80th anniversary of the birth of Elvis. A scan of the online edition shows the Moore story on 5A. 

Update: Below is the Dominion Post front page from Friday. The newspaper went big with Moore at the top.


How WV newspapers played the legalization of gay marriage

Friday, October 10, 2014

West Virginia’s state government made history this week by dropping its opposition to gay marriage.

This followed a U.S. Supreme Court non-decision decision earlier in the week, where the justices said no thanks to hearing appeals of lower level courts — basically, in the case of this region, letting the final word lie with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals covering Virginia and West Virginia.

It’s a complicated legal trail, but the bottom line is Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said there’s no point in fighting any more, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said “agree,” and county clerks started issuing gender-neutral marriage licenses.

The Charleston Daily Mail tried to balance the historic nature of the situation with the conservative nature of many of our print readers. In many ways, this was such a big story BECAUSE West Virginians have been, by and large, socially conservative.

Not everyone will agree we pulled off the balance. In fact, this is such a divisive story, probably no one will agree about that.

In any case, the Daily Mail played the story bigger than most West Virginia newspapers.

Courtesy of The Newseum, here’s a look at WV front pages:










Why did the newspaper put the mayor’s mustache on page 1, anyway?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

danny“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

And sometimes your batting average isn’t even as high as any of those options.

That seemed to be the case this week when Charleston’s mayor shaved his mustache and we wrote a story and put it on page 1.

This was not a popular decision in all quarters.

Well, no, the mayor’s shave wasn’t “news” in the traditional sense. The editors who OKd the story and then picked it for page 1, including me, never even thought of it that way.

What we did think was it was interesting (and I know many of you disagree even with that) as well as culturally significant for our city. Danny Jones is a three-term mayor. He has had that mustache for 39 years. Danny’s face — and the mustache — are/were the face of our city when there’s a ribbon cutting or a groundbreaking or a big convention.

Beyond that, I thought the story was one other men would relate to. Most men like me settle into a look for a lifetime. Got a hairstyle you’re comfortable with? Comb it that way for the rest of your life. Put on your blue or white shirt and your khaki pants or navy blazer and off you go. The mayor seemed to have settled into a lifetime relationship with his mustache and on Tuesday he abruptly broke it.

The story was a brite, also known as a bright, also known as a “Hey Mabel!

But Mayor Jones is also a lightning rod, also known as a “Hey Mabel, I can hardly tolerate that guy,” and that’s what was also at work in some people’s reactions. He hasn’t been popular for the $1 and now $2 user fee the city has instituted. Some people are mad about his position on guns in the city, and then last week the Republican mayor came out in favor of the Democratic candidate for Congress.

A lot of people are mad at the mayor’s face whether his upper lip is coiffed or bald.

Then there’s news judgment. Do you have any? Apparently we could use it.

We do four stories on the front page every day. There are 260 Monday through Friday Charleston Daily Mails a year. So, that’s 1,040 front page stories in a year.

Still, that’s precious landscape. Not everything makes the front page.

People think we should take it seriously, and I agree.

Nevertheless, I’ve always liked newspapers because they’re a buffet. Interested in one article? Read it to the end. Don’t like another? Skip it.

There was a fascinating article a few months ago about what would happen if readers were allowed to choose the front page articles of major papers. It was called “People powered front pages rock.” In other words, front pages designed around what were actually the most popular articles.

Would the readers always choose the SERIOUS stories? Uh, not so much.

For example, lead “people powered” story in The Washington Post on the day selected? “Four lion cubs born this week at National Zoo.”

The actual front page in the Post on that day: “Putin defends Ukraine stance, cites lawlessness.”

That’s not to say people don’t like smart, deep stories. It’s just that sometimes they like their veggies AND their dessert. I know I do.

That reminds me of an article in The Atlantic online this week: “Why Audiences Hate Hard News and Love Pretending Otherwise.”

Here’s a summary:

Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.

Besides the mayor’s mustache story that day, we gave readers three other front page stories, mostly on the serious side: One about the local water system being declared free of the chemical MCHM after 300,000 of us had our drinking water contaminated earlier this year, another about the Benghazi terror attack suspect being seized and a news feature about Marshall University’s renovated Arts Center revitalizing downtown Huntington.

Were those the four most popular stories that day as measured by online readers?


A story about a former candidate for Kanawha County Commission getting arrested for  felony retaliation on a police officer after getting in a scuffle with State Police at age 69 was our number one story that day with more than 4,000 views. A story about a mama cat who died after saving her six kittens by carrying them one-by-one to safety from a fire was No. 2 with almost 2,500 views.

Next was a serious news story saying West Virginia could lose millions in federal Medicaid funding if it doesn’t stop sending payments to health care providers facing credible fraud claims. That got about 1,800 views.

And fourth was the Marshall arts center story with a little more than a thousand views.

So if reader clicks had determined the 1A lineup, it would have been: candidate in trouble with the cops, hero mama cat, Medicaid fraud and Marshall arts.

In fifth place and just out of the running?

The mayor, with 917 views.

The mayor’s mustache would have missed the cut.


West Virginia could lose roughly $230 million in federal Medicaid funding if it doesn’t stop sending payments to health care providers facing “credible” accusations of fraud – See more at:
West Virginia could lose roughly $230 million in federal Medicaid funding if it doesn’t stop sending payments to health care providers facing “credible” accusations of fraud – See more at:
West Virginia could lose roughly $230 million in federal Medicaid funding if it doesn’t stop sending payments to health care providers facing “credible” accusations of fraud – See more at:
West Virginia could lose roughly $230 million in federal Medicaid funding if it doesn’t stop sending payments to health care providers facing “credible” accusations of fraud – See more at:

A Top 10 front page focusing on tablets in the classroom

Monday, April 7, 2014

Congratulations to Charleston Daily Mail designers who came up with this Newseum Top 10 front page.

The Newseum often uses themes to determine its Top 10, and today’s had to do with wordplay:

The headlines in today’s Top Ten are more than a nice play on words. They made our list because they summed up the featured story in a few effective words; were clever without being too cute; and were simple without being overly simplistic.

The Daily Mail’s centerpiece focused on changing technology in classrooms. The design started with a concept by writer Samuel Speciale, who is a typography enthusiast. Graphics artist Kevin Cade got the image of the tablet ready to go. Managing editor Philip Maramba brought the centerpiece and headline together. And copy editor Samantha Ricketts brought it all home.



New look for the print version of the Charleston Daily Mail

Monday, February 10, 2014

If you picked up a print version of the Charleston Daily Mail today and thought it looked different, your eyes were not deceiving you.



The paper has gone through a re-design — the product of a lot of thought and long hours by Managing Editor Philip Maramba.

The print re-design is part of an overall effort to freshen up all of our products, including both the newspaper and our website. The website revamp will come in a few weeks, in mid-March.

The goals of the print re-design included displaying photography better and giving stories a little more room to breathe.  Plus, the news quipster Charley West is bigger.

Here’s a little bit more about the re-design.

I like it. But I got one call already this morning with an unfavorable review. The caller said the new design looks derivative, like some he’d seen in Florida.

What do you think? I’d like to hear your (polite) opinion.

Here’s what the front page of the paper looked like today, compared to Friday.

























 Update: Newspaper design guru Charles Apple weighs in on the Charleston Daily Mail redesign on his blog. A positive first impression, it seems.