Archive for the ‘Introductions’ Category

Meet the copy editor: Cathy Caudill

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cathy Caudill is a Charleston native and a former Charleston Daily Mail intern, where she earned bylines as a reporter. After she worked for us as an intern, she went off to graduate school. A couple of months ago, we had an opening on our copy desk — those unsung heroes who edit stories, write headlines, design attractive newspaper pages and keep our website running on time.

We hired Cathy back for that spot, and she’s jumped right in. Because her duties are largely behind the scenes, you won’t see her name much. Here’s a little more about her:


Cathy Caudill

Name: Cathy Caudill

Lives in: Charleston, W.Va.

Hometown: Charleston, W.Va.

Position at the Daily Mail: Copy Editor

Graduated from: High Point University (undergrad); UNC-Greensboro (grad)

With a degree in: English Writing, History

Twitter handle: Deleted. (Please don’t make me get another, I tried and can’t make sense of it.)

1. What was your first job? Intern reporter at the Daily Mail. Or first full-time job? Copy editor at The Education Center.

2. What made you want to become a journalist? I love creative writing, but I’m terrible at coming up with original subjects to write about. I liked that journalism gave me an assignment.

3. What do you like most about your job? The least? I love being super informed about interesting things going on in town. The worst part is being super informed about tragedies.

4. What do you do in your spare time? I’m a big DIY-er and crafter. Lately I’ve been having fun with woodworking, making frames and doing wood-inlay. One day I want to make furniture. I’m saving for a power saw.

5. What’s your favorite journalistic effort you’ve produced? One of my first stories as an intern was about a man who’d had a double-lung transplant. It was a moving story, but I especially loved meeting him for the interview at his home. He was a taxidermy hobbyist, and there were taxidermied animals covering every inch of his home. It was bizarre and magnificent.

6. Name a personal item that is or will be on your desk: My Charley West mug. It was here when I got here, and I’m still not sure if it’s technically mine, but I’m claiming it. You’re not getting it back.

7. Your favorite blog you read or Twitter feed you follow: I follow NPR’s news and blogs pretty regularly. I read all day at work, so I like that I often get the option of listening to their stories.

8. What’s your favorite TV show? Book? “Parks and Recreation”; anything by Haruki Murakami

9. What’s your favorite place in West Virginia? The Potomac Highlands

10. What’s one newsroom quirk you were surprised about? There are more toys in here than a nursery.

Hey, who’s the new education writer?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

If you’re a regular reader of the Charleston Daily Mail, you probably notice new names from time to time. You see the work and the name, but we don’t always tell you much more.

SAMThe Daily Mail has a new education writer, Samuel Speciale — a Kanawha County native and a graduate of Marshall University.

Sam started here Feb. 10. On his third day of work, he had a marathon state school board meeting. On his fourth day of work, he was snowed in by 7 inches of overnight accumulation.

Look for him for coverage of Kanawha County schools and other West Virginia education issues.

Wanna know more? Read on:

Name:  Samuel Speciale

Lives in: Elkview, WV

Hometown: Elkview, WV

Position at the Daily Mail:  Education Reporter

Graduated from: Marshall University

With a degree in: Print Journalism

Twitter handle: @WVschools

1. What was your first job? Fast food.

2. What made you want to become a journalist? A love for storytelling and slim job opportunities for creative writing majors.

3. What do you like most about your job? The least? Telling stories about interesting people. Covering long meetings.

4. What do you do in your spare time? Photography, dabbling in graphic design, binge watching Netflix or playing guitar.

5. What’s your favorite journalistic effort you’ve produced? Writing and designing Huntington’s 160-page comprehensive plan.

6. Name a personal item that is or will be on your desk: A good pen and leather notebook.

7. Your favorite blog you read or Twitter feed you follow: @chicagobulls

8. What’s your TV show? Book? House of Cards. The Divine Comedy.

9. What’s your favorite place in West Virginia? Capitol Street in Charleston.

10. What’s one newsroom quirk you were surprised about? The list of refrigerator rules.

Quick update: Set your favorites for

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A couple of days ago, I blogged that will soon become

Well, there’s been a bit of a change — and I apologize for whatever confusion we might be causing.

The latest plan is to go with

One reason is, that’s the name of our print product so it’s consistent. Another reason is, the words “Charleston Daily Mail” represent the top phrase used to find our website through Google.

We had thought we’d go with because, frankly, is pretty honkin’ long. is still ours and will serve as a vanity URL that will redirect to the charlestondailymail one.

Emails for staff will have the dailymailwv designation.

We’ll be transitioning over the course of this month, so that’s why matters have been in flux.

Please come find us! Wherever we are!

We’re moving to, so join us there!

Monday, December 2, 2013

If you have visited the Charleston Daily Mail’s website recently, you might have noticed a shift.

Those who visit, which has been established as the newspaper’s domain name since 1996, are quickly and automatically shifted to

dailymail-logoThat’s going to be our domain name from here on out, and we want to do our best to reduce confusion.

If you use your bookmarks or favorites to visit the Daily Mail site on a regular basis, you’ll want to make a change to reflect ours.

And if you have members of our staff in your email contacts, take note that those will be changing to reflect the new dailymailwv designation. Mine, for example, will switch from to

We picked the new address for a couple of reasons.

One is, it’s just a couple of keystrokes difference from the original — so it’s a relatively minor change for readers, although it is certainly a new habit to get used to, probably not unlike remembering to write the new year on your checks after each Jan. 1. We hope you adjust quickly.

Another is we want to emphasize our commitment to West Virginia coverage. Coverage of WV government news, West Virginia University and Marshall sports and Kanawha Valley news and local sports is our bread and butter. Might as well make that clear in our product’s name.

There’s another factor at work here too, and some people on social media were already guessing about it.

So, yeah, at some point I’d expect that visitors to will receive news from the British tabloid. If that’s not your interest, better get in the habit of adding that extra WV.

The sale of the domain name is allowing us to reinvest in what we do here and prepare for the future.

Some of the money from the sale went to buy state-of-the-art cameras for our photographers. They’re allowing our photojournalists to shoot with faster shutter speeds, under more challenging lighting conditions and with greater image quality. The real trick to great photos is the eye of the professional photographer, but the great equipment sure does help them produce iconic images for West Virginia readers to enjoy.

More of the money has gone to purchase a new computer system that will help us modernize what we’re doing both in the newspaper and on our website. You aren’t seeing the results yet, but you will this coming spring. The system, produced by a company called NewsCycle Solutions,will enhance what we’re doing in print and online.

Much of our content will be the same — still with an emphasis on West Virginia news and sports — our hope is to make it look better.

Online the goals include: be easier to navigate, smarter suggestions about related stories, more photo galleries and greater flexibility for mobile.

Other newspaper companies are making more dramatic moves to shore up their future. Some, like The Washington Post, are selling their actual buildings. The Star Tribune in Minnesota is selling its printing plant.

These moves are what John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, would call buying “gas in the tank” to get down the road.

We’ll miss, but comparatively this is not that big a change. And it will be worth it when  our products improve.

So please join us at dailymailwv and let the adventure there begin.



Meet the reporter: Andrea Lannom

Monday, October 21, 2013

If you’re a regular reader of the Charleston Daily Mail, you probably notice new names from time to time. You see the work and the name, but we don’t always tell you much more.

I’d like to start letting you know more often about the people who give the paper its personality.

The most recent new name you probably see is Andrea Lannom. Wanna know more? Read on:

AndreaLannom131010Name: Andrea Lannom
Lives in: Charleston
Hometown: Ghent
Position at the Daily Mail: general assignment reporter
Graduated from: Concord University
With a degree in: Communications with an emphasis in public relations
Twitter handle: @AndreaLannom
1. What was your first job? Cashier at Winterplace Ski Resort
2. What made you want to become a journalist? I fell in love with the profession in high school when I had to do my senior project. As part of my project, I wrote feature stories at my hometown newspaper, The Register-Herald. I always enjoyed writing; so, it just fit. From there, the rest is history. I’ve been a journalist ever since.
3. What do you like most about your job? The least? It’s so hard to pick one thing I like the best about my job because I love absolutely everything about being a journalist. I love talking to people, researching, and digging deep to get the real story. Honestly, I can’t think of much I don’t like.
4. What do you do in your spare time? A bit of everything — ice skating, painting, reading, archery, zumba and yoga, to name a few. I like to be active and keep my mind engaged.
5. What’s your favorite journalistic effort you’ve produced? My favorite pieces have been those where I’ve had to work past the normal workday, travel and meet all sorts of interesting people. One of my favorites was a series I produced on the health of West Virginians, where I traveled to Mingo and McDowell counties to see why the counties were ranked so unhealthy and what the local communities were doing about it.
art6. Name a personal item that is or will be on your desk: I have a painting I did on West Virginia’s 150th celebration.  (See over there ——->)
7. Your favorite blog you read or Twitter feed you follow: Probably, my favorite Twitter feed deals with Karl Pilkington quotes.
8. What’s your TV show? Book? Doctor Who, for sure. For my favorite book– it would be between The Time Machine and Rebecca.
9. What’s your favorite place in West Virginia? Besides Charleston, I love the Franklin/Seneca Rocks area.

10. What’s one newsroom quirk you were surprised about? Here, I was surprised at the amount of fellow Doctor Who fans.


Straight outta Kanawha

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not only do we cover your community — a lot of times we hire our newsroom employees from your community.

That’s certainly the case with our three newest newsroom contributors — all proud products of the Kanawha County school system.

Whitney Humphrey

Whitney Humphrey

Whitney Humphrey is a 2007 Riverside High School graduate. She has joined our copy desk, where she’ll be editing stories, writing headlines, laying out pages and helping with our online offerings at Daily and on social media. Follow her on Twitter: @W_HumphreyWV

Whitney is a Marshall University graduate and a former employee of the State Journal, where she was a state government reporter.

But her interest in journalism began long before that.

My journalism ‘career’ began when I was editor-in-chief of The Sixth Grade Scoop in middle school. Our little newspaper lasted one edition.

Whitney is a veteran of Charleston Newspapers’ FlipSide program, which is written for and by area teens. It’s managed by the Charleston Gazette’s Amy Robinson and, before her, Marina Hendricks.

I loved FlipSide and got to do some really cool things, including attending the Youth Editorial Alliance conference in Nashville as a teen fellow. That was in 2005, I think. FlipSide gave me more freedom to explore my creative side. I always knew I wanted to write, I just didn’t know how to go about accomplishing that. FlipSide, and Marina and Amy, really opened my eyes to the things I could do through journalism. So here I am. I’ll always be proud of my alma mater, and I’m thankful for the teachers who would read my FlipSide articles and tell me what a bright future I had.

Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg graduated from Nitro High in 2002. He’s in the sports department, where he’ll be writing and editing. We’ve given Tom the reins of Charleston Newspapers’ High School Huddle website that focuses on prep football. He’ll be managing content, including stories, photo galleries and video.

Tom is a Marshall University graduate. He previously worked on the Daily Mail’s news copy desk and was sports editor at the Times-West Virginian in Fairmont. He has been a minor league baseball correspondent for Follow him on Twitter: @TomBraggSports.

Tom also is a veteran of the FlipSide program. So this entire exercise of talking to new employees about their early journalism education has underscored to me just how important that program is.

I was a Flipsider during my junior and senior years. I also attended Capital for 10th grade during the 1999/2000 school year and wrote for the school newspaper (I think it was called The Prowler).

I was also on the news crew in the 8th grade at Andrew Jackson Middle School. We did a daily broadcast with announcements and sports updates. The whole thing was done by students and it was super fun.

Kelly Merritt.    Charleston Daily Mail/Craig Cunningham 6/25/13

Kelly Merritt

Kelly Merritt is, how should we say this … the most experienced of the new hires.

He’s a 1979 graduate of South Charleston High School.

Kelly is our editorial page editor, where he’s responsible for all the opinion content, including staff editorials, columns and letters to the editor. Follow him on Twitter: @EKMerritt

I’m not sure there was any FlipSide back when Kelly was in high school. But he seemed to have early — although nearly thwarted — journalistic aspirations.

I didn’t know what career track I wanted to do in high school, but I did write at least one article for the student newsletter about student involvement and interest in politics. The editor – last names Parsons – first name I don’t recall – completely re-wrote my article — and he added a line about where students ranked on the “totem pole of political efficacy.”

Mr. Kimble, the teacher for the American Government class that Parsons was in with me (along with Yeager Airport’s Rick Atkinson) gave Parsons absolute hell for taking the easy to understand piece I wrote and making it sound like a political science Ph.D. dissertation.

Kelly comes to the Daily Mail after a 30-year career as a professional communicator.

A 1984 Marshall University graduate, he has held communications jobs at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Gulf States Utilities in Beaumont, Texas, and spent most of his career at Columbia Gas Transmission in Charleston.

At Columbia, he interacted regularly over the years with Charleston Daily Mail business reporters Phil Nussel, Chris Stadelman and George Hohmann.

He most recently served as communications manager for the Division of Science and Research of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

And, yes, he stays in touch with South Charleston High.

As for high school, I have been involved with my alma mater as football PA announcer, Grand Reunion Planning Committee and athletic boosters president (ugh).

I stay in touch with my college professors George Arnold and Ralph Turner and am a 20 year MU football season ticket holder. Go Herd!

From one end of the Kanawha Valley to the other, I’m glad to have all these hometown contributors on our staff.

Hello world!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Well, you can imagine how surprised I was to find myself recently named editor and publisher of the Charleston Daily Mail.

It’s going to be a wild ride.

If you haven’t met me, I’m Brad McElhinny. I’ve been at the Daily Mail since 1994. I started as a reporter and, way back in the 1990s, I spent a lot of time covering issues like the regional airport proposal that was controversial here at the time. For many years, I had a weekly column in the newspaper — “Saturdays with Brad McElhinny.”

I moved into management as city editor, which is a newspaper word for “dispatcher and traffic cop” and toiled in obscurity. Most recently I’ve been the managing editor, which I describe to my friends as  a Joe Biden-type position in which you’re not completely certain what your job is until one day the actual editor is not here.

I’m a Parkersburg native and a Marshall graduate. I live in Charleston with my wife — we’ll call her “Karen” — my two little girls, an easily excitable terrier, an aging obese cat and, now, a kitten named “Sweetie.”

So maybe you and I have had a relationship through the newspaper or through our community. This blog is just one more way you and I can get together.

That’s because one thing I’m going to try to do is let you, the friendly reader, have the inside scoop on what’s happening around here. Lots of other newspapers have editor’s blogs, so why not ours?

If we make staff changes or layout changes or website changes, come here and maybe we’ll discuss it. Maybe sometimes I’ll just share some of my thoughts about what’s happening in our community.

In sum, readers, please consider this little corner of the Internet a place where we can meet up. I’m looking forward to our conversations.