Archive for the ‘Our community’ Category

Farewell to Charley West

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This blog hasn’t been updated for a long, long time because in July, 2015, the Charleston Daily Mail combined with the Charleston Gazette to form The Charleston Gazette-Mail.
This is one of the last photos taken of the final staff of the Daily Mail. Serving with these people was an honor and lots of fun.

Live with the Daily Mail sports staff

Friday, May 1, 2015

Strong work from the Daily Mail sports staff, and it was live without a net.

In case you missed it — or, as they say, ICYMI — sports editor Chuck McGill, West Virginia University beat writer Mike Casazza and Marshall beat writer Derek Redd were live at Recovery Sports Grill on NFL Draft night, interviewing all-star guests.

Our can-do-it-all guy, Marcus Constantino, was there with a whole video setup. Some of the action he captured and sent flying through the Twitter-verse through the hot new app Periscope.

They had a great conversations — and a great time. If you’d like to see their work on a daily basis, be sure to make WVU Sports with Mike Casazza and Marshall Sports with Derek Redd your regular stops on the World Wide Web.

Missed the event but want to know what was said? Luckily, we’ve got video. Here are some of them:

‘A Bad Taste in West Virginians’ Mouths’

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I was checking out what The Washington Post does with its YouTube page and was sort of surprised to find a recent item with a West Virginia connection.

The Post had posted (well, that’s some repetitive phrasing) an animated editorial cartoon about the Freedom Industries leak that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 West Virginia American Water Company customers last year. (Remember that? Here’s a handy timeline of the water crisis, in case you forgot).

Anyway, I cringe when I see bathroom humor on our comics page, bracing for comments from readers. That’s the angle the Post cartoon took in its animated “A Bad Taste in West Virginians’ Mouths.” But anything goes on the Internet. Or, at least, more goes. So I wondered how it would be received once a West Virginia audience became more aware of it.

Well, if you’d like to see the illustration, click here. (Embedding is disabled on the link, as are comments.)

Initial thoughts via Twitter:

At the Re-Fashion Show

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday was the Re-Fashion Show at the Charleston Town Center. It’s a unique event where participants have to make clothing from recycled or re-used materials. Refashion

I was one of the judges, representing The Charleston Daily Mail. I don’t know a lot about fashion, but thankfully I had some help.

Who makes this city go? Your responses

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I was asked, ‘Who makes this town go?’ And I brainstormed some names, then offered them up for public review. Was I right? Not quite.

Who really makes this city go?

Saturday, November 8, 2014
who makes city

Charleston cityscape and fireworks photo by Tom Hindman of the Charleston Daily Mail

Earlier this week, a question got me thinking.

The question came during an unexpected visit by journalists James and Deb Fallows. James is national correspondent for “The Atlantic” and has written for the magazine since the 1970s.

They were in Charleston as part of an “American Futures” series they’re writing. It has the subhead “Reinvention and Resilience Across the Nation.”

As I understand it, the series is about communities that could go be on their way up … or on their way down. Ours certainly seems like one of those, a city poised for growth, but susceptible to stagnation.

Culturally, politically, economically — by almost any measure you choose — Charleston seems ready for changes.

But will it change? I’m a native West Virginian, and I’ve lived in Charleston for 20 years. Over those two decades, I’d say it’s been about the same. It’s a calm pond ready for a good ripple if someone would toss a stone in.

Smack dab in the middle of West Virginia, our state Capitol just experienced one heck of a shakeup this very week when Republicans took control of the state House of Delegates and then added on the state Senate for good measure.

Charleston is right on the fault line between the struggling coal fields and the booming natural gas wells.

Which way will Charleston go from here?

James and Deb Fallows get together with editor Brad McElhinny and opinions editor Kelly Merritt at the Charleston Daily Mail

James and Deb Fallows get together with editor Brad McElhinny and opinions editor Kelly Merritt at the Charleston Daily Mail’s conference room

That’s what the Fallowses were here in a first effort to find out.

They sat down with me and editorial page editor Kelly Merritt in the Charleston Daily Mail conference room and picked our brains.

They already had visited with locals like Bob Coffield, who is a local health care, technology and business lawyer who blogs, thinks a whole bunch and gets jazzed about groups like “Create West Virginia.”

They also visited Mayor Danny Jones, plus Larry Groce, the Mountain Stage icon who has expanded his role to broaden Charleston’s cultural scene in other ways.

So in talking to us, the Fallowses asked a question that stumped us. “Who are the people who really make this city go?”

I took that to mean, “Who are the change agents?”

If you are that person and I didn’t immediately think of you, I beg your forgiveness right now.

I didn’t exactly draw blanks. A few names came to mind:

  • Tim Armstead rode the Republican wave into majority leader for the state House of Delegates. But as an Elkview resident, Tim is, proudly, a Hinterlander. He might want to change the state, but I’m not sure Tim’s interested in changing Charleston.
  • Kent Carper is a name that will elicit some groans (hey, I read the VentLine) but I think Kent runs an effective, responsible Kanawha County government. Effective and responsible government equates to high praise.
  • Don Blankenship is a name that might make you spit out your coffee and crumple your paper. No one said the list had to be made up of people you like. At one point, Don was using great wealth to affect politics. He did so while wearing a black hat.
  • Tom Heywood is the solidest of citizens and most recently was the leader behind the successful library levy campaign. He’s a former chief of staff for Gov. Gaston Caperton, current managing partner at the Bowles Rice law firm and serves on a zillion local boards. His superpowers include quiet dignity, intelligence and an air of responsibility.
  • University of Charleston’s Ed Welch and West Virginia State University’s Brian Hemphill are the twin pillars of higher education in the Kanawha Valley. One is established (and very tall!) and the other is a star on the rise.
  • The Rev. Matthew Watts cares deeply about the West Side, a neighborhood that sorely needs an advocate.
  • Mayor Jones should be in the conversation (and, attention VentLine, I like most of what Danny does) but we’d already discussed him. Ditto with Larry Groce, who has expanded his “Mountain Stage” role to many more areas of the local cultural scene.

Influential people and an interesting list of area men of a certain age. But I’m not sure they’re the answers to how I’d phrase the question: Who’s an up and comer? Who is catching lightning in a bottle? Who is going to be the face that people associate with Charleston’s change?

Got a name that I’ll slap my head for not thinking of?

Send me an email to or a tweet @BradMcElhinny. Or comment below:

Regrets, and a change

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The point of view of The Charleston Daily Mail’s editorial page is conservative.

It’s the kind of conservative that believes in the power of the individual. That is, each individual has the possibility to flourish, succeed and prosper.

That’s why it was so disheartening to see the careless words of one of our own editorial writers describing a young man whose life ended tragically too soon.

Writing on his own personal blog, Don Surber discussed the tense race-related situation in Ferguson Missouri. He selected words that were unfortunate, inflammatory and, in our view, indefensible.

It’s his own blog, but still, he’s known as a Daily Mail editorial columnist and many readers seemed to perceive the views stated to reflect on the Daily Mail’s editorial policy.

They don’t. And this newspaper is working to rebuild the community’s trust.

As of this week, Mr. Surber is no longer employed by the Daily Mail. While his sometimes controversial and caustic columns were noted by many readers, few readers realize the in-depth institutional knowledge and substantial contributions he made during his 30 year career here.

We thank him for his service and we wish Mr. Surber good luck.

And we wish for readers to continue to look to and trust the Daily Mail for informed commentary on conservative causes such as limited government, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise and individual rights.

How the Charleston Daily Mail came to endorse Nick Casey and more

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rare is the individual who clips a newspaper’s endorsements and adheres to the advice in the ballot box.

Bless them if they do. But it’s not what we expect.

We always say, we’re not telling you what to think; we’re just telling you what we think.

If you do want to know what we think, all of this election season’s endorsements for the Charleston Daily Mail editorial board may be found here. 

We have lively discussions about our endorsements, and we base our assessments on meeting the candidates, gathering whatever knowledge we can muster about their voting record or reputation in the community and trying to adhere to the philosophical tradition of the paper, which is fiscally conservative and pro-economic growth.

Most of the time our endorsements are not controversial, although sometimes response can be surprising as with this sample of Facebook comments about our U.S. Senate endorsement of Shelley Moore Capito, who we’d consider a moderate Republican in line with the Daily Mail’s editorial page philosophy.



Maybe some things that seem like tradition in a newspaper lose their context when they get out there in the social media frontier.

In any case, one of our endorsement decisions stood out because of some complications. In the race for Congress, Daily Mail editors had to choose between Republican Alex Mooney, a former Maryland legislator who arrived in West Virginia just in time to campaign, and Nick Casey, former chairman of the WV Democratic Party, who campaigned for Barack Obama but who otherwise has an excellent reputation as a longtime contributor to our community.

We’re known as the conservative newspaper in West Virginia’s capital. So, pick the conservative — or the West Virginian?

We went with Casey.

Democrat Nick Casey is the gentleman we all know, having lived his life in West Virginia and served in volunteer capacity with many state organizations, including the state’s Catholic Diocese, the St. Francis Hospital Board of Directors and the West Virginia State Bar.

This caused a bit of a stir.

Some thought the endorsement was a bad move.

Others were pleased.

And some figured no big deal.

The Daily Mail wound up being cited in a tightening of the race in Sabato’s Crystal Ball website run by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics

A more subtle problem for Mooney is that he chose to live in the Mountain State’s Eastern Panhandle, while Nick Casey, the Democratic nominee, is from Charleston, which is the heart of the district. A number of local Republican officials are backing Casey, and he even got the endorsement of the Charleston Daily Mail, the more conservative of the two papers in the state capital. The endorsement headline: “In 2nd District U.S. House race, go with the one you know.” Newspaper endorsements don’t move races, but Mooney’s failure to win the endorsement of the paper is emblematic of his larger problems getting conservatives to back him in sufficient numbers.

At least we made you think.

Here’s where some other West Virginia newspapers came down on the race.

The Charleston Gazette went for Casey, blasting Mooney and saying saying “In contrast, the Democratic nominee in the 2nd District, Charleston lawyer Nick Casey, is practical, sensible and concerned with average folks.”

Clarksburg’s Exponent-Telegram, which isn’t based in the 2nd Congressional District but which has readers who live in counties that are, also went for Casey. The Exponent-Telegram said,”Casey is a Democrat, but he doesn’t fall hook, line and sinker for the party line.”

The Inter-Mountain in Elkins went for Mooney.

And The Journal in Martinsburg also backed Mooney — as a man with an Eastern Panhandle perspective. (The link looks at first like it won’t show you the whole endorsement but then it comes to life; or at least it did for me.) The Journal wrote, “On Nov. 4, we have the opportunity to elect a congressman who can represent us in Washington. We can elect one of our own — Alex Mooney.”

That’s not likely how you’ll hear matters expressed in Charleston.

In any case, we don’t tell you what to think. We just tell you what we think.

So there you have it. God bless and go vote. And if you do go vote, take your Daily Mail endorsements along with you. endorse

The view outside my window

Friday, June 13, 2014

There’s been a visitor and a new development outside my window this week.

It’s strange to see a man hovering outside your window. In this case it was to put up a fancy new traffic light.

Hello traffic light man!




Old photos and new honors

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Congratulations to the Daily Mail’s Billy Wolfe and Matt Murphy, who have earned appreciation from our community and from fellow journalists for their project to distribute pictures that were left behind in 2000 after Lindsay’s Studio in Charleston’s East End shut down.

Wolfe, an assistant city editor, and Murphy, who covers local government, were named winners of Digital First Media’s February awards program for the region that includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West Virginia.

More importantly, they have provided a great service for members of our community by reuniting families with photos that might otherwise have gotten lost.

oldpicsMurphy and Wolfe, along with staffers like Ashley B. Craig and Zack Harold, have gathered up boxes of photos, taken pictures of hundreds of the original images and uploaded them onto the Charleston Daily Mail’s Facebook page. Many of the photos have also appeared in the daily newspaper, where they’ve been popular content.

Residents who identify friends and family have come in to our office to claim the pictures.

The project began with a germ of an idea from a Charleston Urban Renewal Authority meeting: “Thousands of photos of Kanawha Valley residents have been found in a building purchased by the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, and officials want to connect as many of them to their subjects as possible. “

The idea sprouted into a story and then snowballed.

“Basically, I was interested in doing the story after hearing about the studio during a CURA meeting,” Murphy said. “Either the same day or the day after I wrote the story, Billy came up with the idea to try to get some of the photos from the studio to put on Facebook. Billy’s the one who contacted Ric Cavender (East End Main Street director) and after Billy started the project, I got in touch with CURA director Jim Edwards to get back into the building.

“When the story  ran, we had both 1A photos claimed the same day. We also had the photo of a little girl in a follow-up story that week that was claimed the day the story ran in the paper. “

The Digital First Media judges — fellow journalists — thought Matt and Billy were crazy. But they said so in an admiring way:

With limited resources and busy beats, it is hard to argue with any reporter or news agency that shies away from seemingly labor intensive projects where the impact is somewhat unknown. But the Charleston Daily Mail used ingenuity to take what would seem like a daunting task and turned it into an impactful, digital project that touches the very core of their readers. 
Using Facebook as the medium, the staff created a digital database of their community’s past with these photos and, in essence, collaborated with their readers to tell this story. Doing it in such a way made a great project possible, when traditional methods may have needed too many resources. Smartly done and presented.  

Another judge said:

I definitely have to go with the Charleston Daily Mail submission. It’s an outstanding cross-level project, utilizing both time-honored newspaper tactics and social media angles. It’s a useful community effort, but still engaging enough to grab the attention of people who don’t live in the area. I think it’s an excellent example of what journalism can be in the Digital First world.

Murphy said the effort was worthwhile and grew because the original duo got valuable help.

“Our original intent was to put a couple hundred or so photos online, but it’s grown, especially because Zack and Ashley have helped A LOT. As of today about 99 of the photos have been claimed out of about 1,200 we’ve cataloged so far.”

The Daily Mail’s role in the distribution is winding down, with a grand finale expected during a popular upcoming community event.

“We’ll be organizing a public viewing/claiming event during the East End Yard Sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 10,” Murphy said. “From there, we don’t know. The library might house them at some point.

It’s been a fun journey into the personal histories of our town’s residents and a popular community engagement project. All in all, a success.


This is one of hundreds of photographs that were placed on the Daily Mail’s Facebook page for people to identify. Do you know these young sports fans?