Archive for the ‘Reader comments’ Category

Umm, sorry about your porcelain bear

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bear with us. This story has a happy ending.

It all started one fateful morning with this tweet from newspaper reader (bless him) Sam Scott. Oh noes!

City editor Lauren McGill, who is often at the helm of the Daily Mail’s Twitter account, responded with sympathy and an action plan.

Sam seemed pleased by the response but had come to terms with the loss of his porcelain bear.

Enter Kmart, with timely Twitter action of its own.

Well done Kmart. Let’s hope Sam gets a new bear AND keeps that newspaper coming to his front porch. Want to be a subscriber like Sam? Go online here or call 304-348-4800. We’ll try to keep our paws off your bear.

‘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:

Daily Mail readers share comics and puzzles preferences

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You love the gentle humor of “Family Circus.”

You’re OK with “Frank and Ernest” and “Ziggy.”

You hate (really dislike) “Pearls Before Swine.”

And you really, really don’t care about the longstanding printed game of Bridge.

That’s what we found out by asking Charleston Daily Mail readers about their favorite, least favorite and “don’t care” comics and puzzles over the past few months.

Readers who sent in ballots printed in the newspaper showed an affinity for gentle humor and established strips and less enthusiasm for newer, edgier strips.

We don’t necessarily have any upcoming changes to our comics and puzzles lineup, but we wanted to know what our readers really like, really dislike and aren’t very interested in at all for any decisions we might make in the future.

“Thank goodness you published a comic survey! I was about to call the paper and complain about all the ‘hate it’ ones. Please change them for something that makes sense,” wrote a respondent who described himself or herself as a faithful comics and Daily Mail reader.

Lots of readers seemed enthusiastic about the survey.

There were 362 submissions overall — although not every category adds up to 362 votes.

That’s to say that some people marked two options for some features — for example, they think “Mutts” is OK and they also wouldn’t notice if it were gone.

Some people left some categories blank or just voted for features that they feel strongly about.

It took longer than anticipated to add everything up. In other words, it was 362 votes for 19 comics and puzzles with four voting options, which meant a grand total of 27,512 possible tiny boxes to check and read. Also: two crossed eyes for the editor who read them all.


“Family Circus” got the most “like” votes of any of our syndicated features with 285 votes in that category. “Peanuts” got 270 “like” votes, “Grand Avenue” got 239 and “Shoe” got 210.

“Please keep the ‘Family Circus,’” one fan of that strip wrote. “I look for it daily, and it’s the only comic that I enjoy. I have clipped many of the comics through the last few years and often look at them for a laugh or heartwarming moment. Right now I have three of them hanging on my refrigerator so my 11-year-old grandson can see them. When my dad was living, I would often pass him the paper so he could read the ‘Family Circus’ cartoon. I’ll really miss it if it’s gone.”

Another reader: “Comics aren’t FUNNY any more, except ‘Family Circus.’”

OK: It’s hard to describe what was OK-est with readers, but we wanted to know. This category was headed up by “Frank and Ernest” with 119 “OK” votes and “Ziggy” with 115, followed by “Real Life Adventures” with 109, “Close to Home” with 105 and “Mutts” with 100.

Those comics are apparently the most “just OK” of all.

Lots of people have mid-range, oatmeal-like feelings about them.

“Mutts” was singled out favorably by a few commenters:

“Love comedy, animals, kids. ‘Mutts’ is my favorite,” a Scott Depot resident wrote.

Another comment said, “‘Mutts’ is our favorite!! Please keep ‘Mutts!’”


“Pearls Before Swine” stirred up the most hate (although some readers mildly objected to the use of that word) with 115 “hate” votes. It was followed by “WuMo” with 91 “hates” and “Tundra” with 63.

What do those comics have in common? They’re all new to our paper within the past couple of years.

Many comments reflected a distaste for newer strips.

“Have tried to like new comics but not funny — ‘Tundra,’ ‘WuMo,’ ‘Pearls’ — hate them,” wrote Mary, a retired teacher from Charleston.

Other readers commented:

“Funnies are supposed to be funny — not stupid.”

“No like weird strips. No more WEIRD strips.”

“Pearls” was especially divisive, grating on many voters but delighting a vocal minority.

“I have tried daily reading of ‘Pearls Before Swine’ and ‘Mutts,’ but they are both terrible,” one reader commented.

Some rushed to defend “Pearls.”

“Please keep ‘Pearls Before Swine’ and ‘Mark Trail,’ wrote a husband and wife who submitted their tally together.

A Fraziers Bottom resident commented, “‘Pearls’ is the best strip you run. Don’t listen to those who complain about it. I have three grown children who love ‘Pearls’ and we would hate to have you stop running it.”

Some of the new strips have grown on regular readers. Kind of.

“I’ve gotten less hostile to ‘WuMo’ and ‘Tundra,’” wrote 79-year-old Lawton Posey of Charleston.


The final category asked readers what they wouldn’t miss at all if it disappeared from the paper. That doesn’t mean we’re cutting what got the vote here — it just means we want to know.

Bridge got the highest number of votes here with 252 people saying they wouldn’t care if it stayed in the paper or left.

I did receive an impassioned phone call from a Bridge enthusiast who said we’d played up the comics in our survey and downplayed the puzzles — possibly creating a bias against puzzle enthusiasts.

Related: Jumble had 130 people say they wouldn’t miss it (but also had a lot of fans with 151 “likes”), while the crossword puzzle had 110 “don’t care” votes (compared to 155 crossword “likes”).

One commenter regarded Bridge as wasted space.

“The space for Bridge could be much better utilized. So few people play the game.”

Others expressed appreciation for the challenges of crossword and Jumble.

“Retired, enjoy reading paper with my coffee and look forward to Jumble.”

“Crossword and Jumble help me stay mentally active,” wrote a 77-year-old Campbell’s Creek resident.

Some said our puzzles could improve, even if they’re appreciated.

“I would like more challenging crosswords.”

Of the comics, “WuMo” got the highest number of “don’t cares” of any comic with 162.

“I expect ‘comics’ to be funny by people who can draw,” one reader commented.


A lot of readers yearned for older comics.

Among the older strips that got write-in votes to return to print were “Beetle Bailey,” “Phantom,” “B.C.,” “Broomhilda,” “Prince Valiant,” “For Better or Worse,” “Dick Tracy,” “Alley Oop,” “Li’l Abner,” “Marmaduke,” “Herman,” “Snuffy Smith,” “Nancy” and “Pogo.”

“Some you took out should be put back!! We are retired and we like ‘Dagwood,’ ‘Beetle Bailey’ and about all the old comics,” one reader commented.

An 83-year-old reader wrote, “How about some classic ‘Li’l Abner,’ or other old comics for your older adult readers instead of this childish gibberish?”

“Beetle Bailey,” which was removed from our lineup last year because of its advancing age and increasing price, was singled out frequently.

“Bring back ‘Beetle Bailey,’” said a 69-year-old retired man.

“What happened to ‘Beetle Bailey’??”

“I agree — bring back ‘Beetle Bailey.’”

“‘Beetle Bailey’ was an ‘always read.’”

Many readers expressed a general distaste for some of the newer offerings. Much of the criticism referenced age.

“I am 75 and the new comics do not make sense to me.”

“I am of the ‘press’ (print media) generation. Comics are mostly not amusing any more.”

“I’m one of the ‘old people’ who find little to like in the new comics.”

“I’m 85 years old. I need a good laugh every day. Get better funnies, please.”

“Young people text and tweet but don’t read comics! Where are ‘Herman,’ ‘The Born Loser’ and ‘Dennis the Menace’? Please give us old people our funnies!”

In any case, thank you for participating in our comics survey. It was interesting to see on paper what people like, dislike and don’t care two hoots about.

And I’ll always remember the guy who circled my name in my email and drew an arrow from his comment.

“You, sir, have screwed up our comics,” the 65-year-old retiree wrote.


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:

Reader reaction to dropping Doonesbury

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We announced over the weekend that we’ll be discontinuing Doonesbury in the Charleston Daily Mail starting Nov. 4.

dbTo recap the main points: We try to keep costs low for readers, Doonesbury is one of our more expensive comics, and creator Gary Trudeau has been on hiatus since early summer, trying to wrap up a live action comedy project for Amazon. The product just didn’t seem worth the price any more.

On my end: Deliver message and brace for reaction.

To my relief, there were some questions and a little criticism but mostly acceptance of the decision.

There were a couple of congratulatory emails:

  1. Thank you if Doonesbury is truly leaving the Dailymail. For years this strip has been dedicated to serve a political agenda.  The humor left years ago.
  2. Count me among those calling (emailing) to congratulate you for dropping Doonesbury.  That strip never belonged on the comic page in the first place.

There was a reflective email, mourning the loss of the long-loved comic:

I expect dear sir that you will hear from others of those who have enjoyed Doonesbury over the years.

Trudeau may have slackened off in recent years, and I do not blame him. Just keeping up with the lives of his many characters in the strip might be exhausting. In fact I, who read the strip as one of the reasons I take the Mail can be confused as to what time period he is writing of. And to keep up with the characters is tough.

The current strip with reference to the terror of war  has real relevance.  Leo, with the traumatic head injury and his life with his PhD wife touches me.  Ray’s injury and his desire to return to battle after 17 esplosions now and then opens the gates of rage.  People gain jobs, age, and are demoted to blog for no money.  Everything about the strip moves me in some way.  Just one strip on one day can affect my thinking for hours.

I am so sorry that the expense of running the strip is too high.  I have seen fond memories of long ago strips that have been forgotten. My dad would read me Joe Palooka  (Wham, bang!!) and Dick Tracy.  L’il Abner always charmed.  Early on I knew that “Annie” was part of the editorial output of the Tribune in Chi town.  Oh, the glory.  I never miss a day reading the funnies, and I am 78 years old.  In fact, once or twice I used strips to illustrate lectures I gave to graduate students.  Remember when Rex Morgan had a woman Doc working in the ER who had AIDS?

You are so young.  You have no memory of Casper Milquetoast by Clair Briggs.  Maggie and Jiggs.  The Katzenjammer Kids and many more.

Now it is Doonesbury and companions.  Biting the dust.  Smothered by today’s harsh economy.  I should declare DOONESBURY WEEK sometime in the future.

Think!  Zonker will never gain the fruits of his royalty wig.

And an email upset with me:

Please cancel my 30+ year subscription to the Charleston Daily Mail effective after Nov. 1.  Any unused prepayment should be applied to my continuing subscription to The Charleston Gazette. The reason for the cancellation is your politically-motivated decision to cancel Doonesbury.  Hopefully, the Gazette will see fit to fill the void created by your decision.


And a bunch of tweets of reaction:








More thoughts? Share below!

Our reporter, live from the Online News Association

Friday, October 18, 2013

Daily Mail writer Zack Harold has been at the Online News Association annual convention in Atlanta, where there’s a lot of interesting discussion about the changing nature of news.

Reader comment: Muddy boots as a sign of respect at the Boy Scout Jamboree

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reporter Candace Nelson had a nice follow-up article in the paper this week about some figures that will live at the The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve permanently, even though the 2013 Jamboree has drawn to a close. They are 10 bronze statues that depict some of the major donors and supporters of the site.

ScoutStatue01_I130729210919Among them is Lonnie C. Poole Jr. — an Eagle Scout, a Silver Beaver Award recipient and a board member and past president of the Occoneechee Council. Poole’s significant gift established the Lonnie C. Poole Jr. Gateway Village as the main entrance to The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.

Poole’s likeness was cast by artist Jamie Lester, a Morgantown resident and West Virginia University graduate. It was installed at the Jamboree welcome center. And according to a reader, it became a favorite sight for those attending the Jamboree:

Ms. Nelson,

I enjoyed reading your article and seeing the pictures of the bronze statue of Distinguished Eagle Scout Lonnie C. Poole. While at the Summit, I took several pictures of friends at that location.

I also wanted to share with you that indeed, the Scouts enjoyed this statue.  They enjoyed it so much that they added mud to his boots, making him look like the rest of the gang at the Summit.  My job for the 2 weeks while there was working in BaseCamp B4.  We heard about Lonnie’s boots long before we saw them.

Thank you for your positive article on a great experience!


Kandra Dickerson,

Central Region Area 5 Commissioner