Archive for the ‘Staff’ Category

Meet the education writer: Megan Kennedy

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Megan Kennedy takes over the Daily Mail’s education beat from Samuel Speciale, who moves on to Statehouse. Education includes local schools, state education policy and higher education, so it’s a pretty big beat here. We’re glad to have Megan, and she seems pretty glad to be here. Here’s a bit more about her.

Megan Kennedy, reporter at the Charleston Daily Mail.   Charleston Daily Mail/Craig Cunningham 06/30/15

Megan Kennedy, reporter at the Charleston Daily Mail. Charleston Daily Mail/Craig Cunningham 06/30/15

Name: Megan P. Kennedy

Lives in: Charleston

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Position at the Daily Mail:  Education reporter

Graduated from: University of Dayton

With a degree in: Communication with a concentration in Journalism. I also have a minor in Anthropology.

Twitter handle: @wvschools

1. What was your first job? I was a grocery bagger for a grocery store. It was a painfully awkward time in my life.

2. What made you want to become a journalist? I’m extremely inquisitive about everything. Journalism allows me to explore my interests while simultaneously informing the public.

3. What do you like most about your job? The least? I love the openness of the newsroom. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly that I never really felt like the new person. So far, my sources have also been fabulous. Is it cliche to say that I don’t have a dislike? Maybe ask me again in a few months…

4. What do you do in your spare time? I spend a lot of time with my dog, Carl. I thoroughly enjoy the outdoors, so my fiance and I spend as much time outside as we can!

5. What’s the most satisfying journalistic effort you’ve produced? About two weeks after I started my journalistic career as a general assignment reporter right after college, I went an execution of a man who had murdered a woman and her unborn child. Since I was still so new to the job, the article itself wasn’t my best, but the experience is one I’ll likely never experience again.

Megan Kennedy's rarely worn sunglasses

Megan Kennedy’s rarely worn sunglasses

6. Name a personal item that is or will be on your desk: A pair of sunglasses that I found in Put-In-Bay, Ohio. I’ve never actually worn them, but they remind me of vacation!

7. Your favorite blog you read or Twitter feed you follow: Overheard Newsroom (@OHnewsroom). Hands down one of the funniest Twitter feeds.

8. What’s your favorite TV show? Book? TV show: The Killing (it’s on Netflix) and book: The Life of Pi.

9. What’s your favorite place in West Virginia? I haven’t had the chance to venture out much, just yet, but Charleston is a fun and lively place!

10. What’s one newsroom quirk you were surprised about? How well-versed everyone is with the show “Arrested Development.” I was pleasantly surprised that I’m not the only one who can quote the show nearly in its entirety.

Farewell to JaredWV

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Daily Mail staffers mark the departure of a colleague with food and 401(k) advice

Chris Stadelman and Jody Jividen return to the pages of the Daily Mail

Friday, May 29, 2015

Back in the mid- to late-90s, there were a couple of guys in the Charleston Daily Mail newsroom who gave us great work, great personality and a great community reputation.

Actually, there was more than a couple. But the guys I’m thinking about in this case were Chris Stadelman and Jody Jividen.

This is a very young Chris Stadelman.

This is a very young Chris Stadelman.

Chris, who was business editor, then city editor, and then managing editor, was whipsmart — as his rapid ascension to the top might attest. He was confident. I don’t think “brash” is too strong a word. “Stubborn” was used this week, and no one seemed to disagree. But also personable — really widely liked.

His last name took on a one-word life of its own — like Prince, Cher or Sting: Stadelman.

Jody walked slow, and he talked slow. He was lanky. He’d lean over your desk and sigh. He’d cackle, not unlike a donkey’s bray, and then wipe his forehead at the absurdity of what had been said.

In print — and in person — he was a master storyteller.

He had a special name, too: Uncle Jody.

Both returned to newsprint this week thanks to a story by another special, veteran reporter, Charlotte Ferrell Smith.

Chris, who is battling cancer, is the honorary chairman of the annual Run for Your Life event to raise awareness of colorectal cancer as well as provide education and funding for screenings. The event is organized by the Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation.

Run for Your Life was established in honor of Jody, who died August 9, 2002, of complications of colorectal cancer.  Jody was 44.

I treasure my time working with Chris and Jody in a newsroom on a regular basis. If you have smart, fun people to work with every day that’s a true gift. These guys continue to be a presence in our newsroom through a fun atmosphere, a tradition of hard work and great journalistic products.

Plus, they actually still are a presence in our newsroom. There’s a black and white staff photo of Chris from when he was a very young reporter, just lying around on a desk. And Jody continues to have a place on our “unofficial business” bulletin board.

As Jody would say, “Peace unto ya.”

Jody Jividen was employee of the week.

Jody Jividen was employee of the week in October 1986.

Whitney Burdette to opinions; Samuel Speciale to Statehouse

Monday, May 4, 2015

When the time comes, it’s nice to have smart, talented people who can step up to the next level.

We’re moving a couple of the Daily Mail’s staffers to new positions. We’re excited about what they’ll be doing, and they are too.

Whitney Burdette, political reporter, is shifting into the Opinions section. She’ll be an editorial writer and will contribute additional opinion content. She’ll also be a member of our editorial board.

Whitney Burdette

Whitney Burdette

Whitney has a nice background to observe the West Virginia political scene. She was a West Virginia Statehouse reporter both at the Daily Mail and, earlier, at the State Journal. She’s covered 4 regular legislative sessions, plus the special session on redistricting in 2011. She’s also covered seven or eight statewide elections (special primary and general elections following Manchin’s departure to Senate and special primary and general 2011 special gubernatorial election, plus primary and general 2012 and 2014 statewide elections).

That’s plenty of sessions to sit through. Now she gets to contribute opinions about the national, state and local scene.

“I really became interested in politics my senior year of high school, when I took AP government,” Whitney told me. “I had an awesome teacher, Mr. Moynahan, who really fostered my interest. He made learning about politics, which I previously thought was a boring topic, interesting and fun. When I got to Marshall and had to declare a minor, I chose political science. I had several more great teachers at Marshall who taught me a lot about political philosophy, political history and state and federal government process. I relied on that background heavily when covering statehouse for the State Journal and Daily Mail.”

Whitney, 26, is a Riverside High School and Marshall University graduate.

Samuel Speciale, who has been our education reporter, is moving to the Statehouse beat, where he’ll join Joel Ebert.

Samuel Speciale

Samuel Speciale

Sam got a taste of life at the Capitol this past winter when he invested lots of time covering hot issues like charter schools and Common Core legislation.

“I started paying attention to politics during my senior year of high school into my first year of college, which happened to be an election year,” Sam recalled. “While I’ve payed attention to major stories over the years, I didn’t actively follow politics until last year when I started covering local and state education departments for the Daily Mail. I became more interested — in that I wanted to pursue political reporting full time — after writing about several education bills during the past legislative session.”

Sam, 25, is a graduate of Elk Valley Christian School and Marshall University.

Good job and good luck to both.



Meet the crime reporter: Tyler Bell

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Tyler Bell.  Charleston Daily Mail/Craig Cunningham 3/19/15

Tyler Bell

Tyler Bell joined the Charleston Daily Mail in February as our police reporter. He’s not from far away — Cincinnati. But he came by way of North Dakota, where he was working at the Williston Herald newspaper in the heart of that region’s oil boom.

We learned a little bit more about him after his arrival, including his office-pleasing interest in cooking and baking. These are real attributes that were not mentioned during the application process.

Above all, we hope you enjoy reading his reporting.

Name: Tyler Bell

Lives in: Charleston

Hometown: Cincinnati

Position at the Daily Mail:  Crime Reporter

Graduated from: University of Cincinnati

With a degree in: Photojournalism

Twitter handle: @Tyler_Bell87

1. What was your first job? Grocery bagger at Kroger

2. What made you want to become a journalist? The stories that haven’t yet been told.

3. What do you like most about your job? The least? I experience new things almost every day.  Some of those things suck.

4. What do you do in your spare time? Cook, read, write fiction, lift weights and play video games.

5. What’s your favorite journalistic effort you’ve produced? A three-part feature on human trafficking that was pretty involved.

6. Name a personal item that is or will be on your desk: My camera.

7. Your favorite blog you read or Twitter feed you follow: I don’t really do either of these things.

8. What’s your favorite TV show? Book? The Wire. Blood Meridian.

9. What’s your favorite place in West Virginia? I’m partial to the roof of the parking garage right around sunset. I’ve only lived here for two months.

10. What’s one newsroom quirk you were surprised about? The widespread interest in comic books and nerd culture.


Photos of journalists invariably have them on the telephone.



Newsroom overhaul in overdrive

Monday, March 9, 2015

Meet the new crew: Samantha Ricketts, left, Heather Greenfield, Kelsey Thomas and Andrea Rectenwald. Today marks one year since Andrea was hired, making her the last person to join the staff after the departure of four copy editors in about six months. Former copy editor Steven Gill is in the background. Photo by Craig Cunningham.

Imagine you’re the captain of a veteran hockey team that’s been battle-tested and has numerous titles to its name. Now imagine that you suddenly have to replace four of your six players. Well, a year ago today, the six-person Daily Mail copy desk replaced its fourth editor in almost six months.

As with any profession, staff turnover is a part of the job — new opportunities and life changes lead people elsewhere. Newspapers are no different. We consider ourselves lucky when we can make it a year without someone leaving, but even more so on copy desk because of the number of hats they wear on the job.

Their first job is, as the name implies, to edit copy. They read for errors factual and grammatical, sometimes even having to do math. They write headlines. They select stories from the newspaper wire services. They determine where stories go in the paper. They do page layout. They design section fronts. They upload stores to the Web. They occasionally write stories and columns.

When I was on copy desk, with each new responsibility I was assigned, my supervisor kept me on it for weeks on end until I’d seen every situation I could. This continued for three years until I was assigned to do Page One, the pinnacle of copy editor duties, or the face of the newspaper, as our former publisher would say.

So you can see the amount of training and seasoning that goes into making a veteran copy editor. And, hopefully, you can appreciate why losing just one has a cost that goes beyond missing a friendly, familiar face. Now multiply that by four and cut the time frame in half . We were in a pickle.

With normal attrition, you can count on a number of extra, experienced hands on the desk to help get the new hire up to speed. But from the middle of 2013 to the start of 2014, it seemed every time we got someone started, we’d lose another veteran. It’s hard to rotate duties when there are fewer parts to rotate.

Which brings us to today. In order, we hired Samantha Ricketts in August, Heather Greenfield (September), Kelsey Thomas (January) and Andrea Rectenwald (March). (And Cathy Caudill joined the desk in January.)

These young women had a lot to learn in a hurry to keep up with the demands of the desk. News editor and copy desk chief Ashlee Maddy had to accelerate the training, squeezing months of learning into weeks. Luckily, she had the assistance of the senior editor and designer Steven Gill to help bring then along. (And after that fast-tracked year, we lost Steven, who still sends good vibes even in St. Albans.)

As the saying goes, though, pressure makes diamonds. The new batch of copy editors has more than met the challenge of taking in all the information and assorted nuances associated with the job. Each is coming into her own as an editor and designer.

Sam and Heather have not only mastered the art of section fronts and 1A, but have also survived the gauntlet of “slot editor,” juggling staff and wire stories for placement in the paper, a position a former colleague likened to improvisational jazz. After just over a year on the desk, today is Kelsey’s first day to design Page One. We’re sure she’ll do just fine.

Charleston Daily Mail comings and goings for 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It’s a new year, and, appropriately, we have some comings and goings.


Steven Gill

I’m going to start with a name you probably won’t recognize. Steven Gill is a copy editor, which means he works behind the scenes and never gets any public credit. He deserves some! Steven’s job means catching errors, writing interesting and accurate headlines and designing news pages that feel welcoming. He is good at all of those things. He is also a good co-worker who gives valuable advice without ever coming off the wrong way. He’s leaving us to work as a graphic artist and video producer for a local home improvement company. We’ll miss him, and we wish him well.


Zack Harold

Zack Harold is a name you might have seen in various roles. He  has been an education reporter, Statehouse reporter and, most recently, Life section editor. More importantly, he has been a fun writer, an embracer of change, a risk taker, a digital enthusiast, an idea generator and a vocal supporter of others’ efforts. He is leaving for another opportunity — to be managing editor of West Virginia Focus magazine. Their gain is our loss. But we thank him for what great progress he’s helped us make here.

Billy Wolfe

Billy Wolfe

Moving into the Life editor role will be Billy Wolfe. A few years ago, Billy excelled as our local government reporter. He never left, but he moved behind the scenes as assistant city editor — a role that meant fewer bylines but greater influence. Billy was the goalie who carefully edited stories for accuracy and clarity. His roles also included story idea generation and providing helpful advice. His byline will return in the Life section, where he’ll get to use his way with words as well as his great eye for photos. Our features and entertainment content won’t miss a beat with Billy at the helm.


Ashley B. Craig

Ashley B. Craig will move into the assistant city editor role. Ashley has been our police and crime reporter, which has meant regular page 1 bylines. She’s been a careful and fair reporter who also has an eye for detail and a way with words. She’s also good with people and is known for her VERY long interviews. People who start talking to Ashley quickly grow to love her (and won’t stop talking). So if you don’t see Ashley’s name any more, don’t be worried. She’s influencing the paper in other ways. We’re excited to have her on our leadership team.

Laurie Lin

Laurie Lin

You might  have seen this name already, but here it is for the record: Laurie Lin is joining us as an editorial columnist and opinion section contributor. She lives in Charleston with her husband and two sons. She also has a law degree, which, you know, none of the rest of us have. She’ll typically come at issues from a conservative point of view. You might or might not agree, and that’s fine. Her role is to express her thoughts and promote community debate. If she gets you thinkin’, that’s a good thing.

We’re happy for those taking on new roles, we’ll miss those who are going elsewhere, and we’re looking forward to a great 2015.


From their office farewell: Reigning and undisputed champions Steven Gill and Zack Harold. (Photo credit: Philip Maramba)



Who’s the new WV statehouse reporter?

Friday, November 14, 2014
Joel Ebert

Joel Ebert

Meet Joel Ebert, the latest addition to the Charleston Daily Mail reporting staff.

His job prior to this was with the Capital Journal in Pierre, S.D. Part of his role in Pierre was covering state government.

With the Daily Mail, Joel will be covering West Virginia government, including the governor, the Legislature, state agencies and the congressional delegation. He’ll be partnered up with Whitney Burdette, who also covers those areas.

Name:  Joel Ebert

Lives in: Charleston’s East End

Hometown: Chicago

Position at the Daily Mail:  Statehouse reporter

Graduated from: University of Illinois at Chicago

With a degree in: English

Twitter handle: @joelebert29

1. What was your first job? Golf caddy at Medinah Country Club (in Illinois)

2. What made you want to become a journalist? Reading travel and investigative stories

3. What do you like most about your job? The least? Not knowing where or what I’m going to be covering and where it might take me. Being in an office

4. What do you do in your spare time? Play basketball, racquetball, chess, NHL 94; make music, read, kayak, watch St. Louis Cardinals baseball

5. What’s your favorite journalistic effort you’ve produced? A story about taking a two-day kayaking trip. And writing/helping design a 3,000 word story on Essential Air Service subsidies.

fedora6. Name a personal item that is or will be on your desk: A fedora

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

8. What’s your favorite TV show? Book? Homicide/The Wire. 1984

9. What’s your favorite place in West Virginia? Don’t know enough about West Virginia yet

10. What’s one newsroom quirk you were surprised about? How often Kroger or food is brought up

Engage WV from a conservative point of view

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Charleston Daily Mail, a newspaper/website of conservative editorial philosophy in West Virginia’s capital, is seeking someone with top-notch critical thinking skills and knowledge of current events to write editorials and columns.

This is a full-time position on our staff.

The successful candidate will be knowledgeable of West Virginia’s political and economic landscape and will have ideas for generating diverse and relevant commentary from the our readership.

The Charleston Daily Mail’s opinion content explores conservative causes such as limited government, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise and individual rights.

Please send resume and writing samples to Editor Brad McElhinny at

Looking for a WV Statehouse reporter

Thursday, September 25, 2014

WVdomeNews from under the West Virginia Capitol’s gold dome has long been the bread and butter of what we do at the Charleston Daily Mail.

The newspaper has a tradition of aggressive state government coverage. And with the growth of digital/mobile audiences, more West Virginians than ever can read our coverage.

So we’re looking to fill a vital news beat.

Dave Boucher

Dave Boucher

Dave Boucher, our capitol bureau chief, is moving on to take a job with the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, where he’ll be covering an education beat. It’s a good move for Dave to a bigger market.

Over the past couple of years on the West Virginia government and politics beat, Dave has made us look good. He’s smart and has brought boundless energy to his work. We’ll miss him a lot.

Now we’re looking for someone who will be a good match for this job

This reporter covers the governor, the Legislature, state agencies and state politics as well as stories involving West Virginia’s congressional delegation. Resulting stories often lead our local news coverage in print and online. The stories from this beat should be consequential and influential. We want to lead the agenda.

We take pride in our daily newspaper and also enthusiastically break news online. Reporters on this beat provide live coverage of daily events, often through Twitter, and are responsible for regularly updating a Capitol Notebook blog. Final versions of stories for print and online take a step back and provide context.

Interested? Please send your resume and clips to