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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?
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.
— Paige Lavender (@paigelav) October 21, 2014
Some thought the endorsement was a bad move.
— syd (@SydneyCarton1) October 22, 2014
— Joe Dryler (@joe46and2) October 22, 2014
— Joe Dryler (@joe46and2) October 22, 2014
Others were pleased.
And some figured no big deal.
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.”
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.
BREAKING: Police in riot gear in Morgantown, WV. People rioting after WVU win vs Baylor. Pic from twitter pic.twitter.com/jrK8MQvlCD
— Dave Bondy (@WPXI_DaveBondy) October 19, 2014
The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Now that the fires are tamped down and the Dumpsters returned to their homes, the hand-wringing over post-game rioting following West Virginia University’s upset of then-No. 4 Baylor has begun in earnest.
As anyone who follows college sports can tell you, Morgantown has a dubious distinction for its incendiary celebrations after big wins.
In 2012, the last time this happened — maybe too long ago for for a lot of fans — head coach Dana Holgorsen had some words for those tempted to take their festivities too far: “I would encourage everyone involved to get used to wins like that.”
(Of course, days after those optimistic words, Texas Tech went on to upset WVU and set in motion a slide from which the team only now seems to be recovering, which, while it might explain the pent-up excitement, offers no excuse for the destruction.)
I wrote a column back in 2002, after we defeated No. 3 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, 21-18, our last Top 5 upset. It was an effort to put into context a supposed “tradition” and its place in WVU’s new reality.
But while the Mountaineers’ sports landscape has changed dramatically — and for the better — it appears not much else has.
My turn: Burning couches isn’t new
As a responsible furniture owner, let me just say I was shocked by the reports of rampant couch burning by West Virginia University students after last week’s upset of Virginia Tech.
What’s the matter with these kids? Don’t they know how much a good sectional couch costs?
Besides, in my day, burning things meant something. Sure, we wanted to burn sections of something — sections of town.
Those were the days when the legal drinking age was 18, our nearest rival, the University of Pittsburgh, was only a few years removed from their last national championship and cocky, future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino stood behind center. We wanted to knock off someone big — anyone big.
By the time I got to school, our record against powerhouses such as Pitt and Penn State was dismal enough that I was told should we ever beat one of them, we would burn down Morgantown’s legendary bar district, Sunnyside.
It was almost like a high-stakes bet, as if a big-time victory were so dear, we would sacrifice the thing nearest and dearest to an undergraduate’s heart to achieve it. In this case, it was a row of wonderfully low establishments serving up our favorite frothy beverages.
That first year, down fell Oklahoma. Then, later, Pitt. And eventually, even Penn State.
Each time, as if from a congress of pigskin shamans, the incantation arose: “Sunnyside burns! Sunnyside burns!” But it never did.
Impromptu bonfires were lit, put out and re-started. And, yes, upholstery somehow got involved then, too.
Still, my friends and I knew that the handful of truly determined firebugs weren’t in their right minds, just addled, excitable and in need of attention. We stood back and tried not to get in their way.
Once in a while, one of us would hoot. Mostly, we just raised our plastic cups, basked in the glow of a satisfying victory and worked up the nerve to talk to coeds. We were nerds.
Now, with zoning having mostly washed away the neighborhood’s sudsy reputation, Sunnyside is but a sad shadow of its former glory, its value as the payoff to a big bet diminished. There’s no sacrifice in what’s essentially a stretch of sidewalk leading to off-campus housing.
Legends die hard. I can only guess that’s the motivation behind this generation’s celebratory pyromaniacs.
It makes for good copy. A blurb and a roll of the eyes on SportsCenter.
But in the presence of people who didn’t attend my school, I feel like someone sitting with the in-laws’ family at a wedding reception and watching a drunken, distant relative make a fool of himself. There’s great love — and great embarrassment — at what should be a very happy occasion.
Nobody likes being in the hot seat.
It took a couple days, but at least they got it down.
They included an editor’s note that said this: “Note: An earlier version of this article accidentally featured a photo of an officer who was not officer Shawn Williams. We apologize for any misunderstanding this may have created.”
The photograph does not depict Officer Shawn Williams, the subject of your story. Instead, it is a photo illustration featuring Charleston Patrolman Brian Lightner, who was featured in our newspaper in 2011 for his incredible record of making DUI arrests. Patrolman Lightner no doubt has his own complaint about the way you have used his image.
Please remove The Charleston Daily Mail’s photograph from your site.
I’ve been proud of the Charleston Daily Mail”s coverage of the water contamination that hit our community Jan. 9.
Our main goal during the situation was to inform and help our community. Nevertheless, I’m pleased to see our staff be recognized for its work.
Digital First Media recognized the Daily Mail with a monthly “DFMie” for the region that includes its publications in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Here is our entry, followed by some very nice comments by judges:
On Jan. 9, residents of Charleston started reporting an unusual smell in the air. Some compared it to licorice, others to Robitussin. By that evening, it was clear the situation was much more serious. The chemical, which was being stored in tanks along the Elk River, had entered the intake valve at West Virginia American Water and contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people across nine counties.The Daily Mail staff immediately started a live blog using CoverItLive to give residents immediate updates. The live blog ran for a week as residents were urged to not consume their water, not to bathe and not to use it for everyday activities such as washing dishes or laundry. The live blog got 44,831 views and 7,439 clicks.One more important number wasn’t a web stat: The Daily Mail staff, along with the Charleston Newspapers circulation department and Trane Heating and Cooling, distributed 900 cases of water, a day after the crisis hit, to community members who had none. We also used our blogs, our Twitter and our Facebook to let people know other places they could find bottled water being distributed.Other highlights of our early coverage included two explanatory videos about how the crisis happened. The first, by Elaine McMillion and Dave Boucher, got 1,281 views in our NDN player and 4,208 on YouTube. A second by McMillion and Marcus Constantino got 582 views in NDN and 357 on YouTube.Since that first day, in a water crisis that has lasted more than a month, the Daily Mail staff has written more than 100 accounts of the crisis — which has taken a few more turns, including a lack of knowledge about the effects of the chemical, several revisions about the amount of chemical that actually leaked, a late warning for pregnant women not to use the water even after the initial ban was lifted, the later revelation that yet another chemical leaked and the ongoing odor that remains in people’s water lines. Eventually the story became distrust.By Jan. 15, the Daily Mail was asking residents how long it would be until they would willingly drink their tap water again — a question accompanied by an iconic front page and a story and video by Marcus Constantino.On Jan. 22, when a little more time had passed, the Daily Mail staff sampled bottled water to pass recommendations with a lighter touch to a community that was now committed to the bottled version for the long haul. People seemed to appreciate the Life page levity.The response to our coverage, in terms of readership and numbers, has been impressive. But what the stats really mean is we do and have done a good job of informing our community by whatever means we can. Residents seem to appreciate our effort and our commitment to this story.
The Digital First Media awards are judged by the staffs of other newsrooms. The judges had kind words about the Daily Mail’s coverage:
The Charleston Daily Mail deftly managed the Elk River contamination, providing all-angles coverage without diluting content. The show-stealer is the artistry of videographer Elaine McMillion in “West Virginia Water Woes, 36 Hour Recap,” which is also a testament to the explanatory reporting skills of David Boucher. This video is not just informative – it’s striking. I was further impressed by the work of reporters Marcus Constantino and Matt Murphy; a hot shower well-earned by all.
It excelled all judging criteria areas, especially the digital skills and community engagement. The live blog was timely and provided an immediate forum for compelling and relevant information that the community needed to know and engaged in. The explanatory videos were well made and good supplements to the written stories. They took extra steps in community service with their bottled water distribution and their lighter bottled water review. Overall, it was a really nice package of stories using the online medium.
The Charleston Daily Mail staff put together a comprehensive and engaging coverage of the West Virginia water contamination crisis. This was journalism at its finest, getting in front of the story and keeping the public informed. Their use of social media was also a perfect example of today’s journalism without sacrificing the foundation and basis of newspaper reporting that people come to expect from us. Their use of social media put the story in a new light and helped reach as many people as possible in an evolving and vital story. It was simply not enough to run it in print. The live blog, the videos, the how-to videos all were exactly what the public needed from their local community newspaper organization. I personally liked the humanitarian element of passing out water bottles and assuaging community fears during a tumultuous time. I personally would have loved to been on the “bottle water tasting committee.” All in all, it all came together for this staff. The people certainly lost faith in the water company and their government, but they certainly gained trust in their local newspaper. Kudos.
West Virginia legislators and members of the West Virginia Press Association get together every year to talk about public issues. Perhaps unsurprisingly the big topic this year was the local water supply, which thousands of people don’t trust after a chemical leak tainted it more than a month ago.
In the midst of a water contamination crisis in West Virginia, employees from Trane Heating and Cooling helped Charleston Newspapers get hundreds of bottles of water to residents.