Sustained Outrage

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Later this month, West Virginia will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its statehood, so after some initial discussion of the matter on Twitter the other day, The Charleston Gazette has launched a new project aimed at gathering 150 ideas for improving the state’s future. Here’s the story published online last week:

As West Virginia turns 150 years old, there is much to celebrate about our rich culture and heritage: the rugged, beautiful hills, wild rivers and serene surroundings that help make the lifestyle slow and relaxing amid the 21st-century rush of the outside world; the unfailingly kind and gentle people whose hardworking nature has fueled the nation for generations; and the sometimes quirky but warm feeling of family.

Still, the Mountain State faces many challenges in household income, social well-being, premature death, childhood poverty, educational attainment and fatal drug overdoses. Long-important industries have faded and continue to shrink. Young people still leave in search of opportunity, and our elderly sometimes struggle to live out their later years in dignity.

So, amid the celebrations of our first 150 years, let’s spend some time planning for the future. What are your best ideas for West Virginia’s next 150 years?

Be bold. Be creative. Be succinct. Send your suggestions of 50 words or fewer by June 14. We’ll publish the best in honor of the 150th West Virginia Day.

You can send your ideas to us in a variety of ways:

Send your ideas by:

– Email to social@wvgazette.com

Facebook, wvgazette

– Twitter, @wvgazette, #150ideas

– Postal mail to:  150 ideas , The Charleston Gazette,  1001 Virginia St. E.,  Charleston, WV 25301

Or, just post your ideas in the comment section below.

Welcome

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A few weeks ago, a colleague sent me a piece from The New York Times headlined “When the Watchdogs Don’t Bark.”

It was bemoaning the fact that newspapers in New Jersey, Connecticut and elsewhere were cutting staffs at a time when government officials needed to be watched more closely than ever.

The Gazette has always been known (both praised and damned) for its coverage of government and its leaders.

Whether in long exposés or in routine coverage of council meetings, the officials know the Gazette is watching and holding them accountable. We believe that our efforts keep the corruption down, even if we can’t wipe it out altogether.

We think our watchdog role is as important now as it has ever been.

Our mission is to be the eyes and ears of readers everywhere who can’t attend those regular council meetings, or who don’t have the time to read important but hefty government reports, or who want us to look for the story behind the press release.

The staff at The Charleston Gazette wants to assure its readers that its watchdog coverage is as strong as ever. And we have some new tools at our disposal.

On a Web page coming soon, we’ll share the same kinds of stories with you that you have always expected from the Gazette, but also original documents and other resources that we could never fit in the paper. We’ll share them with you, so you can help us keep an eye on things.

We’ll share useful links, too, and more frequent updates through this new Sustained Outrage blog, an online journal of reporting in the best tradition of The Charleston Gazette.

So check back often. Pass on a tip to watchdog@wvgazette.com. Or tell us what you think. We don’t want to miss anything. We don’t want you to miss anything either.