I “came up” as a journalist in Charleston, West Virginia (pop: 72,000, then), first working for a newspaper, the Charleston Gazette. I fell in love with the Gazette and the people there, because it exhibited more daily integrity than any other publication I’ve ever known.
With its mission of ‘afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted,’ the Charleston Gazette exhibited more daily integrity than any publication I’ve ever known.
The Gazette was the kind of institution where you didn’t mind being a small cog, because the work people did there was so damned good — great stories every day by talented, determined newsmen and -women.
Many of these young writers applied to the Gazette after graduating from Ivy League schools, understanding the paper as a “real writer’s newspaper.” No matter where they came from, however — from Boston or Logan County — Gazette writers hammered out stories that told government administrators, especially would-be public tyrants, that their work was being watched and assessed, in terms of the public good.
Gazette stories often struck fear in the hearts of selfish or greedy professional people, stories meant to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted,” as its publisher, Ned Chilton, liked to tell us.
Although I went on to work for other employers, I “caught the bug” at the Charleston Gazette and, since then, have always tried to get great, true stories into print. Further, the Gazette taught us — as strong, competitive, independent journalists — to try to do the work in a way that no one else could.