There is one less two-newspaper town. The Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette has merged with the Charleston Daily Mail to become the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
All of the staffers of both papers will have to apply for jobs at the new newspaper and there will be fewer of them.
Though editorially separate, according to the Columbia Journalism Review, the two papers have been in joint operating agreement (JOA) since 1958 in which the business, advertising and production units are merged.
“This is not one paper gobbling up the other. It is a combination of the two newsroom staffs working in cooperation to produce the most comprehensive news product in West Virginia,” says a column in the merged paper. “We are committed to producing the best example of journalism delivered to your home, in the paper boxes, on your mobile devices and on your computer every morning.”
That sounds like the claptrap spewed in Las Vegas 25 years ago when the Review-Journal and the Sun announced a JOA.
Today the morning paper contains a six-page local news section under the banner of the Review-Journal, but that includes an editorial page, obits and a number of ads. Meanwhile, the Sun section is an ad-free eight pages, containing only one locally generated news story, and that one is a lame account of vacant office space. The rest is mostly wires and syndicated columns and AP photos.
The Sun website has at least a dozen locally generated news, sports and feature stories, any of which could have been published in the printed section, but are not.
Is Sun editor Brian Greenspun poking a finger in the eye of the new R-J owners, Gatehouse Media? The contracted JOA runs through 2040. Could be a long, grueling haul. Eight pages of newsprint is quite expensive and eats into the profits, if there are any.