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Merger makes Charleston a single-newspaper city

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A longtime former editor and publisher said the Charleston Daily Mail’s merger with the Charleston Gazette brings a mixture of sadness and optimism.

The merger announced Sunday night claims the daily newspaper will be known by a combined name, the Charleston Gazette-Mail, and will be “a combination of the two newsroom staffs.”

“It sounds like a true merger, that neither paper ceases to exist, that it’s a combination, the Charleston Gazette-Mail, so I feel pretty good about that,” Nanya Friend told MetroNews “Talkline” on Monday.

The independent editorial pages—the Gazette’s progressive view and the Daily Mail’s conservative perspective—will be maintained, according to the announcement.

“It’s very good for the community to get those two distinctive points of view,” said Friend, who worked at the Daily Mail for 36 years.

Staffers reportedly must re-apply for their jobs, according to a report by WVFocus.com. The company plans to offer severance packages to those not rehired, amounting to one week’s pay for each full year of service.

“We will produce more local coverage than either newspaper could individually,” the paper’s announcement said. “We can dedicate increased resources to investigative reporting and bolster our online presence with more breaking news and multimedia.”

The Gazette and the Daily Mail operated independently until Jan. 1, 1958, when the advertising, circulation and production departments began a joint operating agreement.

In 1987, the Daily Mail was sold to Thomson Newspapers, which sold the Daily Mail to Media News Group in 1998 and the paper was sold again in 2004 to the Daily Gazette Company.

That was the year Friend took over as publisher. She previously served as editor dating back to 1996.

The Daily Mail, which had been an afternoon paper, became a morning newspaper on Jan. 5, 2009, though the newsroom operations remained separate.

“It’s really amazing and it was kind of neat that the two separate papers went on as long as they did,” said Friend, who retired from the Daily Mail in 2013. “But I think everybody involved in the industry and here in Charleston realized it was inevitable that they would be combined at some point.”

The final stand-alone Charleston Daily Mail and Charleston Gazette were published last Friday.

“We look forward to continuing to provide you with news on government, business, sports, entertainment, and all of the other high-quality coverage you have come to expect from us,” the merger announcement said.

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