The Charleston Gazette-Mail just let go of its second editor in less than 2 years

February 20, 2020
Category: Business & Work

Last fall, the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail celebrated doubling digital subscriptions. Today, it eliminated the position of the editor who helped make that happen.

“Unexpectedly, today was my last day at the @wvgazettemail, after 24-plus years,” Greg Moore tweeted on Thursday. “I’m incredibly sad to be leaving, especially when people there have been doing such incredible things over the past couple of years.”

The Gazette-Mail’s motto has long been “sustained outrage,” but that outrage might be focused internally, too, these days — This is the second editor to lose his job in less than two years.

After leading the paper to a Pulitzer Prize in 2017, then going into bankruptcy and getting new owners, then-editor Rob Byers was among those laid off in 2018. Byers tweeted condolences to Moore and the community.

In September, Moore wrote a column sharing that the Gazette-Mail had doubled digital subscriptions in nine months.

On Thursday, current and former Gazette-Mail staffers shared their feelings on Twitter about the news:

In an email Poynter obtained from Moore to staff, Moore notes that the paper’s owner, HD Media, was eliminating the executive editor position.

All,

It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that HD Media laid me off this morning, effective immediately. I’m told they’re eliminating the Gazette-Mail executive editor position.

I’m extremely proud of the work the Gazette-Mail has done over the past few years, under incredibly trying circumstances. I hope the people newly in charge of the newsroom have the sense to continue letting this newsroom evolve, and letting everyone in the newsroom have a voice, and relying on the vast knowledge and experience that has been accumulated here.

Over the past 24-plus years, it’s been an honor and a privilege to work with each and every one of you.

Greg

Reached by phone, new regional executive editor Lee Wolverton had no comment. Poynter has reached out to other executives with HD Media, the Gazette-Mail’s owner, for comment. We’ll update if we hear back.

Kristen Hare covers the transformation of local news for Poynter.org and writes a weekly newsletter on the transformation of local news. Want to be part of the conversation? You can subscribe here. Kristen can be reached at khare@poynter.org or on Twitter at @kristenhare.

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  • As a former GateHouse executive editor, I have seen first-hand this trend to remove high-level management from local newspapers, not just in the newsrooms, but with publishers, ad directors, circulation directors, marketing managers and anywhere else that can be consolidated at the regional level. That leaves second-tier managers who are busy enough getting the paper out without having to find time to mix with the community, share and develop new ideas, and put simply, take time to think and innovate about what can best serve the local audience. Meanwhile, regional executives who become more and more detached hand down a relentless diet of corporate-wide edicts that standardize content, save money, and result in further declining readership. I am eager for this business model to fail and get out of the local news market so journalists can get back to real work instead of busy work.