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James A. Haught: The crusading Charleston Gazette

Charleston Gazette-Mail

W.E. “Ned” Chilton III

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A newspaper is a living thing — and it’s tragic for The Charleston Gazette-Mail to fall victim to ruthless economic troubles that are ravaging print journalism.

I’ve been here 67 years, chiefly at the Gazette, while the paper waged endless struggles to keep government clean and improve life for West Virginians.

During the corrupt Barron administration, the paper revealed that Barron insiders created a network of phony corporations — merely mailboxes — in several states. Federal prosecutors proved that the maildrops received bribes for state contracts.

During the corrupt Moore administration, the Gazette revealed an array of shady dealings. Gov. Arch Moore went to prison, like Gov. W.W. Barron.

After fiery W.E. “Ned” Chilton III became publisher, he hammered what he called “sustained outrage” to achieve reforms. Back in the 1960s, he championed racial integration to wipe out Jim Crow segregation. He pushed hard, upsetting the white supremacy culture that had prevailed for a century.

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