By February 23, 2015 Read More →

Gazette editor to discuss 65 years in news

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — James A. Haught, long-time editor of The Charleston Gazette, will speak about his life and a changing world during his talk at the University of Charleston Builders Book and Author Luncheon Wednesday.

Haught, who turned 83 on Friday, said, “We have all traveled a remarkable journey in our lives since World War II. We have seen lots of changes.

“I grew up in Reader, a little town in Wetzel County with no electricity. Horses hauled our wagons around. It might as well have been the 1600s.”

Haught graduated from high school with 13 other students in his class.

“My uncle had a horse-operated farm and Dad was a postmaster. There were tremendous changes from World War II to the Cold War and the growth of the Internet,” Haught said.

Haught will bring copies of one of his recent books to sell at Wednesday’s luncheon, entitled: “Fascinating West Virginia: Wild, Memorable Episodes from the Longtime Editor of the Mountain State’s Largest Newspaper, ‘The Charleston Gazette’.”

Haught said his early days as a reporter were dramatically different from being a reporter today.

“Back in the 1950s, it was a felony to be gay,” he said. “You couldn’t buy a cocktail anywhere in West Virginia. It was unlawful cohabitation for unmarried couples to live together. There was a numbers racket, but you couldn’t buy lottery tickets.”

Racism was also a major phenomenon back then, Haught said.

“White society did not open itself to blacks,” he said. “And black people were often forced to live in areas like the Triangle District in Charleston. But back then, Ned and Betty Chilton fought for integration.”

Ned Chilton was the long-time publisher of The Charleston Gazette.

Haught said, “I started out at the newspaper in the print shop. Back then, newspapers were printed with molten lead.

“Printers were the highest-paid employees. That disintegrated when electronic boxes did everything a printer did before.”

Shortly after Haught moved to Charleston in 1949, he became an apprentice with printers for The Charleston Daily Mail. On his days off, Haught volunteered to work, without pay, in the Daily Mail’s newsroom.

Several months later, The Charleston Gazette hired Haught as a full-time reporter. He has worked at the Gazette ever since, except for a brief period in 1959 when he served as a press aide to the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who had just been elected.

“No one has stayed at the Gazette this long,” Haught said. “But the thought of retiring is repulsive to me. I couldn’t imagine retiring.”

“Fascinating West Virginia” has 27 chapters on a wide variety of subjects, including: the Civil War in West Virginia, the Buffalo Creek tragedy that killed 125 people in Logan County in 1972, the Kanawha County text protests in 1974 and the “legendary” pot plane crash at Yeager Airport in 1979.

Two other chapters are titled: “Arch Moore’s Many Scandals” and “Ned Chilton’s Many Crusades.”

Wednesday’s luncheon will begin at noon in the Erma Byrd Gallery in Riggleman Hall on the University of Charleston’s campus.

Guests may arrive early, by 11:30, for a “meet and greet” session.

Future UC Builders luncheons will feature Robert S. Conte, resident historian at The Greenbrier and author of “The History of the Greenbrier: America’s Resort,” on March 25, and an annual gathering of local artists at the luncheon on April 29.

People who want to make reservations for the luncheon may call 304-357-4734 or send an email to

Reach Paul J. Nyden at or 304-348-5164.

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