Monday, February 24, 2020

Honored energy and environmental reporter Ken Ward Jr. follows his editor out the door at Charleston Gazette-Mail

Ken Ward Jr.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail, the main finder of facts in one of the nation's most rural states, has lost two national standout journalists in the last five days. On Thursday, Executive Editor Greg Moore announced that his job had been eliminated "unexpectedly," and this morning top reporter Ken Ward Jr. tweeted that today is his last day at the paper: "After 28 years, I've decided it's time for new adventures and different challenges."

When Moore made his announcement, Ward called the decision "short-sighted" and said Moore "has led this paper through a difficult transition, and was guiding us toward a strong future." Kristen Hare of The Poynter Institute got a memo Moore sent his staff, saying in part, "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."

Hare writes, "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." In a tweet, Ward thanked HD Media owner Doug Reynolds "and other local investors who bought our paper our of bankruptcy and supported so many of our efforts." Reynolds is from Huntington, where he earlier bought The Herald-Dispatch. He is in the natural-gas industry, which is rivaling the shrunken coal industry for influence in West Virginia, and has been a major focus for Ward and the Gazette-Mail in their reporting partnership with Pro Publica. Reynolds has complimented Ward's work.

Ward has received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and the Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism, given by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, publisher of The Rural Blog.  For more on him, go here. A 2011 story is here.

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