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An electric buzz in the newsroom

THERE'S an old saying that the more things change the more they stay the same.

While that's often said in a negative way, in the case of the Charleston Daily Mail newsroom, it's positive.

As I wrap up only my sixth week as an employee of this daily newspaper, I'm quite impressed with what I see and hear throughout the day from my desk near the corner of this big open room at 1001 Virginia Street East.

The newspaper business, and the Charleston Daily Mail in particular, has experienced a lot of change in the past decade.

Rapid expansion of the Internet and use of social media has dramatically and forever changed the way many readers get their news. There are so many new places — the World Wide Web (if you can still call that new), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and GooglePlus — from where people can get their news these days.

And it all means more competition for readers of newspapers. And it means newspapers must compete much harder for advertisers too.

The Daily Mail has adapted well. The paper is available online at Someone in the newsroom, I haven't figured out who yet, posts articles to the Daily Mail's Facebook page and also on Twitter. From seeing an icon on the web site, I know the Daily Mail also posts to Pinterest, but this dinosaur male has yet to visit that place.

Another major adjustment was the switch in 2009 from an afternoon paper that I enjoyed after work to a morning newspaper that is delivered on my front porch along with the Charleston Gazette. That shift caused radical change in the newsroom's daily operation, primarily by discarding the 6 a.m. (or earlier) to 2 p.m. (or later) work schedule.

While I still miss picking up that evening paper as I get home from work, the change allows this non-early riser to be able to fit into the more traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work schedule for the editorial page staff.

Yet despite all those changes, that intense, exciting and electric buzz of the Daily Mail newsroom is still the same as I remember.

In the mid-1990s as a public relations guy for a major Charleston area employer going through its own transitions, I would visit the newsroom on occasion to meet with a Daily Mail business editor or reporter.

I remember always being impressed with the Daily Mail staff.

The newsroom was full of bright, upbeat, positive and intense reporters and copy editors working away to get the day's news out to the public, just as I'm sure it had been ever since incorporating under the Daily Mail name in 1914 (except without the cigarette smoke, cigar-chomping editors and desk-drawer whiskey bottles that may have existed in previous years).

As I remember in the '90s, the staff was relatively young, sprinkled with a few reporters and editors much more experienced, and aggressive about reporting hard news while peppering the paper with light and fun stories too.

Little has changed from what I saw back then.

I am still impressed every time I look around and see a bevy of reporters and copy editors, many seemingly young but with a

surprising amount of journalism experience, intensely dedicated and devoted to putting out the best news publication — online and in print, that they can.

Every day the staff puts out a good product. Then the next day they come back and do it again.

For some readers, the method of receiving the news has changed. For the staff and for readers, the hours of delivery have changed. Yet the strengths of the Charleston Daily Mail

remain the same.

And that's good news.

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Send your thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the Daily Mail. Comment on the Charleston Daily Mail Facebook page or Tweet to @charleywest.

Merritt is Daily Mail editorial page editor. He may be reached at 304 348-4802 or by email at Follow him on Twitter @ekmerritt.


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