Enjoy the Charleston Gazette-Mail while you can

By The West Virginia Record | Jul 21, 2015

There was a time when many major cities in America had as many as half a dozen newspapers: two or three morning papers, two or three afternoon papers, with multiple editions published throughout the day.

Subscribers might have more than one daily delivered to their homes and later buy from newsstands or boxes on the street updated editions of the papers.

That was the only way to get the news back then. Plus, different papers had different perspectives (making no false claims to objectivity), and savvy readers perused two or more publications to sort out what was going on in their towns.

That was before radio, of course, much less television and the internet.

One by one, the new media besieged the old, and with each new attack the old media – the press, the newspaper business – did its best to adapt and stay in the game.

Newspapers couldn't compete with broadcast on immediacy or flash, so reporting expertise and in-depth analysis was trumpeted – until the internet swept that last bulwark away.

Over time, the newspapers merged and the names became hyphenated, again and again, until they were such a mouthful that some of the constituent parts of the names just went by the wayside.

Some people thought that the big papers were trying to establish monopolies – and some of them were. But, ultimately, they were trying to stay alive, trying to compete, often hopelessly, with the new competitors.

For anyone who's followed the journalism business for the last 50 years, this is old news. Leave it to bureaucrats at the Justice Department to file an antitrust suit to a forestall the inevitable.

That's what the Department did in 2007, allegedly to prevent the Charleston Gazette from euthanizing the Charleston Daily Mail.

By interfering in something they didn't understand, the geniuses at Justice may have delayed the day of reckoning, but not for long.

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