Some of us are old enough to remember when major American cities had multiple daily newspapers, all with different owners and different perspectives. The papers competed fiercely, and the readers benefitted from the competition.
Those days are long gone.
Decades ago, in response to competition from other media – first radio, then television, and ultimately the internet – daily papers all across the country began merging with each other, until most cities had only one or two dailies left.
If two, they were often owned by the same company, any apparent difference between them being mostly cosmetic.
This same process played out in Charleston over half a century. The Gazette and the Daily Mail merged press and business operations back in 1958. They maintained separate reporting staffs and the contrary editorial outlooks, but every sane and sighted person realized there were a lot more similarities between the papers than what was clearly visible.
The Sunday Gazette-Mail soon made its debut, followed some time later by the Saturday Gazette-Mail and various hybrid holiday issues.
That the U.S. Justice Department saw fit in 2007 to try to prevent or micromanage a joint operation that had been going on for 50 years tells us much about the foolishness of the department and the idiocy of some antitrust claims.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's recent attempt to intervene in the internal affairs of a single paper, simply because it has decided to stop masquerading as two, is likewise enlightening. We recommend rereading the story of King Canute.
There may be only one daily newspaper in Charleston now, but, truth be told, there has been only one for, at the very least, more than a decade.
In addition to that one daily paper, however, there are various other, less frequently published periodicals, several AM and FM radio stations, a couple of TV stations, and numerous websites devoted to this community. In other words, there is not now, nor is there likely ever to be, a media monopoly in Charleston.