Behind the scenes: Vol. 1

Newsroom decisions might be confusing, so let’s talk about them

July 18, 2023 6:00 am
A far away view of West Virginia's state Capitol building, with the gold dome in front of mountains filled with green trees.

The West Virginia Watch team is based in Charleston. You'll find us at the Capitol or a local coffee shop until we get some office space. (Lexi Browning | West Virginia Watch)

After years of getting phone calls and reading angry Facebook posts, I’ve learned that people who have never worked in news don’t understand the reasoning behind a lot of decisions, like cutting a comic strip or why the lottery numbers might not be in the next day’s paper.

But honestly, all jobs are like that. I don’t know why Taco Bell discontinued the Volcano menu — I’m just glad it’s back, if only temporarily.

I’d like to occasionally use my weekly column as a chance to explain how things work in the West Virginia Watch newsroom and why we make certain decisions when reporting. We want you to know it’s OK to ask us questions. We’re real people, and want to have conversations with you.

We’re so thankful to everyone who has followed us on Twitter and Facebook and has signed up for our newsletter so far. But I understand that some people might be suspicious if they don’t know us.

It can sometimes be difficult to determine how legitimate an online publication is. The first thing I do when reading something from a site I’ve never heard of is look for an “about” section. We make that easy — at the top of our website, you’ll see a link to our About page where you can find information about me and my staff. We’re actual, real experienced reporters who have covered West Virginia news for years. 

When I told people that I was going to start a West Virginia outlet for States Newsroom, a few men asked where the funding came from. You can also find that information right here on our website on the About page. States Newsroom lists donors who have contributed more than $1,000 since its launch as an independent 501(c)(3) in November 2019. You can also view 990 forms filed since 2019. 

If you pay close attention to our newsletter, you’ll see there’s a Washington, D.C. address at the bottom. All four members of the West Virginia Watch staff are located in Charleston — we live here and we work here — you’ll probably find at least one of us working in a local coffee shop on any weekday. I just haven’t found an office to rent yet. Well, I found one, and the owners of the building changed their minds about renting, so I had to start all over. But we will have an office at some point in the future. In fact, I’m trying to write this column before I go view a few options.

While we will focus on coverage of West Virginia’s government, we’re extremely lucky to be part of a network of 34 other states and have a bureau in Washington, D.C. (and that’s the address you see on our newsletter). So not only are you getting local content, but we can provide you with national coverage that affects West Virginians.

You might see stories from other networks on our site, as well. These outlets are under Creative Commons license like us, which means our stories can be republished online or in print as long as attribution is given. So far, I’ve republished a story from Inside Climate News that focused on West Virginia, and a column from The Conversation written by West Virginia University Chancellor and Executive Dean for Health Sciences Clay Marsh.

We’re here to report the truth. We want to help our family, friends, neighbors and all West Virginians who can benefit our reporting.

If you ever have a question about something, please feel free to email any of us or reach out on Twitter and Facebook. Our Twitter handles and email addresses are included at the bottom of every story.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Leann Ray
Leann Ray

Leann Ray is a lifelong West Virginian. Her work at the Daily Athenaeum and Charleston Gazette-Mail has won numerous awards. She is a graduate of West Virginia University.