ProPublica is paying the salary of West Virginia coal reporter
Nonprofit news organization ProPublica is paying the salary of Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail coal reporter Ken Ward while it seeks a new owner, reports Steven Mufson of The Washington Post.
Mufson reports, “Yet the celebration of Ward’s demise might be premature. Ward — who in December wrote about the Trump administration’s efforts to reconsider a rule meant to reduce miners’ exposure to coal dust that causes black lung disease — occasionally posts items on his ‘Coal Tattoo’ blog. And he has a one-year deal with the independent ProPublica news organization, which is reimbursing the Gazette for Ward’s salary while Ward reports on the decline of coal and rise of natural gas in the state.
“‘No matter who ultimately takes control, we look forward to working with Ken Ward on what we think is a very important story,’ Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica’s editor in chief, said in an email.
“The new owners might also choose to keep Ward, who has worked for the Gazette since 1991. ‘It is the only place I’ve worked and the only place I’ve wanted to work,’ he said.
“Ward is something of an institution at a time when institutions are in peril. A native of West Virginia’s Mineral County, he started off as an intern covering a strike at Pittston Coal and has covered the industry almost continuously since. He even has kind words for McLusky, calling him ‘a very talented lawyer’ who in the past ‘helped me understand his clients’ point of view.’
“‘No coal industry lawyer or anyone else will make decisions for us in the hiring of newsroom staff,’ said Robert Nutting, chief executive of Ogden Newspapers. Nutting, great-grandson of the founder of the Wheeling News, said that if the court lets him move ahead with the purchase, he would take ‘fresh looks’ at the paper, but he added that the ‘tremendously talented newsroom team’ was ‘part of the appeal to us.'”
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