Geri Ferrara

Editor, Dominion Post

Morgantown, W.V.

[WV-E 0201]

We did a story on – it was one of our, I think, Spotlights on Government stories – and it was on the health department – local health department.

And I’m sitting at my desk, and we’re to the point where the stories are filed, and we’re looking at the data and we’re down to graphic stuff. So I asked for a copy of the salary things, so I wanted to have a chart.

So, I’m sitting at my desk, and I’m looking at it, and it says here that the director makes – we’ll say – $10 and the assistant director makes $20 and then this, that, and the other thing. And I was like, “Cassie!” – called the reporter. “We have a problem here. There’s something wrong with this chart. It says the assistant is making more than a director. That doesn’t make any sense. Call them and see what the story is.”

Called them, and guess what – it was accurate. It led to a huge story. A story that – it ended up – we were embroiled in a very expensive lawsuit that was not satisfying because we ended up having to settle because of insurance purposes. But it turned out the assistant director was in fact making more than was allowed by law.

We did a story on – just were just looking at – a nonprofit organization that was going to be building a new community theater. And some time had gone by, and we realized that – I think it was $400,000 in government funds – grant monies were given to that organization through the County Commission. And they went to build,. and they had no money.

And of course it struck us: How could they have no money, if they had $400,000? Well, they misused the money. It wasn’t a viscous thing, but they decided to pay Paul, you know, a salary from that money instead of the money that was earmarked for construction – or something along those lines.

When those things happen, it’s very satisfying because you have readers who contact you and say: “It’s about time – that kind of stuffs been is going on for 100 years, and nobody bothers doing anything because its so-and-so involved.”

I take great pride in the fact that I don’t care who you are.

Every DUI, for instance, runs in this newspaper. Every newspaper – I’m sure you’re going to run into this everywhere – conspiracy theory. The smaller the town, the bigger the conspiracy theory: It depends on who you are if you get into the newspaper – what’s your name – is if you get into the newspaper.

And the reality is that most newspapers – that’s the farthest thing from the truth. I wish we knew what people thought we did. I wish. My God, we’d be as big as The New York Times in size at least. But the reality is we don’t [know everything].

But standing up for that truth, justice and the American way – to steal the phrase, you’re reminded of that when you do stories like that, and people are grateful that you did them.