The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Poverty in Southern West Virginia

Location: Charleston, W.V.

About the News Organization: The Charleston Gazette-Mail is a state capital newspaper with a national reputation for investigative journalism. The newspaper’s work provides readers with the most up-to-date, accurate news in Charleston, the Kanawha Valley and West Virginia. In recent years, the news organization’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on the opioid crisis focused national attention on the problem, and led to, among other things, a massive lawsuit by numerous public agencies against drug companies. Additionally, a Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter has received dozens of accolades for his environmental reporting and was chosen this year to receive a MacArthur Foundation grant.

About the Position: This Report for America corps member examines poverty and its ramifications throughout Southern West Virginia. Boone County had the highest per-capita income in West Virginia a few years ago, mostly because of the salaries paid to coal miners, but as the coal industry collapsed, that money went away. The region’s economic and social problems mean Southern West Virginia is a difficult place to make a living and to raise children. There are pockets of prosperity and signs of redevelopment, but they are surrounded by larger areas of a population left with too few jobs, and all the problems that come with it.