City Paper is not for tourists
Regarding yesterday’s media item, here’s what Post mag writer Joby Warrick has to say:
I have to admit I also was skeptical at first when anyone would claim to work in mining for any reason other than high wages. Of course, for some miners it is all about the money. And you’re correct in pointing out that West Virginia’s coal fields are losing population and offer few good alternatives to coal mining. Yet, during nearly three months of reporting on this story, I would constantly run into coal miners who could easily do something else, probably for comparable wages, but chose not to. Two examples mentioned in the article were the lawyer (who quit his law practice to go back to the mines) and the MBA-trained hourly employee who teaches at the local college. But there were many others. A story common to many miners I interviewed involved moving out of West Virginia at some point in their lives to pursue other jobs (long-haul truck driver, mechanic, computer repairman), only to find themselves drawn back to West Virginia and mining. I also met many miners who lived in larger towns, such as Beckley, W.V., and Bluefield, Va., where alternatives do exist. Every person’s motivation is different, of course, but in nearly every case—and with no bosses within earshot—the miners would talk about how they truly enjoyed both the work and the fraternity of workers to which they belonged. This was not what I expected to hear when I set out to work on the story, but it became, to me, one of the most compelling aspects of the piece.