When The Post and Courier revealed a potential environmental disaster unfolding at a failed tire recycling plant near Moncks Corner, Gov. Henry McMaster stepped in to order an immediate cleanup of the sprawling site.
Dogged reporting on questionable spending by Columbia prosecutor Dan Johnson’s office led to a federal investigation, and undoubtedly played a role in his defeat in the June primaries.
Revelations of domestic abuse in congressional candidate Archie Parnell’s past, exposed by the newspaper, gave voters a clearer picture of a man seeking to represent South Carolina on the national stage.
These stories represent just a few of the reasons why local journalism is important. It makes a difference.
The true value of local journalism isn’t measured solely on monthslong major projects, such as the newspaper’s series that led to changes in the state’s domestic violence laws or the wrongdoing it revealed in its reporting on corruption in the Statehouse. It’s also the work that reporters and editors put in every day, gathering information that keeps readers informed so they can make decisions about their lives. These issues close to home — not in Washington, D.C., or New York or Los Angeles — have the greatest impact on readers’ daily lives.
For example, reporter David Slade’s personal finance column saved homeowners across the state thousands of dollars with his reporting on a little-known program that subsidizes roof replacements. Local journalists provide information about food, parenting, spiritual life, education, sports, politics, health and medicine, arts and culture, crime, business, the military. It’s the stuff of everyday life — every day.
Local and state reporting contrasts with a national media landscape that unfortunately continues to fracture into partisan echo chambers that only further divide the nation. It also comes as the industry is undergoing a sea change that has cost many journalists their jobs.
The people who work at your local newspaper are your neighbors. They’re in the church choir, on your rec league softball team. They volunteer. Many have lived here for decades. The Post and Courier’s ownership is local too. The common thread is that all of them care deeply about the community and the newspaper’s public service mission.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be mistakes. That’s inevitable in a human enterprise in which a group of people gathers information from a variety of sources, researches issues and condenses all of it into stories 365 days a year. There are errors in every business, and they’re painful. But that’s what they are — mistakes — not part of a conspiracy.
Despite these challenges and distractions, the people who work at your local newspaper come to work each day ready to make their contributions to democracy. They’re committed to the search for truth and keeping readers informed.
That’s why local journalism matters.