In some ways, reporting the news is the same as it has always been. In other ways, it’s quite different. Both sides of the news industry were in evidence during a panel discussion last week at Lander University.
“The biggest change for me is in my right hand,” said Andy Shain, holding up his cellphone. “We’re all getting the news digitally,” said Shain, Columbia Bureau chief for The (Charleston) Post and Courier.
“Everybody’s a publisher now,” said Andy Brack, publisher of the South Carolina Statehouse Report, referring to the ease with which information of every kind can now be posted.
Brack and Shain were in town for Lander’s “Achieving the Promise: Democracy and the Informed Citizen” series, sponsored by South Carolina Humanities. They were joined by S.C. Public Radio Reporter Russ McKinney; Seanna Adcox, assistant Columbia Bureau chief for The Post and Courier; and Gavin Jackson, host of the SCETV shows “This Week in South Carolina” and “South Carolina Lede.” The event was moderated by Dr. Brent Nelson, Furman University professor of political science and SCETV Commission chair.
Another change in the news industry is the exodus of readers from newspapers. Many now get their news from television, but TV news nowadays is often “slanted one way or the other,”Adcox said.
Social media, likewise, have become important sources of news, but the information is not always reliable. “Don’t get your news from Facebook,” Adcox said.
The decline in the number of people subscribing to newspapers means that many no longer have the money to publish editorials or to “sift through” information for readers as they once did, according to Nelson.
The Post and Courier is an exception to that rule and others, too. “We’re still educating. We’re still providing knowledge,” Shain said.
Growth in the Charleston area is part of the reason that The Post and Courier has been able to prosper, but there are other reasons, too. The paper offers readers “quality journalism that they won’t get anywhere else,” Shain said.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of objective coverage. The opinions of reporters shouldn’t enter into what they report, according to Jackson. “I just want you to know what’s going on,” he said.
The keys to staying relevant, as far as Brack is concerned, are being accurate and fair. The biggest compliment that a reporter can receive, he said, is that he or she is fair.
Brack portrayed local newspapers like The Index-Journal as “the soul of the community. Y’all ought to be proud of what you have here,” he said.