Editorial: ‘News deserts’ and weak ethics laws allow corruption to run rampant in SC

In a new series on corruption in South Carolina, The Post and Courier states that roughly half of all journalism jobs disappeared during the past 15 years. As community news organizations have folded or are just hanging on, “news deserts” are created where public officials operate without reporters keeping tabs, causing corruption to flourish as it has in South Carolina.

It’s part of a national trend that has deprived hundreds of communities of a vital watchdog of taxpayer dollars and democracy.

Studies have shown that citizen engagement and voter participation drop off when newspapers vanish. A financial toll is exacted, as well, with public salaries, spending and debt rising in the absence of journalistic scrutiny, another study found.

Without that scrutiny, corruption can blossom, often in financially strapped places that are least able to afford it.

For its latest project, ‘Uncovered,’ The Post and Courier is partnering with 10 South Carolina newspapers, including The Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County, to investigate potential abuses of power, misuse of taxpayer dollars and reports of misconduct in the state – particularly in small towns and rural counties. The Post and Couriers’ team of reporters – Tony Bartelme, Glenn Smith, Joseph Cranney and Avery G. Wilks – will be working with these community partners on this task.

The Post and Courier will publish the series of stories in tandem with the 10 community newspaper partners so that information can reach the widest possible audience. All of these stories will be available to both the Post and Couriers’ readers and their partners’ readers without a subscription.

The aim is to shine the brightest light possible on conduct that is holding our state back, benefitting the few at the expense of the many.

The first in the ‘Uncovered’ series was published in the Post and Courier on Sunday. A follow up story appears on the front page of today’s issue of The Voice.

Follow this series both in The Voice and The Post and Courier online and in the printed copy.

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