Folks most often live in rural settings by choice or many times by familial circumstances. Small towns and bucolic settings conger images of a slower, more measured, less stressful way of life that are by in large true.
But one of the greatest sacrifices of living in the outskirts of civilization is that news here is not news to the masses; our problems, challenges, governance, and issues rarely receive the attention of city news outlets like daily newspapers or television news. Out here in God's Country, prayers for an aggressive, accountable journalist to take an interest go unanswered.
What's more ... more and more ... the daily outlets have even given up the pretense of caring enough to truly report on what goes on out here in the nethermost news lands. Newspapers accept at face value any and all press releases put out by officials, usually giving them the byline of "Special To ..." (insert media outlet name) or just giving no author attribution at all.
And as for television news, Columbia, Charleston nor Augusta stations are inclined to send even one-person crews on a three-hour round trip to obscurity to cover a rural story. With little journalistic scrutiny, there is little to no public accountability here and thus our agrarian landscape provides fertile fields for government misdeeds, pretend economic development, voter apathy and, perhaps worst of all, the false sense of security that at all is right in our once-removed world.
I live in a county with one the state's highest county tax rates, is chronically among the top-five counties in unemployment, whose population has declined 22% since 1980, has the state's highest infant mortality rate and where 40% of our children live in below-poverty households. We are a slow-rolling financial catastrophe with all the social ills that brings.
But slow-rolling news is no news in today's fast-paced news media. We don't sell in terms of subscription numbers, ratings or website clicks.
In fact, we here are discouraged from bothering hallowed newspaper editors, or omnipotent TV news assignment editors, or the sacrosanct in-boxes of reporters. Anyone who bothers these self-appointed stewards of our social conscience is at best brushed off with a "we'll look into it" or at worst just tagged as a local yokel venting as part of a personal vendetta.
Indeed, an area news outlet has gone so far as to direct its staff not to respond to inquiries from certain folks and refuses to publish accounts contrary to the line county officials provide them.
Walt Inabinet is from Bamberg.
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