If it's true that local journalism is not dead, it's at best on life support.
Some quick Bamberg County facts: Bamberg County has the state's highest county tax rate, the state's highest county unemployment, and 20% fewer people live in the county now than did in 1980.
County Administrator Joey Preston and Bamberg County Council have used a legal loophole to take out tens of millions of dollars in loans without a countywide referendum.
Bamberg County's administrator and county controller reside in Anderson County and are not required, by contract, to even report to work in Bamberg County save at council's monthly meetings.
A grassroots citizens' group, Concerned Citizens of Bamberg County, presented council with a petition signed by 1,300-plus residents calling for Preston's immediate departure.
Recently released Bamberg County 2018 credit card statements, obtained through a CCBC FOIA request, show very frequent stays at resort hotels as well as numerous questionable purchases.
These documented facts and many others have gone unreported or underreported by The Times and Democrat newspaper. The T&D seems to have adopted a hands-off news policy when it comes to Preston, council or anything that might be construed as negative happenings in Bamberg County.
The T&D merely takes notes and asks no questions at monthly council meetings, accepts at face value whatever county officials disseminate, and in effect is complicit in the existential financial crisis facing the county's 14,381 residents. Indeed, The T&D has all but ignored the slow-rolling fiscal catastrophe happening just 20 miles away from its front door.
I have submitted editorial doodles (cartoons) to The T&D for 11 years; the newspaper has published 1,422 of them. But because I have dared to criticize and bemoan via email The T&D's lack of Bamberg County coverage, I am being told I am "compromised" and The T&D will no longer accept for consideration any Bamberg County government-related cartoons. "Opinion" at the top of this page is apparently a misnomer; it should be "The T&D's Acceptable Opinion."
Though I've yet to reach a decision, I am considering ending all together my 11-year T&D association. Contrary to the editor's insinuation that The T&D is doing me a favor by publishing my doodles or that he is the unimpeachable, self-appointed lord of all things newsworthy, it is mine to decide whether to associate my name and reputation with a newspaper that seems to have lost its journalistic spine and credibility on this side of the Edisto.
You, the T&D reader, are all that matters in this to me. I ask for your input. My private email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walt Inabinet is from Bamberg.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!