The South Carolina Institute for Independent Journalism is a new nonprofit dedicated to supporting reporting projects for the state’s weekly newspapers. 

“Independent local journalism is under threat today,” said George Stevens, a Charleston nonprofit leader who is chairing the new organization. “Good, solid journalism in communities across the country leads to better democracy. Weekly newspapers serve as watchdogs on government and provide residents with information to help them make more connections in their community, which improves everyone’s quality of life.”

More than 1,800 newspapers have closed across the country in the last 17 years, said Andy Brack, publisher of the Charleston City Paper, which helped to spearhead efforts to form the new nonprofit.

“The lack of a locally focused news outlet erodes forces that keep a community cohesive and give residents the sense of being connected and belonging,” Brack wrote two weeks ago in a commentary syndicated across the state.

A national report on the decline of newspapers highlighted how they drive civic engagement.

“Studies show citizens are less likely to vote, less politically informed and less likely to run for office,” when there is less local news, according to PEN America. “There also are fewer watchdogs looking at what local government does, which leads to less accountability, integrity, efficiency and effectiveness. Furthermore, other studies show the lack of local news leads to the likelihood of more corruption, which can lead to increased government costs for taxpayers.”

The mission of the S.C. Institute for Independent Journalism is to support the development and production of independent and nonprofit weekly news in South Carolina to promote democratic ideals. 

According to its website, “SCIIJ will achieve its mission by providing financial and organizational support to community publications; operating civic engagement initiatives; training promising journalists; and producing bold independent journalism.”

For more information, visit the site.

Donate to the nonprofit. Donations are tax-exempt to the extent provided by federal law.