Photo by David Martin on Unsplash

The very first issue of the Charleston City Paper on Sept. 3, 1997, succinctly outlined how the new weekly publication would encompass “everything about Charleston and the Lowcountry
— the creative locals, the casually dressed tourists, the vibrant arts community, the excellent restaurants, the local music scene, the Southern culture, the Yankee carpetbaggers and everything in between.”

Local. Independent. Free. That’s long been the motto of the City Paper, now celebrating its 25th year in print. (We’ve been online since 1998.) Much of the credit for making it this far goes to the newspaper’s three co-founders — the late Noel Mermer, who served as publisher, former editor Stephanie Barna and former ad director Blair Barna. Their vision, hard work and complete dedication to creating and sustaining an alternate voice to mainstream media gave a place for tens of thousands of readers to get what they were looking for in a community newspaper. 

We are thankful for what they did to make the City Paper a success. We’re also fortunate to have had scores of news, advertising, production and delivery professionals who thrived (and bemoaned) the pressure of weekly deadlines. Through it all, they’ve put out high-quality, award-winning journalism, year after year.

The paper expanded its mission when new local owners took over in late 2019 by updating the newspaper’s website and adding an editorial page, which was named best in the state among weeklies earlier this year. And they’re committed to continued excellence, as shown in adding a weekly cartoon by Robert Ariail to complement continued fine work by Steve Stegelin. In fact just this year, Ariail took top honors in a statewide newspaper contest for best cartoon (Stegelin won third) while Stegelin placed second and Ariail third in a larger national newspaper competition. The City Paper’s talented advertising and design team won a whopping
21 awards in a statewide contest this year, the most of any newspaper in the state. And its news department won nine commendations.

In the years ahead, we have no plans to slow down. We won’t keep our opinions to ourselves. We won’t stop pursuing stories and the truths behind them. We won’t shy away from controversy. But we will be vigilant in our defense of our constitutional democracy, freedom and publishing the kind of news that needs to be published.

Local. Independent. Free. 

Yesterday. Today.  Tomorrow.


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City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.