Words Have Power to Effect Change for the Greater Good

Real News. A Real Difference: Jenna Henson Black (right) is overcome with emotion and is comforted by Safe Harbor Executive Director Becky Callahan during the opening of the new Oconee County women’s shelter. Black has been raising money for the shelter since 2004 after she fled her abusive husband of 18 years. Glenn Smith was part of a team of reporters that worked on “Till death do us part,” a series that shed light on the problem of domestic violence in South Carolina.

By Glenn Smith
Editor, The Post and Courier

 

I have been a journalist for some 30 years now, and I have never seriously considered doing anything else.

Where else could I get paid to learn something new every day, meet a wide range of fascinating people and have a chance to impact their lives in meaningful ways.
Post and Courier reporter Glenn Smith with Emily Joy of Chapin. Emily’s daughter was a victim of domestic violence and was inspired to advocacy by the series “Till death do us part.”

I have a relentless belief in the power of words to open minds and hearts -- and to effect change for the greater good.

 
I was honored and humbled three years ago when our series on the deadly toll from domestic violence, “Till death do us part,” won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service — journalism’s highest honor. But in many ways, it was even more gratifying to see how our state came together after the series and passed sweeping reforms aimed at ending South Carolina’s status as the nation’s deadliest state for women at the hands of men. People contacted us from across the state to tell their personal stories and how our words had helped.
 
Emily Joy of Chapin was among them. At a community forum, she described in a halting voice how alone she felt after her daughter was strangled to death by a boyfriend in 2013. Many in her small town stood by the boyfriend, and some defaced her daughter’s gravestone when he was convicted of murder. It left Emily feeling helpless.
A friend sent her a copy of “Till death do us part” and she read the stories of other survivors working to fight domestic violence. Emily decided to reach out to them. They embraced her and invited Emily to join their efforts.
Three years later, Emily travels the state and to the nation’s capital to speak out for domestic violence reforms in memory of her daughter. She has strong friends and a new calling.

The power of words.

Listen to Glenn and fellow reporter Jennifer Berry Hawes talk about their work on “Till death do us Part,” an investigative series on domestic violence in South Carolina that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.