Thursday, September 23, 2010

Watching state government - striking a 'Nerve'

Yes, The Nerve sometimes wears its ideology and prosecutorial attitude on its sleeve.

And many times its stories could use a good editor.

But it also deserves kudos for what is becoming a consistently good job of reporting on state government in South Carolina even as the various newspapers reduce their coverage.

The stories have become a must-read for me, a former statehouse reporter in several states, mostly through the S.C. News Exchange.

Among The Nerve's recent fascinating stories:
  • That a tax-study commission is considering a minimum filing fee for all S.C. taxpayers. (That has the potential to become an explosive issued, but I don't recall reading about it in any of the S.C. papers I follow.)
  • That "other" fees in the state budget are ballooning far beyond what the Legislature appropriated. This includes tuition, which looks to be a big stalking horse in the 2011 General Assembly.
  • That outgoing Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has rehired two key aides at tidy little salaries to help his transition out of office. (Disclosure: I consider one of them, Frank Adams, to be a friend I often see at the local media club.)
Critics will dismiss some of these as much adoo about nothing. And they and others may point to the Nerve's affiliation with the S.C. Policy Council as evidence of partisan bias. (The council goes to great pains to stress it is a nonpartisan organization and doesn't lobby, but it's also one of the more conservative you'll find, a fact not lost on S.C. politicians who have been known to cite Policy Council positions as heavily influencing their thinking.)

That misses the point: The professional journalists at The Nerve (all hired from other publications) are doing the kind of junk yard dog reporting that seems to have gone out of fashion at too many other outlets. It's good to see a little outrage now and then in a state where too many good stories die on the altar of indifference (equally shared by the public and some of its news media).

For that, they deserve some recognition.

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