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THE FIRST DRAFT

OF HISTORY

Smith, center, and his colleagues at the Courier moments after hearing about their Pulitzer win.

What's Glenn been up to lately?

For Smith, 2015 was anything but dull. A historic 1,000-year flood in October dumped up to two feet of rain on Charleston, devastating homes and businesses and shutting down roads into the the city. As a downtown resident, Smith spent the days following the storm wandering around the peninsula that contains his city, taking photos and talking with people boating and paddleboarding around the streets’ waterlogged cars. He sustained some bruises from falling into a manhole obscured by floodwaters, but his home was thankfully spared the flooding.

Recently, he and his team have been working with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity on a series investigating South Carolina’s campaign finance system – a system Smith says is riddled with loopholes that allow lawmakers to profit from their election to public office. Their investigation uncovered nearly $100 million spent by politicians for personal purposes since 2009, and comes during ongoing state investigations into lawmaker misconduct.

Smith has also been documenting an ongoing project, organized by the Charleston Police Fund, to foster discussions about the gap between law enforcement and the community. The effort grew out of the Emanuel AME church shooting, says Smith, to build on the themes of unity and forgiveness that emerged in its wake.

The letter Smith wrote Croteau upon learning of his Pulitzer win:

Maureen,

A number of years have passed since I graduated from the UConn School of Journalism in 1987, and you are completely forgiven if you cannot place my name in the parade of students that have come and gone.

This week, I was among a team of journalists awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, a dizzying milestone that has left me very elated and quite humbled at the same time.

I just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for the help and encouragement you gave me way back when. I thoroughly enjoyed your classes and, as my advisor, you guided me into a good internship with The Chronicle that gave me some useful clips to use as graduation approached.

An old friend of mine reminded me the other night that I was initially considering returning to my slacker summer job at the town of Wethersfield after graduation to earn a little money so I could kick back and travel a bit. My friend recalled that you thankfully shook some sense into me and got me lined up with another internship at the old New Britain Herald.

It was in that hard duty assignment that I really caught the journalism bug and it’s been in my blood ever since. I can’t see myself ever doing anything else. Luckily, I have been blessed to work at a medium-sized, family-owned paper that values good writing and telling stories that matter. Though, as the New York Times pointed out, we only have a staff of 80 and a circulation of 85,000, it’s a talented bunch with a commitment to doing solid, long-form journalism.

I lead a four-person projects team and also work with other reporters to get them involved in doing project work. It’s a good gig, and I realize that.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you again for your support and guidance in the early years. Know that it made a difference and helped lead me along a solid career path.

Best,

Glenn Smith
Watchdog/Public Service Editor
The Post and Courier
134 Columbus Street
Charleston, SC 29403

Discuss

  1. Alan Reisner says:

    An inspiring story. For the past 45 plus years the journalism department has been producing some of the University’s most talented graduates, with very little acclaim. Glenn recognized that fact. The University community can be proud of Glenn’s work and that of so many of his fellow alumni.

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