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Editorial: Thirty years later, a promise renewed

Not much has changed. The newspaper that rolled off the press early one Thursday morning carried front page stories about the primary election, the state of the roads on Waccamaw Neck, Brookgreen Gardens and, being that time of the year, the Pawleys Island Fourth of July Parade. Nothing much would surprise a reader today, except that the primary was for the Democratic Party and the roads people were concerned about were dirt. The stories are mostly remarkable because they began a news cycle that has now come around to its 30th year.

What dates the first issue of the Coastal Observer is a box on the front page. It’s an acknowledgement of the people who supported the paper before there was paper. And it’s a pledge, offered with the optimism that’s born of youth: “Local newspapers are the foundation of American journalism. We intend to maintain the best traditions for a free press and to practice the highest ideals of community service.”

Since those words were written newspapers in general have gone through several upheavals. In 1982, cut and paste was what you did with an X-Acto knife and glue. The closest thing to the Internet was a large table near the kitchen at the Litchfield Restaurant. You could talk about tradition and service because you could be confident in your role in the marketplace of ideas.

After 30 years, we’re ready to renew the vows. The threads may be a little worn and the pattern a little quaint, but the fabric is whole. And for that we would like to offer thanks to the people who believed in the idea. Many of them are no longer here to support, scold or insist that we live up to that early claim. But others have come along to fill their ranks.

One other thing hasn’t changed. The pledge made in that first issue also said, “We welcome comment from any quarter on the content and presentation of our news and advertising.” We still do. And now you don’t have to bother with a stamp; e-mail will do.

That’s our opinion. To share your opinion in a letter, click here.

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