Dear Reader | The gift of journalism; Disappearing restaurant inspections; Out with O’Reilly, in with Limbaugh;

Dear ReaderDecember 23, 2013 

Carolyn Murray, editor for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

A couple of weeks ago I spent several hours reliving the journalism we delivered to you over the past 12 months and for me, it was the best Christmas gift I could have received.

It has long been a cliché in the news business that you are only as good as your next story, which today probably translates into something along the lines of: “You are only as good as your next breaking news post.” The sentiment reflects the reality of our calling: In order to be successful, we must constantly look ahead so we can report on the expected impact of the latest governmental policy change, or be in front of upcoming events so we can provide the information you need to enjoy, or survive, them when they get here. (Think Christmas, bike weeks or hurricanes.)

That gives us scarce opportunity to stop and reflect on the things we did well in covering today’s news. Flipping through a year’s coverage reminded me that I am a lucky editor indeed. I get to work with a group of talented, courageous, creative and passionate group of journalists for whom no challenge, whether it is technology, stonewalling source or mountain of data, is too tough for them to overcome.

They do these things because they are committed to sharing the kind of information that, on our best days, can help make our communities a better place even when that means the stories are about negative things that need improvement. These days they also do it in an “of the moment” climate in which they must gather as much information as they can squeeze from named sources and share it in virtually real time with you, on MyrtleBeachOnline.com, Facebook, Twitter, text, or all of the above.

Then they must suffer through comments online that, if someone had written them about your son, daughter, wife or husband, would make you furious. No matter how thick their skin, and if they don’t come equipped with it, journalists must develop it quickly, those comments can sting, even more so if they point out a legitimate error but do so by questioning the writer’s IQ and parentage.

I am grateful for the work they do, which on our best days gives our readers the information they need to live, work and help improve the communities we call home.

Where are the restaurant inspections?

For those who consider the restaurant inspections a must-read on Wednesdays, and I know there are many of you, will be disappointed this week.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has changed the way they distribute the inspections and we are unable to convert them from their current form into something we can publish.

Rest assured we are trying to work with them to find a way to get them back in the paper as soon as possible. Meanwhile, you can go to www.scdhec.gov/ and search their database under Food Safety to see how your favorite (or not-so-favorite) restaurant, measured up.

Word breaks and other housekeeping

A regular reader wrote this week to ask if we could do something about the way our typesetting software sometimes breaks words in awkward places. The example cited was from an article on Saturday about the sale of Grande Dunes in which the word split so that only an “n” appeared on the next line.

As much as I’d like to blame the software, that awkward break came about because the ellipses hadn’t been converted to the proper format, which forced the computer to read it as part of the word.

That doesn’t explain other instances in which words can break in baffling ways, and we try to catch those and manually format the hyphenation. But, as the sharp-eyed among you will have noted, we don’t catch them all.

We are switching to an upgraded publishing system in the first quarter of 2014, but I can’t promise that will resolve the issue. I can promise that we’ll keep trying to find and fix them.

Goodbye O’Reilly, hello Limbaugh

After this week, we will no longer be running the Bill O’Reilly column.

No, it’s not because we disagree with the pundit’s political position. He has decided to stop writing the newspaper column.

In its place, we will begin running a columnist we believe will continue to provide a strong conservative voice on our op-ed page -- David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this Limbaugh, he is a lawyer who has practiced since he was admitted to the bar in 1978, and is considered an expert in law and politics. He also has written three books: “Absolute Power, the Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department” (2001), “Persecution, How Liberals are Waging War Against Christianity” (2003) and “Bankrupt, the Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today’s Democratic Party” (2006).

He has written a twice-weekly column since 1998 for www.worldnetdaily, and his work also appears regularly in The Washington Times.

We hope you’ll enjoy his work, or at least find it thought-provoking, which, after all, is the goal of the all editorial and commentary pages.

Happy reading, merry Christmas, and thanks to you for joining us on the ride that was 2013.

Contact CAROLYN CALLISON MURRAY at cmurray@thesunnews.com or follow her on Twitter at TSN_ccmurray.

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