POINT was started in 1990 as a vehicle to explore South Carolina's political and cultural landscape. The point was to stimulate thoughtful discussion and an examination of progressive ideas in a state not famous for either. We wanted to provide a space for South Carolinians to amuse, debate, educate, agitate and inspire each other. We hoped to create a haven for the unfortunates with lefty tendencies surrounded by hostile forces. On the eve of putting POINT to bed for the last time, I'm glad to report that we did what we set out to do.
Operating on a budget that barely covered printing costs, the paper has been sustained by a handful of advertisers and the good will of people from across South Carolina who donated their time and talent to POINT because they value community-based newspapers -- especially as the mainstream media goes the way of all things corporate: bigger, faster, flashier and driven by the Almighty Dollar.
The alternative press has not been immune. Too many of those papers now offer little more than club listings, personal ads and canned columns. Early on, POINT staff considered doing the same just to survive. But the consensus then was that we'd rather die trying to do something different than have to pimp off of SWFs seeking SWMs. It was an expensive decision, but one we don't regret.
POINT has remained beholden to nobody but our readers, leaving us free to take risks with subject and style. Sometimes we went too far, at times were guilty of cultural chauvinism, sometimes took to wearing preachy britches. For those and other transgressions, real and imagined, we beg forgiveness and appreciate your indulgence.
This job was a privilege and a pain in the ass. It fed me. It drained me. It followed me everywhere. On deadline, nights meant shallow sleep and dreams filled with moving paragraphs, misplaced commas and misspelled words. It was hell, I tell you! It was also a hell of a lot of fun. A press pass is an excuse to go places, do things and talk to people you otherwise wouldn't, and a contract to pay attention in a way not usually required in normal life. Partial to stories about social evolution, POINT devoted considerable ink covering the movements of queers and feminists, Promise Keepers and union organizers, pro-life and pro-choice activists, Confederate flag supporters and civil rights veterans, NRA members and death penalty opponents, environmentalists and animal welfare advocates. For all the marches, any real progress is hard to measure. Still, to all of you with strong beliefs, we tip our hat. All we've ever asked is that you find your convictions, whatever they are, and fight for them.
POINT has never apologized for having an opinion. This paper, like any other, is a collection of human thought ordered by a set of priorities. Every news budget is decided by mere human beings motivated by various agendas, acknowledged or not. Biases are bred into each decision: which press releases to read and which press conferences to attend, which stories to cover and what priority to rate them, which sources to contact, which quotes to use, what headline, which photo. At POINT we were perhaps more candid than our mainstream colleagues but no less committed to honest documentation of the world around us.
A military brat who didn't know I missed having roots until I put some down along the banks of the Saluda River, I am grateful to POINT and to South Carolina. I have grown to love this place the way you love an eccentric uncle -- hairy ears and all. My memories are rich: staying in the honeymoon suite at South of the Border, walking the tunnels under Columbia, riding in a glider high above pine forests in the Pee Dee, exploring the campus of Bob Jones University, posting bail in Winnsboro for the jailed crew of the Hemp Tour, breaking Christmas bread with the monks at Mepkin Abbey, hanging out with the bikers in Myrtle Beach and, best of all, discovering Avatar Meher Baba.
I am forever indebted to the people who made POINT happen. They are too many to name here, but I want to salute the veterans: cartoonist Hord Stubblefield, poetry editor Tom Johnson, proofreader Victoria Reed, writer Cecil Bothwell, Webmaster Steve Hait, and my partner, Brett Bursey, for 10 swell years. It's been a great ride!
- Becci Robbins