On Tuesday, Myrtle Beach local Bennie Swans addressed Myrtle Beach City Council concerning crime in Myrtle Beach and in his neighborhood in particular.
In a well prepared and well rehearsed manner, John Pedersen, City Manager Myrtle Beach, responded on behalf of the city.
Pedersen said the city had in fact made great progress towards crime. He stated accurately that homicides in the city were down and such killings were largely gang and drug related.
He stated that the perception of crime in our area was actually a misperception. AND for reasons unknown to the greater Myrtle Beach and Market Common communities, Pedersen then began to single out our news organization in particular, claiming that our news organization was creating a “false impression” of high crime in the community and driving away tourists from Myrtle Beach with our ongoing reports on crime.
FOR THE RECORD: MyrtleBeachSC.com has only reported a crime story twice in its history. We don’t do daily crime stories.
The stories we have covered included our post last winter of Karon Mitchell warning John Pedersen of impending danger to the community by Jack Rabon. We also covered the story on Jack Rabon’s subsequent arrest.
Last week we covered Pastor Tim McCray’s comments to Mayor John Rhodes about his concerns of crime in his neighborhood. This story was covered by practically every news outlet in town. This was not a crime story. It was a story about a citizen reaching out to the city for help. The fact that MyrtleBeachSC.com has a higher reach than other news outlets is surely something we should not be penalized for nor apologize for.
Since City Manager John Pedersen chose his platform to make an issue about our “supposed ongoing crime reports”, however, MyrtleBeachSC.com would like to clarify the record about crime reporting.
WPDE News 15 (which is subsidized with Chamber of Commerce 1% funding in the millions) has an entire CRIME SECTION. This news outlet has for the past 5 years consistently submitted daily crime reports to the main GOOGLE search results where it was seen by tens of thousand of tourists daily.
Here is just a small sample of a very few of WPDE’s and WMBF’s most recent February stories: (We could fill pages with these stories)
LET US SAY, however, reporting on crime does not make these news organizations criminals. It proves they are responsible.
This news outlet also has an entire section devoted only to crime.
WMBFnews Mall Shooting Story That Went Viral (Radian 6 indicates this story was seen by 4 million people)
Finally, Mr. Pedersen: Locals, tourists and merchants each have their own perceptions about crime in Myrtle Beach. Would it not be better to make your case to them rather than single out our news organization? Do you consider your insinuations today statesman-like and exampling strong leadership? Or have our two crime stories actually sunk the future of tourism for this city?
As to our reporting in general (which we believe is more likely the concern), Myrtle Beach has long needed another transparent news organization that did not have its hand in the pockets of City Hall or the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The one certain thing Myrtle Beach needs at this time is a healthy press. Because as Mr. Swans pointed out today, “We should care more about lives than public relations.”
We report stories that matter and that is precisely what we will continue to do. That is exactly why we have among the largest readership and highest engagement across the internet.
It is also our full intent to hold local government accountable. 15 million tourists and 23,000 local residents depend on us to do just that.
Such is not only the right, but also the mandate of a free press.
We certainly will be reaching out to our City Manager and all of City Council if any would like to add to or respond to our report here.