Since 1891, The State newspaper has been South Carolina’s news leader.
For more than 120 years, thousands of reporters, editors, photographers, designers and artists have chronicled the life of the state and its most important moments.
This year, the company is instituting The State/Record Hall of Fame, to honor those journalists, stories and images from The State and The Columbia Record that have made an indelible stamp on South Carolina and the nation.
“Establishing the Hall of Fame is something done with pride and purpose,” said Henry B. Haitz III, president and publisher. “We are mindful of our past and how our journalism has served this state and this community, through hurricanes, wars, boom times, recessions and a Great Depression.
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“Throughout, our journalists have remained true to the values established by our founders – to serve the public interest, to be a watchdog for the community and to celebrate the growth and success of our citizens.
“The work and impact of each inaugural inductee affirms that mission.”
The inaugural inductees are to be honored Thursday during a ceremony at The State Media Co., in conjunction with the annual Hampton-Gonzales Awards. The Hampton-Gonzales Awards affirm the best of work in The State newsroom in the previous year, a process that involves nominations by newsroom colleagues.
Inductees into the Hall of Fame were suggested by an advisory committee of The State newspaper and The Columbia Record alumni, and nominated and selected by a committee of present newsroom staffers.
The Columbia Record, the capital city’s afternoon newspaper since 1897, was closed in 1988 after 91 years of operation. The Record, with a circulation of about 30,000, was The State’s sister newspaper and was shuttered after the Knight-Ridder Co. purchased the newspaper company founded by the Gonzales brothers.
The State Media Co., parent to The State newspaper, has a history stretching more than 120 years as the leading local provider of news, information and advertising. In addition to the newspaper, the company produces thestate.com web site, Lake Murray and Columbia Northeast magazines, GoGamecocks.com and GoGamecocks The Magazine, and other digital and print products and services.
The new Hall of Fame recognizes the best of The State and The Columbia Records through the years.
The inaugural inductees are:
Marilyn Walser Thompson: Raised in Greenville, Thompson (1952- ) worked from 1974 to 1982 at The Columbia Record, where she gained national recognition for reporting on South Carolina’s marriage with the nuclear industry. Thompson moved on to The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and Reuters, as Washington bureau chief. At The Post, she helped manage investigative teams that won Pulitzer Prizes in 1999 and 2000. She also broke the story of Strom Thurmond’s biracial child.
Leland Allen “Lee” Bandy: Born in Asheville, N.C., Bandy (1935- ) spent 40 years as chief political correspondent for The State, earning a reputation as the dean of South Carolina’s political writers. For 20 years in Washington, and two more decades in Columbia, Bandy served as witness to the politics that define South Carolina. From 1964 to 2004, Bandy wrote 3,000 political columns and appeared frequently on national television. In 2006, his retirement was noted in The Congressional Record.
Narciso Gener “N.G.” Gonzales: Born on Edisto Island, Gonzales (1858-1903) was a natural reporter who rose from a telegraph operator in the 1870s to Washington correspondent and top reporter for major S.C. newspapers. In 1891, he and his brother (Ambrose) founded The State. N.G. became the soul of the newspaper, crusading against lynching and championing child labor-law reform and women’s suffrage. In 1903, Gonzales was shot and killed on Gervais Street by political enemy Lt. Gov. James Tillman.
Oscar Jackson “Jak” Smyrl Jr.: Born in Camden, Smyrl (1923-2007) was a World War II veteran who fought in Okinawa in 1945. He came to The State-Record Co. in 1948 as an artist responsible for the cover and layout of the Sunday magazine. In 1955, Smyrl moved to the newsroom as staff artist and cartoonist, bringing humor and style to The State’s pages. His best known work was the "Fighting Gamecock" that for years was on the floor of USC’s coliseum. Smyrl retired in 1986 after 31 years at the newspaper.