By Ireal James, SPJ Region 3 intern
As someone who grew up in South Carolina, Independent Investigative Journalist Ron Aiken always had a passion for writing. After graduating from the University of South Carolina – Columbia with a degree in English, he would work for several publications before making his mark as a South Carolina Press Association award-winning journalist.
Aiken is a new SPJ member with a commitment to re-launching SPJ South Carolina. He said after receiving a message on social media about the opportunity to join SPJ South Carolina that he wanted to be the first one to sign up for the new chapter. Furthermore, Aiken has already become heavily active in the society.
To start, Aiken will be a panelist for the Larry Peterson Awards Workshop in November. The Larry Peterson Awards for Investigative Journalism is held annually in Savannah, Georgia, and showcases the investigative works of Region 3 members and students. https://larrypetersonaward.com/.
Aiken said he is looking forward to creating dialogue between Region 3 members who attend the Larry Peterson Awards event and growing relationships after the awards ceremony through the use of social media.
“It’s a great way to share…(and) to maintain those contacts,” he said.
On a daily basis Aiken is an investigative journalist, often specializing in South Carolina’s state politics, local government and global issues of the economy. He is the owner of QuorumColumbia.org, an online news site that works to uncover information on public officials and agencies that engage in fraud, states the online news site.
“With the decline of newspapers and the emergence of less reliable sources on the web, it’s very important (that)…the more transparency we can bring about in government and more accountability we can bring about to elected officials” transparency can only benefit society, he said.
Aiken also said he plans to work with University of South Carolina- Columbia journalism students and professionals who work with online investigative insights in the journalism industry.
“I think it’s important to continue to grow, cultivate and nurture investigative journalists,” he said.
Aiken said journalists need two strong standards in investigative journalism: accuracy and credibility.
“You’re going to be told a lot of different things from different people … double check your sources,” he said. And with the growth of online news “exponentially”, he said credibility is key to success in working online.
If not reporting on stories, Aiken said he spends his free time with his family. As an investigative journalist who works from home with long weekday hours, he dedicates any additional time he has with family.
Ireal James, an upcoming senior at Mercer University, is a Mercer Cluster Staff Writer and Board Operator at WMUB in Macon, Georgia. James is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana but lives in Georgia. She is a writer who has an interest in photography and videography that involves storytelling. She also works for ESPN3 where she has experience in working with camera equipment, camera operation, audio operation, etc. during live production broadcasts for sports games. James is the Photographer/Videographer for the Mercer University Chapter of the National Society of Negro Women as well as the Director of Marketing for the Mercer University Miracle Executive Board, an organization that fundraises for patients at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital at Navicent Health in Macon, Georgia. James aspires to be a screenwriter for movies who happens to be a journalist interested in the coverage of stories untold previously. James’ portfolio is at https://irealjamesblogwordpresscom.wordpress.com/ and her contact is firstname.lastname@example.org.