Charles Perry ‘05

Charles Perry ‘05

ALUMNI PROFILE:

Name: Charles Perry ‘05

Residence: Conway, S.C. 

Degree: Mass Communication

Occupation: Editor at Waccamaw Publishers in Conway, South Carolina

Charles Perry ’05 spends his days asking questions about everything from soccer to hurricanes.

Also, it’s not unusual for his phone to ring in the middle of the night with a tip about a house fire or a shooting.

For Perry, a writer and former reporter, it’s all in a day’s work as editor at Waccamaw Publishers in his hometown of Conway, South Carolina. He was recently recognized by the S.C. Press Association as Journalist of the Year for weekly publications.

“I’m a writer who became a reporter. I found that telling the stories of other people was better than offering my takes on the world. It’s also exciting to have a career of constant learning,” Perry said.

He embraces learning wherever he can and finds stories in the most unorthodox places thanks to a job that allows him to work and think outside of the box.  

“One benefit of the job is that I have the flexibility to work outside an office and 9-to-5 schedule. I have five children, so I often write stories from a baseball field or outside an elementary school auditorium. That allows me to spend more time with my kids. They often tag along on assignments with me,” said Perry, who married Winthrop alumna, Jennifer Adams '05, '08.  

With the encouragement of a high school journalism teacher and a former Post & Courier reporter, Margaret Locklair, Perry was introduced to journalism. While at Winthrop, he studied mass communication and dedicated his time to finding on-the-job experience. On campus, he wrote for the Johnsonian but also expanded his reach to writing for newspapers and magazines across the state.

“Getting experience early opened doors for me down the road. I built relationships with editors who remembered my name when positions came available. As far as reporting and writing, I learned by reading journalists I respected. I’m a big fan of Mike Sager and Rick Bragg. I was also fortunate to learn from some great local reporters about how to work sources, dig up documents and relentlessly go after stories.”   

His journalistic instincts were further cultivated by a cast of Winthrop professors: the “brilliant, zany guy” John Bird, a retired professor of English, and the “engaging, thoughtful, witty” Jason Silverman, who retired from the history department. And in the journalism program, Larry Timbs (now retired) and current Chair of the Department of Mass Communication, Guy Reel, were heavy influencers.

“Timbs loves community journalism and so do I. Guy Reel made me a better reporter. He didn’t accept laziness,” Perry said. 

Post-graduation, Perry thought he would go into a larger market in a larger city after getting some experience under his belt at The Herald. Life happened and the major recession in the late 2000s changed the trajectory of his career goals. It was then that Perry returned to his hometown community to transform the local news scene.

“As I watched local media outlets struggle to find financial stability, I wanted to work in a place where I could have the opportunity to help change that course. That’s still my goal. I want to tell important, compelling stories in my hometown. I no longer have the desire to move to a larger market. There’s great work to bedone here in Conway. This is where creativity and innovation are desperately needed. I want to play a part in sustaining strong local journalism,” Perry said.

He credits Winthrop for broadening his world views; he now uses it as a tool in his storytelling.

“I hope students appreciate Winthrop’s diversity. When I was there, Winthrop’s enrollment was more diverse than many similarly sized schools. Being a part of a community where so many people don’t look or think like you is important. It gives you a better understanding of the world and challenges your assumptions,” Perry said.

He says Winthrop’s commitment to inclusivity helped transform him from a sheltered upbringing, where he was homeschooled and was the oldest of nine siblings.

“Winthrop introduced me to people with backgrounds different from my own. I had great conversations about everything from race to politics to baseball,” he said. “Sometimes those talks grew intense — 9/11 and the start of the Iraq war happened during my time there — but the debate helped me. It wasn’t adversarial.  It was engaging and forced me to ask questions I wasn’t used to asking. I grew up there.”

Follow Perry’s editorial features at myhorrynews.com

Last updated by rayj 06/20/2019

Last Updated: 8/1/19