A Tandem Interview: Sherry L. Burton and J. Reyne Moore on the Calhoun Ledger’s Future
Changes in leadership and ownership happen through the life of any organization, business or publication. The Calhoun Ledger is experiencing a changing of the guard. After founding, building and refining the Ledger, owner/editor Sherry L. Burton has decided to graciously put her family’s needs first and transition the digital news outlet to fellow Calhounian, J. Reyne Moore.
When asked about her original goal for starting the Calhoun Ledger, Burton said she “just wanted to report the news around and about Calhoun County in digital format. But, the longer I researched and the longer I did this, the greater my vision became. There were so many possibilities; it overwhelmed me!”
Her only regret during her time reporting the news for Calhoun County was “only that my family situation took me away before I could try all the ideas that kept me up late at night. But we play the hand that’s dealt to us as best we can,” she said. “The health of my mother, mother-in-law and step-mother and the fact that I and my husband are only children puts a tremendous demand on our time. It isn’t a burden and I intentionally refuse to use that word but their care does demand a lot from us. We give willingly because we love.”
And it was that same love and dedication that Burton infused into her reporting along the way. From the inception of the Calhoun Ledger website to the social media platforms on Facebook and Instagram, to the video recording and editing, Burton never lost her focus. She did receive early feedback from a few readers who directly shared their opinions, “Early on… my articles were opinion-based rather than reporting the facts. There’s nothing quite like having readers feed you crow!” recalled Burton.
But even through the occasional opposition, Burton kept a level head. She quickly earned the trust of her readers and reported on large local events. Her favorite was the 2017 solar eclipse. “I met so many wonderful folks from around the globe. I had a wonderful interview with an eclipse-chaser from Belgium. And met a fellow veteran from FL with whom I am now Facebook friends.”
To sum up her experience, she said, “In a word, [it was] amazing! The people, the history and the pride in being from Calhoun County! This place and her people are AMAZING!” And if she could predict what the future holds for the county in the next ten years, she believes “although it’s so hard to tell the future with any accuracy, if what Calhounians did with the TEC (Tri-County Electric Cooperative) board situation is any indication of their commitment to justice and fairness, Calhoun County will be far better off than any other county in SC. We may be rural, but we aren’t hayseeds.”
When asked about the transition and new owner/editor J. Reyne Moore, she said, “From the very first she was on my mind. I met [her] at the Calhoun Country Market months ago and we talked about the Calhoun Area Revitalization Team. I knew she loved Calhoun County because of the time spent trying to help other businesses thrive! Moreover, I knew she could communicate. What else is there… a cellphone, a selfie-stick, a tripod and maybe a mic? There was never any doubt in my mind that she could do this and do it better. I didn’t want to find another me. I wanted to find someone better.”
Burton reached out to the community in the Spring of 2018 and ultimately decided that J. Reyne Moore was the right fit. The timing was right for the transition in August 2018. As of September 1, 2018, the Calhoun Ledger is under the ownership and guidance of Moore.
Moore has lived in the county for the past 5 years. She is an expert in ISO 9001 industrial regulation, small business start-up and various support services such as marketing, web design and strategic planning. She also supports the community through the Calhoun Area Revitalization Team which has raised money this year for the Friends of the [Calhoun County] Library and supported the Sandy Run Community Center’s fundraising efforts toward installing an accessible bathroom. She has also developed in-roads with local manufacturing and mid-sized businesses to provide internships for high school seniors in the greater Orangeburg area.
Moore is a graduate of Clemson University and has completed post-graduate work at the University of South Carolina and Stanford University’s Professional Development institute. As a Political Science/Communications major and self-identified diplomat, Moore believes in sharing the multi-facets of any story. She was a staff writer for The Tiger while studying at Clemson and interned at HARDBALL with Chris Matthews at MSNBC in the early days of 24-hour cable news. The majority of her career was spent as a quick-rising leader at The Boeing Company, TIGHitco and GKN Aerospace.
This year, she was honored by The State as a member of 2018’s class of 20 Under 40 most impactful business leaders in the Midlands.
“In business and politics, you always try to find the best overall outcome for yourself or your interests. I’m a dynamo in the board room and on large-impact projects. But, in the realm of reporting, you’re charged with carrying and delivering information – whether you always agree with it or not. Whether it benefits you directly or not,” Moore said. “I’m a natural reporter. I love to write and to explore an issue or an event in a way that challenges people to think differently or learn something new.”
When asked about her long-term goals for the digital news outlet, Moore said, “My semi-selfish goal for assuming the Calhoun Ledger has nothing to do with me, individually. It has everything to do with me as a citizen of Calhoun County. I want to raise my kids in an environment that provides social values and norms that align with being a contributing American citizen, a thoughtful South Carolinian and a family-focused mother. I believe in merit. I believe in independence. And I believe everyone is capable of both.”
As for the next leg of the Calhoun Ledger’s journey, Moore said, “I love what Sherry has done to get the Ledger here. She built up over 1,100 followers in a relatively short time and has filled a gap that existed for relevant, local digital news. We have a wonderful traditional publication via the Calhoun Times-Leader which allows for a different space for the Calhoun Ledger. And this is more than format alone. The Venn diagram intersection of the two is small and purposeful- both are important.”
“After speaking with Sherry in-depth on what her expectations are for the future, I’m going to focus on feature stories about local history/politics, interesting citizens, Southern life, a new-comers guide to the area, farming news (including technology), small businesses (including restaurants) and community sponsored programs. And I’m going to be taking it to the streets. If you want to be heard, come find me out in the county.“
“We as a society are becoming more and more anonymous. My challenge to the community is to not only keep up with the online news and calendar of local events but to actually bring your skills and passion to the table and participate. Get out and do some good,“ Moore said, “you’ll be amazed how you feel afterwards.”
With that same notion of participation and civic relationships in mind, Sherry Burton would like to send this personal message to the loyal readers and residents of Calhoun County:
“Never doubt how unique you are. There is a love for this county that has permeated nearly every person I have met along this journey. Even folks that no longer live here have so much pride in where they came from. Always look for the unifying message; build bridges, don’t burn them.”
Long live the Calhoun Ledger.