Investigative Ace: Lauren Sausser ’05

 

Returning to The Post and Courier newsroom in Charleston after having a child had Lauren Sausser feeling frazzled. Turns out the breakneck pace of motherhood helped her turn out her best reporting. Sausser was named the 2017 South Carolina Press Association Journalist of the Year for daily newspapers based on her collective work from the past year.

“I constantly had a cold she was bringing in from day care. This was my first child so it was all brand new to me,” she said. “It’s really validating that my peers recognized me. We celebrated with dinner that night, and I went back to work on Monday.”

Sausser got her start in the newsroom as a copy editor at The Tiger her senior year of undergraduate work. “I did it because they paid me $50 a week,” she said. After graduation, she moved home to Spartanburg and worked for The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, then on to Columbia University in New York, where she earned her master’s degree in journalism.

As a health care reporter, Sausser said she’s lucky to still have a very traditional newsroom job when across the country reporters are being asked not only to research, interview, write and report, but also to be social media savvy, as well as shoot video and photography.

“I love talking to people about what they’re passionate about,” she said. “There’s nothing more exciting than going into a lab somewhere and finding a scientist who can explain something in a way my mom can understand it.”

This past year’s reporting took Sausser into some long-term investigative pieces, including one about a woman from Oconee County who convinced people she had a baby she wanted to sell — but there was no baby.

Five months later, Sausser published a piece about heartless encounters with the so-called “mom” who duped many women into wanting this non-existent child. All the while, she was still churning out stories for the daily paper on misuse of funds by the Medical University of South Carolina Board of Trustees and showcasing stories from some of the 136,000 people who fall into the Affordable Care Act’s insurance gap.

“You work on it, you write it and then you go home,” she said. “It’s a nice pace. You put your work to bed when you leave. And who knows what’s going to happen the next day? There’s a big element of surprise in journalism.”

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