Following Mandy and Liz’s first meeting with Sandy Smith, the two created a timeline of events related to Stephen Smith’s suspicious death while they balanced full-time jobs.

But after Mandy’s editor at The Packet assigned the Mallory Beach and Stephen Smith story to a male colleague, a fire was lit under her to fight for coverage.

Read John Monk’s article on Mallory and Stephen here.

To keep the story alive, Liz and Mandy continued to file FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests and gather information involving the Murdaugh family; that was when Mandy received the 911 call from the boat crash.

In this call, Connor Cook speaks to a 911 operator and explains the scene of the incident.

Mandy and Liz uncovered many elements of the Murdaugh saga through public records from submitting weekly FOIA requests.

To learn more about FOIA, read the article from Luna Shark researcher Beth Braden here:

You can also gather information by searching the public index. Beth Braden outlines how to search the public index here:

As Mandy’s coverage of the boat crash case picked up, so did public attention. To promote her work, Mandy was told to create a Tweet thread with the link to her story attached to gain traction.

That’s when Mandy caught the attention of a man named Will Folks, the founder of FITSNews.

Behind the Book with Co-Author Carolyn Murnick

“John Monk appears many times throughout the book. He’s a real person and a veteran reporter and sharing these interactions with him was not about shaming him personally: he’s one of many; he’s a representation of a system that favors good ole boys and entrenched ways of operating. Mandy and I knew so many women in a whole range of fields would be able to relate. Every woman in the workplace has had to deal with sexist microaggressions or a man taking credit for her idea or being passed over for a promotion in favor of a less qualified man. These scenes were about giving voice to that frustration that every woman goes through at some point in her working life. We also wanted to show what a toxic place The Packet had become for Mandy and introduce Will to set up the next phase of Mandy’s career.”

Carolyn Murnick

Stay tuned for more articles on how to further your own investigation, links and exclusive audio for Chapter 6.

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