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My Law School

The Power of Words


This project is a mixed media collage that examines local news media coverage of the neighborhoods lining Main Street in Columbia, SC. The 10’x5’ collage contains six years worth of headlines from The State newspaper, gathered using search terms that included “Main Street,” “North Main” and the names of the neighborhoods edging Main Street. Every headline -- good, bad or innocuous -- was then color-coded and placed in the general vicinity of the events covered in the story creating a headline map of Columbia. The map is oriented so that Main Street travels horizontally across the piece, narrating a news-driven “tale of Two Cities.”

Created by Mary Brebner in 2018. “My hope was to maintain journalistic integrity in my research, but to infuse a sense of place in the project, thereby echoing the visceral impact of the news on neighborhoods. News and maps aim to be objective, but our response to them is not. In this way, I hope that The Power of Words affects conversation beyond headlines and leads us all to consider whether bias influences journalism’s ‘search for truth,’ the effects of widely-reported crime in neighborhoods, and how development drives economic change.”

Green = development
Dark yellow = events
Blue = politics
Red = crime
Black = news

Mary Brebner is an educator, writer, journalist and graphic designer who uses her skills to engage journalism students int eh active pursuit of balanced stories that affect them and their community.  A member of the Journalism Education Association and South Caroolina Student Press Association, she holds a Master’s Degree in Divergent Learning, advises multiple publications, and teaches high school creative writing.  She created this work as a Two Cities Fellow with the Indie Grits Lab ( in Columbia.

Piece is a donation from Christopher Church, Ken Gaines, and Josh Gupta-Kagan to the Law School in honor of the work of the law school clinics and their students. 

Located in the Clinics,  Wrenzie and Tom Rice Student Workroom 364.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.