One can almost imagine the scene.

It’s Feb. 6, 1919 — a Thursday. Just off Maxwell Avenue in modern Uptown Greenwood, a stream of patrons could have been enjoying a matinee performance of “Mickey,” the summer box office smash from 1918 starring Mabel Normand that would gross $8 million worldwide.

As a piano score accompanies dialogue panels on screen, perhaps those in the movie theaters also heard this: The rumbling of a linotype machine bolted to a dirt floor. By the time Mickey falls in love with mining executive Herbert and the film draws to a close, the first edition of the Index-Journal could have peeled off the press, the product of a merger between the Evening Index and Greenwood Journal.

A century later – with the names of 25 presidents having graced its pages – the family-owned newspaper remains as essential to its community as ever. With social media and 24-hour cable networks making it harder than ever for publications to win an audience’s attention, the Index-Journal has retained a focus on hyperlocal coverage of the Lakelands – filling a niche no other outlet can.

And on Thursday, in front of many whose own stories, faces and words have appeared in the paper, the Index-Journal was recognized for its 100-year presence in the community, with state House and Senate resolutions bestowed to president and publisher Judith Mundy Burns and others in the ownership group, kicking off a yearlong celebration of the newspaper’s service to the region.

“Whereas, the South Carolina Senate (and House) values the earnest commitment of the owners, publishers and staff of the Index-Journal to providing meaningful and vital coverage of local, state, national and world news to the Greenwood community ... be it resolved that the members of the South Carolina Senate, by this resolution, celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Index-Journal newspaper in Greenwood and congratulate the owners, publishers and staff for a century of outstanding journalism in the Greenwood community,” the resolution says.

State Sen. Floyd Nicholson, D-Greenwood, and state Rep. John McCravy, R-Greenwood, were among those who praised the Index-Journal’s commitment to local journalism.

“They have persevered. They have existed for 100 years, and that’s something to be commended for,” Nicholson said. “The Index is a local paper. It does an excellent job of what’s going on in our community.”

From humble origins that saw a family-run newspaper cohabitate with a movie theater, the Index-Journal has grown into a highly respected and influential source of South Carolina news. Its website,, averages 230,000 monthly visitors, and its 20,000 Facebook followers make it the most-followed news source in the Lakelands.

That first press — which churned out 78 eight-page papers an hour, has been replaced by a massive in-house operation capable of producing 35,000 editions an hour.

Longtime advertising director Harry Garrett spent 43 years working at the Index-Journal.

“I’m very proud to have been a part of the IJ for the time that I was. There has been a lot of progress and a lot of change,” he said.

A network of carriers drive 2,220 miles every night to deliver copies at homes and retail locations across the Lakelands.

Harry L. Watson, the Index-Journal’s first editor and owner, himself now a member of the South Carolina Press Association Hall of Fame, laid out the paper’s mission in a sentence that appeared on page 4:

“For the very generous and general commendation from the citizens and business men of the town, The Index-Journal is grateful. The consolidated newspaper feels that it has back of it the consolidated good will of the community and knows that the community knows that its constant aim and purpose will be to advance Greenwood’s best interests and that in this behalf it can ask and always will have the support of the community.”

There are 16 daily newspapers in South Carolina — just three are family-owned.

“The Index-Journal has been a part of my life since the day I was born, so preparing for this newspaper’s 100th birthday has brought back a lot of memories for me. I would go to work with my Daddy when I was just a toddler. I remember the original building on Maxwell Avenue. I remember Harry Watson, the newspaper’s founder,” Burns said. “He was my daddy’s boss, but also his friend. I remember so many of the people who worked at the paper decades ago.”

That familial atmosphere, Burns said, remains as integral as ever to the Index-Journal’s success.

“The Index-Journal has always been owned and operated by local people. The newspaper began with a mutual bond between its owners and the community,” she said. “We have always pledged to advance Greenwood’s best interests and in turn, we have always had the support of our community. For that, we are grateful.”

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.