Behind The Scenes With a Gettysburg Great

How Liz Farrell ’97 uses investigative journalism and the power of podcasting as a force for good

Liz Farrell ’97 is on a crusade in the name of truth, calling out light from the darkness of deceit. With more than two decades of journalism experience, Farrell dives deep to uncover the facts, being recognized as a top columnist in 2018 by the South Carolina Press Association for her work at The Island Packet in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

  Liz Farrell ’97 and Christina Schlosser Sweeney ’97, in 1994
Liz Farrell ’97 and Christina Schlosser Sweeney ’97, in 1994

In 2022, one of the most talked-about stories in South Carolina made national headlines. Alex Murdaugh, a 55-year-old attorney whose family was synonymous with a legacy of legal prosecutors, had been convicted of murder in a failed attempt to hide multiple financial crimes. Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison in March 2023.

The twists and turns of the Murdaugh murders struck a chord with Farrell’s truth-telling soul. In 2021, she partnered with award-winning journalist Mandy Matney on the Murdaugh Murders (now True Sunlight) and Cup of Justice podcasts. Together, they separated fact from fiction in the Murdaugh case in each of the podcast’s 116 episodes. In 2023, this case became a true crime documentary on Netflix.

Learn how Farrell, a political science major, took inspiration from her Gettysburg education to cultivate a career of pursuing the truth.

GETTYSBURG College Magazine: How did you apply the knowledge and enduring skills gained from Gettysburg College to your journalism career?

Liz Farrell ’97: Gettysburg helped put me in touch with the real world. One of my favorite things that I did at Gettysburg was this mock trial for the murder of JFK [President John F. Kennedy]. I felt connected with the people in my class and was so proud of how seriously we took it. It opened my eyes to what’s true with one of the ultimate stories in the history of our country. It taught me that in order to argue your side, you have to understand both sides of an issue. Gettysburg also gave me my first opportunity to write for the public. I remember writing a letter to the editor of The Gettysburgian with my friend Christina Schlosser ’97, and it got published, and that turned into a column opportunity. To me, that was breaking a huge seal.

 Liz Farrell ’97
Liz Farrell ’97

GCM: What are the essential qualities of an investigative journalist?

LF:The road to investigative journalism is about proof. It’s very fact-based, very steeped in reality. Yes, you have to have suspicion, but you have to have something provable. You can go with your gut, but you need facts to back you up.

GCM: How has your calling to expose the truth guided you?

LF: When everything is built on a lie, you can go back to the cornerstone of that lie, and everything else" falls apart. When you put sunlight on something, you can see things clearly—you can see what the truth is. You’re able to make better decisions about your life for your family, yourself, and your career. You’re a better citizen. For me, that’s the motivation—giving people information that they can use to parlay into a better quality of life for themselves.

GCM: What do you think makes a great podcast?

LF: What I love about podcasting is taking people by the hand immediately, leading them into the conversation, and getting them to trust me. A podcast allows you to tell a story in a 3D way. Not only are you able to say the words that you would have written, but you’re able to punctuate it with interviews or the sounds of what was going on in a courtroom. It makes a story more live for people.

by Michael Vyskocil
Posted: 02/26/24

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