Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Feb. 25, 2021

Judges needed for Alabama Press News, Ad Contests

Members of the Alabama Press Association just wrapped up judging SCPA's News Contest and will judge our Ad Contest this summer. Now it's our turn to return the favor.
SCPA needs nearly 100 members to help judge Alabama's contests (60 for the news contest, 25 for the ad contest and 10 for the magazine contest). 
Professional journalists, editors and publishers, as well as retired members, associate members and college instructors are invited to help! 
Judging will start in mid-March and judges will have until the end of April to review entries. Most contests will be judged online. 
These judging exchanges make our own contest possible and give you the opportunity to see the best work from another state. 
To volunteer as a judge, please submit this form.

Sunshine Week set for March 14-20

Make plans now to join SCPA and news organizations across the country in the discussion about the importance of access to public information and what it means for you and your community.
Sunshine Week will be celebrated March 14-20.
The Sunshine Week toolkit will be available on the Sunshine Week website.
SCPA will also have a column available for publication.
We also encourage you to you can highlight the importance of openness through stories, editorials, columns, cartoons or graphics.
"This is a good time to remind readers about the importance of open government and the role you've played in fighting for their right to know," said SCPA Executive Bill Rogers.

Register for upcoming SCPA events

SCPA is hosting some Zoom roundtables and training events soon! All events are open to SCPA members and free to attend thanks to the SCPA Foundation Smoak Fund. Let us know if you'd like to participate. 
  • Weekly Senior Management Roundtable | RSVP
    March 4 | 10-11:30 a.m. | Zoom
    This roundtable is a great opportunity for weekly newspaper senior managers (including publishers, general managers, ad directors and other key leaders) to come together to discuss the issues facing their organizations in a casual setting. During the limited time format, we hope to exchange revenue-related ideas that are working and discuss audience engagement strategies, ways to save money and the challenges of managing staff during COVID-19.
  • Collegiate Roundtable | RSVP
    March 5 | 2-3:15 p.m. | Zoom
    SCPA is hosting an informal Zoom meet-up for college news organization editors, advisers and staff members. This roundtable is a great opportunity for SCPA’s collegiate members to get together and chat about the challenges and successes you’ve faced over the past year.
  • Daily Senior Management Roundtable | RSVP
    March 11 | 10-11:30 a.m. | Zoom
    This roundtable is a great opportunity for daily newspaper senior managers (including publishers, general managers, ad directors and other key leaders) to come together to discuss the issues facing their organizations in a casual setting. During the limited time format, we hope to exchange revenue-related ideas that are working and discuss audience engagement strategies, ways to save money and the challenges of managing staff during COVID-19.
  • Introduction To Redistricting For Journalists | RSVP
    March 26 | 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. | Zoom
    The new U.S. Census numbers will be coming out later this year, and issues related to redistricting will be a major coverage topic. Since this only happens every 10 years, many journalists covering redistricting are going to be coming cold into a legally and technically challenging subject. SCPA is partnering with the League of Women Voters of South Carolina to host a virtual training session on Friday, March 26 from 11 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. about redistricting. Matt Saltzman (Clemson, Math Dept.) and John Ruoff (who has been a redistricting consultant with LWVSC since 1990), will be conducting the training and providing resources and additional info to SC journalists. It’s a lot to fit into a short training, but we hope to cover legal issues around redistricting including law and court cases, the redistricting process and criteria, the Census, how SC got where we are now, a timeline and what we can expect when the census data appear in 2021. We’ll also offer story ideas, resources (including a glossary of terms) and contacts for journalists. 
Member Spotlight: Jewel Schuurmans
Editor-in-Chief, The Collegian, Bob Jones University

What do you like best about your job?
I love seeing the finished product! After so many long hours of work and a couple dozen collaborations for each paper, holding it in my hands and seeing our names in print makes it all worth it.

What is your proudest career moment?
My proudest moments are always the little real-life reminders of how our paper reaches people. When I glimpse my staff on campus taking pictures or conducting interviews, overhear a reader chatting about an article or see someone bent over the sudoku, I smile to myself and feel happy to represent a production I can be proud of.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
Our staff members are successful! We keep hearing stories of those who graduate moving on to great positions in the journalism field. It’s exciting to know that the paper is a springboard to being where we each want to be!

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
The opportunity to submit our work to compete for awards is an excellent motivator for us to do our best! It’s also a satisfying encouragement that what we’re working for is shared, recognized and worthwhile.
What adjustments have you made during COVID-19?
I’ve been delivering papers to the quarantined students every week and using the paper’s social media to spread updates and connect students. We offer to do virtual and outdoor interviews to maintain all CDC-recommended protocols for any contact. The staff has done an excellent job adjusting, including covering assignments for those who have been quarantined - or even continuing to write while in isolation!

When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
We just did a spotlight on Nori Asian Cuisine on Wade Hampton Blvd., a new local restaurant just across the street from BJU. Its owner has dreamed of owning his own restaurant since he bussed tables, and now his dream has finally come true! We love to support local businesses, especially when they have yummy food to offer.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
My great-grandparents were immigrants from Czechoslovakia! I loved learning little Czech phrases from my grandmother when we would visit her apartment.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I love journaling - despite the irony in the word, journaling is a small respite for me from journalistic writing. Instead of laying out the hard facts in an airtight information-focused article, I can kinda let the formal restraints tumble away and just let my personal feelings and opinions flow to the page. It’s one of my favorite ways to relax!
I’m also studying French and teaching myself to play the ukulele and draw - and when I get focused on learning something in particular, I’m pretty deaf to the outside world. 
If there's anything else you'd like to share with the members, please feel free to include it!
Sometimes the journalistic field can get a bit of a bad rap from our publics. But when I see the determination from students around me to share stories that deserve to be told, I see a bright future - and not just for the field. Those stories are what connect us! We need to be informed if we’re going to make the world a better place. By sharing the news, we’re giving everyone else a tool to do just that.

Know someone that you’d like SCPA to spotlight? Email us your recommendations.

FOI Briefs

Body camera captures Greenville deputy closing car door on handcuffed man's head

A community activist is calling for a Greenville County sheriff's deputy to be fired after a video was released from a 2019 arrest that shows the deputy shutting a car door on a handcuffed man's head.
... The bodycam video that Wilson shared was entered into evidence during Hopkins' criminal case, and that is how Hopkins obtained the footage after he was released from jail and filed a motion. He then shared the video with Wilson.
Police bodycam footage is not considered a public record in South Carolina. However, attorneys and defendants are entitled to their own copies of such footage in their cases.
By Daniel J. Gross, Greenville News | Read more

Editorial: It shouldn’t take a newspaper investigation to weed out cops who don’t belong

It was either an unimaginably bad coincidence or else a classic case of a cop who didn’t need to be a cop: someone who’s too quick to escalate, too anxious to perceive a mortal threat, too unwilling to look for ways to calm a situation. Someone who as a result endangers the community and all of his fellow police officers who are struggling to keep our communities safe.
As The Post and Courier’s Joseph Cranney reports, Columbia police officer Sean Rollins shot a driver in the back of the head after a 2019 traffic stop turned into a scuffle inside the vehicle. Then, after he was cleared, he had eight more violent encounters in 2020 — all but one with people who were unarmed and who were suspected of relatively minor offenses ranging from “aggressive begging” to assault — over the course of five months. ...
It was only after Mr. Cranney reviewed body-cam footage and more than 180 pages of police reports, and interviewed police, experts and members of the public and told the story of each of those encounters, that Mr. Rollins was fired.
Which means it’s also a classic example of the importance of real journalism, which gathers up troves of government documents that aren’t readily available to the public, and then spends the time going through them and writing in an honest way that gives all sides the ability to have their say — and is so powerful because it does all that rather than just going straight to condemnation.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Greenville trash utility cancels board’s retreat to luxury resort in NC

The men and women who lead Greenville’s trash utility will not travel to a luxury resort this weekend to hash out the year’s budget priorities after all.
Not enough of his commissioners could make it, said Steve Cole, executive director of the Greater Greenville Sanitation District. Cole told The Post and Courier on Feb. 23 that the workshop his team was set to participate in this weekend, Feb. 26-28, at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., was canceled due to his governing commission’s lack of a quorum.
The utility will lose its $5,000 deposit for Grove Park Inn, according to Cole, but it avoids spending nearly three times that amount on a trip that drew criticism after The Post and Courier reported on it Feb. 16.
One watchdog observer called it a “junket.”
Though the retreat was open to the public and posted online, the Grove Park Inn is a 90-minute drive from the utility’s downtown Greenville headquarters. Most of the planned seven-hour meeting on Saturday was to be in executive session.
By Anna B. Mitchell, The Post and Courier Greenville | Read more

Related Editorial: Decision to can retreat a bunch of garbage

Imagine that.
Mere days after the Post and Courier's Greenville bureau unearthed the Greater Greenville Sanitation District's plans for a little weekend jaunt to the plush Grove Park Inn in Asheville the trip has been — well — junked.
It seems that not enough commissioners could make the trip after all, according to the sanitation district's executive director, Steve Cole.
Imagine that.
A retreat to work out the Greenville trash utility's budget priorities had to hit the garbage can because, suddenly, not enough folks could go after all. No quorum, no retreat. And why no quorum? One of the five commissioners isn't even officially seated yet, so that one was out and left four. An "unexpected illness" — as opposed to an expected illness? — took another one out. Yet another opted out of the trip to stay home with his wife, who just had major surgery. A magnanimous and selfless decision there.
Apparently this well-planned and previously booked trip to the Grove Park Inn didn't come with a decent cancellation insurance policy because now the sanitation district is out its $5,000 deposit — roughly a third of what the weekend junket would have cost. How's that for setting budget priorities?
From the Index-Journal | Read more

People & Papers

Hampton County Guardian writer featured in USC ad

Mae Frances Bing, a former college intern for The Hampton County Guardian and a current freelance contributor to the award-winning weekly newspaper, has been featured in an advertisement for the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications. 
The ad was recently published in the 2021 South Carolina Media Directory, an annual publication of the South Carolina Press Association. The SCPA distributes roughly 1,200 copies of the S.C. Media Directory throughout South Carolina and around the Southeast. The publication is also sent to every member newspaper, as well as ad agencies and other organizations.
Bing is a native of Varnville, SC., and the daughter of Joe and Sarah Eady Bing. She is a proud graduate of Wade Hampton High School, Class of 2016. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of South Carolina - Salkehatchie, where she received her Associate of Arts in 2018.
After graduating, she transferred to the University of South Carolina, where she received her Bachelor of Arts of Journalism and Mass Communication in May of 2020. During the summer of her junior year of college, she interned with The Hampton County Guardian.
"During my internship, I learned the meaning of community journalism thanks to the amazing editor, Michael Dewitt," Bing said. "That experience gifted me with the opportunity  to be a correspondent with The Guardian. I’m also thankful to represent The University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The tools I’ve gained during my two years with the journalism school made me an extraordinary journalist.  I’m planning to do so much more with my skills in the near future."
By Michael M. DeWitt, Jr., Hampton County Guardian | Read more

Industry Briefs

How The Post and Courier rallied its community to support investigative journalism

The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.) launched a bold initiative on Feb. 14 to fund a local investigative journalism team through community contributions. Its announced goal: Raise $100,000 in 100 days. In the first seven days, the publisher raised $44,993 – nearly half its 100-day goal.
The Post and Courier is one of 16 publishers in Local Media Association’s Lab for Journalism Funding. LMA’s funding lab launched in September with support from Google, and with a curriculum developed by Joaquin Alvarado, who has helped guide philanthropic funding of journalism at The Seattle Times.
The premise of the lab is that philanthropy can be one pillar for funding local journalism sustainably. The six-month lab takes participating publishers through the key steps, including engaging with the community and funders to identify a worthy problem to address and audience to serve; a plan for how to serve them, including budget; the outcomes expected; and the case for why the publisher is the right partner to tackle the issue. The Post and Courier applied these principles to raise half its investigative funding goal in just one week.
By Frank Mungeam, Local Media Association | Read more

From Cleveland to Boston, newsrooms revisit old stories to offer a 'Fresh Start'

Inspired by legal reforms and calls for racial equity, a small cadre of editors are challenging a long-held precept of American journalism: that news reports create an enduring historical record.
Several major newspapers are inviting people to seek the review of old stories that, they believe, portrayed them in a distorted or false light. Those stories may be about scuffles, arrests that never lead to prosecutions, or even minor convictions. And they can get in the way of obtaining a job, loan or even a date.
"Some very small incident in the past in some cases ends up being the defining characteristic for their online presence," says Jason Tuohey, the managing editor for digital at the Boston Globe, which last month announced an initiative to review old coverage, called "Fresh Start."
He says it is inspired in significant part by the Black Lives Matter movement for racial equity. "We've gotten these requests for years," Tuohey says. "We would address them as one-offs. 'Fresh Start' is an attempt to do this in a little more of a systematic way."
By Claire Miller, NPR | Read more

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