Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Jan. 14, 2021
By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Free Speech Issues Abound After Capitol Hill Riot

The riot at the Capitol building on Jan. 6 and its aftermath have raised several serious concerns about American politics and society. These events also raise several questions and dilemmas regarding First Amendment law and freedom of speech generally.
Social Media Bans: In the aftermath of the events in Washington, various social media platforms at first suspended and then terminated President Trump’s accounts. They also terminated accounts of several groups and individuals who participated, encouraged and/or celebrated the unrest. In the non-digital realm, Simon & Shuster announced that it would not publish a book by Sen. Josh Hawley because of his support for Trump and the protesters. Some claimed that these actions violated the First Amendment, but that’s incorrect.
The First Amendment only applies to government entities limiting free speech; it does not apply to private companies, including social media companies. Legally, these companies are free to exclude particular users for any reason, or for no reason at all, as long as the platforms follow their terms of service, which—despite the fact that users usually don’t read them—are legally binding contracts. Social media platforms are not “places of public accommodation” under the law, which are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, gender and other characteristics protected by civil rights laws. People may have the right under the First Amendment to express odious, offensive and anti-government views, but they do not have the right to do so on a particular privately-owned platform. Read more

Are you a news organization leader who is new to SCPA?

Because COVID-19 has made it difficult to set up in-person newspaper visits, SCPA is hosting a virtual New Editor/Publisher/Manager Orientation on Feb. 4, from 2-2:30 p.m. via Zoom.
If you are a key leader at your news organization, we invite you to learn more about SCPA's member services, legal/FOI Hotline, SLED Checks, lobbying, training, contests, communications, resources and ad representation. 
This will be an informal space to get information and ask questions. 
We can't wait to meet our new members in person, but in the meantime, we hope you'll stop by our Zoom to chat with us and some of your peers.
Please let Jen Madden know if you'd like to attend and we'll send you the link. 
Anna Sharpe of Winthrop University is the 2020-2021 SCPA Foundation Mundy Scholar.

Deadline to apply for SCPA Foundation internships & scholarship is March 5

The S.C. Press Association Foundation's internship program provides a meaningful, hands-on training experience for students interested in news reporting, copy editing, photojournalism, advertising or visual communications. Our internship program prepares students for careers at S.C. newspapers after they graduate... in fact many former interns now work full-time for S.C. newspapers.
Two or more interns are placed each summer at daily and weekly SCPA member newspapers. Each internship is eight weeks and pays $3,200.
In 2020, the Foundation decided to not award internships because of COVID-19. We are closely watching the spread of the virus and will prioritize the safety and health of selected students and professional journalists. One option may be remote internships. 
Internships are open to student journalists who attend a four-year college in South Carolina or who reside in South Carolina and attend a four-year college elsewhere. Rising juniors and seniors, and recent college graduates are eligible to apply.
The Foundation also awards one scholarship each year to an S.C. college student interested in pursuing a newspaper career. Our scholarship, worth $1,000 per academic year, is named for the Foundation's first president, the late Frank R. Mundy of the Greenwood Index-Journal. Scholarships are open to student journalists who attend a four-year college in South Carolina or who reside in South Carolina and attend a four-year college elsewhere. Rising juniors and seniors are eligible to apply.
The deadline to apply for 2020 internships and scholarships is March 5. Decisions will be made in late March.
More details and application
Member Spotlight: Cal Lundmark
Cal at Scott's BBQ in Hemingway
Southeast Audience Growth Editor, McClatchy

What do you like best about your job?
As McClatchy’s Southeast editor of audience growth and retention, I get to have my hands on a lot of different types of stories and work with a wide array of journalists. Is there a hurricane or major news event? I’m on breaking news air traffic control. Are we about to publish a months-long investigation? I’m in every meeting and coordinating a robust rollout plan. Are you struggling to find an audience for a tricky enterprise story? I’m there. No two days are the same, and in 2020 it’s more like no two hours are the same. It keeps work interesting.

What is your proudest career moment?
Watching my team rise to the challenge of 2020. We had big plans for this year but had to turn on a dime to take over breaking news execution and a lot of mundane production tasks once all our newsrooms went remote. This year hasn’t been easy on anyone, but I was so proud to watch our audience growth team prioritize ensuring our communities are informed above the ambitious plans we’d dreamed for ourselves.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
It’s been thrilling to be part of the expansion of The State and our McClatchy partner papers across South Carolina. The State has added reporters in Charleston, Greenville and the Grand Strand, and our Rock Hill, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head newsrooms have also brought in remarkably talented journalists over the last year. In an era where it feels as though local newsrooms only constrict, we’re delighted to be growing!

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
I’ve always appreciated the training SCPA provides for us. A libel refresher from attorney Jay Bender last year was especially valuable for our staff and myself. 

What adjustments have you made during COVID-19?
Because I manage a team of producers across the Southeast, I’d been on the video call / Slack channel grind for a few years before COVID hit. But when everyone transitioned to working from home, the volume of calls and messages increased tenfold. It’s created a real need for firm work-life boundaries and intense calendar discipline. 

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I was a late bloomer in my journalism career. I started college as a music major and ended up graduating with a degree in comparative religion. The next five years found me working in education, insurance and hospitality – I even made a pretty solid attempt at opening my own restaurant before transitioning to food and wine writing for a local alt-weekly. Eventually I got my master’s in mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School, and the rest is history.  
When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
We’re all counting the days until The Whig in downtown Columbia (safely!) opens again.
Update: The Whig is open for reservations and to-go!

What do you like to do outside of work?
I’ve been spending a lot of time hiking and backpacking in the woods this year. I grew up hiking various Southwest and Northwest mountain ranges, so it’s been fun to get my boots on new trails. I finally visited the Smokies for the first time this year – beautiful, but too many bears!

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

FOI Briefs

Richland One to re-examine ban on broadcasting public comments made during meetings

Richland County School District One officials are considering a long-time policy change to not broadcasting a public comment period during meetings, an about face brought on by a Post and Courier report published in December.
“I know we’ve done a lot of things really right in the past, we’ve also done wrong things. I’m looking at the present and future, and we need to be on solid footing when it comes to conducting meetings where board members might be involved,” commissioner Beatrice King said Tuesday.
For years, the 24,000-student district — South Carolina’s ninth largest — has excised from its recorded and live-streamed meetings the public participation period, despite being part of the open session.
The Post and Courier reported on the issue last month, where members of the South Carolina Press Association said such a practice runs afoul of the state’s public records law.
While no law exists requiring public bodies to allow for comment, cutting them from an open meeting is a problem.
By Adam Benson, The Post and Courier Columbia | Read more

Industry Briefs

Newspapers challenge removal of rate cap established by Congress

Earlier this week the News Media Alliance and the National Newspaper Association – representing thousands of local newspapers across the United States – have joined a legal challenge of an order by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) that would effectively eliminate a Congressionally-mandated limit on postal rate increases for Periodicals and Marketing Mail, which since 2006 has required postal rate increases to remain within a statutory price cap tied to the Consumer Price Index.
Under the new rate-setting system, the U.S. Postal Service will be able to increase the postage assessed to newspapers by roughly 9 percent annually over the next five years. Rate changes of this magnitude would be unsustainable for newspapers and could force small market and community newspapers to close their doors.
The current pricing structure has provided newspapers and other mailers with smaller, more predictable rate increases, which has convinced businesses to keep mail volume in the postal system. Removing the statutory rate cap will ultimately weaken the nation’s postal system through the loss of mail volume and revenue.
From News Media Alliance and National Newspaper Association | Read more

SBA releases application for second PPP loans

The Small Business Administration has released the short form application for second-draw Paycheck Protection Program loans. The form can be found on the SBA website here
To be eligible, businesses must have taken a first-loan in 2020 under the CARES Act, have fewer than 300 employees (unless they are part of a large group covered by the affiliate rule) and have lost at least 25% in gross receipts in any quarter of 2020, compared to the same quarter in 2019.
For loans under $150,000, businesses do not need to provide documentation of the gross receipts loss to lenders until they are ready to request forgiveness of the loan.
Applications may be submitted through March 31, 2021.
By Tonda Rush, National Newspaper Association | Read more

Measuring progress on inclusivity

Long before Linda Miller became an inclusive media consultant for RJI, she spent a decade creating the Public Insight Network for American Public Media, a platform of thousands of people who agreed to be sources for journalists and newsrooms. While this easy-to-access list led to a more inclusive workplace at Minnesota Public Radio, Miller discovered that having a diverse contact list doesn’t really change the reporting landscape if there’s no accountability. “You can call it laziness or just outright bias but people will have a million excuses not to use it,” says Miller.
That’s why tracking who actually shows up in the reporting is vital to the source diversity equation in journalism. We may think our reporting is more inclusive but the numbers often tell a different story. When NPR first looked at source diversity back in 2013, they found that whites made up 80% of the on-air voices. This prompted the non-profit news organization to launch a multi-pronged course correction effort.
Five years later, rather than reflecting progress, the 2018 audit showed that the percentage of whites' voices had actually increased to 83%. The share of Latino voices remained flat at 6%, while black voices fell by 3% to 8% and Asian voices saw a 2% decline to just 6%. There weren't enough indigenous people to even register.
By Melba Newsome, Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow | Read more

Columns

By John Foust, Advertising Trainer

12 ad copy tips

Once an ad’s graphic design attracts readers’ eyes, it has to say something of value. Otherwise, readers will skip the ad and miss the message completely. Here are a dozen copywriting tips to gain and hold attention:
1. Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Every large group (newspaper readers, for example) is composed of smaller groups (homeowners, parents, accountants, etc.). When you clearly define a specific target audience, you’ll be able to tailor the advertising to fit their needs. 
2. Make the headline sell. According to research, four out of five people don’t read beyond an ad’s headline. This means the headline has to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Its primary purpose is to convince readers to keep reading to learn more about the product being advertised.
3. Give relevant information. Before they make buying decisions, consumers need to know the answers to several key questions: who, what, when, where, why and how much does it cost? Read more

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