Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  June 3, 2021

PALMY Ad Contest deadline is one week away!

Thursday, June 10, is the final day to enter submissions into the 2021 PALMY Advertising Contest!
The PALMYs recognize the Palmetto State's best, brightest and most enterprising advertising professionals and advertisers, and the impact they have made in their communities.
Thanks to the SCPA Foundation's Smoak Fund, all member newspapers will receive five free entries in this year's competition.
Contact us if you need your newspaper's login information or if you have any questions about entering the contest.
Start entering today!

USPS announces staggering postage rate increases

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has filed proposed postage increases that are, in some cases, seven times the rate of inflation, according to the News Media Alliance. This increase will have detrimental effects on small businesses, including small-market and rural newspapers that cannot afford the increased costs, particularly as they strive to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.  The average increase for market-dominant mail, including First Class, Periodicals and Marketing Mail, is 6.9 percent. Periodical mail, which is used by local newspapers across the country, will see a rate increase of more than 8 percent on average.
These new rates – on top of rates increased earlier in the year – will push mail out of the system and, in some cases, may put companies out of business. The proposed rate increases come at a time when the U.S. Postal Service has so far earned nearly $2 billion more in 2021 revenue than predicted and after receiving a $10 billion grant from Congress at the end of last year.
The new rates come on the heels of a decision by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on November 30, 2020, that overturned a Congressionally mandated inflationary price cap for mail products that USPS has a monopoly on delivering: First Class, Periodicals, and Marketing Mail. This change, which was based on USPS’s financial standing in 2017, allowed the Postal Service to raise rates that exceed the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Previous rate increases, which were in line with the CPI, were more reasonable and predictable, averaging roughly 2 percent per year over the last 14 years.
News Media Alliance President and CEO David Chavern stated, “These excessive rates not only threaten publishers and newspapers throughout the country, but they are being introduced at one of the worst times for small businesses that are struggling to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Alliance is deeply concerned that these rates will force small market, rural and minority-owned newspapers to cut back on distribution, leaving their communities less well-informed. We urge Congress to hit the pause button until a more up-to-date evaluation can be done on the need for and potential impact of these extreme rate increases.”
From the News Media Alliance | Read more
Related: Post Office raising stamp cost again (Jerry Bellune, Lexington County Chronicle & The Dispatch News)

SCPA members invited to free webinar on simple ways to save money and improve your business

Wednesday, June 9 | 10 a.m. 
Keeping cash in your pocket may be easier than you think. Hear from a panel of representatives from crucial infrastructure partners, who will share details on how your organization can improve its business model, find new money-saving options and streamline the organization to improve overall workflow.  View more details including panelist bios and register here.

Upcoming PNA Community Newspaper Forum sessions:

There is no charge for SCPA members to attend these PNA Community Newspaper Forum events, thanks to support from the SCPA Foundation Smoak Fund. A confirmation with log-in instructions will be sent to each registrant one or two days prior to the session. If you cannot attend the live event, a recording will be made available following each event. Let us know if you have any questions.

Meet our SCPA Foundation Mundy Scholar

In the coming weeks, we'll introduce you to our 2021 interns and Mundy Scholar.
Faith Worrell, University of South Carolina
Faith Worrell, a visual communications major and art studio minor at the University of South Carolina, was named this year’s SCPA Foundation Mundy Scholar.
She will receive $1,000 to put toward her education.
The Mundy Scholarship is given in memory of R. Frank Mundy, the late publisher of the Index-Journal in Greenwood and the first president of the SCPA Foundation.
A native of Florence, Worrell is the daughter of Howard and Mary Worrell.
She has two years of media experience through her college paper, The Daily Gamecock where she is the co-sports editor. Worrell is striving for a career in sports photography and photojournalism.
Worrell is on the South Carolina club hockey’s creative media team and spends her free time serving with the college ministry at First Baptist Columbia.
“I’m excited about the career I’m pursuing in photojournalism for a local newspaper,” Worrell said. “This scholarship will ease the financial load of my senior year and I’m so grateful for being awarded such an honor.”

Invest in the future of our industry

The Foundation's internships and scholarships are provided by contributions from you! Please support the Foundation's valuable work by making a tax-deductible contribution today.

Quote of the Week

"Surprisingly, after thinking about happy places, I realize that the work I do at the newspaper is one of the times I’m truly happy. There is a certain satisfaction in completing a job under pressure and the relief that’s a part of it when it’s finished.
Who would have ever thought that a deadline could be a happy place?"

Member Spotlight: Vic MacDonald

Vic and Pat MacDonald
What do you like best about your job? 
What I like best about my job is the opportunity for self-expression and the ability to highlight for my community the work going on right in their own backyard. Good works are not done for recognition, but without us, some great human endeavors would go unacknowledged, and unappreciated.

What is your proudest career moment?
My proudest career moments are The Clinton Chronicle winning General Excellence in 2019 and The Newberry Observer winning the public’s right to see SLED investigative files after a case goes through court.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
The most exciting thing going on at our paper is the development of Kelly Duncan – a former student of mine at Newberry High School and fellow Newberry College alum – as a writer and a designer; and covering the grand opening of the new QT travel station on I-26 at Clinton’s gateway.

What’s your favorite SCPA member service? 
My favorite SCPA member service is the Awards, of course. I am the individual and team-member recipient of 43 awards in my nine years at The Chronicle, competing with some amazing journalists.
What are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
Some attractions of our community are The Cotton Loft; Musgrove Mill state historic site, trails, and golf course; Rhythm on the Rails/Scots and Brats this year in October in Clinton; Squealin’ on the Square, also in October, in Laurens; Lakes Rabon and Greenwood; the new Millers Fork Trail & Park; Clinton High School and Presbyterian College.

What is something most people don’t know about you? 
Many don’t know that I am an award-winning stage actor with 20 productions under my belt, and I am married to an amazing pianist.

What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy performance photography, reading non-fiction, hunting shells at the beach, and music.

Who would you like SCPA to spotlight? Email us your recommendations.

"Dominoes" by Robert Ariail

If you can't get enough of award-winning Camden cartoonist Robert Ariail, enjoy his new strip featured every week in the Charleston City Paper, which has granted us ongoing permission to republish it. Called "Lowcountry," the weekly feature, which is available for syndication in South Carolina newspapers, focuses on politics, human nature, the environment and public policy. More: Contact publisher Andy Brack.

FOI Briefs

SCPA attorney: Sumter school board never discussed policy changes in public, violated law

In the process of not having a full discussion on a policy recommendation to remove public members from three standing committees, Sumter school board's Policy Committee and the full board violated multiple laws, according to a Columbia attorney.
Jay Bender, who has 46 years of experience in open meetings and open records law and is legal counsel for the S.C. Press Association, said on Friday that Sumter School District's Board of Trustees acted inconsistently with the state's Freedom of Information Act in a five-week process of formulating policy. In that time frame, the board's Policy Committee and full board used a stated recommendation "for the optimization of the Citizens Advisory Committee in creation of subcommittees" to remove community members from the board's standing Finance Committee, Facilities Committee and Policy Committee, according to analysis.
The Sumter Item initially reviewed online videos of two recent Policy Committee meetings, full board meetings and available meeting minutes for policy changes to the Administrative Rule on Board Committees for the board and contacted Bender regarding an apparent lack of transparency by the elected body.
By Bruce Mills, The Sumter Item | Read more

Greenville police used force more often in 2020 than any year since 2013, data shows

Greenville police tackled, tasered and hit more people in 2020 than any time since 2013, a spike that lands on a year of heightened law enforcement scrutiny and focus on police reform, a Greenville News review of police data showed.
There were 85 use of force incidents in 2020 compared to 59 in 2019. The last time use of force cases were in the 80s was in 2013 with 87 incidents.
Blacks also are more likely to encounter force from police officers than whites, the data shows.
A little less than half of those in 2019 involved Black suspects and a little more than half of those in 2020 involved Black suspects even though Blacks account for about 23% of the city's population, according to a 2020 use of force report obtained by The Greenville News through a Freedom of Information Request.
By Daniel J. Gross, Greenville News | Read more

Questionable spending at Wagener Fire Department prompts probe, divides Aiken County town

WAGENER — A string of questionable money transfers and purchases in this tiny town’s fire department has spawned a county investigation and raised difficult questions about Wagener’s ability to manage taxpayer funds.
The State Law Enforcement Division already has an active probe underway into the Aiken County town’s finances. Wagener’s money management practices also have drawn scrutiny in recent years from the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An Aiken Standard investigation has uncovered hundreds of pages of records that shed fresh light on money issues that have roiled Wagener’s fire department and divided the town. Among other things:
• Questionable spending practices in the fire department include checks issued to family members of the former fire chief – some for school tuition, school books or emergency loans. Records also reveal purchases made from firearms suppliers and a membership fee paid to the National Rifle Association.
• Fees collected specifically for the operation of the fire department were transferred to other town bank accounts without explanation. What the money was used for isn’t apparent.
By Dede Biles, Aiken Standard | Read more

Divide and contract: De la Howe flouts law while spending taxpayer dollars

When officials and media gathered to watch Gov. Henry McMaster anoint John de la Howe as the Palmetto State's newest governor's school in December, there was more than a fresh coat of paint on the walls.
Roofs were rebuilt, bathrooms had new tile and modern fixtures, and students were already on campus. After two years of soul searching and site work, John de la Howe emerged ready for its next chapter.
But an Index-Journal review of invoices and requisition forms found something hiding on the school's 1,300 acres in rural McCormick County.
Those charged with breathing new life into the Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe's crumbling buildings flouted South Carolina procurement law while awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in work, keeping the public, potential contractors and even state regulators in the dark.
At the center of this taxpayer-funded fiefdom is Facilities Director Ken Durham and his top deputy, Scott Mims.
It's the latest revelation from Uncovered, a partnership between The Post and Courier and community newspapers — including the Index-Journal — to shine a light on questionable conduct by government employees. The series has previously highlighted Mims' close relationship to a contractor he hired at the school and former interim President Sharon Wall negotiating a contract with a consultant she then joined, both of which might have violated state ethics laws.
By Matthew Hensley, Index-Journal | Read more

Related Editorial: Weeding the garden at John de la Howe (Index-Journal)

People & Papers

Photographer Gavin McIntyre takes pictures of an imam in Gababe, Senegal. Jennifer Berry Hawes/Post and Courier

How The Post and Courier did the Omar ibn Said project

It’s hard to quantify how much time Post and Courier reporter Jennifer Berry Hawes and photographer Gavin McIntyre spent working on this journey to find Omar ibn Said.
On March 11, 2020, they had just gotten off a flight from Charleston to Atlanta, prepared to board their overnight connection to Paris and then Senegal, when then-President Donald Trump announced a ban on travelers entering the U.S. from Europe.
A pandemic gripped the world.
With chaos erupting, the journalists abandoned the trip. Spoleto Festival USA postponed its “Omar” opera, which had been set to debut in Charleston last summer. The newspaper’s project sat on hold.
Then, in February, McIntyre and Hawes again boarded an airplane amid coronavirus fears, this time with people wearing face masks.
During their reporting in Senegal, supported by a generous grant from Pulitzer Center, they convened an invaluable crew: linguistics professor Mamarame Seck, Arabic teacher and translator Abdoulaye Gueye, drivers Youssou Badji and Serigne Ndiaye, and French graduate student Amandine Situ Bocco.
For two weeks, countless Senegalese opened their homes and villages, offering insight to these strangers who showed up asking about a long-ago man most had never heard of.
By Jennifer Berry Hawes, The Post and Courier | Read more
Green

Sumter Chief Digital Officer's work featured in Mississippi photography exhibit

Micah Green, Chief Digital Officer of The Sumter Item, will showcase his work July 27-Oct. 31 at a photography exhibition in Laurel, Mississippi, where he grew up. 
"The Way Home" will feature Green alongside four other artists at the Lauren Rogers Museum Of Art.
Born in Texas and having lived in Mississippi, Georgia and now South Carolina, Green began taking photographs while working at a short-staffed newspaper and has since become an accomplished photojournalist. 
"The Way Home" celebrates the range of work being produced by five Southern photographers. Each artist is showcased by a thematic body of work, covering topics such as a celebration of industry and an examination of its effects on our region’s landscape, the struggles and triumphs of life in the South, and place and identity as they relate to the concept of home.
Green's photographs focus on the hands of the people he has met through his work as they work and worship, play and protest.
Green will participate in a panel discussion and exhibition reception on Aug. 5. 

Aiken Standard launches fund for public service, investigative journalism

The “truth is our Standard” and “facts aren’t free.”
Get ready to hear those phrases a lot in the coming days, weeks and months as the Aiken Standard and The Star of North Augusta launch our Public Service and Investigative Fund.
Today’s front-page story on an investigation into the finances of the Town of Wagener, with a sharp look at the spending practices of the fire department, is the first of many planned articles that our team of journalists will produce in the months to come.
It would be easy to say reporter Dede Biles spent the better part of a month working on today’s package of stories. That would be accurate. But the truth is that she’s been covering Aiken County for years, and the issues in Wagener have bubbled to the surface from time to time. It all came to a head last fall with the dismissal of the fire department’s top two people, and earlier this year the county launched its own probe into how money was being spent.
Doing this type of journalism can be both time consuming and expensive. Dede filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain documents related to Wagener. It should be noted that Wagener Mayor Mike Miller provided the Aiken Standard, at no cost, with a flash drive containing many documents used in our story. But we still have some FOIA requests pending, for Wagener and other topics, that could cost thousands of dollars.
If you know me at all, you know I’d rather get a root canal than ask for money. But funding this type of journalism is extremely important, and we wouldn’t be asking for assistance if it wasn’t necessary. Publisher Rhonda Overbey and I plan to make presentations around the county on what we are doing; let us know if your organization would like to hear from us.
By John Boyette, Aiken Standard | Read more

P&C’s Hanna Raskin will depart to start regional food newsletter on Substack

Hanna Raskin, food editor and critic for The Post and Courier, will depart the Charleston daily after nearly eight years, she said Tuesday. Raskin will stay in food journalism though, as one of the newly announced winners of local news grants from newsletter startup Substack.
Once she begins in July, Raskin’s new publication, The Food Section, will “publish reports, reviews, and analyses on the food-and-beverage industry and dining culture across the Southeast,” the company announced.
Raskin’s cohort of 12 Substack Local journalists announced this week is the company’s first, and is designed to “help independent writers start sustainable local news enterprises.”
Substack has pitched its subscription platform as a way for independent journalists and niche publications to publish and make money without the overhead of a traditional media outlet. ...
Since starting at The Post and Courier, Raskin has earned acclaim for her work, winning James Beard Award for local-impact journalism in 2017. She’s also been a controversial figure at times, resulting in her expulsion from multiple local restaurants. Fans and critics of Raskin’s work can agree on one thing: She is not afraid to speak her mind, and this will surely continue via her newsletter.
“My eight years at The Post and Courier have taught me the importance of ethical and rigorous food journalism to our community, so I’m sad to leave the paper and my talented colleagues,” Raskin wrote in another tweet. “But looking forward to bringing this kind of coverage to more readers in more places.”
By Parker Milner and Sam Spence, Charleston City Paper | Read more

Heathwood Hall students are finalists in 2021 NPR Student Podcast Competition about Narcisco Gonzales

A podcast produced by students at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School has been selected as a finalist in National Public Radio’s 2021 Student Podcast competition. The 15 finalists were chosen from more than 2,600 submissions.
The podcast, “Shoot Again, You Coward,” was produced by students in the upper school’s studies in leadership and applied journalism class and tells the dramatic story of a politically motivated murder in broad daylight: in 1903, S.C. Lieutenant Governor Jim Tillman shot State newspaper editor-in-chief Narcisco Gonzales in downtown Columbia because he was unhappy with the paper’s coverage of his administration. Gonzales, fatally wounded, nevertheless had the wherewithal to utter the line “Shoot again, you coward,” from which the podcast draws its name.
Described by the students who created it as “a story of corruption, racism, murder, and the fight for freedom of the press…that has been largely forgotten yet is eerily tied to our political climate today,” the podcast features interviews with a historian, two local journalists, a noted S.C. prosecutor, and a great-nephew of the victim, all of whom help reconstruct a fascinating but largely forgotten story.
By Leslie Haynsworth for The Columbia Star | Read more

Industry Briefs

New study: What people tell us about their news habits when they’re not being asked

It’s a common question that vexes survey researchers who study the media: how much do people’s responses to news consumption questions align with their actual behaviors? The sheer scale and variety of the digital news environment makes it tougher than ever for individuals to recall where they get their news. What’s more, survey takers may be inclined to give answers that they think pollsters want to hear. This gets especially challenging when trying to unpack how political views influence news habits.
For practitioners in the news industry, one of the promises of the web and of social platforms was the advent of deep analytics. And yet, insights about readers in many ways remain limited. A publisher knows how many people view and engage with their content, but not much about what motivates them.  
For industry and researchers alike, powerful platforms like Facebook are opaque, especially when it comes to understanding broad patterns in news behaviors across brands (though there are some promising recent developments in data access).
That’s why the Knight Foundation and the Gallup organization developed NewsLens, an experimental platform and news aggregator to facilitate novel research on how people interact with the news online. Functioning similar to a ‘real world’ news aggregator, the NewsLens site has the look and feel of a typical news outlet, and aggregates hundreds of stories per day from mainstream news organizations that span the political spectrum. Researchers can then observe how NewsLens users read, browse and rate stories.
We wanted to know the extent to which news consumers’ political predispositions were responsible for nudging them toward and away from certain types of news articles online, at a time of intense partisanship—the period leading up to and shortly after the 2020 election.
What we found adds to the growing body of evidence that online news ‘echo chambers’ are actually quite rare, even as some news consumers on balance do allow partisan cues to influence their online news preferences.
By Jesse Holcomb, Knight Foundation | Read more

API launches program to support accountability and government reporting

The American Press Institute is launching a new effort to support accountability and government reporting that better prioritizes the needs of local communities.
For news organizations and communities to thrive, coverage of local governance needs to be built for and with the involvement of affected communities. API is looking for experiments that will help create that kind of innovative coverage.
Through discussion, workshop activities and small project funds, API wants to help newsrooms consider why and how journalists prioritize audience information needs through community engagement and service-oriented reporting and how to deepen relationships with your community to ensure your accountability and governance reporting has impact and remains salient and sustainable.
This series is open to any newsroom or journalist interested in exploring these themes. API will host two open discussions on the topics, workshop reporting ideas, and offer small project funds, up to $10,000, to help launch projects or expand existing ones. Want to learn more?

Upland Second Street hosts free virtual training in June

Starting June 7, Upland Second Street will be hosting free virtual training on how to leverage promotions to secure advertiser revenue as the world opens back up. Based on industry trends, they’ll share the biggest opportunities for driving new revenue and engaging your audience with promotions and email. See full agenda.

INN hosts virtual event on future of nonprofit news

The Institute of Nonprofit News is hosting INN Days June 9-10. The free event hopes to bring together journalists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and civic leaders to help shape the future of public service journalism. One session of interest features Karen Rundlet of Knight Foundation, who will lead a panel discussion on why local foundations are investing in journalism as a way to address social inequities. Programming also includes sessions on revenue generation, collaboration, racial equity in staffing and coverage and more. Here are more details.

Obituaries

Longtime Charlotte Observer photographer, ‘one of the great action sports shooters,’ dead at 52

This, in a nutshell, was what it was like to work with David T. Foster III if you were a reporter at The Charlotte Observer and he was the photographer assigned to work with you for the day:
He’d show up in his gray Ford Fusion, strap around his waist a belt with what seemed like a hundred pounds of camera equipment loaded into its pockets and within minutes, large beads of sweat would form on his cleanly shaved scalp.
He was almost always initially reserved. But if the situation was intimate enough, Foster could be relied on at some point to lower his camera and jovially regale the people he was shooting with a colorful story or personal reminiscence. And when the work was done, he’d talk your ear off before, during and after unloading the endless amounts of gear back into his car.
Driving away, you were often left with the same two impressions: Boy, can “Frosty” talk, and man, is he a sweet guy. That’s how Foster will always be remembered by those who worked with him. ...
The only three years of his life that he spent living outside of North Carolina were spent working at The Sun News in Myrtle Beach from 1990 to 1993. From there, he came to the Observer, starting in the Gastonia bureau, then shifting to the Rock Hill bureau shortly thereafter.
By Théoden Janes, The Charlotte Observer | Read more

Columns

By John Foust, Advertising Trainer

A simple way to develop ad campaign ideas

Let’s say you’re meeting with a florist who has been running ads with the headline, “For all your floral needs.” Of course, you and I know this is an empty headline that speaks to no one in particular. It’s a terrible idea and a waste of the advertiser’s budget.
What should you do?
1. Have a conversation. The first step is to diplomatically encourage the advertiser to consider something else. The headline – as weak as it is – may be near and dear to his or her heart. The florist has been spending money to run it, so don’t criticize. Simply say something like, “Your idea opens the door to a lot of ad possibilities. How would you feel about seeing where those possibilities lead?”
Every word of your statement is true. “All of your floral needs” does open the door to other ideas. And you do want to encourage a look at other possibilities.
This approach sends a signal that you are not looking for a quick, hit-and-run sale. You’re aiming for a low-pressure, collaborative effort to promote the florist shop. Read more

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