Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Jan. 28, 2021

A Herald project 4 years in the making drops this week. Introducing ‘Return Man’

This week, readers of The (Rock Hill) Herald will get a first glimpse at a project that is four years in the making.
It’s called ‘Longshot: Return Man.’ It’s the fullest available account of the life of Jim “Butch” Duncan, a Lancaster, S.C., native, who was a generational football talent and a Super Bowl winner. He reportedly died by suicide in 1972 and left behind many unanswered questions.
This project, authored by The Herald’s former award-winning sports editor Bret McCormick, will feature a series of seven written stories, eight podcast episodes and an eight-minute video documentary. The pieces of this project will unfold over the next several weeks, with the first podcast available on iHeart Radio, Spotify, Apple Music and wherever else you get your podcasts on Tuesday.
This is a delicate story, and it’s delicately and thoughtfully told. The Herald’s Alex Zietlow spoke with McCormick via phone earlier this month to preview the project’s publication.

Call SCPA for SLED background checks

SCPA staffers are happy to run free SLED criminal background checks for member journalists. Please call our office during business hours at (803) 750-9561 to request a SLED check. You must provide the full name and date of birth. Checks are for news stories only.
After hours and on weekends, reporters must go to the SLED website and pay the $25 fee. 
Here's more about obtaining a background check.
SCPA has a member publisher in need of both free and paid outdoor newspaper racks. If you have any you'd like to get rid of, please reach out to SCPA and we'll connect you.
Member Spotlight: Martha Rose Brown
Staff Writer, The Times and Democrat

What do you like best about your job?
What I like best about my job is the variety of coverage areas. As a crime reporter, I’m constantly reading incident reports and warrants but also cover trials and other court cases. Then sometimes I’m feature stories about a person or an event focused on public safety. Often my stories are breaking, but sometimes they’re not. From day to day, there seem to be surprises around every turn.

What is your proudest career moment?
My proudest career moment is when I received my first S.C. Press Association award. I was working as a correspondent that year and managed to win Beat Reporter of the Year.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
I’m the most exciting thing going on at my paper. Ah, I jest. The most exciting thing going on at The Times and Democrat is variety of services we offer – not only does our staff of outstanding journalists report news stories and our advertising representative sell ads, we offer website building, a variety of subscription packages and more. We work hard to deliver lots of services in addition to news.

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
My favorite SCPA member service is being able to request SLED background checks.

What adjustments have you made during COVID-19?
During COVID-19, I worked remotely and as practicably as possible for several weeks. When possible, I conduct interviews by phone or outside. I wear a face mask whenever I conduct in-person interviews and while I work nearly daily in the newsroom. It’s been interesting to attend several court hearings virtually. That’s something I’d not done prior to the pandemic.

When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
This is a great time to enjoy some of the amazing natural parks and places in Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun counties. The Times and Democrat covers those three counties, which are predominately rural. There is plenty of clean, country air for everyone to share. When it’s safe to get out and about again, I’d like to meet a group of friends to share a meal at Sweatman’s BBQ (located between Eutawville and Holly Hill) and share dessert with friends at Randolph Artisan Italian Ice & Gelato (located on Chestnut Street in Orangeburg). Both businesses are open. Sweatman’s is open for takeout only, at this time. Randolph is open for dine-in customers and takeout. Both are locally owned and operated businesses. You will not be disappointed. Both businesses have Facebook pages.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know that I have clubbed thumbs.

What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work I enjoy genealogy, playing Words with Friends, macrophotography and spending time with my tight network of the most supportive friends anyone could ever want. I enjoy playing the piano and guitar (sans audience). I also look forward to Sunday services at First Presbyterian Church in Moncks Corner. 

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

FOI Briefs

Richland One reverses course on public comment policy

South Carolina’s ninth largest school district will no longer cut its livestream feed during the public comment section of meetings, reversing a longstanding policy that was brought to light by The Post and Courier.
Richland One board chairman Aaron Bishop said Tuesday all speakers will be granted three minutes to have their remarks read into the record, with responses presented to them by district officials within 10 days.
“The board urges and cordially invites all persons to participate through established procedures,” Bishop read from a prepared statement ahead of comments from five people being accepted. “The board is committed to compliance with the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, as well as other federal and state laws pertaining to board policy.”
For years, the 24,000-student district 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 twice since December, and members of the South Carolina Press Association said such a practice runs afoul of the state’s public records law.
By Adam Benson, The Post and Courier | Read more

People & Papers

Matthew Tranquill named GM and advertising director at Morning News

Matthew Tranquill has been named the general manager and director of local advertising sales for the Morning News.
The appointment was announced Tuesday by Lee Enterprises, which owns the Morning News.
Tranquill comes to Florence from South Dakota, where he has been the president and director of local advertising sales for the Rapid City Journal.
Former Morning News publisher Bailey Dabney has left the company.
“Matt will be a strong addition in Florence and is dedicated to helping local businesses thrive,” said Cathy Hughes, a Lee Group publisher and regional publisher for the Morning News and The Times and Democrat in Orangeburg.
“He is an innovative sales leader with significant experience driving ad revenue, particularly in the expanding digital environment.”
Tranquill joined Lee in 2018 after serving as publisher of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
His newspaper career began as an advertising sales representative with The Parkersburg News Sentinel in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Tranquill held several leadership roles with the company before becoming regional advertising director for The Parkersburg News Sentinel and The Marietta Times in 2014.
From the Morning News | Read more

How growing up in Aynor prepared one of the nation’s top reporters to cover Trump

Often when the former Trump Administration made international news, a byline recognizable to many in Aynor ran atop The Washington Post’s coverage.
From big breaks like the former president calling some countries “s___ holes,” to covering a summit with North Korean leaders, to daily updates from a chaotic White House, Joshua Dawsey of Aynor distinguished himself as a fair, dogged and distinctively Southern reporter covering history at the White House as it unfolded.
But years before he would be covering the most powerful people in the world, Dawsey began his journalism career in Aynor, his hometown where his parents still have a farm today, holding the most powerful people of the Independent Republic of Horry accountable.
By Tyler Fleming, The Post and Courier Myrtle Beach | Read more

Industry Briefs

Historic Rock Hill is hosting a virtual book event on Feb. 1, at 6 p.m., featuring author Claudia Smith Brinson and civil rights activist Tom Gaither. This conversation will be hosted by Dr. Adolphus Belk, Jr., Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Winthrop University. In “Stories of Struggle,” Brinson distills decades of research, including more than 150 interviews with the men and women who spearheaded the civil rights struggle in South Carolina. Her book focuses on the incredible courage of African American activists who dared take on the majority Jim Crow culture of the 1960s. These heart-breaking, inspiring stories contradict the myth that South Carolina reacted to the civil rights movement more humanely than other Southern states. Brinson worked as ajournalist for more than 30 years in South Carolina, Florida and Greece. More details and registration here.

NNA Foundation to host forum on State of the First Amendment

The National Newspaper Association Foundation has launched a new 'Country Editors Forum' for NNA members and non-members. 
On Jan. 28 at 3 p.m., via Zoom, the forum will feature Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center and the former editor-in-chief of USA Today. He will share the hidden history of the First Amendment in an interactive presentation that will challenge and inspire. You’ll never look at the First Amendment in the same way again.
Imagine an entertaining and interactive session that incorporates Thomas Jefferson, Betsy Ross and “Louie, Louie” in a freewheeling format that will leave you engaged, informed and inspired as a journalist.
Register for this free program here.

Is unpublishing old crime stories Orwellian or empathetic? The Boston Globe is offering past story subjects a “fresh start”

One impact of the broader Black Lives Matter movement — in particular, its exposure of the deep inequities in the criminal justice system — has been a growing belief that the traditional American treatment of people arrested for or convicted of a crime is both unfair and counterproductive.
You can see it across domains and across the country. For more than a decade, the “Ban the Box” movement has pushed to prevent employers from demanding information about people’s criminal records in their job applications — making it easier for those convicted to get a job that can get them on the right track. In 2018, Floridians voted overwhelmingly to give those convicted of a felony back the right to vote (though Republicans in the state did their best to obstruct it).
A new bill in Oregon would go further and allow the convicted to vote while incarcerated. In Illinois, reformers just passed a bill to end cash bail.
And a new wave of news outlets increasingly let prisoners tell their stories rather than have narratives around criminal justice dominated by prosecutors and police. “Reality” TV franchises like Cops and Live PD — long accused of serving as a PR machine for police — were canceled.
Mainstream journalism has had a lot to think about too. Not that long ago, it wasn’t uncommon for local newspapers to have a dedicated section of their websites devoted to publishing the mugshots of those recently arrested — a sort of clickbait eternal perp walk through your neighborhood. Despite a decade-plus of complaints, many of them survived into 2020, when sites like the Houston Chronicle, Tampa Bay Times, Sacramento Bee, and many of the New Gannett papers took them down amid protests.
Now, some are thinking more broadly: Should an arrest years ago continue to haunt someone as they move through their career? What about for people for whom charges were dropped — or who admitted their guilt, did their time, and want to move past their past? Are newspaper websites the mythical “permanent record” where all your misdeeds would be recorded for eternity?
By Joshua Benton, Nieman Journalism Lab | Read more


Longtime journalist, PIO dies of COVID-19

Ken Bell, an award-winning journalist, passed away from COVID-19 last week. Bell worked as a reporter at The Sun News, The Lancaster News and The Charlotte Observer. He also served as an editor at the Beaufort Gazette and The Sumter Item. In early 2019, Bell retired from the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, where he was a deputy and public information officer. He also published the nonfiction book "Triple Tragedy in Alcolu" last year. RIP, Ken.

Former Item editor, sheriff's office PIO Ken Bell remembered for his friendship, heart

It was a sticky mid-November afternoon, and, new to Sumter, I drove a dirt road out to Manchester State Forest to examine a hole where a murdered woman had been dumped.
That was how I met Ken Bell.
The first big case I covered as a new member of The Sumter Item's newsroom in 2017 was that of Suzette Ginther, a woman whose boyfriend worried when she failed to show up for work. So there we were, a 28-year-old female who knew next to no one in Sumter and a man in a police uniform and unmarked vehicle. Retracing the steps of how it could be that someone dragged the dead weight of a grown woman's body from the dirt road to a half-buried spot about 50 yards in amid fallen leaves, roots, jumbled terrain and mud.
Within minutes, I knew I wasn't also going to be murdered, and I knew this Ken guy was someone I wanted to know better. He was helpful and respectful, interested in the details of the case and keen on the storytelling from both the reporter's and deputy's perspective.
Ken loved this kind of stuff. Humanizing tragedy, bringing truth to serious situations that often gets skewed in dramatics. On Jan. 21, the 66-year-old Lancaster native died after spending the better part of January at Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital battling COVID-19 and exacerbated health complications.
By Kayla Green, The Sumter Item | Read more

Related: 'Everybody loved Ken’: Former Lancaster News reporter Ken Bell dies of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit home at The Lancaster News.
One of our own, former reporter Ken Bell, died Thursday in Sumter from COVID complications. Hospitalized since the first week in January, Bell was 66.
An award-winning journalist, author, military base historian, newspaper editor, church pianist, retired police spokesman and part-time coroner, Bell was also a dad and grandfather.
“He was a loving person and will truly be missed by many,” said one of his sons, Chuck Bell.
Bell worked at TLN from 1995 to 2000 after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina as a non-traditional student.
An avid Clemson Tigers fan, Bell was also past president of the Sumter-Palmetto Rotary Club.
“Ken always had a smile and a way to make you laugh. He was a prolific writer, and it’s so sad in that he had so many more stories to tell. He will be missed,” said Susan Rowell, publisher of The Lancaster News.
Bell left Lancaster about 20 years ago to take an evening editor’s post at the Hilton Head Island Packet. Bell left Beaufort to become the editor of the Sumter Item. He also served as the official historian for Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter before being named the public information officer for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office.
By Greg Summers, The Lancaster News | Read more


By Chris Trainor, Columnist, Index-Journal

When the composing room went 'boom'

Like all mere amateurs, I had to stand in awe of the work of a master.
I’m sure more than a few of you watched the presidential inauguration celebration on Wednesday night. Wait, wait. Before half of you tear up your newspaper or throw your phone into a lake, this isn’t a column about politics.
It’s actually a column about another explosive topic: fireworks.
For those that did watch the inaugural finale on Wednesday, you know it ended with what had to be the mother of all fireworks shows near the Washington Monument, as pop star Katy Perry sang “Firework.” The song and the show were synced up with one another, down to the last note.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the fireworks extravaganza was directed by a man named Adam Biscow, with a company out of Chicago called Strictly FX. The company typically does pyrotechnics for rock ‘n’ roll shows and big sporting events, such as the Super Bowl. Biscow told the paper that about 20,000 shells were used for the inaugural, set off from two launch pads.
If you’re among the folks — all seven of you — who’ve been reading this column through the years, you know that I’m something of a would-be pyro. I have an unusual zeal for fireworks, and for many years I put on a neighborhood show on the Fourth of July that, honestly, probably should have been a licensed affair. But the city manager usually was in attendance with his family, so I figured if anyone came around wanting to see a permit, he’d speak for me.
So, for me, watching a fireworks show at the level of the one at the inauguration is kind of like a duffer from Greenwood Country Club watching Tiger Woods play golf, or a plugger from the basketball courts at the Y watching LeBron James do his thing.
And when I remarked on Twitter Wednesday that the inaugural fireworks show was a blast (literally), Executive Editor Richard Whiting chimed in with a memory that reminded me I’ll forever be a fireworks amateur. Read more

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