Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  May 6, 2021

SCNN payouts return more than $42,000 to SCPA member papers

S.C. Newspaper Network (SCNN), the sales arm of SCPA, mailed network advertising payments to SCPA member newspapers last week. The quarterly Small Space Display (2x2/2x4/2x6) Advertising Network payout of $11,944 and the quarterly QuarterPage+ Ad Network payout of $30,181 were both paid. Classified revenue is paid out annually in January.
“Thanks to all of the newspapers for their participation in the networks. There is no state with better participation from member newspapers than South Carolina,” said Randall Savely, Director of Operations. “The income from these networks is vital to the continuing operations of SCPA and is a great source of added revenue for member papers.”
Every daily newspaper and virtually every weekly newspaper in South Carolina participate in SCNN's ad networks. If your newspaper is an SCPA member and does not participate in one of the SCNN networks, contact Randall to learn how these networks can provide added revenue to your newspaper.

PALMY Ad Contest rules, site live Friday

Thanks to the SCPA Foundation, all member newspapers will receive 5 free entries

The 2021 PALMY Advertising Contest entry platform will open Friday and accept entries through June 10.
The PALMY Ad Contest is a great way to recognize the hard working advertising staffs at our member newspapers.
The contest period is for ads that ran between May 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021.
Because SCPA knows it’s been a tough year on newspaper advertising staffs, we want everyone to be able to participate for a much-needed morale boost. To help, the SCPA Foundation Smoak Fund is offering all SCPA member newspapers five free PALMY entries. That way, even if there are less funds in your budget to participate, your ad staff can still be recognized for their hard work and creativity.
All ad directors and publishers will receive an email with log-in info. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Special thanks to the 65 SCPA members who just wrapped up judging Alabama Press Association’s News, Advertising and Magazine Contests! Without the help of our volunteer judges, we would not be able to have our own annual contests. We hope you saw some good work!

Meet our SCPA Foundation interns

In the coming weeks, we'll introduce you to our 2021 interns and Mundy Scholar.
Kailey Cota
University of South Carolina
Intern at The Post and Courier Columbia/Free Times
Kailey Cota is a junior journalism major with a double-minor in political science and business administration at the University of South Carolinarom Fort Mill, South Carolina, Cota is the daughter of Melissa and Brian Cota.
Cota has been committed to journalism since high school, and she is currently the managing editor of UofSC’s student newspaper, The Daily Gamecock. 
Cota is also a communications intern within USC’s School of Journalism and works directly with the Director of Scholastic Media, Leslie Dennis, to plan the South Carolina Scholastic Press Association (SCSPA) and Southern Interscholastic Press Association (SIPA) conferences. 
"I want a newspaper career because I love reading, writing, meeting new
people, and learning about their experiences," Cota wrote in her internship application. "I think everyone can benefit from learning about other peoples’ perspectives, and I believe that successful democracies require easy access to accurate, believable information. I
understand that we’re living in a time of disinformation, and I want to help
cultivate a renewed trust in the mainstream media."
Cota said her favorite aspects of journalism include breaking news, investigative and
political reporting, and profile writing.
Cota will spend her eight-week internship at The Post and Courier Columbia/Free Times.
“I’m excited to dip my toes into the world of journalism at a professional news outlet,” Cota said. “I’m looking forward to growing my skills and learning how to effectively cover a beat. I also can’t wait to shadow other journalists and take notes from them.”  

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.

Member Spotlight: Brian Whitmore

Whitmore and daughter, Lydia, 8, kayaking in Laurens County.
Publisher, Clinton Chronicle

What do you like best about your job?
I've been in newspaper journalism for 25 years. Now a publisher, I still consider myself a writer and continue to win awards for my writing. Expressing myself through writing is the best part of my job.

What is your proudest career moment?
Training and mentoring Kelly Duncan. She will be the future face of The Chronicle. I'm glad to pass on my knowledge, just as Graham Williams (Union County News) passed on his knowledge to me.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
We are small, but have a big presence in Laurens County. Everything we do is to ensure Laurens County gets the best newspaper around and that's exciting.

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
FOI/Legal Hotline. Always there for us.

When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
Demsey's Pizza - All-you-can eat pizza and wings brings in fans from surrounding counties. Rhythm on the Rails festival, Oct. 22-23, will feature barbecue and '80s hit-maker Starship.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I have a Christian blog - Press On.
What do you like to do outside of work? 
I love to kayak. Laurens County has three small lakes and three rivers. I love to get away from everyone and everything.

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

"Social Distance" 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

Editorial: New evidence that 2017 reforms to SC FOI law didn’t work. We need a fix.

Everybody knows it’s three strikes and you’re out in baseball. We need that same rule when it comes to state and local governments in South Carolina letting the public know how they’re conducting the public’s business.
Two years ago, S.C. Inspector General Brian Lamkin issued a mini-report card on how well state agencies were complying with a 2017 change to the state Freedom of Information Act that was supposed to make it tougher for agencies to violate the law, and require them to provide information more quickly without gouging people with inflated costs.
The bar was low — Mr. Larkin merely checked the agencies’ websites to see if their stated FOI policies complied with the new law. Astoundingly, not all did.
Strike one.
A year ago, Post and Courier reporter Avery Wilks reported that some government officials had realized that they could suppress critical news reporting — not to mention citizen-led inquiries — by simply charging exorbitant fees to release public records. The 2017 law was prompted by governments’ routine practice of slow-walking responses to document requests and fabricating reasons to withhold records. It was supposed to make it harder to violate the law and rein in ridiculous fees. It also allowed governments to charge a “reasonable fee” for redacting information from documents that state law allows them to hide.
The surge in exorbitant charges that Mr. Wilks discovered was all the more disturbing because there are only a few things that state law actually requires government to hide from the public; in most cases, it simply allows them to hide information. So public officials are choosing to hide information from the public, and then charging us for the effort it takes to keep the information hidden.
Strike two.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Why SC prison system now keeps secret the names of inmates who die behind bars

Can the S.C. Department of Corrections keep secret the names of inmates who die in prison, including the identity of persons who are executed?
That’s a possibility raised by a letter written by Corrections Director Bryan Stirling to State Attorney General Alan Wilson asking if the state prison system can make public the identities of people who die in prison.
‘I write to you to request an opinion regarding whether or not the S.C. Department of Corrections is required or authorized to release the names of inmates who have died in custody due to suicide, overdose, homicide, or any other reason to the press or any other person pursuant to a general request or Freedom of Information request,” Stirling wrote Wilson in February.
Already, while waiting for the Attorney General’s opinion, Corrections has quietly reversed its longstanding practice of releasing names of newsworthy inmates who die in prison, or those who die in unusual circumstances. It no longer reveals dead inmates’ names, even to reporters who ask about the inmates. ...
Jay Bender, a veteran S.C. lawyer who has handled numerous public records matters, said Tuesday that basically, courts have held that prison inmates have no privacy expectations. That “no privacy” holding is even more true when the inmates are dead, Bender said.
“The notion that an inmate who dies has a right to privacy is bizarre because your right to privacy dies with you,” Bender said.
As for keeping secret the names of inmates who have been executed, Bender said that would be ridiculous.
“One reason for the death penalty is for it to be a deterrent. What is the prison system going to do after an execution: say, an unnamed inmate was executed for some crimes he committed long ago?” Bender asked. Bender serves as a lawyer for the S.C. Press Association and The State Media Co.
By John Monk, The State | Read more

The Island Packet releases 'Fined Out'

The Island Packet recently released "Fined Out," a three-part series about fines and fees that affect driving privileges in South Carolina. Reporters combed through the public index and obtained records and data under the FOIA to tell the story of Trevor Heyward, a Black man in South Carolina who would become trapped in a cycle of poverty for 21 years after a traffic stop in 1999.
Across the United States, 11 million people have suspended drivers licenses simply because they can’t pay their traffic tickets. When they’re driving under suspension, they’re fined out of working, spending time with their families and leading productive and happy lives. Here’s one man’s story and what advocates around the country are doing to stop it from happening to another person.
By Katherine Kokal and Jake Shore, The Island Packet | Read more

Rather than debate attorney fees, Horry County Council abruptly shuts down meeting

Horry County Council members abruptly ended their meeting Tuesday night rather than talk about how much the county spends in legal fees.
Councilman Al Allen had requested that the attorney spending be placed on the agenda, but the council voted to adjourn the meeting just before the item was about to be discussed. ...
There’s no question that records of government payments to attorneys are public, said Jay Bender, a Columbia attorney and an expert on the state’s open records law, in an email.
“A summary of payments to lawyers and law firms is specifically public as ‘information in or taken from any account, voucher, or contract dealing with the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds by public bodies,’” he said, quoting state law.
By Charles D. Perry, | Read more

Editorial: It’s time local governments return to in-person meetings, with precautions

It’s time for Charleston City Council to resume meeting in person but with added precautions that recognize the pandemic isn’t over. Council also should keep the technology that has made it more convenient for people to monitor and even participate in those meetings.
When COVID-19 arrived last spring, most local governments switched to meeting virtually, often via Zoom where council members could be seen and heard online. Since then, however, many have resumed holding in-person meetings. Charleston has remained an exception, but we’re glad to see that will soon change.
One reason Charleston has remained virtual for so long is that its council traditionally meets in a 19th century building at Broad and Meeting streets, in a historic room but also a rather intimate one. Reporter Andrew Brown notes that city officials estimated their chambers could hold only about 25 people if everyone stays at least 3 feet away from others.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Judge strikes down Lexington County subdivision ban, but says council can try again

Builders are free to put up new subdivisions in Lexington County. At least in theory.
A judge struck down the county’s attempt to put a moratorium on new subdivision construction on Tuesday, saying the county council had improperly closed a meeting on the idea before the ban was enacted April 13.
But Judge Debra McCaslin did not rule on wider objections the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina brought against the moratorium, and said the county was free to try to pass the moratorium a second time. ...
The building industry group argues the council violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act by enacting the ordinance after a closed executive session without giving the public the legal justification for the move.
“It’s vital in a democratic society that the public’s business is performed in an open manner,” attorney Jay Bender told the court. “This was a state where the plantation owner makes the rules and everybody else is expected to follow them. That attitude carried over into the mill villages... Council members seem to have the mistaken notion that they are our rulers and not our representatives.”
Bender has represented The State in Freedom of Information and other issues.
By Bristow Marchant, The State | Read more

Related: JUDGE ENDS BUILDING BAN; Advises county to follow legal procedures (By Jerry Bellune, Lexington County Chronicle & The Dispatch News)

Related: Is Lexington County’s subdivision construction freeze illegal? Homebuilders are suing (By Bristow Marchant, The State)

Town of Blythewood PR contract draws concerns; council may have violated FOIA

After months of acrimonious council discussions concerning contract negotiations between Blythewood Mayor Bryan Franklin and MPA Strategies, the climate has turned legal.
While Franklin was one of two members of council who voted against contracting with MPA Strategies to handle promotional services and grant writing for the town, he, Town Administrator Carroll Williamson and Town Attorney Shannon Burnett were authorized by council to negotiate the details of the contract with MPA Strategies.
With the negotiations continuing to drag on, MPA Strategies’ CEO and owner, Ashley Hunter, sent a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, dated April 15, 2021, to town hall requesting the mayor’s phone, text and email messages as they pertain to MPA Strategies.
The next day, April 16, Franklin signed the contract and mailed it to Hunter to sign. Hunter signed and returned the contract to town hall on April 21.
But, all is not well.
On April 20, 2021, Franklin, without town council’s consent and approval, engaged Nexsen Pruet law firm as outside counsel to represent the Town concerning MPA Strategies. Three members of council – Donald Brock, Sloan Griffin and Larry Griffin – said they were not aware that the mayor intended to or had hired outside counsel until receiving copies of emails that Nexsen Pruet attorney David Black had sent to MPA strategies on April 23, 2021, concerning what he termed a “dispute” between the Town and MPA Strategies.
By Barbara Ball, The Voice of Blythewood | Read more

SC Senate gives SLED funding to investigate public corruption after Uncovered project

South Carolina’s top law enforcement agency asked for help fighting public corruption. Last week, the state Senate delivered — approving a proposed $10 billion state budget that includes funds for the State Law Enforcement Division to hire a forensic auditor this summer to help determine if public monies are being stolen or abused.
The vote comes two months after The Post and Courier reported that SLED doesn’t employ a single white-collar crimes investigator, a void that has hamstrung the agency’s ability to bring cases against crooked politicians and public officials.
Filling that position is among the recommendations that have emerged from The Post and Courier’s Uncovered series, a yearlong project in which the newspaper is partnering with local news outlets throughout South Carolina to report on corruption and abuses of power by public officials.
SLED has investigated more than 1,400 cases of government misconduct over the past decade, even without a dedicated white-collar crime unit. Those cases were handled not by specialists, but by agents who also had to juggle investigations into drug trafficking, violent crime, arsons and police-involved shootings.
SLED Chief Mark Keel asked lawmakers earlier this year for $159,000 to hire a forensic auditor, a number-crunching detective specially trained to identify patterns in illegal spending.
By Avery G. Wilks, The Post and Courier | Read more

Legal Briefs

5 takeaways from the Reporters Committee’s 2020 Press Freedom report

In 2020, journalists and news organizations across the United States faced record numbers of physical attacks, arrests and cases of equipment damage, as well as many other press freedom violations, according to the Reporters Committee’s fourth annual report analyzing data from the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
More than two dozen press freedom organizations, including the Reporters Committee, launched the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in 2017 to document threats against press freedom nationwide. The Reporters Committee analyzes the Tracker data each year to assess what it means for our pro bono work as the only national legal services organization focused on protecting the newsgathering rights of journalists.
The full 2020 report can be found at this link, but here are five key takeaways:
1. Police were responsible for the vast majority of attacks on journalists — and appeared to frequently target them at Black Lives Matter protests
Journalists faced a record 438 physical attacks last year, 91% of which occurred as they reported on the nationwide racial justice protests that erupted in response to the police murder of George Floyd. Law enforcement officers were responsible for 80% of the assaults at protests, affecting 324 journalists. At least 195 of these journalists appeared to be deliberately targeted by police.
Law enforcement officers assaulted reporters with tear gas, batons, pepper balls and rubber-coated bullets, among other weapons. In Oregon, the attacks continued even after a federal judge barred law enforcement from targeting journalists engaged in lawful newsgathering.
From Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press | Read more

People & Papers


Mitchell retiring from FMU post, will be replaced by Sweeney

Francis Marion University is saying farewell to a long-time vice president and is welcoming his replacement to the campus community.
Tucker Mitchell, FMU’s Vice President for University Communications, is retiring in July and will move to his native North Carolina. He’s been at FMU since 2013.
Mitchell began discussing his plans with FMU President Dr. Fred Carter in January. Carter began developing a succession plan soon after. Vice presidents at FMU serve at the president’s discretion.
Mitchell’s replacement in the post will be John Sweeney, a 2009 graduate of the University who worked with Mitchell at the Florence Morning News during Mitchell’s tenure as editor there. Mitchell supervised editorial operations for the Morning News and four other weekly newspapers operated by the same company in the Pee Dee.
Sweeney is currently the Director of Business Development at the Northeastern Strategic Economic Alliance, which coordinates economic development in a nine-county area in and around the Pee Dee. Prior to that, Sweeney was a member of Congressman Tom Rice’s staff in Florence.
Sweeney will join FMU’s communications team in mid-May and will work alongside Mitchell for six weeks as part of the transition.
From the Morning News | Read more

Aiken Standard, North Augusta Star face shortage of newspaper carriers

The days of kids on bicycles delivering afternoon newspapers are long gone but the daily demand remains unchanged.
The Aiken Standard and The Star of North Augusta are currently facing a shortage of reliable newspaper delivery drivers. Carriers deliver multiple newspapers countywide seven days a week, 365 days a year. They are independent contractors who are responsible for delivering the publications in good condition by 6 a.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. weekends.
In the past, the newspaper has maintained a pool of candidates waiting for routes when they open up. Recently, recruitment advertisements and solicitations to fill open routes have all but dried up completely.
“I’m hearing from other news organizations across the state that they’re experiencing the same shortage of carriers as we’re seeing here in Aiken County,” Aiken Standard Publisher Rhonda Overbey said. “I’m grateful for the patience that our readers have shown, but all of us just want to get the newspapers delivered.”
From the Aiken Standard | Read more

Thad Moore named Livingston Award finalist 

Thad Moore, watchdog and public service reporter at The Post and Courier, has been named a finalist in the 2021 Livingston Awards, presented by Wallace House and the University of Michigan.
Moore is a finalist in Local Reporting for his South Carolina eviction coverage.
The awards support young journalists and honor the best reporting and storytelling by journalists under the age of 35 across all forms of journalism. The 50 finalist selections were chosen from more than 500 entries for work released in 2020.
This year’s Livingston Award winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on June 10, 2021. Read more
SCPA's student assistants are graduating from UofSC this week so we celebrated with cupcakes! We are so proud of all that Taylor Jennings-Brown, Kassidy Wright and Jordan Postal have accomplished in school and at SCPA. We can't wait to hear about their next adventures in journalism, communications/theatre and visual communications!

Industry Briefs

Higher rates, slower service highlights USPS 10-year plan

The U.S. Postal Service plays an integral part in serving the needs of citizens throughout the nation, delivering letters, newspapers, marketing pieces and packages to individuals and businesses across the country. However, large decreases in mail volume along with a substantial increase in operational costs have led USPS to lose $87 billion over the last 14 years.
On March 22, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy unveiled his new ten-year strategic plan for the Postal Service, “Delivering for America,” to tackle the agency’s growing fiscal crisis and position itself for an increased market share in the package business. The plan will impact all users of the postal system, with clear and potentially serious implications for newspaper publishers that rely on the postal system for newspaper delivery.
The 58-page plan outlines strategies to be imposed beginning later this year that will save USPS from a projected $160 billion loss over the next decade. The plan focuses on several initiatives such as reducing air transportation in favor of trucks, shortening post office hours, and integrating the postal retiree health benefits system into Medicare. Meanwhile, postage rates will increase for most mail products and delivery times will lengthen for mail services, including going from a three-day to a five-day service standard for First-Class mail.
Congressional Democrats have expressed outrage over the Postal Service’s plan – specifically in response to the idea of raising rates while slowing down service. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) declared that Postmaster General DeJoy “has put forth a draconian plan that guarantees the death spiral of the United States Postal Service,” and Rep. Stephen Lynch stated the plan “runs contrary to the Postal Service’s mission to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient mail services to the American people.”
By Julia Shurman, News Media Alliance | Read more

9 ways newsrooms can incorporate more audio in their work

In 2021, the media platform with the highest weekly reach in the United States is audio. Data published last month by Nielsen revealed that radio — just one component of this medium — reaches 88% of U.S. adults each week, ahead of smartphone apps (85%) and TV (80%).
And our national love of audio isn't just confined to traditional radio consumption. The growth of podcasts, and emergence of audio in other places, like social networks, means that the time we spend with this type of content continues to grow and evolve.
This creates opportunities for newsrooms of all shapes and sizes. You don't have to be a radio station to embrace this trend. Below I have outlined three areas, and nine different examples, to show how journalists and news outlets can more effectively embrace audio.
Encourage listeners to peek behind the curtain
It is well known that trust in journalism is low among some audiences. Outlets need to be more open, accessible and accountable. Audio offers a simple and effective means to do that.
By Damian Radcliffe, Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more

New Covering Climate Now journalism awards to honor exemplary journalism 

Covering Climate Now and Columbia Journalism Review are proud to launch an annual award to celebrate exemplary journalism about the defining story of our time. The Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards will honor journalists from every corner of the newsroom who are producing coverage in print, digital, audio, video, and multimedia formats that report on all dimensions of the climate story, especially solutions. Submissions of journalism that was published or broadcast anywhere in the world during 2020 will be accepted through June 1, 2021. Learn more.


By John Foust, Advertising Trainer

Give your advertising some personality

Kirk likes to work directly with his ad clients on their creative strategies. “Making a sale is just the first step in the journey,” he said. “It’s a big part of my job to make sure my clients stand out from their competitors on the page and on the screen. When I work with several advertisers who are in the same type of business, it’s a special challenge to create a different ad personality for each one of them.”
Generally speaking, there are two types of advertising. There are image ads that are designed to give consumers a good feeling about the advertiser (for example, “Your safety is our biggest concern”). And there are response ads that are designed to move readers to take action (“Buy one, get one free”). 
Kirk is on target in his comments about personality. Whether image or response – whether print or digital – every ad has some kind of personality. Instead of leaving that important advertising ingredient to chance, he is determined to help them develop ad personalities that appeal to their respective target audiences.  
Let’s take a look at a few of the tools which can contribute to an ad’s personality – the type of personality that a client wants to project: 
1. Typography. When we speak, it’s not just what we say, it’s how we say it that communicates a message. It’s the same on the newspaper page or the digital screen, so much so that typography has been called “the voice of print.”  Read more
By Julie R. Smith, Columnist

A mistress is now a friend if you use the AP stylebook

Dear Reader:
The Associated Press Stylebook, aka the Bible of journalism, has decreed that the word “mistress” shall no longer be used by journalists because “it implies the woman is solely responsible for the affair.”
Instead — and much to the relief of unfaithful men everywhere — we are to use “friend,” “companion,” or — if we dare — “lover.”
How many divorce actions, filed for the cause of adultery, will use those terms? “Mrs. Jones found out Mr. Jones was keeping Stankyho, a long-term friend, in a New York apartment for 10 years.” Nope, the legalese will say “long-term mistress” because that’s what Stankyho is.
A mistress is, by definition, sexually involved with a married man, and is almost always compensated in some form, whether with money, jewelry or new tires. The relationship has a transactional quality that friends, companions, even lovers, do not share.
For example, I love my friend Carrie, but I don’t pay her rent. A widower and widow may be longtime companions, but nobody’s committing adultery so therefore, the woman is not a mistress.
Twitter users had fun with it: “He left his wife for his friend, because she was much friendlier.”
“The synonym for mistress is ‘homewrecker’.” “The preferred phrase is ‘Sugar Baby.’”
Back in the day, you weren’t a newspaper reporter if you didn’t memorize E.B. White and William Strunk’s “Elements of Style.” (Yes, the same E.B. White who wrote “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little.”)
Now most news outlets use AP style, which has plenty of quirks. And by quirks, I mean “huh?”
Published in The Berkeley Independent | Read more

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