Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Oct. 14, 2021
New Lexington County Chronicle managing editor Jordan Lawrence (left) and publisher Parks Rogers (right) stand beside retiring president Macleod Bellune and publisher Jerry Bellune. Photo by Thomas Grant Jr., Chronicle

Lexington County Chronicle changes hands 

Purchased by Fifth Generation SC Family Newspaper Publisher 

The Lexington County Chronicle and Fish Wrapper have been purchased by a family whose history with SC newspapers dates back to the 1890s.
Jack and Kyle Osteen – part of the family that has owned The Sumter Item, a five-day-per-week paper covering that city and county east of Columbia, since its founding in 1894 – bought Lexington’s newspaper in September.
As part of this change, former owners Jerry and MacLeod Bellune – who founded the Chronicle in 1992, and eventually merged it with The Dispatch News, which began serving Lexington County in 1870 – are retiring.
"We appreciate the support of our advertisers and readers over more than 35 years. It has been a privilege and a blessing," the Bellunes said in a joint statement.
The Osteen company is known for quality journalism in print and online and is an innovator in publishing local news in many print and online formats. The family plans for similar innovations in Lexington.
“Newspapers across the nation are facing increasing challenges. We look forward to extending and expanding the success of the Chronicle, which has managed to survive and remain an important part of the community,” Jack and Kyle Osteen said in a joint statement. “We’re excited to put in place new leadership to serve our readers and advertisers for years to come.”
Parks Rogers will serve as publisher for the newly purchased Lexington-based media company. Rogers has worked for the Osteen’s company for nearly seven years as publisher of Gulf Coast Media in Alabama and group publisher of several Florida and New Mexico publishing companies. Rogers’ long publishing career includes stints in management at The State in Columbia and The Post and Courier in Charleston.
“I am delighted to return to the Midlands after my time in Alabama. Community newspapers are the sweet spot for delivering local, practical information readers can use every day,” Rogers said. “We think that if you live west of the river, your news should be based west of the river instead of coming in from outside.”
Jordan Lawrence will also join the Chronicle, leading the newsroom as managing editor. He comes to the newspaper after spending eight years working for Free Times, a free weekly newspaper covering Columbia and the greater Midlands. For the past two years, he led Free Times as its managing editor, helping oversee the paper’s merger with a weekly Columbia edition of The Post and Courier. 
“Lexington County is a vital, quickly growing area of South Carolina, and one that is incredibly varied,” Lawrence said. “From the Town of Lexington’s rapidly rejuvenating downtown to Lake Murray to the more metropolitan Cayce and West Columbia, just on the Lexington side of the Congaree River, to the many small towns that dot the countryside, it’s an area that comprises several distinct communities. I’m excited to deliver news that meets the needs of these residents in the 21st century.”
In the coming weeks, the Chronicle will launch a redesign of its print edition and website. Stay tuned, both on the page and online, for further details. In addition, the paper will soon move into a new office in downtown Lexington.
From The Lexington County Chronicle and The Dispatch News | Read more
By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Holy Cow!: Troubling Appeals Court Ruling Holds that Tweet Link May Be Libel, Though the Linked Article Is Not

You may have noticed that California Congressman Devin Nunes is in the news. If you’re interested in a strange tale about Nunes, a tweet, the complexities of libel law and a fake cow, I’ve got a story for you.
Congressman Nunes is a particularly outspoken supporter of former President Trump and—like the former president—also a prolific defamation plaintiff. One of the more prominent suits that Nunes filed was against the anonymous authors of parody Twitter accounts purportedly written by mother (now replaced by his “Alt-Mom” after Twitter banned the original account) and a cow on his family’s farm. While claims against Twitter and a Republican strategist have been dismissed, the claims against the parody accounts persist.
Another libel suit targeted Esquire magazine, its publisher Hearst, and writer Ryan Lizza over an article published in print and online on Sept. 30, 2018. Titled “Devin Nunes’s Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret” online and “Milking the System” in print, the article reported Nunes’s “secret” was that while he portrayed himself as a farmer to his constituents in California’s Central Valley, his family had sold the farm in California where Nunes grew up and had purchased and now runs a dairy farm in Iowa. The article also alleged that the Iowa farm employed undocumented workers.
Nunes’s lawsuit claimed that the Esquire article both defamed him directly by making false statements that hurt his reputation and also defamed him by implication, by implying that he was a hypocrite. Read more

Email SCPA your tax sale notices

SCPA is happy to upload your newspaper's delinquent tax sale notices to our statewide public notice site, scpublicnotices.com. Just email the PDF files and run dates to us and we will upload the listings to the site.
Thanks to everyone who is regularly posting their newspaper's legal/public notice ads. The site now hosts nearly 700,000 ads and is viewed by roughly 2,500 users a month. 
If you ever have a question about legal/public notice ads or how to upload ads to the site, please contact us at (803) 750-9561.

"Fall in South Carolina" 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.

National Newspaper Week

Here's the National Newspaper Week content we've seen so far. Please share your newspaper's stories, Op-eds and more. 

Chris Trainor: Make every week Newspaper Week

You always remember the first one. At least I hope so.
For me, the first one — and in this case I’m referring to my first bylined story in the Index-Journal — came in August 2004. I was just a rookie, trying to pry my way into the business. And Mike Stone, the Index’s sports editor at the time, opened a crack in the door for me.
The Index, at the time, needed a sports clerk. That was a person who worked in the sports office at night and took phone calls from coaches for all of the brief stories and box scores for local teams that went in the paper each day. I studied communications in college and had written for the student paper at Lander, so when I saw the sports clerk job advertised in the classifieds, I decided to give it a shot. I grew up reading the Index, so the idea of landing a gig here held special appeal.
Stone brought me in for an interview, looked at a few of my clips from the college newspaper, and gave me a written test for the sports clerk position. It had a bunch of sports questions, as you might imagine, some of which were embarrassingly easy, (“How many points for a field goal in football?”) and others I’m pretty sure I bombed (anything to do with Greco-Roman wrestling). But basically it went well, and I completed a writing portion of the quiz.
Mike didn’t initially want me for the sports clerk gig (though I would later get it, which is a long story for another column), but he did want me to come on as a “stringer.” A stringer is basically a freelance reporter, paid by the story, who goes out and covers ballgames, particularly high school football and basketball games on Friday nights.
By Chris Trainor, contributing columnist for the Index-Journal | Read more

Whiting's Writings: It's been and remains quite a ride

It’s happened again. Only this time, I cheated. I peeked.
Sure enough, even if I hadn’t peeked, the affable, gregarious and incredibly talented Chris Trainor and I chose National Newspaper Week as our topic du jour. Or should that be du week? Anyway, it’s the last day of this special week set aside to celebrate newspapers. I like to think of it as an opportunity to connect yet again with our readers as a community newspaper, something I trust we do on a near-daily basis.
Chris’s journey into the world of newspapering is sort of similar to my own. There are kids who enter college knowing exactly what they want to study, what degree they plan to earn and what career they intend to enter.
I started college as a psychology major. Then I toyed with switching to theater. And then I settled on English literature. OK, you can laugh now.
Paul deGategno, my counselor and English professor, thought I would surely enter the teaching field. Me? I just knew I had to hurry up and get the rest of my course load done to graduate with just enough hours in a four-year span. What lay ahead? Clueless.
Now I’m not suggesting that Chris went through college completely clueless before landing a gig at the IJ 17 years ago, but a newspaper career wasn’t necessarily at the top of the heap. A voracious reader of the IJ, yes, but also a sports fanatic and movie aficionado is what Chris was. And yet is.
By Richard Whiting, Executive Editor of the Index-Journal | Read more
Mayor Foster Senn presents a proclamation to The Newberry Observer staff for the 81st annual National Newspaper Week. Pictured left to right: Rubi Flores, Jared Harmon, Andy Husk, Andrew Wigger, Mayor Foster Senn. Read more

Understand SC: A conversation with The Post and Courier’s new executive editor

As our way of celebrating [National Newspaper Week], this week’s episode of Understand SC, our weekly podcast, is all about this newspaper.
Recently, The Post and Courier named a new executive editor. Autumn Phillips, who became the paper’s managing editor in early 2018, stepped into the role in late August.
This week, we spoke with Phillips about some of the big things happening for the paper, like fundraising to support investigative journalism, expanding to other markets across the state and collaborating with community newspapers on stories exposing corruption.
She also shared what got her into journalism in the first place and what drew her to local newspapers, in particular. 
By Emily Williams, The Post and Courier | Listen here

FOI Briefs

News & Reporter obtains SLED investigation into city police

The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigation into the City of Chester Police Department finances earlier this year that cleared three officers of wrongdoing was requested by City Administrator Stephanie Jackson, centered on money paid out for working DUI checkpoints from an account she claimed was unauthorized, but contains the allegation that she knew about the payment arrangement for years before taking the matter to SLED.
The News & Reporter obtained reports on the SLED investigation through a Freedom of Information Act request.The report notes that SLED received a written request from attorney Joanie Winters (who handles employment matters and some others duties for the City of Chester) early this year asking for an investigation into allegations that Chief Eric Williams, Cpt. Travis Moore and Lt. Rickey Sanders misappropriated funds from the Hazel Pittman Center (the state’s designated substance abuse authority in Chester County) and opened a bank account at Spratt Savings and Loan without the City’s knowledge.
By Travis Jenkins, The News & Reporter | Read more

Grounded: John de la Howe employee alleges defamation, mistreatment by administration

[On the heels of reports from the state Office of Inspector General and Division of Procurement Services, employee Frank Dorn filed a lawsuit against the S.C. Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe, its president and a teacher.]
... The lawsuit comes as the South Carolina Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe has come under sustained scrutiny for violating ethics and purchasing laws, with reports from the state Office of Inspector General and Division of Procurement Services detailing a laundry list of violations.
Those probes came in response to reporting as part of Uncovered, an investigative project spearheaded by the Post and Courier to ferret out questionable behavior among elected officials and public employees across South Carolina. The Index-Journal is one of 16 newspapers partnering with the Post and Courier for the project.
In April, Post and Courier revealed numerous cases of questionable spending, especially payments to contractors from Edgefield. The following month, the Index-Journal exposed how school leaders funneled hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to their contractors of choice.
But the newspapers' investigations into the agency aren't finished.
By Matthew Hensley, the Index-Journal | Read more

People & Papers

Charleston Chronicle no longer publishing after 50-year run serving Black community

The Charleston Chronicle newspaper, which provided African Americans in the Lowcountry with news and community information for 50 years, has ceased operating in the wake of its founder’s death.
James French, 94, died July 31, leaving his journalistic legacy to his family. The Chronicle has been run for several years by French’s grandsons Tolbert and Damion Smalls.
At the onset of the COVID pandemic in March 2020, The Chronicle’s office on upper King Street was vacated. In January, the newspaper produced its last edition, in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The website was disabled about the time of French’s death. It is not clear if the family intends to resurrect the newspaper, sell it, let it remain idle or shut it down permanently.
Telephone and email queries for publisher Tolbert Smalls were not answered.
Barney Blakeney, a longtime contributor to The Chronicle, said the newspaper had been printed only intermittently in recent months, and copies sat in storage, undistributed.
Rep. Wendell Gilliard, who knew James French well and valued The Chronicle as an essential news source for the Black community, said he could not confirm that the paper was defunct but was unsurprised by that prospect.
By Adam Parker, The Post and Courier | Read more

Ariail is finalist in national cartooning contest

Charleston City Paper cartoonist Robert Ariail is the only weekly newspaper cartoonist to be a finalist in a national contest for excellence in local cartooning.
On Friday, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists named Newsday‘s Matt Davies as the 2021 recipient of the “Rex Babin Memorial Award for Excellence in Local Cartooning.” Ariail, along with David Horsey of The Seattle Times and Matt Murphy of the (Louisville, Kentucky) Courier-Journal were named finalists. 
“Robert Ariail tackles his Charleston, South Carolina territory with a new comic strip titled ‘Lowcountry,’” the judges commented. “The narrative is driven by local critters — raccoons, turtles and seagulls — who address political, social and environmental issues that affect the whole state. It’s important work staged in a local, charming style.”
Judges said the quality of cartoons in this year’s contest merited naming three finalists for the first time since the contest started in 2017.
From Charleston City Paper | Read more
Bengtson was awarded the Bob Bolton Award  during the North Augusta Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Oct. 9. Photo by Samantha Winn, The Star

North Augusta Star reporter honored at Sports Hall of Fame event

Behind the scenes and with his cameras in tow, local residents can usually find Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star reporter Bill Bengtson at any community event.
For 25 years, Bengtson has worked in the community to cover any and all events from sports to dog days at the pool.
Bengtson was recognized during the North Augusta Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Oct. 9 for his reporting and his work ethic with the Bob Bolton Award.
“That was a completely successful sneak attack. We like to do that in the media a lot, but this is probably the first time that I have been at the center of something like that,” Bengtson said during the ceremony. “All I can say is thank you so much. I have enjoyed helping chronicle y’all’s lives over the past quarter century; wow, and I am kind of blown away.”
Bengtson grew up in Florence, Alabama, and was raised an Auburn fan. He attended the University of Georgia and after leaving Athens, he worked at the Fort Gordon News, Protestant Radio and Television Center at Emory University, and Greenwood’s Index-Journal before finding his home in Aiken County in 1996.
By Samantha Winn, The Star | Read more

Obituaries

Ries

Jane Ries, former food critic of The Post and Courier, dies at 77

Jane Ries, whose bright personality and trusted voice as the food critic of The Post and Courier earned her acclaim and admiration in Charleston, died Oct. 10. She was 77.
Friends of the family confirmed her death was due to breast cancer, a disease Ries had been battling on and off throughout her adult life. She is survived by her sister Betsy and brother Chip. 
“She had an incredible, positive spirit and attitude,” said Sheila Wertimer, Ries’ close friend. “She had a wonderful laugh. A lot of joie de vivre. Even when she was very, very sick she was always just a wonderful time.”
Ries served as critic during the merger that brought The Evening Post and The News and Courier together to form The Post and Courier. Throughout the 1990s, she reviewed restaurants (using the surname Kronsberg) at a time when Charleston restaurants embraced the concept of “Lowcountry cuisine.”
By Parker Milner, The Post and Courier | Read more
Related: Ries' Obituary 

Columns

By Al Cross,
Into the Issues

Please steal this plan

Millions of Americans say they won’t get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors from the coronavirus, but polling and anecdotal evidence show that some will change their minds. Community newspapers have a role to play in that, especially in rural America, where vaccination rates are lower than the rest of the nation, sometimes dangerously lower.
Few vaccine-hesitant or -resistant people are likely to be persuaded by a news story or editorial urging vaccination, but it’s important to keep delivering facts about the vaccines, because social media are awash with misinformation about them. But how do we reach the majority of people in our communities, those who don’t regularly read their local newspaper?
Close readers of this column may remember that last month, I wrote that Kentucky officials were considering our proposal, with the Kentucky Press Association, to subsidize sample copying of newspapers that contained information about the coronavirus. We had a tentative commitment, but higher-ups turned down the plan “for now.” I think our opportunity has passed, but it could still be viable in almost any other state, so here it is. Please steal it.
The fundamental concept is to amplify the trust enjoyed by community newspapers and local health-care providers.
Our plan called for participating newspapers to produce four pages with pandemic information, hopefully with a local focus and quoting local providers, health officials and people who changed their minds about getting vaccinated. Ideally, a story on the front page would explain to non-subscribers why and how they were getting the paper.
The state, presumably using federal pandemic relief funds, would buy four display ads for the section and help cover the extra cost of printing and mailing a sample-copy edition. We came up with a formula that’s too involved to explain here, but we can share it with you. Read more

Upcoming Events

powered by emma