Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Feb. 17, 2022

Together Again! Join us at SCPA's Awards Celebration Banquet on March 11 in Columbia

Registration Deadline: Wednesday, March 2

We're so excited to see our members and friends again! Make plans now to join SCPA in Columbia on Friday, March 11, from 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m., at our reimagined Awards Celebration Banquet, presented by AT&T! Our awards luncheon will honor 2021 winners of the Daily, Weekly and Associate/Individual Member Contests.
This event will showcase the Palmetto State's commitment to outstanding journalism! Come have a great time and get energized about the important work you do to serve your readers every day. This is also an opportunity to network with your newspaper peers and make new connections.
At the event, we will induct our 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame recipients: Ken Burger of The Post and Courier, Dean Livingston of Times and Democrat and John Henry McCray of the Lighthouse and Informer.  
Since we are combining Daily and Weekly Awards into one event, some slight changes will be made to allow all winners to be recognized, but also keep to a reasonable time frame. All winners will be recognized from the podium and showcased on the screen, but only First Place winners will come to the stage to receive their plaque. After the event, our professional photographer will be on hand to take photos of second and third place winners receiving their certificates from our President.
The winners' exhibit will be open from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. so you can view them before or after the luncheon.
In moving the event to a Friday, we recognize some members may need accommodations to work in Columbia. We have secured work space at the Conference Center from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. with wi-fi and power.
The event will be held at the Cooperative Conference Center, located at 169 Laurelhurst  Ave. in Columbia. The venue is conveniently located near the interstates and offers ample, free parking. 
The cost to attend is $45. The deadline to register is Wednesday, March 2.
If you cannot attend, the event will be recorded for later viewing.
A friendly reminder that winners are not for official release until March 11.
Secret winners, President's Cup winners and Best of the Best will be announced at the luncheon.
Collegiate Awards will be presented at a separate event.
Let us know if you have any questions or need more information. We look forward to seeing you and honoring your winners on March 11!
Register to attend

Congratulatory Program Ads

Limited space is available in the Awards Celebration program for congratulatory ads. Camera-ready ads will be accepted through March 7. If you need SCPA to design your ad, the deadline is March 4. View sizes and availability and reserve your space today!

Duplicate Awards and Plaque Bases

Duplicate awards are available for purchase. Duplicate engraved First Place plaques are $35. Duplicate Second and Third Place certificates are $2 each. If you’d like to frame your Second or Third Place award, wooden plaque bases are available for $15 at the Awards Celebration or $25 after the event. Prices include shipping. To order, please contact Kassidy.
By Eric P. Robinson,
USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

50 Million Verdict in South Carolina Libel Case Is an Outlier, Not an Omen

There is a saying among lawyers that “bad facts make bad law,” meaning that cases in which the litigants (and/or perhaps lawyers) acted strangely or improperly often lead to problematic results, which give a false impression of the law and may become troublesome precedents for future cases.
The libel suit by Bluffton mayor Lisa Sulka against government critic and gadfly Skip Hoagland, which ended with a $50 million jury verdict—$40 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages—announced Feb. 3 is just such a case.
The damages award is certainly eye-popping, and is reported to be the highest defamation verdict in South Carolina history. But it’s important to recognize that the specifics of this case are themselves outliers, and the large verdict is a result of those unique circumstances. It is also possible that the damages amount could be reduced on appeal, although the specifics of this case will make filing an appeal difficult.
Skip Hoagland is well-known in the Low Country as a persistent critic of local government and institutions, particularly local chambers of commerce. Two years ago, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in a case brought in the name of Hoagland’s company that the state’s Freedom of Information Act does not require the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce to publicly disclose how it spends accommodation tax funds allocated to the chamber for tourism promotion.
Hoagland has also been a persistent critic of Sulka, with the mayor initially citing nine emails in her lawsuit—later pared to seven—which Hoagland sent in 2015 and 2017 in which he claimed that Sulka had acted illegally, had misappropriated funds and was unfit to be mayor. Hoagland initially responded to the lawsuit by claiming that his statements were either opinion or factually true. But he later fired his attorney, who had been hired by his insurance company, and in the end decided to not attend the two-day trial in the case.
Because she is clearly a public official, in order to win the case Sulka had to show that Hoagland had acted with “actual malice:” that he made the statements at issue either with knowledge that they were untrue or with reckless disregard for the truth. Judge Diane S. Goodstein ruled for Sulka on this issue. The jury’s role was to determine the damages amount. Read more (In the jump, Robinson also discusses the Palin libel case and Project Veritas gag order)

"Not Another Ivy League" 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

SC business incentives to be less secretive after state settles lawsuit with Harpootlian

The agency that handles economic development deals in South Carolina agreed to be more transparent with the incentive agreements it makes to bring jobs to the state. The South Carolina Department of Commerce’s move is part of a settlement with state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, D-Richland, who sued after the agency redacted information when responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. Commerce redacted the identity of executives and lawyers involved in economic development negotiations and what the agency considered confidential and proprietary information for a company.
In October 2020, a judge ruled the Department of Commerce could not keep details of business deals secret, such as the names of the prospective companies’ executives and lawyers involved in deal negotiations. The agency appealed the decision. Under the settlement agreement, the Department of Commerce updated its FOIA policy and increased how much it discloses.
By Joseph Bustos, The State | Read more

Hemingway police officer charged after deadly shooting of motorist

GEORGETOWN — A Hemingway police officer is accused of shooting and killing an unarmed motorist during a chase that started when he rolled through a stop sign.
Officer Cassandra Dollard, who has spent close to three decades in law enforcement, was charged Feb. 9 with voluntary manslaughter, three days after the shooting occurred. If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison. She is being held at the Georgetown County detention center awaiting a bond hearing, scheduled for Feb. 10. ...
Hemingway Police Chief Alex Edwards called the shooting a “tragic situation” and said his department is cooperating with authorities.
Edwards declined to release the incident report without a Freedom of Information request, which can take weeks to fulfill. Under state law, police incident reports during the past 14 days must be released at the time they are requested.
By Steve Garrison and Brandon Alter, The Post and Courier/The News, Kingstree | Read more

All media questions for Ridgeway now go to mayor

RIDGEWAY – With Ridgeway Town elections coming up in April and filing closing at noon last Friday, The Voice called Ridgeway Town Clerk Vivian Case on Friday afternoon to find out who had signed up to run for office.
Case told The Voice that she could not provide that information.
“I’m no longer allowed to talk to the media,” Case told The Voice. “All media questions must now go to the mayor,” she said.
The Voice called Ridgeway Mayor Heath Cookendorfer.
“She’s ridiculous,” he said. “She can tell you. I don’t know why she’s saying she can’t tell you that.”
Less than an hour later, however, Cookendorfer called back to say that Case was correct, that all questions from the media, including questions asking for the names of candidates filling for election, would need to go to the mayor.
By Barbara Ball, The Voice of Blythewood | Read more

CCSD superintendent to get $241,993, signs non-disparagement agreement after controversial exit

Former Charleston County School District Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait is receiving a $241,993 lump-sum payment from the school district, according to documents The Post and Courier obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
By Hillary Flynn, The Post and Courier | Read more

Legal Briefs 

Column: Sarah Palin and the new threat to freedom of the press

Freedom of the press is one of our country’s most valued principles, enshrined in the First Amendment. But over the past few years, attacks on the media have reached a fever pitch. President Donald Trump called the media the “enemy of the people” and the source of “fake news.” In spite of these attacks — and in some measure because of them — the country has never needed a free press more.
Even when the media irritates us, and even when it makes mistakes, we don’t want to join the long list of countries such as China or Russia where journalists are harassed and jailed on a regular basis. That is why Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against The New York Times is so important.
Sarah Palin is suing The Times over a 2017 editorial (not a news report) that claimed there was a clear link between the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and a campaign map put out by Palin’s PAC, which had certain areas identified with what seemed to be crosshairs (as in a rifle scope). The Times apologized for the error and corrected it, but Palin’s suit has continued this week in a Manhattan federal court.
By Solomon D. Stevens for The Post and Courier | Read more

People & Papers

Caplan

Caplan returns to the Gainesville Sun as editor for local news

Andrew Caplan is returning to The Gainesville Sun as local news editor, supervising local news reporters and organizing local news coverage for the newspaper and its website.
Caplan, 33, was an award-winning journalist for The Sun from 2016 to 2019, primarily covering local government. He left to become an investigative reporter with The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, where he has been since. ...
Caplan has also been a staff reporter for The Tampa Tribune and the Citrus County Chronicle. He has undergraduate and master's degrees in journalism from the University of South Florida.
From The Gainsville Sun | Read more
Spence

News podcast by former City Paper editor launched

NOW Charleston is a new three-day-a-week podcast that former Charleston City Paper editor Sam Spence is launching today.
Spence, who recently stepped down as editor after working at the newspaper since 2012, said each episode of the 15-minute podcast will be a go-to listen for the latest Charleston-area news.
From Charleston City Paper | Read more

Industry Briefs

Editorial: Good first step for Postal Service, but more needs to be done

A bipartisan bill to help the U.S. Postal Service easily passed the House of Representatives this week and appears headed for speedy Senate passage. It is a good first step toward saving the federal agency from its perpetual fiscal nightmare. But Congress also needs to pay the Postal Service for carrying out important mandates, such as Saturday delivery, or we will face a new mail system crisis.
The Postal Service Reform Act passed the House 342-92 on Tuesday following more than a decade of legislative neglect, during which it has been obvious that the Postal Service, ordered to be a self-supporting business, was laboring greatly under onerous rules.
One major change in the bill would relieve the Postal Service of a nonsensical requirement that it prefund its retirees’ health benefits, unlike the pay-as-you-go rule for every other federal agency. The Postal Service simply could not make the annual payments of more than $5 billion and keep operating, so it quit doing so in 2010, running up a $57 billion unpaid obligation that the bill would wipe away.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Some tools for journalists that make information gathering much easier

One great thing about covering the media for a living is getting to nerd out with fellow journalists about interesting tools they use in their reporting. In a way, it’s similar to my other life as a cartoonist, where ink slingers get together and talk about their favorite India ink or the pen nib that delivers the best line (though even those conversations are now digital, leaning on Procreate brushes and filters).
Unfortunately, the pandemic has robbed us of the casual gatherings with our colleagues or the random meet-ups at local bars where we would have traded tips about the coolest new gadget or must-try app. So, I thought now was as good a time as any to share some cool tools I’ve been using to tell better stories.
Here are a handful of apps and gadgets (along with one hack and a fun game) I hope can make some part of your job a tad bit easier.
By Rob Tornoe for Editor & Publisher | Read more

Columns

By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant

Examine, evaluate reporting shortcuts

I fondly characterize newsrooms as organized chaos. I witnessed that firsthand guiding staffs when resources were plentiful and community newspapers had captive audiences.
Dynamics are even more frayed in today’s changing media landscape as editors grapple with diminished resources and increased constraints on news gathering.
Editors and reporters necessarily must explore and implement shortcuts, but you should keep two questions at the forefront: Are you really saving time considering the extra legwork that might be required to produce complete and compelling reports? Most important, are stories still relevant to readers and advertisers?
Brainstorm with your staffs, examining the pros and cons of each tool.
Shortcut: Reporters depend more on web streaming of government meetings.
Reporters benefit by being able to multitask during the “dead time” of meetings, and still give full attention to those items of highest interest. Broadcasts also can be reviewed later.
On the flip side, how often have broadcasts run into technical difficulties such as poor audio? Are reporters accurately recording all votes and quotes, correctly identifying all individuals who address a body? Without being there in person, reporters can easily fall into the trap of writing for “those in front of the room” instead of translating what actions mean for “those in back of the room.” Read more

Upcoming Events

As a service to its member newspapers, SCPA lists employment opportunities on our site upon request. There is no charge for this service to SCPA member newspapers. Please email openings to Kassidy Wright.
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