Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Feb. 9, 2023

Register for Annual Meeting & Awards

Make plans to attend March 9-10 in Columbia

Connect, learn and celebrate with more than 200 members of the S.C. Press Association at the 2023 SCPA Annual Meeting and Awards, presented by AT&T. Make plans to join us March 9-10, at the Cooperative Conference Center in Columbia for awards presentations, educational sessions and networking.
Our meeting is a time to celebrate the Palmetto State's commitment to outstanding journalism! Come have a good time and get re-energized about the important work you do to serve your readers every day. 
This year’s convention will feature educational and networking events including a kick-off cookout party, training sessions, Executive Committee Meeting, Family-Owned Newspaper Retreat and our highlight event – the News Contest Awards Presentation and Hall of Fame Luncheon, which recognize the best and brightest in newspaper journalism. 
Here are some ways you can prepare for the Annual Meeting:
  • View the full schedule of events and register by Feb. 27.
  • If you plan to spend the night, book your hotel room at The Hampton Inn on the Lake at Harbison – just a five-minute drive from the Cooperative Conference Center. The Hampton Inn is offering a discounted rate of $119 for SCPA Annual Meeting attendees until Feb. 23. This rate will be honored March 8-10. To make a reservation, book online using this link or call the hotel at 803.749.6999 (mention SC Press Association room block, group code SCE).
  • Limited space is available in the Annual Meeting program for congratulatory ads. Camera-ready ads will be accepted through March 1. If you need SCPA to design your ad, the deadline is Feb. 22. View sizes and availability and reserve your space today!
  • Help make our meeting a success by sponsoring! The Annual Meeting is the best way to connect with the Palmetto State’s newspaper industry. The final day to sign on as a sponsor is Feb. 27.

Last call to submit corrections to contest winners

Winners from the 2022 News Contest have been posted online for proofing.
The deadline to proof your newspaper’s winners was yesterday. If you haven't already,  please take a look today and let us know if you have any corrections so we can start creating plaques, presentations and the winners exhibit.

Still time to RSVP for Feb. 16 FOI/Libel webinar

Join SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith on Thursday, Feb. 16, from 2-3:30 p.m. for a refresher on the S.C. Freedom of Information Act and libel. If you are new to the Palmetto State or just need a refresher, RSVP for this free, helpful session

Paxton Media Group acquires Camden Media Company

Paxton Media Group (PMG) is acquiring the Chronicle-Independent, the Lee County Observer, the Blythewood Country Chronicle, the Winnsboro/Fairfield County Country Chronicle, the Ft. Jackson Leader, The Shaw News, and assorted glossy magazines and websites from Camden Media Co., a longtime partnership owned by Charles H. Morris of Savannah, Ga. and Mike Mischner of Camden, S.C.
Paxton Media Group, a 125-year-old family owned media company headquartered in Paducah, Ky., is managed by fourth- and fifth-generation Paxton family members. The company owns more than 120 newspapers across the Southeast and Midwest including newspapers in Lancaster, Chester and Chesterfield counties in South Carolina, which are adjacent to Camden Media Co. markets.
“We are excited to add Camden Media Co. newspapers to our growing portfolio in the Carolinas,” PMG President and CEO Jamie Paxton said. “PMG believes strongly in the value of local newspapers and the vital role they play in the communities that they serve. We appreciate being chosen to be the stewards of these important community assets and intend to work hard to maintain the trust that these publications have earned over their long and storied history.”
“Paxton Media Group is the right company to pass ownership of Camden Media Co. on to. They are very well thought of in the industry and we are confident that they will do a wonderful job,” Mischner and Morris said.
In a related statement, Mischner has announced that he will be retiring once the sale takes place.
“I have had the terrific opportunity to head up Camden Media Co. for all these years and am proud of our many accomplishments. I sincerely thank all of our readers and advertisers for their support and especially want to express my deep appreciation to all of our outstanding and dedicated employees who have contributed so much to our success,” Mischner said.
PMG assumed ownership on Feb. 1.
From the Chronicle-Independent | Read more

"Flip flops" 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: Don’t hide SC execution information from the public

... Pharmaceutical companies have become reluctant to sell their drugs to states to use in executions because of backlash from death penalty opponents. As a result, South Carolina and other states have been unable to carry out executions by lethal injection for years.
S.120 would shield the names of companies or individuals that make, compound or sell execution drugs from public disclosure. After legislators failed to pass similar legislation earlier, they instead passed a 2021 law that replaces lethal injection with the electric chair as the state’s default method of execution and allows inmates the option of choosing a firing squad or, if it becomes available again, lethal injection. That law is on hold as the S.C. Supreme Court decides whether electrocution and the firing squad are unconstitutional, so supporters are trying again to pass the so-called “shield law.”
The breadth of this secrecy contemplated by the legislation is frankly breathtaking.
Drug purchases would not be subject to the state Procurement Code, and an out-of-state company or individual who sells the drugs to the state would be exempt from all licensing requirements. The only way anyone could ever learn where or under what circumstances the state purchased execution drugs would be if a court, “upon a showing of good cause,” ordered discovery in a criminal or civil case — and a Senate committee voted Thursday to remove that exception.
Although we don’t believe this is the intent, that astounding cloak of secrecy could quite possibly allow the state to purchase drugs that hadn’t been licensed or even tested, or whose origins are unknown. It’s not clear that the public would even be able to find out what the state paid for the drugs or what other agreements went into the purchase.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Whiting's Writings: SC Court of Appeals rules again in favor of public

What happens when an elected body chooses to go behind closed doors for what is labeled an “executive session?” That is to say, when the body chooses to meet away from the public’s eyes and, more important, the public’s ears.
Our state’s Freedom of Information Act allows public bodies to enter into these so-called executive sessions, but it also spells out specifics for what can be discussed behind closed doors and outlines a procedure for entering into executive session. The law gives parameters for how matters can and will be handled both inside and outside the executive session.
A problem exists, however, in that the FOIA law is easy to circumvent and is all too often abused by public bodies, such as school boards, city councils, county councils and, yes, the very lawmakers in Columbia who cobbled the law together. All with little recourse or substantial penalty when found to be in violation of FOIA.
While not the type of court case that will garner statewide attention, a case that was disposed of early January in the Court of Appeals delves into this matter and deserves the public’s attention. Just as important — perhaps more important — it deserves the attention of our public bodies and the attorneys they pay to represent and advise them.
For those who like to delve into court cases and wind their way through legal jargon, the case is Appellate Case No. 2019-001624 (
The case involves action taken by Richland County School District One and that district’s board of commissioners. The district changed its policy regarding ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and where students would receive ESOL instruction. In short, students would no longer get ESOL instruction at specific magnet schools, but rather at the schools for which they are zoned. However, the policy was adopted after the district’s deadline for transfer requests. One parent complained and asked the board to reopen the transfer request window to allow students who were already attending a magnet school for ESOL to remain there for the following year and not move to the school for which they were zoned.
At its next meeting, the board entered into executive session without first stating the specific purpose for doing so. When it returned to open session, the board chairman announced the parent’s complaint had been received and that the parent “will get something in writing from the board” the next morning. A board commissioner asked its legal counsel about the legitimacy of doing so, noting that policy requires the board to consider complaints about policies at the next meeting via vote. Counsel did not agree and the board chairman said the letter being sent was “based off the discussion” the board had in its closed-door executive session.
By Richard Whiting, Index-Journal | Read more

People & Papers

Newberry, Bennettsville and Easley to be printed on updated press

 A new printing press at The Robesonian’s print facility in Lumberton will provide a number of benefits to the company’s print customers, including The Newberry Observer.
Beyond The Robesonian, the 1970s-era press serves a number of commercial clients throughout the region.
“For those that are not aware, The Robesonian is the production hub for Champion Media, LLC papers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio and North Dakota, and we print all of North Carolina and South Carolina company owned papers including The Sampson Independent, The Bladen Journal, The Robesonian, The Laurinburg Exchange, Richmond County Daily Journal, Anson Record, The Herald Advocate, The Newberry Observer and Sentinel Progress,” said Denise Ward, regional publisher.
The new printing press is expected to provide better quality imaging and more color opportunities in multi-page projects. ... 
[Production Manager Mike] Skipper said the new press also brings “about two months of hard work as the new units are installed and brought up to speed.”
While the press is down, The Robesonian and other press clients will be printed at facilities nearby.
From The Newberry Observer | Read more

Greenville News wins Sidney Award for Cost of Unity series on Greenville's affordable housing issues

The Greenville News was honored with a Sidney Award from the Sidney Hillman Foundation for its Cost of Unity Park series that published in January.
The Sidney is a monthly award for "outstanding investigative journalism that exposes social and economic injustices."
“This story shows how gentrification can be disguised as equity,” said Sidney judge Lindsay Beyerstein, “The saga of Unity Park reveals how the repercussions of segregation still reverberate to the present day.”
The News will donate its $500 honorarium to the 2023 Holiday Sunshine Fund, which benefits Greenville area nonprofits.
By Gabe Whisnant, Greenville News | Read more

Post and Courier’s redesigned app offers a curated news experience

The Post and Courier has released a redesign of our news app.
The new design features a more curated experience – by editors and readers.
The top of the home screen will feature “Editor’s Picks,” giving readers quick access to the biggest and best news of the day. Latest News will follow, along with a series of curated sections. For those who want to create their own news feed, users will have the ability to change the order and topics that flow on their home screen.
By Autumn Phillips, The Post and Courier | Read more


By John Boyette,
Editor, Aiken Standard

Standard’s mission to serve Aiken unchanged

Change is difficult, but it’s often the key to survival.
Many wise people have said those words, and I often refer to variations of that quote.
We all must adapt to changes around us. Remember how fast the restaurant and grocery industries pivoted three years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic hit? Many consumers are still using those takeout and home delivery services that sprang up overnight.
The newspaper industry isn’t immune to change. We’ve actually been transitioning to digital platforms for more than a quarter of a century, but many people still view us as just a printed product. We’re more than just a newspaper.
As we announced Feb. 1, changes are coming. They are significant, including reducing our home delivery of the printed newspaper to five days per week and moving our printing operation to our parent company in the Charleston area.
These aren’t changes we take lightly. We know human nature is against most forms of change. We also realize that some of our traditional readers highly value the printed product and/or have no interest in reading stories online. Read more
By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant

Prime time to take inventory of your newsmakers

Here’s a periodic action item for every newspaper: The exercise can be quite revealing in evaluating how you are connecting with various audiences. It is even more important in today’s fractured media landscape and as everyday interaction can still be challenging in the aftermath of the pandemic.
For starters, ask reporters to identify the community newsmakers in a brainstorming session. Better yet, divvy up newspapers from the last several weeks and circle the names and faces in the stories and photos.
Then identify those folks who appear with some regularity. Several individuals are likely to be on the list, no matter the community: for example, the mayor and city council president; the superintendent and school board chair; the county’s chief administrator and the county board chair; local legislators. 
You get the drift. Newsrooms by and large do a commendable job of writing for the source, especially when it comes to public affairs reporting. Public officials speak, and their statements are recorded. They issue press releases, which often are published verbatim. They are fixtures in many photo ops.
Make no mistake: What public officials say and do warrant notice. Read more

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