Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Feb. 16, 2023

Make plans to attend SCPA Annual Meeting

There’s still plenty of time to register for SCPA’s Annual Meeting & Awards, presented by AT&T! Our event is set for March 9-10, at the Cooperative Conference Center in Columbia.
If you plan to spend the night, make sure to get a room in our discounted hotel block by Feb. 24.
We know that you can't wait for the Awards Celebration Luncheon, but we encourage you to come early or stay late to attend these great educational and networking sessions:
  • Family-Owned Newspaper Retreat | Thursday, March 9 | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | $65
  • Kick-Off Cook-Out Party | Thursday, March 9 | 5:30-8 p.m. | $50
  • Counselors Off the Cuff (Panel Discussion on First Amendment, FOI and Legal Matters) | Friday, March 10 | 10-11 a.m.
  • SCPA Business Meeting, Election of Officers & Forum to Discuss Digital Membership | Friday, March 10 | 11-11:45 a.m.
  • Awards Celebration Banquet & S.C. Journalism Hall of Fame Induction | Friday, March 10 | Noon – 2:15 p.m. | $69
  • President's Reception & Toast to the Winners | Friday, March 10 | 2:15-4:30 p.m
  • How'd They Do It? Show & Tell of the Winners | Friday, March 10 | 2:15-3 p.m
View more details and register by Feb. 27. 

Please note collegiate awards will be presented at the Collegiate Meeting on March 31.

Family-Owned Newspaper Retreat set for March 9 at Annual Meeting

SCPA is hosting a retreat for family-owned newspaper leaders as part of the upcoming Annual Meeting.
Join us Thursday, March 9, from 10a.m. – 3 p.m., at the Cooperative Conference Center in Columbia, as leaders and owners of S.C. family-owned newspapers come together to connect, share and learn from each other, as well as discuss the unique challenges that family-run newspapers face. 
Topics are up to the group but may include business challenges and solutions, responding to economic challenges, rising print costs, postal issues, staffing, audience engagement and monetization, growing ad revenue and creating new revenue streams, innovation, public notice, succession planning, training/leadership development opportunities and more.
Registrations will be accepted through Feb. 27. The cost to attend is $65. A working lunch will be provided. Thanks to the SCPA Foundation Smoak Fund for sponsoring this event!
By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Managing and Covering the Murdaugh Case and Other “Trials of the Century”

Although it is common to call a high-profile trial “the trial of the century,” it is a misnomer; there have been several such trials in recent history. This includes several in the 20th and 21st centuries, such as the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and murder case in the 1930s, the trial of Charles Manson and the Manson “family” for murder in the 1970s, the O.J. Simpson murder trial in the 1990s, and the Casey Anthony trial in the 2010s.
In South Carolina alone, in recent decades we have had “blockbuster” trials in the Susan Smith murder case (1995), the guilt and sentencing trials of Dylan Roof for the Mother Emanuel church shooting (2016-17), and now the Alex Murdaugh case.
The presumption in U.S. courts is that proceedings will be open to the press and the public, a principle that is steeply rooted in the history of our court system and has been reinforced by a series of U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Access to courts by still and video cameras has a more checkered history; in South Carolina, cameras are permitted only with advance permission.
Jay Bender’s reminder to reporters that cell phones cannot be used in court. (Photo Courtesy of Jay Bender)
But the intense media and public interest in a “blockbuster” case like the Murdaugh trial present unique challenges, since the public’s right of access, protected by the free speech and free provisions of the First Amendment, can sometimes imperil a criminal defendant’s right to a fair and impartial trial, which is protected by the Sixth Amendment. Intense interest from the public and press in physically attending a trial also presents practical issues in allocating seats and ensuring decorum in and outside the courtroom.
Judge Clifton Newman and Colleton County have done a good job accommodating the trial and the press, thanks in large part to the efforts of SCPA’s own Jay Bender, who Newman appointed as a liaison between the court and the media. Newman’s media coverage order set up an orderly system of pool video and still photography coverage of the court proceedings, and of reserved seats for media that have consistently covered the case, with additional seats available to other media outlets by a daily lotteryRead more
Last Friday SCPA hosted 30 members for a data journalism workshop featuring Liz Lucas of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). Thanks to all who attended!
Thanks to more than 60 SCPA members who volunteered to judge Georgia Press Association's News and Advertising Contests. All assignments have been sent out and judging should be completed by Feb. 27. If you have questions or need help, contact SCPA.

"Million dollar loser" 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

The Kappa Alpha files: Read the source documents here

The Clemson University Police Department closed its hazing investigation on November 22, 2022. When made aware of its completion, The Tiger promptly filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Clemson University for a copy of the University police incident report in full, with any supplementary documentation. The Tiger also requested a copy of any University conduct violation documentation from the Office of Community and Ethical Standards.
The University provided the University Police incident report in a timely manner, in accordance with South Carolina's Freedom of Information Act.
However, the University refused to provide the OCES report and any information about its outcome, including whether the five Kappa Alpha brothers received sanctions for violating the University's hazing policy.
The Tiger appealed the University's reasoning for not providing the OCES report, based upon the University's legal obligation to provide a redacted version.
To support transparency, The Tiger has decided to publish the source documents made available under the Freedom of Information Act. All documents are as-provided by the University to The Tiger, including redactions.
By David Ferrara, The Tiger, Clemson University | Read more

Legal Briefs

The story behind how cameras got in the Murdaugh trial courtroom

When the Lowcountry’s trial of the century began, one national headline blared: “Lights, camera, trial: All eyes on Alex Murdaugh as a small South Carolina city prepares for ‘circus.’ ” And even as it has morphed into the War and Peace of murder trials with no end in sight after three weeks, it still keeps the eyes of the nation fixated on the double-murder spectacle in Walterboro. But without Court TV’s lights and cameras, the public might not have heard testimony that defendant Alex Murdaugh’s true gift is “the art of bullshit” or that he was considered a threat to tamper with a jury in a civil case against him. Or that witness after witness would confirm he lied in his alibi by saying they were 100 percent certain his voice in a video places him at the dog kennels at the family spread near Hampton minutes before his son and wife were shot to death on June 7, 2021. We certainly could not have felt the turmoil surging within a caregiver who testified Alex Murdaugh told her he was at his mother’s house on the night of the murders for 40 minutes when in truth he was there 20 minutes. Or that he dangled before her payment for her planned wedding, and let her know he was in good with her boss at her day job. But we can’t take this for granted.
By David Lauderdale, The Island Packet/The State | Read more

Appeals court rules live-streaming police during traffic stops protected by First Amendment

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a North Carolina town’s policy that allegedly banned video live-streaming police during traffic stops was in violation of the First Amendment.
The ruling stated that Dijon Sharpe was live-streaming his traffic stop on Facebook Live when police officer Myers Helms attempted to take his phone away because he said live-streaming threatened his safety. Sharpe then sued the Winterville police officers in their official capacity for having a policy that violates the First Amendment, and also sued Helms individually.
The district court did not find that the policy violated the First Amendment and dismissed the individual complaint against Helms under qualified immunity, according to the ruling.
The appeals court vacated the district court’s order, ruling that if such policy exists that bans video live-streaming, it does violate the First Amendment. The ruling said that live-streaming police encounters provides information the same way recording police officers does.
“Recording police encounters creates information that contributes to discussion about governmental affairs,” the ruling said. “So too does livestreaming disseminate that information, often creating its own record. We thus hold that livestreaming a police traffic stop is speech protected by the First Amendment.”
By Lauren Sforza, The Hill | Read more

SCPA joins Reporters Committee amicus brief on access to court records and online systems 

Last week SCPA signed on to an amicus brief filed by the Reporters Committee involving a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The case concerns restrictions on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s "OCRA” system, which grants OCRA subscribers remote, online access to non-confidential civil court records from 105 participating Virginia circuit courthouses.  However, only attorneys licensed to practice law in Virginia, and select government agencies, are permitted to subscribe to OCRA. Defendants-Appellees contend that the non-attorney access restriction is necessary to “promoting critical privacy and security interests of Virginia litigants by sharply reducing the amount of private, sensitive information let out into the world and limiting the potential for widespread data harvesting which is often done by bots.” Courthouse News Service filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia alleging, inter alia, that the non-attorney access restriction is an unconstitutional speaker-based restriction on speech that violates the press and the general public’s presumptive right of contemporaneous access to civil court records under the First Amendment. The district court denied CNS’s motion for summary judgment and entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants-Appellees.
The Reporters Committee's amicus brief emphasizes the importance of contemporaneous access to civil court records and explains how access to similar online systems in other jurisdictions aids the news media's ability to provide timely reporting about court proceedings of public concern. The brief further argues that because Defendants-Appellees’ purported reasons for restricting access to OCRA are based on assumptions about how some members of the non-preferred speaker group may use or disseminate the information available on OCRA, the non-attorney access restriction is not “content-neutral” but rather amounts to unconstitutional speaker-based discrimination.  Finally, the brief argues that the district court erred in applying a time, place and manner analysis—rather than strict scrutiny—to the non-attorney access restriction but that, under either test, Defendants-Appellees' purported reasons for restricting access do not pass constitutional muster. 

People & Papers


Smith honored by S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame

Willie T. Smith, III, of Greenville will receive the Herman Helms Excellence in Media Award at the he 2023 South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame banquet on May 15 at the Columbia Convention Center.
Named for the longtime sports editor and columnist of The State newspaper and co-founder of this organization, the recipient is selected from the very best of various media outlets covering sports within South Carolina.  The media representative should exude impeccable fairness and dedicated service to the integrity of the industry. Read more

Where I stand: A journey of self-discovery with Sumter Item reporter Alaysha Maple

This is new to me.
Normally, my name is attached to a headline that has nothing to do with my life. Now, there will be a whole series. A body of work.
There's a reason.
I have learned about Black history and witnessed it with my own eyes. To learn of such achievements is empowering to me. Yet, it often leaves me wondering where I stand in reference to greatness.
I'm tired of wondering. I'm tired of living life day by day, not knowing where I'm going or how I'm going to get there. I'm tired of being weighed down by expectations and not knowing what I'm supposed to do with them. I'm tired of being afraid to grow old, thinking I'll look back on my life and feel unfulfilled.
Hence the purpose of this series amid Black History Month, "Where I stand." To seek clarity for my weighted wonderings.
I'm going to take this paragraph to gloat a little (a lot). I was born in what I believe to be one of the greatest months on the calendar: February. A month filled with hope for a new, prosperous spring season, an abundance of love and a wealth of information about Black innovators, educators, activists and legends who defied the odds. When this month rolls around, I get excited. Each day is filled with a new discovery, a new story, a new beginning. And not to discredit any of the other 11 months - I enjoy them all, too. But there's something about February.
It feels befitting for such a personal series to be published in a month so meaningful to me. I become another year older, another year wiser - in some ways - and I get to do it surrounded by so much history.
For the next three weeks, I'm going to embark on a journey of self-discovery. I'm going to ask my burning questions to three people in the community who, I feel, understand and encourage exploration of one's identity, interests and life-long success. I hope you'll come to see them in the same light as I do.
By Alaysha Maple, The Sumter Item | Read more

Daniel Island Historical Society, esteemed journalists to host literary discussion on race

In honor and celebration of Black History Month, join the Daniel Island Historical Society on Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 7-8 p.m., at Church of the Holy Cross on Daniel Island, as they welcome guest speakers Herb Frazier and Steve Bailey to discuss the book “Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth.” 
Ukweli is the Swahili word for truth. The book, edited by Frazier and the late Horace Mungin, offers a collection of personal accounts and insights from 45 writers and poets. Bailey is one of the contributors for the book. “Ukweli” meets a critical moment in America and provides a healing truth to overcome the trauma of slavery and the decades of violence that followed it, revealing a part of American history often overlooked or misunderstood. The book was inspired by a poetry, lecture, and dialogue series of the same name organized by Mungin in 2020 at Charleston’s McLeod Plantation. Free and open to all, the DIHS program will be held at Church of the Holy Cross on Daniel Island, 299 Seven Farms Drive.
Frazier is special projects editor at the Charleston City Paper. He’s an author and the former marketing director at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. He has edited and reported for five daily newspapers in the South. When he was on the staff of The Post and Courier he was named the S.C. Press Association’s 1990 Journalist of the Year. He is a former Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. He has led journalism workshops in Africa and South America for a federal agency and a Washington, D.C.-based journalism foundation.
He is a former member of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission.
Bailey has spent his life’s career as a journalist. After working as an editor and reporter for South Carolina newspapers, he was at the Boston Globe for 30 years, where he was the business editor and wrote a column. He spent seven years in London as a finance editor with Bloomberg News. He’s a regular contributor to the The Post and Courier’s opinion page.
For additional information, visit the Daniel Island Historical Society’s website at or check the organization’s social media pages.
From The Daniel Island News | Read more

Morning News, McLeod team up to recognize nurses

The Morning News of Florence and McLeod Health have partnered once again to honor nurses in the Pee Dee region who have faced many challenges in the past year because of COVID-19.
It is the third year the Morning News and McLeod Health have united to recognize area nurses. ...
“With national Nurses Week coming in May, we want to give our community the chance to collectively celebrate our friends, family and colleagues in the nursing profession,” said Matthew Tranquill, president of the Morning News.
The newspaper is asking readers to share their stories about nurses who have made an impact on their lives and nominate them to be recognized, Tranquill said.
From the Morning News | Read more

This Valentine's Day, The Item and Sumter School District partner for Adopt-A-Teacher free subscription program

The word teacher doesn't really even begin to describe it.
Teachers give their students - our children and our next generation to inherit and lead the world - more than the textbook knowledge they need to become successful adults. They instill the soft skills necessary to interact in the world, the critical thinking and empathy they'll need to form relationships. They are a safe space, a watchful eye. They give up bathroom breaks and money from their own wallets in service of other people's children.
Teachers aren't in this for the paycheck or the notoriety. They do it because they love their students.
Our staff at The Sumter Item knows how important teachers are to our community. We know an informed citizenry, an informed electorate, an informed next generation is critical to quality of life and a thriving community.
And while we know we rely on subscribers and advertisers to support the continuation of Sumter's only source of daily local news, we also know that not everyone can choose to spend their hard-earned money on access to local information.
So The Item and Sumter School District have partnered to help the community thank its teachers for their hard work and to support that access to local news.
Individuals and businesses can adopt a teacher, giving one or many a free digital subscription to The Item. The gift costs $99 for an entire year, more than 35% off the normal rate.
From The Sumter Item | Read more

Industry Briefs

AP offers digital Stylebook training in April

Join editors from The Associated Press for an engaging four-week online workshop guaranteed to build your AP Stylebook knowledge.
Participate in live virtual sessions with the editors who make AP style (or catch the recordings afterward), get your questions answered and immerse yourself in lessons, tutorials and knowledge checks to hone your writing and editing.
In four weeks, the course will help you: 
  • Improve your writing and communication skills.
  • Bring consistency to your writing and editing, using AP style guidance, Webster’s New World College Dictionary and your house style.
  • Learn to think through questions where existing style rules might not offer a clear answer or the guidance requires judgment to apply to your needs.
  • Understand the how and the why of AP style.
  • Navigate the Stylebook to find guidance quickly – memorization is not necessary or recommended.
The early-bird price is $199. Rates will go up to $299 on March 1. Learn more and register here.

Five different AI options for transcribing audio

For many, has been a loyal friend for years. The popular transcription platform has saved us loads of time by transforming recorded interviews into transcripts that are editable, searchable and shareable.  But with the departure of their unrestricted free version, journalists have realized that Otter has limitations that make it worth it to look around at other emerging options. Otter still cannot transcribe non-English languages, and the paid levels are not always an affordable choice for smaller newsrooms or freelancers.
While we could not test every AI transcription service out there, we chose five options that we found highly recommended and/or free alternatives with unique tools that could be helpful in day-to-day reporting.
We partnered with KBIA to run an audio interview through each of these services: Parrot AI, Otter AI, Google Pinpoint, Rev and Sonix. 
We tested one professional recorded English interview, a Spanish interview recorded as an iPhone video, as well as a Zoom interview recorded with smartphones. We tested each of these in the transcription services to explore different formats, languages and background noise.
Here’s what we found.
By Emily Lytle, Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more

News publishers are wary of the Bing chatbot’s media diet

Microsoft’s new search interface can serve up key information from articles, removing the need to click—and potentially undermining publisher business models.
By Aarian Marshall and Paresh Dave, WIRED | Read more


By John Foust, 
Advertising Trainer

What are they selling?

My wife and I once visited with Rick and Karen, a couple who had served as missionaries overseas. As part of their work to get involved in the community, Rick was assigned to teach a class at a local school. “For some reason,” he said, “they wanted me to teach advertising. I had absolutely no experience in advertising, but they requested that subject, because they wanted their students to learn something about business.”
How in the world did he deal with such a big challenge? “I figured the best way handle it was to make the class as interactive as possible, so we could learn together,” he explained. “On the first day, I pinned some ads from newspapers and magazines to the wall. Then I asked the students to identify what each ad was selling. To put it mildly, it was a lively discussion. All of their other classes had been lectures, and they weren’t accustomed to contributing their ideas in the classroom. They really dove into it, walking around the room, studying the ads. It was interesting to hear their perspectives – and to watch them bounce ideas off each other. From the beginning, the students were attracted to the ads that clearly indicated what they were selling. Along the way, it was surprising to see how many ads were so unclear that none of us could figure out exactly what those particular ads were all about. Read more

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