Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Aug. 24, 2023

SCPA to host Education Beat Reporting Roundtable on Sept. 21

Reporters and editors who regularly cover local education topics are invited to join their peers for a Covering Education Roundtable on Thursday, Sept. 21, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., at SCPA Offices in Columbia.
This event will be an informal space to share ideas and collaborate on how to best cover the complex issues our state’s local school systems face.
Topics are up to the group, but may include: story/series ideas, FOI/legal issues, building trust with sources, storytelling with data, hot button issues affecting schools, meeting coverage, challenges you face on the beat and more. We’ll also allow time for open discussion.
Please submit discussion topics, ideas and specific questions on the registration form.
The cost to attend is $25, which includes a boxed lunch. Sign up to attend!

Agenda released for Sept. 15 management/revenue training

SCPA is excited to host Bill Ostendorf of Creative Circle Media Solutions for a packed day of training on Friday, Sept. 15, at SCPA Offices in Columbia. 
Here's what Bill will cover:
  • 10 a.m.: Intros and overview
  • 10:15 a.m.: The big picture: What really happened to newspapers?
  • 11:15 a.m. Top five ways to improve your content
  • 12:30 p.m. Working lunch/Top five ways to improve your advertising
  • 2 p.m. Minding your niches and making more money
  • 3:15 p.m.: Closing fast-feedback session
  • 4:30 p.m.: Goals and goodbyes
Thanks to sponsorship from the SCPA Foundation Smoak Fund, the cost to attend is only $65, which includes a boxed lunch.
Because this is a small group, interactive workshop, space is limited.
View full agenda with session descriptions and register soon if you'd like to attend!
SCPA hosted our annual Daily Editors Roundtable last Friday at SCPA Offices. Thanks to the members who attended! View our event calendar for upcoming roundtables.

Quote of the Week

"It'd make my day to hear more people having real conversations. Emphasis on real. Ones where you don't agree but you also don't try to force each other's minds.
I believe local news can be a vessel for those conversations. You don't have to agree with everything you read. You shouldn't. But because you know what's going on around you, you can be more informed when you make decisions that impact your family, when you choose where to spend your money, when you go to the polls."

FOIA Briefs

Bender: Discussing rental fee in executive session likely unlawful

Fairfield County Council likely violated South Carolina open meeting laws when it discussed a rental fee for the farmers’ market building behind closed doors, according to a media law expert.
Following an executive session during Monday night’s meeting, council voted unanimously to charge nonprofit groups $25 an hour to use the market building, which is located behind the Winnsboro town clock.
Restoration of the building for use as a farmer’s market was initiated in 2018 by Jason Taylor when he served as administrator of the county before becoming Winnsboro Town Manager in June 2021. The building was offered rent-free to the market vendors from the time it opened until April when the current administration began charging a $50 per hour rental fee to the building’s only user, the Fairfield Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market.
Following a public outcry from the market vendors and other town citizens, council voted 7-0 Monday night to lower the fee to $25 for all nonprofits.
Monday’s vote came following a 35-minute executive session in which council members received legal advice concerning an unrelated water and sewer contract, and discussed the rental fee issue.
Discussing a proposed rental fee behind closed doors is not a permitted reason for entering executive session, according to the S.C. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), said Jay Bender, a media law attorney for the S.C. Press Association, of which The Voice is a member.
“There is no exemption for a public meeting to discuss a rental rate for public property,” Bender said. “Just talking about how much to charge doesn’t satisfy the law. I think this was unlawful.”
By Michael Smith, The Voice of Fairfield County | Read more

Attorneys say Keehns could serve if elected, but still subject to FOIA

WALHALLA — While all three members of the Walhalla Keehn family are legally qualified to run in the November city election, attorneys who represent statewide media and local governments says the law could make time at home a little more formal if they talk about some council-related issues together.
Walhalla City Councilman Grant Keehn, who has two years remaining on his first council term, was at the Oconee County elections office Monday for the filing of his sons, Micah and Jacob, for seats on the council on Nov. 7. Their sister, and the councilman’s daughter, Abby Keehn, filed for the special election, also on Nov. 7, to fill the unexpired term of Tyler Jordan, who ran with Keehn two years ago. All four Keehns live in the same home.
Taylor M. Smith IV, who represents the South Carolina Press Association and its members, which includes The Journal, wrote in an email response that the scenario of all four being on council and living in the same home would not stop them from serving, but they would however have to meet state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements.
“Assuming they are all elected, sworn-in, and seated on the council: they would need thereafter to 1) notice, 2) publish an agenda for and 3) keep minutes of … any discussion they have over which Walhalla has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power,” Smith wrote in an email to The Journal this week. “If they didn’t do those things then they would violate the state’s Freedom of Information Act for every discussion.”
By Norm Cannada, The (Seneca) Journal | Read more

SCPA members invited to virtual NFOIC Summit

NFOIC has released the initial schedule of panels and training sessions for the National FOI Summit, which will be Oct. 3-5 online. 
You can view the schedule and speakers confirmed so far, plus register for the summit on the NFOIC website. More sessions and speakers will be added.  
The registration fee — $25 for NFOIC members — includes admittance to live sessions plus recordings of most sessions for three months.
SCPA members, make sure to register as a coalition member to get the discounted rate of $25. 

The apple and the serpent: Why Kansas newspaper raid is so dangerous

Much has been said after the entire police force of a small town in Kansas raided the local weekly newspaper office and seized computers and other equipment.
We could never say enough about it.
The first thing every dictator does after choking freedom from the people is to kill the free press.
Our nation should be trembling at the acts of China, Russia and Cuba that took place in Marion, Kansas, last week.
Legions of Americans have given their lives to keep it from happening here.
An aspect of this sad episode that resonated with me, a pastured marsh tacky from decades of work at a community newspaper, is how the tiny staff of the Marion County Record did what we always do: They got the paper out.
By David Lauderdale, The Island Packet | Read more

Editorial: The public has the right to know, now and always

You might have missed last weekend’s news about the Saturday death of 98-year-old Joann Meyer in the small town of Marion, Kansas. A former reporter, columnist, editor and associate publisher of the county’s weekly newspaper, The Marion County Record, she died at her home in mid-sentence, questioning a widely criticized raid the day before when local police and sheriff’s deputies seized computers, cell phones, documents and her Alexa smart speaker. While the cause of her death was not quickly confirmed, her son, the newspaper’s current publisher, said the local coroner concluded the stress of questionable searches contributed.
“She said over and over again, ‘Where are all the good people to put a stop to this,’” Eric Meyer told The New York Times. “She felt like how can you go through your entire life and then have something that you spent 50 years of your life doing just kind of trampled on like it’s meaningless?”
From Charleston City Paper | Read more

People & Papers

Post and Courier Pee Dee Publisher Tim Matthews cuts the ribbon Aug. 19 to commemorate the organizations membership in the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Teresa Myers Ervin, Jean Leatherman and Francis Marion University President Fred Carter, all right of Matthews, Post and Courier executives, the Pee Dee news staff and chamber ambassadors participated in the ribbon cutting. Post and Courier/Staff

Post and Courier Pee Dee joins Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce

The Post and Courier Pee Dee opened its news operations in Florence on May 1, and officially joined the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce with a ribbon cutting and open house Aug. 19 at its office, 201 W. Evans St., Florence.
.. Tim Matthews is publisher/digital sales director of the Post and Courier Pee Dee. Jasmine Jennings is a digital executive. 
Chris Day is managing editor of the news operations. Seth Taylor, G.E. Hinson and Tyler Fedor are reporters.
The Post and Courier is collaborating with Francis Marion University. Every semester, the Post and Courier will have six interns from the university— two in marketing, two in advertising and two in reporting.
Its offices are located on the second floor of the the university’s Hugh and Jean Leatherman Medical Education Complex, 201 W. Evans St. in Florence. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The telephone number is 843-758-1641.
The Post and Courier also launched a print product on Aug. 19. The monthly newspaper is distributed by mail. 
By Chris Day, The Post and Courier Pee Dee | Read more
By Benjy Hamm,
Director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

Moving forward: New director's thoughts on the Institute for Rural Journalism's exceptional foundation and future

The media world has changed significantly since Al Cross began serving as the first director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues in 2004.
But even then, Al and other founders of the Institute understood the critical importance of supporting journalists in rural communities so they could provide quality coverage for readers, listeners and viewers. In many ways, the Institute’s founders were ahead of the times.
Since 2004, many communities have become news deserts while surviving news organizations have struggled to remain profitable and retain their audiences. The loss of thousands of journalists has been alarming and disheartening.
The financial difficulties and audience changes are not exclusive to newspapers. Cable and satellite TV subscriptions continue to plunge due to cord-cutting. Numerous online news organizations have laid off employees because they can’t make a profit. And almost every form of media is having to respond to an upheaval in a business model that had worked for decades.
When any local business declines or cuts staff, it can hurt the community. But the loss of journalists and news coverage in rural areas creates even deeper problems. It can result in less-informed residents, a decline in government transparency and responsiveness, and a void in trusted news that could be replaced by rumors and falsehoods.
That’s why journalists and trusted news organizations are more important now than ever. And that’s also why the Institute’s role in supporting journalism is more important now than even in 2004. Read more

Industry Briefs

Newsletter strategies to build retention, trust and revenue

As newsrooms look to win the attention of readers amid social media changes, solid newsletter strategies are essential. Earlier this year, participants in an API Tech Talk on engaging news readers amid social platform flux expressed interest in putting resources towards newsletters to connect with readers. Newsletters can serve as community builders and a connector between audiences and newsrooms. Establishing a strategy can help you set goals and quantify success — or even determine whether a newsletter is a good fit for your audience. 
In July, API hosted a virtual event on newsletter strategies for revenue and retention. API Newsroom Success Manager Shay Totten was joined by Madeleine White, editor-in-chief of The Audiencers and Head of International at Poool; Michael Wood-Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Front Porch Forum; and Emily Burnham, a feature writer and columnist at the Bangor Daily News who helped develop audience-centered newsletters.
Below are takeaways from the discussion, as well as tips and trends attendees considered during breakout sessions. 
By Lilly Chapa, American Press Institute | Read more

AP, other news organizations develop standards for use of artificial intelligence in newsrooms

The Associated Press has issued guidelines on artificial intelligence, saying the tool cannot be used to create publishable content and images for the news service while encouraging staff members to become familiar with the technology.
AP is one of a handful of news organizations that have begun to set rules on how to integrate fast-developing tech tools like ChatGPT into their work. The service will couple this on Thursday with a chapter in its influential Stylebook that advises journalists how to cover the story, complete with a glossary of terminology.
“Our goal is to give people a good way to understand how we can do a little experimentation but also be safe,” said Amanda Barrett, vice president of news standards and inclusion at AP.
By David Bauder, The Associated Press | Read more
Related: AI guidance, terms added to AP Stylebook (By Nicole Meir, AP)
Related: Harnessing AI: How news can leverage artificial intelligence for productivity (By Apryl Pilolli, Local Media Association)

Public notice reporting tips

Public notice journalism is an art, according to Jim Lockwood, award-winning city government reporter for the Scranton Times-Tribune.
But he promises that with practice, any reporter can become an expert in ferreting out important news articles from public notice advertising and keep readers in the know.
Lockwood’s three Rs of public notice journalism
  • Read them: They are right under your nose, in your own newspaper, and there is really no excuse not to read them
  • Report on them: You will see something in public notices that will spark your curiosity. When that happens, dig a little deeper and report on what you find.
  • Reference them: Don’t be afraid to attribute information in your article to the public notice you are reporting on. Just treat it like any other source and write, “according to a public notice published in this newspaper.” This type of attribution adds transparency to your reporting and helps readers understand the importance of publishing notices in newspapers.
By Jim Lockwood for the National Newspaper Association | Read more

Explaining complicated ideas, processes with digestible and impactful graphics

Now a data visualization editor at Axios, Kavya Beheraj often transforms complicated and comprehensive stories into digestible and impactful graphics. Examples of her work include a recent visual explainer of how a nuclear bomb works for Axios or the 3D interactive model to map the surface features of Venus
Beheraj spoke with our Innovation in Focus team about how she approaches visualizing complex ideas and shared her practical tips for small teams wanting to think more creatively about their data visuals.
By Emily Lytle, Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more


By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant

Take steps now to report on 2024 budgets

We’re more than halfway into 2023, and many local governments are well involved in exploring 2024 budgets. Are your newsrooms aware of the process? Are you keeping readers abreast of the dynamics?
It’s not too early to brainstorm ideas for timely and meaningful coverage. Shaping and adopting budgets often takes months encompassing hours of meetings and hundreds of pages of documents. Yet most newsrooms likely observe and report only a snapshot of the process.
Taking steps now will help prevent the pitfalls when reporters first view the budget days in advance – or maybe even at the meeting itself – of its adoption. Those circumstances are a recipe for disaster from the perspective of the governing body, the newspaper and the readers.
Reporters naturally seize on the statistics in budgets, but numbers will make minimal sense without benchmarks and interpretation.
Step one, get inside the numbers.
Prepare a calendar – Familiarize yourself with the steps of formulating budgets and share appropriate dates with readers. Some benchmarks are “internal” such as workshops, public hearings, preliminary and final adoption of budgets. Some dates are “external” such as state certification of local levies. Even if you do not report on all meetings, consider attending specific ones for background. Read more

Upcoming Events

Thanks to funding from the SCPA Foundation, "Earn Your Press Pass" a self-paced online community journalism training course is now available to SCPA members at no charge. Sign up to start learning!
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