Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  April 8, 2021
By Jay Bender,
SCPA Attorney

Jim Holderman and open government in South Carolina

Former University of South Carolina president Jim Holderman has died, but his legacy lives in a crucial interpretation of the Freedom of Information Act by the Supreme Court of South Carolina.
The FOIA has application to “public bodies” which are subdivisions of the government, government corporations such as the Ports Authority, and entities supported in whole or in part by public funds or expending public funds.  If an entity is a “public body” it is subject to the open records and open meetings requirements of the FOIA.
To his admirers Jim Holderman was a visionary.  To his detractors he was a con who used public funds to burnish his image as a man with world-wide connections.  Both versions of Jim Holderman are rooted in fact.
On the con side of the ledger, Holderman used public funds for expensive gifts and honoraria to the well-connected, and to pay for high dollar hotel rooms and meals.  This side of Holderman came into public view because a journalism student, Paul Perkins, wanted to write a piece on Holderman’s hiring of Jehan Sadat, the widow of slain Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, to teach a class at USC.  Perkins was impressed that USC could attract a person of Sadat’s stature to teach a course, and his report focused on the upside he saw in the publicity generated by having this famous woman teach at USC.
But, like any good journalist Perkins asked how much it was costing to have Sadat teach a course.
USC declined to disclose the cost, and said the contract with Sadat was not with the University, but with a private corporation, the Research and Development Foundation.  This was Holderman’s first error.  Holderman and his top aides were advised privately that the information should be made public, but that advice was disregarded.  This was Holderman’s second error.
Paul Perkins was married to Cheryl Perkins, a young and talented lawyer.  Cheryl filed a suit on behalf of Paul seeking records from the Foundation.
About the time Paul Perkins was making his inquiries, John Monk, then a reporter for The Charlotte Observer, started making requests for access to financial records and contracts of the University and the Foundation.  The Greenville News and the Associated Press also started looking into expenditures by the University and the Foundation.  The Board of Trustees of the University voted, as the FOIA allowed, to exempt records from disclosure.  This was the third error.
Nothing gets a reporter’s juices flowing more than being told they can’t see records relating to the expenditure of public funds. Read more
Related: James ‘Jim’ Holderman, controversial USC president of 13 years, dies at age 85 (By David Travis Bland and John Monk, The State)

Member Spotlight: Catherine Kohn

Editor, Moultrie News

What do you like best about your job?
The variety of what I do. I enjoy writing, designing and editing. As the editor of a weekly paper I have an opportunity to use more than one talent and I appreciate that aspect of the job. I love meeting new people in the community, and making a difference, even in small ways. A story does many things beyond simple awareness. It can prompt volunteerism, donations to charity, a greater empathy and understanding of another’s situation in life. I especially love how journalism can prompt change and produce action by both individuals and organizations.

What is your proudest career moment?
I was working at the Winter Haven News Chief in Florida and wrote two feature stories about a little girl, Amanda, with leukemia who needed a bone marrow transplant. I followed it up with an editorial in the paper, which was read at the local school board meeting that week. I encouraged readers to help by signing up as marrow donors. More than 2,000 people showed up as potential marrow donors at the registration drive held by the local Leukemia Society in the hopes of helping Amanda. It was the largest showing they had ever had. Spurring that many people to become bone marrow donors felt amazing.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
There is a lot of anticipation as to where we (everyone at Evening Post Publishing in downtown Charleston) will end up. As part of a larger group of newspapers, we are connected to the big changes going on involving plans for a new press and a printing operation moving to North Charleston along with questions as to where the newsroom staff will land. Our paper, which is presently in the same building as the Post and Courier, will move sometime this year. Where we’ll land we don’t quite know. 

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
I love the awards competition. Journalists are a competitive crowd and the decision making process of examining your best work is valuable, as is the chance to compare your work against others in the same field. Colleagues getting together at an awards ceremony (someday again) is exciting and I especially like how everyone cheers and congratulates others they work with. 

What adjustments have you made during COVID-19? 
I’m lucky to have an office where I can take my mask off at times. When I do an in-person interview it is generally done outside, say at a local restaurant patio. There’s more phone work and remote work of course. As a staff we always wear our masks and keep a safe distance. We are managing the best we can. I find that people in our coverage area have improved quite a bit with regard to coronavirus safety over the past several months. That’s encouraging.

When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
I’ve missed the restaurants and the downtown Charleston City Market. Luckily, in Mount Pleasant there are many restaurants with outdoor seating and nice areas to take walks. I’m looking forward to boat rides in the harbor, the Children’s Museum of the Low Country and indoor concerts.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I’m kind of an open book, so not too much. I have always had trouble deciding “what I wanted to be when I grew up” even after I grew up. I dreamed of being an astronaut when I was an elementary school student. My dad worked on NASA projects while I was young and he would bring early programming training manuals home and give them to me to work on. I did pretty well. Later, though, I discovered math was not “my thing” but words were. I still would have liked to go into space. I think a writer should go up in space so as to inspire others with their words.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I do a lot of art work, acrylics, watercolors and ink washes mostly. I also enjoy spending time with my grandchildren. We love theme parks and rides. I love roller coasters. Photography and creative writing are squeezed in whenever there’s time. Whenever I can travel I will. So far I’ve been to every state except Alaska, Oregon, and North Dakota.

Anything else you'd like to share with the members?
My husband and I spent almost two years living in Beijing and it was an amazing experience. I learned that no matter how far apart we all are physically and culturally, people are basically the same. We want to be loved, recognized and allowed to live our best lives.
Know someone that you’d like SCPA to spotlight? Email us your recommendations.

People & Papers

The Post and Courier’s parent to split into 3 separate companies

The parent of The Post and Courier is proposing to spin off its newspaper division and other subsidiaries into three separate businesses under a plan to realign the holdings of the family-owned company, it was announced April 5.
The restructuring of Charleston-based Evening Post Industries is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, CEO John Barnwell said.
None of the businesses is being sold, he said.
Under the reorganization, Evening Post Industries will capitalize the companies before spinning them off as independent standalone ventures with separate management and boards of directors.
“They’re not going to be under the same corporate umbrella we have now,” Barnwell said. Members of the Manigault, Gilbreth and Herres families will remain as shareholders, but their ownership stakes will decline or increase based on their individual preferences and business interests.
Many of the details are still being finalized, Barnwell said.
“This company split will allow the principal owners to better align their interests while maintaining a very high degree of stable and well-known management continuity,” he said.
The holding company, which dates back to 1896, eventually will be dissolved.
The Post and Courier and the other papers that Evening Post Industries owns will be one of the spinoffs. It will be led by Pierre Manigault, who is currently chairman of the parent company. 
By John McDermott, The Post and Courier | Read more

Industry Briefs

NNA adds voice to the call for Congressional action on USPS

Major changes are ahead for the U.S. Postal Service and newspaper mailers, with or without Congressional action on a postal reform plan, but legislative assistance could soften the blows to newspaper mailers.
That was the message from National Newspaper Association’s leadership meeting with the 75th Postmaster General of the United States, Louis DeJoy. His briefing to NNA was followed several days later by the release of a new 10-year strategic plan designed to preserve universal service and head off the need for federal appropriations for mail service.
DeJoy told NNA that USPS was forecasting a $160 billion loss over the next 10 years unless changes were made. He and his leadership team have spent the past eight months devising a new plan to head off financial shortfalls. Among the changes ahead are slower First-Class mail service for mail that previously traveled coast-to-coast by air; higher postage rates; cost-cutting at USPS and possibly Congressional forgiveness of some USPS financial obligations.
He also announced a new local service that will be called USPS Connect, designed to provide drop points for local businesses to use for package distribution. More detail on that service is expected in coming weeks.
DeJoy made it clear to newspaper mailers that they could expect higher postage rates. USPS projects it will gather $44 billion in revenue from higher postage rates over the next 10 years. But he said when the new 10-year plan “Delivering for America” was released that USPS might not have to act on the full pricing authority given it by the Postal Regulatory Commission if Congress passes a postal reform plan.
By Tonda Rush, National Newspaper Association | Read more

7 questions to help local media rebound in 2021

As the pandemic peaks and declines with the increased distribution of vaccines, businesses everywhere should be looking ahead to a rebuilding phase that takes into account our new realities. In many local newsrooms, however, those conversations aren’t happening, or are focused primarily on narrow questions such as how and when journalists will return to a physical newsroom. Blame it on a lack of time, staffing, management experience — but deeper thinking about what these next 12 months will bring to individual newsrooms hasn’t been a priority for some.
Thousands of news offices have been closed for a year due to the pandemic. Frankly, the newsroom reopening decision is likely to be the least complicated task for local newsroom leaders because it’s dependent on external forces like COVID-19 infection rates, the availability of vaccines, guidance from government health officials, and corporate decisions made by people far removed.
But there’s a short and important list of actions that local newsrooms should tackle now.
This report is meant to provoke those discussions and provide a starting point for the urgent work of rebuilding and reconceiving journalism in a way that recognizes our changed world. 
By Jane Elizabeth, American Press Institute | Read more

Columns

Foust

Attack of the morale-killing bosses

In my advertising and training career, I’ve observed – and heard about – a lot of boss-employee encounters. Some have been good, some have been bad. 
All have been instructive. In many cases, we can learn as much from the negative incidents as we can from the positive ones. Here are several examples: 
1. The competitive boss.
This kind of manager can’t seem to play fairly with others, especially if commissions are involved. Unfortunately, the competitive boss is in position to cherry-pick the best prospects. I knew of one company that relied on a notebook to log incoming leads. The boss was one of three people in the ad sales department, and the procedure was to alternate leads. The others on the team realized that she regularly deleted and re-designated the leads, so prime prospects would be assigned to her. Read more

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