Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  May 11, 2023

Ways to get involved in SCPA

It's our annual reminder that while we are always here to support you, we also encourage you to get involved in SCPA!
We have several committees (Contest, Diversity, Education, FOI, Government Affairs, Public Notice and Hall of Fame) that are vital to the association. Most groups collaborate digitally and meet over Zoom, with the option of meeting in person once a year. If you're interested in learning more or volunteering, please let us know.
We're also starting to plan fall training events and would love your input on topics, speakers and what training you and your staff need. Please call or email us with your ideas!
Finally, we're making plans to once again host regional meet and greets that will allow SCPA members and friends to network in a casual setting. If you'd like us to set up a gathering in your community (happy hour, trivia night, etc.), please drop us a line. And if you'd like to join us and support one or more of these events as a co-sponsor, please let us know.

"Observational study" 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.

FOIA Briefs

What to do when they close court or meeting

Editor's Note: Please keep this link handy in case you need a citation from the law. And remember that if you run into an issue, call SCPA's Legal/FOI Hotline at (803) 750-9561 or email us
When in a public meeting and the body attempts to enter executive session without stating the specific purpose of the session, stand and address the chair by stating:
“I am (name), a reporter with (newspaper). The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act requires that the specific purpose of the session be stated. Please be more specific of the matter to be discussed that is broadly identified in S.C. Code Section 30-4-70(a)(1)-(6). My position is supported by the decision of the S.C. Supreme Court in Donohue v. City of North Augusta, 412 S.C. 526, 773 S.E.2d 140 (2015).” Note: “Personnel matters” and “contractual matters” do not qualify as statements of specific purpose.

When you are in court or trying to gain access to a court proceeding, and the courtroom has been closed or a party moves to exclude the public or press from the courtroom, stand and address the judge by respectfully stating:
“Judge, I am (name), a reporter with (newspaper). On behalf of my newspaper I would like to object to the closing of this proceeding and have the opportunity for my newspaper’s attorney to appear to argue the issue. My position is supported by the decision of the S.C. Supreme Court in Ex parte: Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., 369 S.C. 69, 631 S.E.2d 86 (2006).”

SC Senate sends bill clearing the way for lethal injection to governor’s desk

Executions may soon resume in South Carolina after a 12-year hiatus.
The S.C. Senate sent a bill to the governor’s desk May 4 that would expand the state’s so-called “shield law” by granting secrecy to the suppliers of the lethal drugs used in executions, which could allow the procedure to restart for the first time since 2011.
Gov. Henry McMaster reaffirmed his pledge to sign the bill hours after the Senate approved it.
“It’s been something that the General Assembly has been working on for a long time,” said Sen. Greg Hembree, the North Myrtle Beach Republican who authored the measure.
“This moves us into a good place from the standpoint of being able to carry out the sentences that have been imposed by citizens and our judges,” he added.
For more than a decade, pharmaceutical companies have declined to sell South Carolina the drugs for the lethal cocktails it needs to kill those on death row. The assumption is that by giving the companies cover from death penalty opponents, suppliers will be more willing to provide the drugs.
The Senate voted 32-6 to concur with a version of the bill that passed out of the House April 19. Democrats cast the six dissenting votes.
The bill exempts execution drugs from the standard procurement process, Board of Pharmacy regulations and open records laws. In turn, the identities of anyone who helps perform executions would be confidential.
By Alexander Thompson, The Post and Courier | Read more

Legal Briefs

Gag in place for new Myrtle Beach downtown leader. ‘What are they really trying to hide’?

A gag is a restriction on information. The Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance continues the practice of trying to limit speech.
Past and present CEOs for the taxpayer-funded organization tasked with revitalizing downtown Myrtle Beach are prevented from saying anything that might be considered “disparaging.”
Was there previous misuse of taxpayer funds, are outside forces controlling the board members, or were companies misled about downtown revitalization?
The public may never know if that happened in the past 19 months since the Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance was formed, or if it happens in the future.
When former Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance CEO Amy Barrett left her position and was replaced, and her replacement was paid more, she did not speak about why she left or what transpired. That could be for fear of legal repercussions due to her contract.
Free speech and government transparency advocates see restricting information as bad for democracy and taxpayers.
By Adam Benson, The Sun News | Read more

People & Papers

Times and Democrat, Morning News announce shift to three-day print delivery, seven-day e-edition schedule

Since 1881, The Times and Democrat has been proud to serve as your leading provider of local news in the place we call home.
From public schools to public safety, from start-ups to soccer, from the arts to local government, we have been committed for decades to informing, educating and entertaining our readers. And we couldn’t do it without your support of our local journalists who produce important work like tracking the hospital’s transition to MUSC Health Orangeburg, following the ongoing debate over location of a new Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School and profiling a local investigator with a key role in the Alex Murdaugh trial. More than ever, we’re dedicated to providing that type of unique local journalism.
Our commitment to being the strongest local news provider remains steadfast, but we also continue to change with the habits of our readers. Today, the communities we serve are different, as are the ways people communicate on a daily basis, and The T&D is evolving, too.
Also, as we’ve adjusted to changing news consumption habits, we’ve adapted to some outside forces affecting the local news industry, such as shifts in advertising trends, increasing newsprint costs and the job market.
With all of that in mind, and in an effort to preserve the excellent local news coverage you’re used to, I’m writing to let you know that starting June 6, the print edition of The Times and Democrat will move to a different publication schedule, with delivery three days each week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. In addition, your newspaper will transition from being delivered by a traditional newspaper delivery carrier to mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service.
The new three-day print frequency certainly represents a shift in your newspaper experience. But fewer days of print don’t mean less of the important, impactful local coverage that you expect from us. We’re still your best source for local news content, and we remain committed to covering our community all day, every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Every day, you’ll find the best of local, national and international news and features on our digital platforms, including our website,, our mobile app, our newsletters, our social media channels and our E-edition — the popular electronic replica of our print edition that’s accessible on our website or via our app.
By Lee Harter, The Times and Democrat | Read more
Related: Your expanded Morning News coming soon (By Matt Robertson, Morning News)

Autumn Phillips named to E&P's 2023 class of "Editors Extraordinaire"

Autumn Phillips, executive editor of The Post and Courier, was recently named one of Editor and Publisher's 2023 Editors Extraordinaire. Here's answers to her Q&A: 
What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire
  1. Exercise — and do it in the morning before work. The stress, long hours and poor eating habits of journalists will destroy you if you don't.
  2. Have a life outside of the newsroom. Journalism can satisfy everything you need out of life — social life, intellectual challenge, creativity, a sense of purpose. But having a rich life outside the newsroom will make you a better journalist — bringing depth to your work.
  3. Create a learning culture in the newsroom that encourages everyone to take risks. The easiest way to start is to always seek out great writing and reporting and discuss it with your staff in chats, brown bags and one-on-one conversations.
What has been your proudest moment as an editor?
We launched a project years ago called Rising Waters, a new way to look at the increasing pace of climate change in our area. We created a series of project-length stories and deployed them over a year as breaking news — projects written with real-time details of flooding. The first time we did it, it took all day to work through the logistics, and we published at 7 p.m. We were proud of that. But we got better each time and got to the point where we had planned all the logistics, deployed as soon as the flooding began, sent in feeds to the lead writer and published in a couple of hours. The kind of teamwork, creativity and communication it took to pull that off was a huge learning experience for us and some of the most fun I’ve had as an editor.  
By Robin Blinder, Editor & Publisher | Read more

Greer Citizen founder honored on paper's 105th anniversary

On May 10, The Greer Citizen celebrated its 105th anniversary. Greer natives Charles Preston Smith Jr. and Louis Pope Smith mounted a plaque downtown at 221 Randall Street honoring the pair's grandfather, Preston Webb Smith (P.W. Smith), who was the founder of The Greer Citizen newspaper in 1918.

Post and Courier reporters receive two National Headliner Awards

The Post and Courier has received a pair of prestigious journalism honors from the National Headliner Awards.
Former reporter Jennifer Berry Hawes received a first-place award in the feature writing category for journalists working outside a top 20 media market. 
Hawes was honored for a portfolio that included stories about an intellectually disabled man subjected to horrific labor trafficking, an examination of a man long reputed to be the leader of a massive but doomed slave rebellion in Charleston, and a police chief’s battle back from a rare and devastating cancer that cost him a leg and hip. ...
Hawes and colleague Thad Moore also won a second-place nod for investigative reporting by newspapers not in a top 20 market. 
They won for “Danger on the Docks,” which investigated the safety record at Detyens Shipyards Inc., a North Charleston ship-repair business where four men died on the job in three years — more than shipyards many times larger.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Industry Briefs

America’s Newspapers releases 2023 Local Newspaper Study

America’s Newspapers has released results from the 2023 Local Newspaper Study, the first national research project dedicated to how readers consume local news and advertising in nearly a decade.  
“America’s Newspapers is committed to meeting the needs of our members and of the industry,” said Dean Ridings, CEO of America’s Newspapers. “We are proud to present the 2023 Local Newspaper Study, a project dedicated specifically to measuring the difference local newspapers make.”
The national study of 5,000 respondents was conducted by the independent research firm Coda Ventures, and provides compelling evidence of the importance, relevance and vitality of today’s newspapers in the American media landscape. ...
An overview of the study is available HERE or in the May edition of Editor & Publisher (starting on page 66).
By Greg Watson | America's Newspapers | Read more

NNA asks Postal Regulatory Commission to stop hammering newspapers with rate surcharges

National Newspaper Association Chair John M. Galer yesterday asked the Postal Regulatory Commission to stop adding a 2% surcharge onto postage rate increases as part of its efforts to bring Periodicals mail back into being a profitable product for the Postal Service.
Galer, publisher of The Journal-News in Hillsboro, Illinois, also expressed support for a new postage discount for marketing mailers. Under USPS’ current proposal, saturation shopper publications (sent to every address or ever residential address at marketing mail rates) will receive a 10% discount if they mail packages under 2 ounces that contain at least four different advertisers’ messages. The mailings will have to be sent at least 10 times a year.
USPS plans to implement another postage increase in excess of 8% for most newspapers’ Periodicals mail on July 9. That change will push the increases since January 2021 to more than 30% over rates charged before the PRC changed the postal rate rules in 2020. Among the charges are a regulatory 2% surcharge for every mail class that does not produce enough revenue to cover USPS costs.
“This surcharge is adding insult to injury,” Galer said. “In the history of newspapers and magazines in the mail, they have rarely covered all postal costs. A small exception was in 2006 just after USPS implemented an extraordinarily large increase — and before iPhones came out. That lasted just a couple of years. Since then, Periodicals have been under water.
“Subscribers, who are the ultimate payers of these rates, simply cannot keep up with the ever-rising postage costs,” he continued. “The Commission may have thought that these aggressive charges would somehow change that equation, but it has not and it will not. The surcharge provides USPS with very little revenue, but it is hurting newspaper subscribers. We think it is time for the PRC to change its rule.”
The Postal Service is required to seek PRC review of its semiannual postage increases. Typically, the PRC approves the increases.
Read NNA's letter here.


By Al Cross, 
Sustaining Rural

States build support for newspapers; how to tell your story

Newspapers and other local media seeking help through changes in government policies have turned their attention to state governments, after coming close last year in a Congress that is now less likely to help them. But how will they make their case to 50 state legislatures?
There was encouraging news in April as the Washington State Legislature eliminated its 0.35% gross-receipts tax on newspapers and certain digital publishers for 10 years. But one legislature does not a trend make, and many lobbying interests are always seeking tax breaks.
Newspapers’ financial challenges are widely known, but only in a general sense. When local newspapers write about their problems, it might seem self-serving. But what if legislators in a state could read a comprehensive report about the newspapers in that state, including information about papers with which they are familiar? Read more

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