Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  July 27, 2023
By SCPA President Richard Whiting, Editor of the Index-Journal
Scan to watch the segment.

CBS’ Koppel report provides hope, relights the journalism embers

If you are a South Carolina newspaper (and website) journalist, then I hope I’m not sharing something you did not already know about and, more important, already watch.
But we all lead busy lives and maybe you missed it, especially since it aired on a holiday weekend.
I am referring to the CBS Sunday Morning segment with Ted Koppel that aired July 2 and shared a tale of newspaper survival in an industry that, we know all too well, is in turmoil.
“Extra! New strategies for survival by South Carolina newspapers,” while specifically centered on our state, addresses a nationwide plight that should have given viewers cause for alarm. It is no surprise to my colleagues. Newspapers are struggling. We swim against a tide of decreased revenue and declining readership in a social media world where all is “free” and a perception that we are the enemy of the people and purveyors of fake news. That is not good for newspapers that try hard to report what matters most in the communities they serve.
In the report, Koppel came to South Carolina to explore what amounts to a newspaper success story, which in large part is thanks to Pierre Manigault and Charleston’s Post and Courier newspaper that he oversees.
By teaming up with dailies and weeklies across the state, The Post and Courier’s investigative team has produced a number of stories that lay bare tales of graft, corruption and secrecy among governmental bodies and their agents who are entrusted with taxpayer dollars. The series, aptly labeled “Uncovered,” was and remains free to anyone who wants to read them.
What is the viewer’s takeaway from Koppel’s report and his focus on “Uncovered?” Affirmation. Or, perhaps, reaffirmation. In short, do not take community newspapers for granted. Moreover, while not everyone will agree with every viewpoint a newspaper publishes, while not everyone will appreciate every bit of content a newspaper produces, everyone should appreciate that local journalists are doing the people’s business.
While our communities’ residents enjoy their backyard barbecues and recreation, while they go to movies and attend children’s sporting events and dance recitals, journalists are covering and reporting on many aspects of the community, not the least of which entails staying on top of what elected and appointed officialdom is doing for them, to them and with their tax dollars.
It’s called watchdog journalism. It provides the necessary transparency and keep-’em-honest coverage that, if taken away, can and often does lead to more and rampant corruption. You know the saying about letting the fox guard the hen house, right? Think of what it is like and can be like if governmental bodies and agencies are allowed to operate in the dark, unchecked. By us. Read more

RSVP for upcoming editor roundtables

It's time to RSVP for our annual editor roundtables! This is the one time a year where you can sit down with your peers and collaborate and swap ideas so please make plans to join us! Both events will be held next month at SCPA Offices in Columbia from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Register for the Weekly/Monthly Editors Roundtable on Aug. 11
Topics are up to each group, but may include: FOI issues, motivating and training staff, special projects and sections, multimedia reporting, social media opportunities and issues, stories that get traction and more. We’ll also have plenty of time for open discussion. The cost to attend is $25, which includes lunch.

SCPA will also host roundtables for revenue/advertising, education beat, cops/court beat and local government beat in the coming months. Check our calendar for more info!

It's time to order press IDs for your sports journalists

The countdown is on for the return of Friday night lights which means it is time to order press IDs for your sports reporters, photographers and stringers.
Cards are $6 each. Lanyards and car window clings are also available.
SCPA has a Priority Mail shipping fee of $8 for all orders that need a clip or lanyard. If you do not need a clip for your press ID (can re-use an old clip or lanyard or you put in your wallet), let us know and we can ship your order at a much lower rate, typically around $1.
Please note SCPA is only able to track orders shipped in Priority Mail boxes. If you need your order quickly, we recommend paying the Priority Mail shipping cost. 
Orders must come from member newspaper editors. Newspaper staffers, part-time employees and freelancers must contact their editor to order a press ID and/or decal.
Congratulations to Nate Abraham Jr. and Nathaniel Abraham III of Carolina Panorama on winning two PALMY Advertising Awards!
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. Three members have already completed the training and an additional 32 folks have enrolled. Sign up to start learning! The initial feedback is that the training is very valuable. One completer said, "this program is well worth the time and effort."

Quote of the Week

"All state and local departments, all state and local government entities, and all elected and appointed officials of state and local government entities, agencies and public bodies must not use any app, software, or other technology that prevents it from maintaining or preserving a public record as required by law on an electronic device that is used to create a public record."

Legal Briefs

Does America still love the First Amendment?

Nearly all Americans still revere the First Amendment: 93% of Americans consider it vital, the Freedom Forum’s 2023 “The First Amendment: Where America Stands” Survey shows. But there are limits to what people know and accept. 
  • Six in 10 Americans know the First Amendment protects hate speech, but 40% would ban it, especially younger people.
  • Nearly two-thirds say business owners should not be forced to bake a cake or create a website message – two scenarios that went to the Supreme Court – celebrating a cause that violates their religious beliefs.
  • More than one-third of Americans don’t realize the First Amendment protects books, movies, music, art and internet memes as free expression.
  • Less than one-third of Americans want politicians to have significant input over what’s taught in classrooms, with most preferring decisions by parents, teachers and students.
  • More than two-thirds of Americans support the right to speaking up and protesting angrily at public meetings.
Related: According to Freedom Forum Senior Fellow Gene Policinski, “How we view – and how much some of us support – the First Amendment is changing, and all of us ought to be concerned.” Here is his expert analysis shows what this means for the future of the First Amendment – and how to get public support back on track.

FOIA Briefs

SC school district spent $1.8B of federal pandemic relief cash. How is largely unknown.

How South Carolina spent over $1.8 billion in federal pandemic relief funds is largely shrouded from public view.
Numerous factors have obscured the spending from the public. The main roadblocks are loose reporting requirements and a long delay between when school districts inform the state how they’ve used the funds and when the information is publicly available.
South Carolina school districts have about $1.5 billion left to spend by September 2024. The money gives districts an unprecedented opportunity to improve the lives of South Carolina children when they need help the most.
Students are still reeling from pandemic-related learning loss. Across the nation, students’ math scores have plummeted, something that could negatively impact their graduation rates, college enrollment, and future earnings. Chronic absenteeism skyrocketed during the pandemic, and achievement gaps between historically marginalized communities and their economically privileged White peers are widening.
These problems are particularly bad for South Carolina, a state that’s been at the bottom of national rankings for public education for years.
The cash gives school districts the opportunity to better the academic futures of South Carolina children and put them on the path to success. But without more transparency, the public will not know if the money is being used to remedy students’ learning loss or if school districts are tracking whether or not their programs are helping students.
By Hillary Flynn, The Post and Courier | Read more

Our View: If an inmate dies in Greenwood, should anyone provide information?

When someone in our readership area dies, readers typically are not lacking information.
They get the basic information from the obituaries we publish. Sometimes that even includes the cause of the person’s death.
If there has been a wreck involving a fatality, an investigating agency’s report shares with the public details of the wreck and, after relatives have been notified, a coroner’s report tells the public not only who died, but also shares the cause of death.
But when people die while in the care of the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office and the detention center employees, the silence is downright deafening.
So far this month, two people have died while behind bars at the Greenwood County Detention Center. Were it not for a report from the coroner’s office, we are left to wonder if the public would have even known.
What happened?
What caused the deaths?
Did the detention center’s medical person provide aid? The coroner’s report did indicate personnel and EMS tried to administer aid to no avail in one death.
Were all official procedures followed?
From the Index-Journal | Read more

People & Papers

By Andrew Wigger,
The Newberry Observer

Time to take a bow

Editor's Note: Andrew Wigger, publisher/editor of The Newberry Observer, recently announced he's leaving after nine years of working at the newspaper. His last day will be Aug. 4. 
As many of you reading this may or may not know I’m a geek — well you should know, I’ve written roughly three columns about attending various comic cons. This should be no surprise to any of you that I’m a fan of “Doctor Who” and my favorite doctor was the 11th, played by Matt Smith.
Smith’s final episode came Christmas 2013, about a decade ago, this aired about six months before I started working at The Newberry Observer. I’ve always been moved by the poem that was used in the episode, as a send off to the 11th doctor.
The poem is called “Thoughts on a Clock” by Eric Ritchie Junior (full disclosure, I have no idea if this is a real poem or a real person). The extract of it went:
“And now it’s time for one last bow
“Like all your other selves
“Eleven’s hour is over now
“The clock is striking twelve’s.”
I have been thinking of this scene a lot recently and how this moment in “Doctor Who” history connects my own history. You see, it is time for me to take a bow as after nine years I am leaving The Newberry Observer. Read more

Charleston City Paper wins 5 national journalism awards

The Charleston City Paper on Friday took home five national journalism awards including first places for best cartoon and best political column in an annual contest by the Association of Alternative News Media.  It represents almost 100 alternative and independent news organizations with millions of readers.
Winners included cartoonist Robert Ariail, whose weekly “Lowcountry” panel won first place for best cartoon, while longtime City Paper cartoonist Steve Stegelin picked up third place.  Editor and publisher Andy Brack also won a first place for best political column for a group of 2022 columns ranging from discussions on abortion to candidate qualifications.
Other winners included photographer Ruta Smith, who nabbed second place in the photography category.  Art director Scott Suchy, designer Christina Bailey and Stegelin shared third place for cover design as depicted in three covers – “Oceans,” “Roads” and “Monsters.” 
“This national recognition is a continuation of tributes that the Charleston City Paper is getting from news organizations for journalistic excellence,” Brack said.  “We’re honored to be picked by our peers and congratulate all winners, here and in other parts of the country.”
From Charleston City Paper | Read more

Post and Courier wins first, tops category in regional journalism competition

The Post and Courier placed first in the Green Eyeshade Awards’ deadline reporting category for its coverage of a Greenville school shooting.
Reporters rushed to Tanglewood Middle School after learning about the shooting on March 31, 2022. They discovered that 12-year Jamari Jackson was shot by a classmate, who was also 12. Jackson died later that day in the hospital. 
The Post and Courier reporters wove portraits of terrified students and concerned families with breaking news in the hours following the shooting. Over the next several weeks, the paper showed that the crime at Tanglewood was part of a larger narrative of school shootings in South Carolina and the nation.
By Hillary Flynn, The Post and Courier | Read more

Industry Briefs

Community News and Small Business Support Act introduced

Bill offers tax credits to local/community news publishers and businesses that advertise on their platforms

New legislation to support local newsrooms and local advertisers has been introduced in the 118th Congress. The Community News & Small Business Support Act was introduced by Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-1), both members of the Ways and Means Committee.
The bipartisan legislation supports two institutions critical to sustaining hometown communities: local news organizations and small businesses. Much like the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which was introduced in the 117th Congress, the Tenney-DelBene Act makes refundable tax credits available to local newspapers of up to $25,000 per journalist in the first year and up to $15,000 per journalist in the next four years.
The Act also makes non-refundable tax credits available to local businesses that advertise with local newspapers of up to $5,000 in the first year and $2,500 in the next four years.
America’s Newspapers, along with other leading media organizations, has led the call for support of the local news industry through legislative efforts. All current members of America’s Newspapers will qualify for the tax credits proposed under the Tenney-DelBene Act. National news outlets are not eligible for these tax credits.
“Thank you to Congresswoman Tenney and Congresswoman DelBene for their dedication to both local news and small businesses," said Dean Ridings, CEO of America's Newspapers. “We could not have imagined having such strong congressional advocates, from both sides of the aisle, in our corner. In addition to the congresswomen, we would also like to thank all of the organizations that have supported America's Newspapers in these efforts, including the News/Media Alliance, the Rebuild Local News Coalition, dozens of state press associations and more." 
From America's Newspapers | Read more

Google is testing a new AI tool that can write news articles and reportedly pitching it to The New York Times and News Corp

Google is testing an AI tool known as "Genesis" that can write news articles, The New York Times first reported.
It can generate news content based on details such as current events, and is being pitched to the likes of the Times, The Washington Post and News Corp — which owns The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London — three people familiar with the matter told the newspaper.
People who saw Google's pitch told the Times that it lacked an understanding of the effort that goes into producing accurate news stories, and that they found the AI unsettling.
By Pete Syme, Business Insider | Read more


By John Foust,
Advertising Trainer

Ad lessons from a wall poster

I remember going to the ophthalmologist a few years ago for my regular eye checkup. In the exam room, there was a large poster on the wall which featured a number of photographs of the same view of New York City from the water. The top left photo showed the unenhanced view, and after that, each one demonstrated what the view would look like with various eye disorders – nearsightness, farsightedness, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc.
It was a powerful message, because it gave the doctor a way to explain important facts at a glance. It enabled patients to see things through the eyes of people with specific eye conditions. It showed – in the most graphic way – what was happening with their vision.
As I looked at the poster, I couldn’t help but think about this business of advertising and the importance of seeing things from others’ perspective. It goes beyond seeing things from our clients’ perspective. We have to see things from all of their customers’ points of view. And perhaps most challenging of all, we need to help each one of our clients see things from their consumers’ perspective.
David Droga, who founded the Droga5 global advertising agency, said, “I really believe in the power of advertising...the power of advertising that’s in sync with what consumers want.” The key is in the words “in sync,” which is a shortened way to say “synchronized.” In the old war movies, the grizzled old officers would say, “Okay, everybody, let’s synchronize our watches.” In other words: Before we get to the drop zone, let’s all set our time at 0500 hours. Read more

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