Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Dec. 2, 2021

CONTEST DEADLINE IS TOMORROW

The clock is winding down on entering the 2021 News Contest! The deadline is Friday, Dec. 3.
The News Contest is an excellent opportunity to recognize the good work done by your staff during the previous year. Plus, it is easy since it's all done digitally. 
Let us know if you need your log-in information. 
Also remember that we're here to help! Give us a call at (803) 750-9561 or email us your contest questions.
Starting next week, SCPA will review all entries to make sure they're ready for judging. When we've sorted your organization's entries, you'll receive an invoice and master entry report.
VIEW RULES + ENTER HERE!

Legislative Workshop for the Media canceled

SCPA's Legislative Workshop for the Media, originally set for Jan. 6, 2022, has been canceled.
In addition to COVID limitations, we received word of two events for legislators that were recently scheduled for the same day as our workshop. Because of the narrow time frame between the holidays and start of the session, it was not possible to reschedule. We hope to bring the event back in 2023!
By Dean Ridings, CEO, America's Newspapers

Fund local journalism to help communities

Editor's Note: Please write to Sens. Graham and Scott and ask them to support Build Back Better with the local journalism tax credit. America's Newspapers has sample letters and more about the LJSA here.
A portion of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act (LJSA) was included in the recent Build Back Better bill that was passed in the House. The LJSA, which has bipartisan support in the House, provides needed support for local journalists across the U.S. and is now being considered in the Senate.
While there has been tremendous support for the LJSA overall, there have been some pundits who have questioned whether government support for local journalists will maintain a free press. One such claim recently came from The Wall Street Journal in an opinion piece asserting the LJSA is “a subsidy for local journalists, most of whom are left of center.” It’s important for local newspaper readers to understand this claim is not only misleading but is also incorrect. While the writers at The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times may be interested in demonstrating how right or left of center they are, most journalists at local newspapers are dedicated to the news of their community without a slant in either direction.
One of the reasons the LJSA has gained so much support is the focus on protecting local journalism. The LJSA is designed to help local journalists in local communities and not the national media. Outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, Fox and others won’t qualify for support as they have too many employees or don’t produce local news. The creation and consumption of local news is different than national news, and according to a 2019 Knight-Gallup study, more people believe their local news organizations are accomplishing most of the key tasks of informing their communities, significantly higher than national outlets. Without a local news organization, where else can a community get information about their local school board, the mayor’s race and other important components of community life? Read more

"Plastic Food Chain" 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

After telling member to leave the room, Beaufort Co. school board makes lawsuit records public

Beaufort County’s school board has agreed to make public some records from member William Smith’s lawsuit against his colleagues and the school district — but only after asking Smith to leave a private discussion before the vote.
The board voted 10-0 to “waive privilege” on their communications with Columbia-based lawyer Andrea White related to Smith’s lawsuit. That means that communications that were previously confidential between White and the board — such as emails, legal recommendations and bills — can now be made public through records requests and interviews.
Smith recused himself from the vote, saying after the meeting that board attorney Eugene Matthews told him to leave the board’s closed-session discussion before it publicly voted on the decision.
Taylor Smith, an attorney with the South Carolina Press Association, said Nov. 11, that it’s “not uncommon” for a client to waive attorney-client privilege in a case where either party could become a witness.
“An attorney shall not ethically be a witness in a proceeding in which they’re embroiled,” he said. “So the attorney may have indicated to the client in this case it is in your best interest to waive attorney-client privilege in communications related to this matter, because I cannot be a witness and your attorney.”
By Rachel Jones, The Island Packet | Read more

SC public officials skate through ethics investigations with little accountability

The State Ethics Commission should be one of South Carolina’s most powerful anti-corruption tools.
But a deeper look reveals an understaffed government watchdog that was set up to fail. It has routinely let misbehaving public officials off the hook with warnings and minimal fines. And it passes few cases on to law enforcement for criminal prosecution.
Critics say this sends a troubling and dangerous message to other public officials: Misbehave and you will face few consequences. When ethics laws aren’t strictly enforced, that vacuum can have a corrosive effect on government and undermine public trust.
The Post and Courier scoured a decade’s worth of records that revealed how South Carolina’s government watchdog handled cases where politicians were accused of mishandling conflicts, lining their pockets with public money, steering contracts to business partners and granting jobs to relatives.
They include the Darlington County councilwoman accused of voting to send thousands of tax dollars to her nonprofit. And the Bethune mayor who pushed to hire his son as the town’s police chief. And the Bishopville city council members who voted not to pay back thousands in illegal stipends they received.
In example after example, troubling trends emerge: The commission’s probes often end in settlements, some of which ignore serious allegations in favor of benign ones that are easier to prove. Other cases are dismissed on technicalities, even when investigators find evidence of questionable conduct.
By Avery G. Wilks, Stephen Hobbs and Thad Moore, The Post and Courier | Read more

Unfulfilled: John de la Howe sits on emails despite FOIA request

Tim Keown bristled after a newspaper quoted an email.
"I have requested SLED to come investigate who is in our email. I'll let you know the outcome. I will get to the bottom of this. I'll not rest until I do," John de la Howe's president wrote to The Post and Courier on April 25, a day after the Charleston newspaper published a story exposing questionable conduct by school employees.
In subsequent emails, he walked back the comments and said he routed the request through his school resource officer and no one had contacted the State Law Enforcement Division. He wasn't sure the agency would even seek an investigation. Keown did not explain in the exchange why it would have been criminal to provide a public record to a journalist. SLED said earlier this month it has no active investigations at the school.
Keown's irritation showed before the story's publication. He pushed back against a journalist in emails before sharing a lengthy exchange with Gerald Moore, a consultant for the school.
"I'm not cut out for dealing with journalists," Keown wrote. "Our attorney told me to not reply, but I also won't be ran over by this dude. Neither should you or Dr Wall or Ken. We've done nothing wrong. Simple as that."
The South Carolina Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe provided these emails and others to The Post and Courier earlier this month in response to a public records request.
The agency did not, however, provide these emails to the Index-Journal in response to its records request.
By Matthew Hensley, Index-Journal | Read more
Related Editorial: Emails matter as they shed light on what is true (Index-Journal)
Related Editorial: Hope JDLH meeting includes FOIA response (Index-Journal)

Without explanation, this Beaufort board closed a public meeting. What was going on?

Without explanation, Beaufort’s Design Review Board closed a meeting to the public Nov. 16. Then, when its three members reconvened in public, the board approved three apartment projects totaling 888 units.
The purpose of that secret meeting, it turns out, was to discuss whether it was appropriate for the three members to deliberate without a full five-member board, especially since three major apartment complexes were on the agenda. Two seats on the board are vacant.
It’s illegal to have any discussion in secret without publicly announcing beforehand the reason, or legal exemption from South Carolina’s open meetings law. The board failed to do that Nov. 16.
It’s also illegal to meet in secret if the subject of that meeting isn’t one of the legal exemptions allowed by law, such as a personnel issue.
But the behind-closed-doors discussion indicates the concerns some have over the influx of large apartment proposals at a time when a city board charged with reviewing them is shorthanded with two vacancies.
By Karl Puckett, The Island Packet | Read more

SC officials raised concerns about this vaccine sign-up system, but DHEC still chose to use it. Why?

The pressure was mounting on South Carolina’s top public health official.
CEOs from the Palmetto State’s major hospital networks, including Prisma Health, had just blasted the Vaccine Administration Management System, or VAMS.
VAMS, an appointment scheduler for COVID-19 vaccinations and a data reporting tool used by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, was clunky, ineffective and difficult to navigate, the hospital leaders argued, even though the federal system was advertised as easy to operate.
“Get rid of VAMS,” said Dr. Patrick Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health, during a January meeting in Columbia with the DHEC board.
The system, Cawley said, was slowing down the vaccine rollout amid a record-breaking COVID-19 surge.
Marshall Taylor, DHEC’s acting director, figured he should acknowledge the problem.
“We don’t like it either,” Taylor said.
But he failed to mention that DHEC had decided to use VAMS even after high-ranking agency officials raised concerns about the system in fall 2020, weeks before the vaccine rollout began, according to a new review by The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette of roughly 11,000 pages of internal emails that provide an unprecedented look into some state leaders’ previously unreported hesitancy about deploying VAMS.
By Sam Ogozalek, The Island Packet | Read more

People & Papers

Hill

Stephanie Hill joins Aiken Standard as reporter, copy editor

Stephanie Hill joined the Aiken Standard’s staff as a copy editor and general assignment reporter.
She is originally from the Augusta/Evans area and has been away from home for seven years. She recently moved back from Cleveland, Georgia, where she was a reporter for the White County News.
She graduated from Augusta University in 2012 with her bachelor’s degree in journalism and then earned her Master in Mass Communication in 2014 from the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
By Shakailah Heard, Aiken Standard | Read more
Osteen

Annual Sumter Item Fireside Fund kicks off, honors late Hubert D. Osteen Jr.

Each winter since 1969, The Sumter Item has run a fundraiser to collect money from its readers to be donated entirely to Sumter United Ministries.
SUM does a lot. The faith-based nonprofit provides emergency and life-rebuilding services ranging from food, shelter and clothing to final notice bill pay, access to educational opportunities and a medical clinic. The Sumter Item recognizes and appreciates every ministry their staff and volunteers run, but Fireside Fund was created to focus on one area that becomes critical for the next few months: heat. ...
This year hits a little differently for The Sumter Item.
Fireside Fund this year is dedicated to the memory of Hubert D. Osteen Jr., a former publisher and editor of The Sumter Item and father of its current owners. He passed away in December 2020 at the age of 84.
Osteen did a lot. He started working for his family's newspaper at the age of 13 and worked his way up to the top. He became a statewide industry leader and still found time to serve on local boards and give back at home, whether that be with the S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism Commission or Downtown Revitalization Board. He was recognized by the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce and Sumter YMCA with their top awards.
Osteen and his widow, Jackie, started the Joseph Boozer Scholarship for high school students in honor of the teenage son of a longtime employee who tragically died.
And, of course, he started the Fireside Fund. Since 1969, this fundraiser has raised more than $1.7 million.
By Kevin Howell and Kayla Green, The Sumter Item | Read more

Greenville News Storytellers Project returns with in-person shows in 2022

The Greenville News, the Anderson Independent-Mail and the Spartanburg Herald-Journal will again inspire community connection through a series of nights featuring true, personal stories told by the people who live and work in the Upstate as the Storytellers Project returns to in-person shows.
Editors and reporters will curate quarterly shows, coaching 20 people from the community to develop entertaining, compelling stories that reflect on the themes growing up, neighbors, food and family, and holidays.
Tickets are on sale now at https://www.storytellersproject.com/all-events/ and the newsroom is seeking pitches at https://www.storytellersproject.com/tell/.
By Lillia Callum-Penso, Greenville News | Read more

Item editor experiences spirit of giving firsthand with volunteer opportunities in Sumter

Giving back to the community is something people encourage all year long. However, the spirit of giving grows stronger as the holidays draw near.
Instead of reporting on an organization's volunteer opportunities and its impact, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work this holiday season, offering a helping hand to some local nonprofits a week before Thanksgiving.
By Shelbie Goulding, The Sumter Item | Read more

Lexington County Chronicle sponsors literacy fundraiser

Authors for Literacy plans a charity book signing from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11.
A record 22 local authors will autograph their books. The books range from $10 to $20. They make memorable and unique Christmas gifts.
The event raises money for Turning Pages, a Columbia-based nonprofit that provides tutoring to teach illiterate adults to read, write and develop other career enhancing skills.
The event will be at the main branch of the Lexington County Library (5440 Augusta Rd./U.S. 1), just east of downtown Lexington.
The Lexington County Chronicle and The Fish Wrapper, Authors for Literacy, the Lexington County Library and Sign It Quick team up the event each year to raise money for Turning Pages.
Authors for the December event include Pat McNeely, Tom Poland, Ralph Jarrells, MaryJo Briggs-Austin, Kathy Widener, Linda Maguire, Scott Vaughan, John Starno, ArthurTurfa, JohnnyBloodworth, Sharon Durgin, Suzanne Riley Whyte, Claudette Holliday, Alicia Kehoe, Cat Fitzgerald, Larry Timbs, Halina Schafer, Charlie Farrell, Don Gordon, William Kaliher and myself.
By Jerry Bellune for the Lexington County Chronicle & The Dispatch News | Read more

Help Herald-Journal's food drive, receive 'A Dickens of a Christmas' coffee mug 

A Dickens of a Christmas is returning to downtown Spartanburg in December and the Herald-Journal and its staff can hardly wait. 
I've said it before, and it deserves mentioning in this column, it's one of my favorite city-sponsored events — in any city — I've ever attended.
The only city event that comes close to Dickens' fun is my hometown of Shelby, NC's Livermush Festival (now rebranded Mush, Music and Mutts). Look it up if you haven't heard of it. It's a real thing. 
With the Victorian-style celebration across downtown, the gift vendors and the official lighting of the big Christmas tree at Denny's Plaza, Dickens night sets the stage for the festive season ahead.
I like that it's always shortly after Thanksgiving, too. Dickens serves as a perfect Christmas-season kickoff in early December. 
By Gabe Whisnant, Herald-Journal | Read more

Holiday Sunshine Fund: The Greenville News looks forward to Greenville's generosity every year

Thank you, Greenville, for being such a giving community.
Every year, I watch as you generously open your purses and wallets and bank accounts and donate to the Holiday Sunshine Fund, the annual fundraising campaign sponsored by The Greenville News and WYFF-4.
Last year this community donated more than $190,000 during the holiday season, every penny of which we passed along to charitable organizations in our community. It was the most money we’ve ever raised, and we were humbled by your generosity.
Thanks to you, I had the pleasure of personally passing along significant checks to Upstate Warrior Solutions and Poe Mill Achievement Center, two organizations that are close to my heart. It’s money I know went to help our city be a better place.
Each year the Holiday Sunshine Fund passes your money on to dozens of organizations that are focused on helping children and families. Money you’ve donated to HSF has helped veterans and students in after-school programs, but it also has helped put shoes on children, food on empty tables and kept the heat running during the winter.
By Steve Bruss, Greenville News | Read more

Industry Briefs

The publisher/post office partnership fractures

Slow delivery and increased rates may contribute to the further decline of newspapers

It appears the United States Postal Service (USPS) is jumping on the bandwagon, adding one more financial and operational burden to newspapers nationwide.
For as long as I can remember, newspaper publishers have relied on the USPS for reliable and timely mail delivery. From first-class mail out of the front office to periodicals, marketing mail (Total Market Coverage, or TCM products), bulk mail — the list goes on. The USPS has been our true partnership.
That partnership now seems to be more challenged than ever.
Effective Aug. 29, the Postal Regulatory Commission approved raising rates for newspapers to 9%. The National Newspaper Association (NNA) and News Media Alliance pushed back on these increases.
Unfortunately, their initial efforts failed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declined to cancel the increase.
By Jerry Simpkins, Editor & Publisher | Read more

LMA to launch Technology Resource Center for media industry, supported by Google News Initiative

Technology can be an accelerant or a roadblock on the path to sustainability and growth for local media organizations. To help them achieve the best possible outcomes from investments in enabling platforms, Local Media Association plans to launch a Technology Resource Center in early 2022, with support from Google News Initiative.
The LMA Technology Resource Center will assist media organizations of all types and sizes with strategies and consulting aimed at improving selection, implementation, optimization and long-term success of enabling technologies. To lead the Center and its outreach to the industry, LMA plans to hire a managing director at the outset.
By Jay Small, Local Media Association | Read more

As Alden seeks seats on Lee Enterprises’ board, Lee unions urge the board to reject Alden’s takeover

Alden Global Capital has played another card in its campaign to take over Lee Enterprises. On Friday, the hedge fund nominated a slate of three directors for seats on Lee’s eight-person board.
In a press release Monday, Lee described these as “purported” nominations and said it would see whether proper procedures were followed. If so, they would be considered at the company’s 2022 annual meeting.
Alden offered a bid of $24 a share a week ago, $5.50 per share more than the company’s trading value at market close Nov. 19. Lee rebuffed the offer, saying its directors will consider it over the next year, while putting in a “poison pill” aimed at blocking Alden from buying more than 10% of the company’s shares.
Alden gained seats on the board of Tribune Publishing over a period of 18 months as part of its strategy for acquiring control of that company, which it completed this summer.
By Rick Edmonds and Angela Fu, Poynter | Read more

Helping readers make sense of digital news

... In two studies funded by the Reynolds Journalism Institute — one focused on print readers, the other digital —  we asked readers about their news consumption habits, and sought to uncover the array of meta-context cues they might use to understand what they read. Among other behaviors, we wanted to know how they:
  • Recognize news from opinion
  • Evaluate the recency and urgency of a news story
  • Navigate a news source to find a topic or story of interest
  • Ascertain the trustworthiness of a news outlet
  • Discover relevant stories while browsing
So far, we have identified 15 affordances (broadly speaking, the features or cues in a medium) that readers implicitly or explicitly rely on when consuming the news in print and digital formats. Many of these affordances are found in both mediums, though may be expressed differently in a broadsheet newspaper than on a mobile phone.
By Damon Kiesow, Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more

Photo contests to bring holiday cheer (+ revenue)

The holiday season gives way too many photograph opportunities. Whether it’s an adorable baby, a cute pet, some fantastic holiday lights, or a family showing off their Christmas spirit, you can find a photo contest that would be a perfect fit for your company. Plus, with this being the biggest spending season of the year, there are a ton of advertisers looking for these opportunities to get in front of their target audience.
Check out our list of photo contests you could run this holiday season.
By Liz Huff, Upland | Read more

Obituaries

Woods

Longtime newspaper leader Kim Woods died Nov. 27 

Kim Young Woods passed away on Nov. 27, 2021.
In addition to serving on SCPA's Executive Committee, SCPA staff researched S.C. newspaper history and determined that while serving as publisher of the Yorkville Enquirer and The Clover Herald, Woods made history as the first female African-American newspaper publisher in SCPA’s nearly 170 year history.
Woods served on SCPA’s Executive Committee as a weekly newspaper representative from 2003-2005, while working at the Yorkville Enquirer and The Clover Herald. She also served as a daily newspaper representative from 2009-2012 while working as VP of Advertising and Marketing at The Herald in Rock Hill.
She began her career as an automotive account executive for the Herald Media Group in Rock Hill and worked nearly 28 years for McClatchy newspapers. 
Woods was an active alumnus of the Department of Mass Communication at Winthrop University. In October, she was named a 2021 Distinguished Alumni during Winthrop’s 75th Anniversary Mass Communication Week. 
She was also a graduate of Northwestern University’s Advanced Executive program.
After leaving S.C. newspapers, Woods went on to serve as advertising director at newspapers in Florida and Kentucky, and she led USA Today Network/LOCALiQ's Automotive West Region as sales director. 
While working as Vice President of Advertising for the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader, she served on the Kentucky Press Association Board of Directors and was elected Vice President in 2018.  
For the past two years, Woods worked for Pearson Online Learning Services in Arizona as Vice President of Business District Development and Associate Director of Recruitment/Partnership and Business Development.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, Dec. 4, at 11:30 a.m. at John W. Woodward Funeral Home, located at 594 Howard St. in Spartanburg. Due to COVID-19, the event will be held outside so please dress accordingly. 
Please join SCPA is thinking of Kim's family during this difficult time.
Here is the link where Kim's obituary will be posted on the J.W. Woodward Funeral Home site. (Please note: The information above was compiled by SCPA staff. The obituary is not yet available as of Thursday afternoon.) 
Welch

Williamston Journal reporter, columnist Stan Welch died Nov. 20

Stanton Wayne “Stan” Welch, 72, passed away Nov. 20, 2021.
Born in Gastonia, NC, he was a son of the late Carl Whitby “Pee Wee” Welch, Jr. and Elizabeth Dilling “Libby” Welch.
A 1972 graduate of the Citadel, he worked as a journalist in the newspaper industry in South Carolina for 40 years. Stan was a lover of and a faithful servant to the power of the written word.
He was an investigative reporter, and independent publisher and newspaper owner.
He worked for the last 15 years as a journalist and columnist for the Williamston Journal.
Stan loved his family and his country and had a real heart and concern for the downtrodden and veterans. Read more

Compelling Writing by Jerry Bellune

By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach

The power of shattering moments

Suspense writer James Scott Bell says all stories, fact or fiction, are about shattering moments.
“The characters will never be the same,” he says. 
This retelling of the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, has not one but seven shattering moments:
When Mary was in her teens the priests held a lottery to choose her husband. Joseph won.
Mary discovered she was pregnant and feared Joseph would call off their marriage. He almost did. 
An angel came to him in his sleep and told him to marry Mary. She was to bear the Son of God. 
The angel convinced him. The priests were a different story. 
They sent Joseph into the desert to atone for his sin.
When he returned, they sent Mary into the desert. 
On her safe return, the high priest dismissed the charges.
Mary was close to giving birth when she and Joseph were ordered to Bethlehem to be counted for the census. 
No air, bus or rail travel were available. Due to Mary’s condition, she rode a donkey. Joseph walked. 
It was not to be their first difficult trip.
When Herod heard a new King of the Jews was born, his assassins killed infant rivals for his throne. 
An angel told Joseph to flee with his wife and child to Egypt and not return until he told them it was safe.
Mary’s last ordeal was at the cross on Calvary. We can only imagine what she felt as she watched her son's agonizing death on the cross.
Next: Open with a story.

Writing coach Jerry Bellune is author of “The Art of Compelling Writing, Volume 1.” The $14 print edition is available to fellow SCPA members for $10. For a personally autographed copy, send your check to him at PO Box 1500, Lexington, SC 29071-1500.

Columns

By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant

Meaningful meeting reports demand substantive leads

Newspapers smartly are promoting their roles as government watchdogs to reinforce their strengths in the fractured media landscape. I join the chorus: Vibrant coverage of public affairs is at the foundation of vibrant communities. The theme was underscored in a couple of recent webinars.
What do you lose without a community newspaper? As one editor noted, announcing candidate filings, explaining the whys behind a proposed bonding project, calling attention to salary hikes for public officials – these stories and more collectively bind together communities.
Another editor succinctly said: “To sustain democracy, you need people who care about facts and want to read facts. That’s what we’re here for.”
To no surprise, I find myself nodding in agreement with observations on the importance of delivering relevant public affairs coverage, especially the workings of local government where community newspapers have a ringside view. The strongest meeting coverage boils down to three steps: Alert readers; report the decisions; interpret the actions.
For many newspapers, meeting reports represent the lion’s share of their public affairs coverage. That demands extra attention to produce stories that educate and engage readers. Read more

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