Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  July 8, 2020

PALMY Ad Contest deadline is Friday!

Friday is the final day to enter submissions into the 2020 PALMY Advertising Contest!
The PALMYs recognize the Palmetto State's best, brightest and most enterprising advertising professionals and advertisers, and the impact they have made in their communities.
Thanks to the SCPA Foundation, all member newspapers will receive five free entries in this year's competition.
Contact SCPA if you need your newspaper's login information or if you have any questions about entering the contest.

Rogers to Aiken Rotary: Newspapers telling the stories 'you need to know'

In the midst of a global pandemic, civil unrest, economic struggles and political polarization, newspapers are important sources of information.
“Through it all, America’s newspapers are still there. They’re still telling you the stories that you need to know,” Bill Rogers told the Rotary Club of Aiken during a virtual meeting of the organization Monday.
Rogers is the executive director of the South Carolina Press Association.
“There are lots and lots of cries of fake news these days,” he said. “But honestly, I believe people are not aiming those cries at the newspapers in South Carolina. Newspapers in South Carolina aren’t printing fake news. They are trying to do their best to tell people what’s going on in their communities and in the world. They’ve never been needed more than they are right now."
By Dede Biles, Aiken Standard | Read more 

Member Spotlight: Richard Whiting

Executive Editor, Index-Journal
What do you like best about your job?
What’s not to like? OK, so there are the nattering nabobs of negativity (thanks, Spiro T. Agnew) who have consumed the Kool-Aid and joined the band whose only hit songs are “Enemy of the People” and “Fake News” to deal with, but really we poke fun at them and have a good laugh during our Zoom meetings with all the other media outlets as we conspire, plot and align our news coverage to fit the narrative that we have all signed in blood to eschew. I do like the fact that, despite the state of newspapers today, we remain steadfast in our mission to reflect our communities, report fairly and accurately and serve as the government watchdogs on a regular basis. Funny thing about that. All those who call for the death of newspapers (members of the band, remember?) will, if their mission succeeds, one day wonder why they were not told their (insert elected body of choice here) was doing what it’s doing to THEM. Oh, and one more thing. I like that we actually supply opinions on local matters, even when members of the band cannot figure out the difference between news and opinion. Another funny thing here. They’re actually some of the very people who think it’s OK that Tucker Carlson blends opinion with “news” reporting without notice. At least our page is labeled “Viewpoints.”

What is your proudest career moment?
That’s a tough one. Proud moments have included helping people’s newspaper careers as they have come into my newsrooms and moved onto bigger and better things. I just wish they’d remember that and send me a box of fine cigars. I’m proud of the work we have done here in Greenwood on being watchdogs, certainly including those cases that have won us SCPA awards for our efforts. And, despite the fact that the headline does constitute editorializing, I admit to being proud of my “BASTARD’S DEAD!” headline on 1A when Osama bin Laden was killed. We lost a few subscribers, but gained a whole lot more supporters. Plus, we got a high profile at the now defunct Newseum and got captured on  Christiane Amanpour’s Sunday TV show when she broadcast at the Newseum. Great photo of Bill Rogers taken next to our 1A display there.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
These are not exactly exciting times. Challenging times, yes. But maybe not exciting. But we are learning to navigate the new waters we find ourselves in. And it is exciting in many ways that while no fewer than 30 newsrooms across the country have shuttered because of the pandemic, we remain afloat in those waters.

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
That’s not a fair question because we have one of the greatest press associations around. Ours is not only engaged, it’s proactive and always, always ready to help out, even when it too is having to endure financial struggles. Bill Rogers has built a fantastic team that helps on important legislative matters, Freedom of Information, seminars, webinars and an array of other member services. It doesn’t hurt that when we can and do occasionally actually have events at the SCPA office, there’s generally good barbecue involved and the potential for a back patio cigar.

What adjustments have you made during COVID-19?
We began working from home mid-March. That includes employees beyond the newsroom, such as advertising staff. We were fortunate to have been set up on Microsoft Teams prior to that, which has made communications far easier. Thankfully, at least so far, there have not been any issues in which a staffer has forgotten to turn off the camera feed when he or she should have. We have done more phone and email interviews than we would like, but we have also gone out for reporting and photo coverage. Our crew practices safe distancing and they know they are to wear their face masks when out and about on the job. We immediately set up a special COVID-19 landing page (thanks, Matt) and have been allowing free access to all our pandemic-related coverage. Of course, so much of our coverage was and remains related to the pandemic, but as soon as we could we pared back on the data-driven mind-numbing stories and sought human interest stories. Not always easy to get, but they’re out there. And we are finding more people are actively seeking us out to share good news stories in the midst of the pandemic. “Midst of the pandemic,” by the way, has already made the list of cliches, I believe.

When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
My hope is that all will yet be open. Our festival lineups have been shaken to the core, but this area has been most supportive of its restaurants and musicians. If our Festival of Discovery and Greenwood Blues Cruise takes place in September (it’s usually the second weekend of July), then by all means come and enjoy some kickass barbecue, chicken, ribs, brisket, hash and great music. Did I mention it’s all free, save for the wrist band you’ll need to buy so you can tote that beer around with you from team to team, vendor to vendor, venue to venue? Yeah. Just give me a holler if you’re coming and we’ll see what’s going on. There’s always some live music in Uptown restaurants and bars. Grab a craft beer at our own locally-owned brewery, which also has a brick-oven pizza restaurant next door.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I enjoy good cigars, good small batch bourbon and single malt scotches. No. Wait. Too many people already do know that. Toss that one down to the next question, will ya? I don’t really have a good answer for this one. Like many in the business, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some big names in politics and the music industry. You youngsters out there might need to Google these: Jesse Jackson, George H.W. Bush, Peter Frampton, Don McLean are but a few. I lived in Thailand as a kid because my dad’s military career took him there and he was allowed to bring the whole family. But it’s not like I lived in the King’s Palace or anything cool like that. But I did learn a few cuss words in Thai. 

What do you like to do outside of work?
Hold on there! There is something outside of work? When the hell did that happen? OK, see answer above. I also enjoy music. Lots of music. Were it not for my collection of vinyl and CDs, I probably could have retired three years ago. And, sadly, CDs have not gone up in value. Not even Certificates of Deposit, for that matter. I do enjoy participating in community theater and have done a number of plays here in Greenwood and a few in neighboring Abbeville. One in Abbeville was with the late, great Harry Anderson. What a guy. 

We're bringing back eBulletin Member Spotlights! Know someone that you’d like SCPA to spotlight? Email us your recommendations.

FOI Briefs

North Augusta resident files initial brief in city's FOIA appeal

North Augusta resident Perry Holcomb has filed an initial brief to the South Carolina Court of Appeals regarding a Freedom of Information Act case against the city of North Augusta.
Holcomb sued the city in November 2018. His initial lawsuit stated that the city, mayor and City Council violated FOIA when City Council amended a list of projects for Capital Projects Sales Tax IV. That list was included in a document called “Agenda 050718 Complete.”
In October 2019, circuit court judge Clifton B. Newman signed an order in favor of Holcomb, finding that the city did violate FOIA, enjoining the city from future similar violations and awarding attorney’s fees and costs to Holcomb.
By Lindsey Hodges, The North Augusta Star | Read more

Schools debate whether to detail positive tests for athletes

Over the past two weeks, as college athletes have returned to campuses to work out and prepare for sports later this year, a handful of them have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Arkansas State. Houston. Boise State. Iowa State. Oklahoma State. More than a dozen schools in all.
Just how many positive tests isn’t known, however, because college officials are debating exactly what to tell the public. Nearly half the 66 Football Bowl Subdivision members that responded to an Associated Press inquiry last week said they were still deciding whether to disclose the number of athletes with positive tests — and just over half aren’t going to release numbers at all.
“That’s a real challenge,” Memphis athletic director Laird Veatch said. “A lot of us in the profession are trying to work through that. That’s why I think you’ve seen quite a bit of inconsistency across the country in terms of what’s been announced and what hasn’t.”
By Steve Megargee, Associated Press | Read more

People & Papers

By David Lauderdale, The Island Packet

Hilton Head’s ‘Lint trap of the Lowcountry’ finally writes his ‘I’m retiring’ column

We’ve got to stop meeting this way.
We’re going to have to, because I’ve decided to retire.
July 31 will be my last day at The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette, a mere 43 years after walking in the door as a skinny kid who had just taught himself to type in 10 easy lessons.
People always ask what you’re going to do in retirement.
After 43 years in newspapers and two years of teaching at Thomas Heyward Academy in Ridgeland, you’ll find me curled up in the fetal position in the corner of a dark room.
I’ll give the newsroom one last tip when Sheriff P.J. Tanner sends out a Nixle alert about an unresponsive 66-year-old male, muttering incoherently about letters to the editor.
Actually, I will finally have time to put together a book of these columns. Whether it comes to market in a pandemic, we’ll have to see.
Also, editor Brian Tolley wants me to return with a weekly column after an appropriate break. I truly hope that comes to be. Read more

Traynor leaves Gannett amid corporate restructure

Longtime Savannah Morning News Executive Michael Traynor has left the organization as part of a corporate management restructuring, parent company Gannett has announced.
Traynor had led the local publication and the SavannahNow.com website since 2008, first as publisher and most recently as market leader. He had served as the Group Vice President/Sales-Georgia since the merger of Gatehouse Media and Gannett earlier this year. That position and many others in sales leadership were consolidated to create a more centralized organization.
Traynor also served as publisher for Bluffton Today and the Jasper County Sun Times. 
By Adam Van Brimmer, Savannah Morning News | Read more

Sossamon elected president of Gaffney Rotary Club

Abbie Sossamon, Lifestyles and Features Editor at The Gaffney Ledger, has been elected president of The Rotary Club of Gaffney. Her offical duties begin July 7.
Read more


Daily Gamecock goes digital only for fall semester

The Daily Gamecock at UofSC announced yesterday that it will not produce a weekly print edition during the fall semester due to the logistical and financial challenges associated with COVID-19. Staff will continue to publish daily to its website and social media accounts. Two special print editions will be distributed in mid-August and mid-October.  

Plumb named AAUW Gift Honoree

The Rock Hill branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) recently named Terry Plumb, retired editor of The Herald, as its Named Gift honoree for 2020.
Plumb was recognized for his efforts to advance the Little Free Library (LFL) movement, announced Trish Johnson, president of the local AAUW branch.
Plumb erected the first LFL box in York County in front of his home in 2014. There are now more than 50 LFL boxes countywide, including at schools, parks and playgrounds. He personally delivers books, provided by Friends of York County Library, to LFL boxes in public venues.
Plumb was a charter member of Rock Hill Reads, a coalition that promotes reading and early childhood learning and which was instrumental in setting up LFL boxes. In addition to the Rock Hill School District, partners included the Early Learning Partnership, Council of Neighborhoods, Rock Hill Rotary, Applied Technology Center and Resolute Forest Products.
Plumb, who chaired a summer reading initiative for Rock Hill Schools in 2012, is currently president of the Friends of York County Library.
Plumb served as President of SCPA in 1997.

The State hosts virtual forum on systemic racism

The State is hosting a livestreamed discussion, Breaking Point, on how to reduce racism and reform policies in South Carolina. The event will be held Friday, July 10, at 12:30 p.m.
The newspaper's panel will amplify voices from a myriad of experiences and backgrounds, and explore immediate solutions for the systemic issues in our police departments and other local institutions. Confirmed panelists include: Senator Tim Scott; Congressman Jim Clyburn; Dawn Staley, Head Coach Women's Basketball, University of South Carolina; Dr. Akil Ross, Founder, HeartEd, LLC; Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott; Defense Attorney Connie Breeden; Dr. Baron Davis, Richland District 2 Superintendent; and J.T. McLawhorn, President of the Columbia Urban League. Roger Brown, Opinion Editor of The State, will moderate. 

Industry Briefs

Journalists are reexamining their reliance on a longtime source: The police

For several weeks early this year, reporter Larry Hobbs struggled to nail down the story he was chasing. Police in his hometown of Brunswick, Ga., had offered few details about the death of a young African American man, shot to death at midday on a quiet residential street — no suspects, no arrests. The name of the deceased didn’t even appear in the initial police narrative about the incident.
Hobbs, a veteran reporter for the Brunswick News, came to a conclusion: “This is starting to stink.”
More than a month later, Hobbs broke the story that would soon make national news of how unarmed Ahmaud Arbery had been chased and attacked by three white men who suspected him of committing burglaries in the area. One was a former police officer who had also worked for the district attorney, raising questions about a conflict of interest for investigators — and perhaps explaining Hobbs’s difficulty in getting the facts of the case.
It is among several high-profile stories that have recently caused newsrooms to reflect upon their relationship with law enforcement — especially reporters’ reliance on official police accounts as they construct breaking news stories about a violent incident or arrest. In several of these cases, cellphone video of the incident offered a dramatic contradiction of the first police accounts.
By Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi, Washington Post | Read more

Why the email newsletter is 2020’s MVP format

Newsletters are surging, and it’s not just a COVID thing
If, back in 2015, you had to choose a single format to be the centerpiece of a successful digital media strategy, chances are you wouldn't have picked email. But the email newsletter has become exactly that for many news organizations not to mention a growing cadre of maverick journalists looking to cultivate their own brands. Now 2020 has elevated the newsletter format to a new level of relevance.
It’s not hard to see why. The sheer gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic has galvanized readers like never before, but it also happens to be exactly the kind of crisis newsletters cover extremely well. The event is urgent, but ongoing, and the nature of the information practically demands thoughtful curation. The Washington Post was one of many news websites to report massive engagement around newsletters based on COVID updates and analysis, and Substack, one of the most popular email systems for individuals says that both active readership and number of active writers on its platform have doubled since March.
By Pete Pachal, Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more

Columns

By Jim Pumarlo

Guide to aggressive reporting? Begin with the basics

A publisher once asked how I defined aggressive reporting. During my tenure at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, we considered it our badge of honor. If someone threw up roadblocks to information we considered pertinent to our readers, we doubled and tripled our efforts – and usually were successful.
So what type of scenarios prompted stepped-up investigation and reporting? A handful of circumstances immediately come to mind.
A local business makes significant layoffs with no public explanation.
Starting players don’t dress for high school sporting events for no apparent reason.
A government body awards a vendor contract worth thousands of dollars and takes the unusual measure of voting in secret.
A company sends letters to landowners to gauge their interest in being a host site for storage of radioactive nuclear waste with all correspondence purposely kept under the public radar.
Read more

Editorial: Pleased to meet you, let me introduce myself

From Index-Journal
Hi there. Good to see you this fine Sunday morning.
Let me introduce myself. Seems the polite thing to do since I’m in your home. My name is Editorial. I come from a long line of rather opinionated people spanning the lifetime of newspapers. I have a few cousins that have been expressed in local TV stations’ newsrooms, but they don’t get out much.
My newspaper lineage runs rather deep. Throughout the ages, newspapers have had a tradition of publishing news from around the world, the nations they serve, the regions they serve, the states and communities they serve. That’s the “news” part of what they are called. But newspapers have also had a long tradition of publishing opinions. Here in America, many newspapers believe in publishing a variety of opinions, not just views their publishers, owners or editors agree with. They believe the people are better served when they share a variety of views that span the spectrum. And hey, it’s not just about the political left and right; it’s about providing space for differing views on issues that really have no bearing on Republican or Democrat, left or right, liberal or conservative.  Read more

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