Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  May 6, 2022

SCNN payouts return more than $31,000 to SCPA member papers

S.C. Newspaper Network (SCNN), the sales arm of SCPA, mailed network advertising payments to SCPA member newspapers last week. The quarterly Small Space Display (2x2/2x4/2x6) Ad Network and QuarterPage+ Ad Network payout checks totalled $31,581.
Classified revenue is paid out annually in January.
Every daily newspaper and virtually every weekly newspaper in South Carolina participate in SCNN's ad networks. If your newspaper is an SCPA member and does not participate in one of the SCNN networks, contact Randall to learn how these networks can provide added revenue to your newspaper.

Ways to get involved in SCPA

SCPA staff met with President Charles Swenson of the Coastal Observer last week to make plans for upcoming events, committee meetings and more.
We have several exciting announcements (and a couple surveys) coming soon, but first wanted to encourage you to get involved on one of SCPA's Committees. We have several active 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 still seeking input on in-person and virtual training topics and speakers. We plan to offer in-person workshops this fall on ad sales, computer-assisted reporting/spreadsheets and a legal/courts bootcamp. We'd also like to bring back our editor and manager roundtables soon. As we finalize plans, reach out to let us know what training you and your staff need. 
Finally, we're making plans to host regional summer social functions 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, gallery opening, trivia night, etc.), please drop us a line.

Are you a news organization leader who is new to SCPA?

SCPA's quarterly new editor/publisher/member orientation is set for Tuesday, May 24, from 2-2:30 p.m. on Zoom.
If you're a leader at your news organization, we invite you to learn more about SCPA's member services, legal/FOI Hotline, SLED Checks, lobbying, training, contests, communications, resources and ad representation. 
This will be an informal space to get information about your membership and ask questions. 
RSVP if you'd like to attend.
We're also back to conducting newspaper visits. If you'd like to set up a time to meet with SCPA staff at your newspaper, contact us.

"Government interference" 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

1-page report says Tanglewood school shooting may be gang related, other records withheld

A Tanglewood Middle School shooting that left a 12-year-old dead and another student in custody was "possibly gang related," according to a one-page incident report the Greenville County Sheriff's Office released [last] week while refusing to release additional records.
The Greenville News obtained the report April 28 — nearly a month after the March 31 shooting — in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for documents pertaining to the school shooting.
The Sheriff's Office has declined to release any additional records to date, citing exemptions to public records laws. The Greenville County Coroner's Office has also declined to release its investigative report due to the ongoing law enforcement investigation.
Wesley Vorberger, a General Counsel at the Greenville County Sheriff's Office, said because the case is still active and the prosecution is pending, they are limited with what the Sheriff's Office can provide without interfering in the ongoing prosecution or depriving the defendant of a fair trial.
By Tamia Boyd, Greenville News | Read more

Uncovered: Richland One missed red flags before hiring purchasing official now accused of fraud

COLUMBIA — Richland One School District missed a series of red flags in hiring Travis Braddy, a purchasing official the school system now accuses of swindling more than $41,000 in public money, a Post and Courier investigation has found.
Had the state’s ninth-largest school district dug a little deeper into the 43-year-old’s background, it could have discovered that a court-martial had sentenced Braddy to 30 months in a military prison and issued him a bad conduct discharge from the U.S. Army for financial fraud in the early 2000s.
Had Richland One been curious enough to call Braddy’s three references for the job — a trio he admitted were only golfing buddies — it would have learned that none knew him especially well. ...
At first glance, Braddy’s resume and application, obtained from Richland One through a Freedom of Information Act request, portray him as a suitable candidate.
Braddy boasted 22 years of experience in procurement and 15 years in transportation. He came back negative on criminal background checks and in searches of sex offender registries, records show. He attested that he had never been fired or asked to resign, nor had he ever resigned to avoid being fired.
But a reporter’s recent attempts to verify details of Braddy’s character and employment history proved to be an exercise in rabbit holes and dead ends.
By Avery G. Wilks, The Post and Courier | Read more

People & Papers

Post and Courier’s Uncovered project wins National Headliner Award

The Post and Courier has received first-place honors in the prestigious National Headliner Awards for its collaborative series aimed at exposing government corruption and misconduct throughout South Carolina.
The Uncovered project received the top award for public service among newspapers in smaller media markets. The Post and Courier teamed with 18 community newspapers throughout the Palmetto State to examine questionable conduct among public officials, producing some 40 stories along the way. In doing so, the ongoing series also highlighted the vital role newspapers play as watchdogs of taxpayer dollars and democracy.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

The State, Herald journalists place in AP Sports Editors contest

Patrick Obley of the Daily Sun (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and Augusta Stone of The State (Columbia, S.C.) tied for first place in the 2021 Associated Press Sports Editors contest in the Division C Short Feature category.
Obley and Stone will be presented first-place plaques at the 2022 APSE Summer Conference banquet at The Alexander Hotel in Indianapolis on June 18.
Alex Zietlow of The Rock Hill Herald finished second in the Division D Short Feature category. s Editors contest in the Division C Short Feature category.

Industry Briefs

Americans overwhelmingly support big tech compensating local papers

A new national survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by Schoen Cooperman Research (SCR) for the News Media Alliance shows that 70 percent of Americans support Congress passing the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA). The JCPA is legislation designed to allow small and local publishers to band together to collectively negotiate fairer terms for use of their content by Big Tech platforms, such as Google and Facebook.
In the past two decades, Americans have watched their local papers shutter their doors or reduce their footprint in their communities as Google and Facebook built an advertising duopoly and deployed algorithms to systematically devalue high-quality journalism in favor of provocative content. This trend is affecting Americans’ attitudes toward Big Tech companies, as the survey shows that the public is worried about Big Tech’s influence over the news publishing industry and is concerned that the tech giants are driving small and local news outlets out of business.
The purpose of the survey by SCR was to understand American sentiments and concerns surrounding Big Tech’s role in society generally, and specifically the influence of Big Tech companies in the news and publishing industries. In addition, the survey sought to understand the public’s receptivity toward – and support for – curbing the power of Big Tech companies, through vehicles such as the JCPA.
“Americans have made it unequivocally clear – they want to preserve the high-quality journalism of small and local outlets across the country that have been decimated by Big Tech,” SCR Founder and Partner Douglas Schoen said. “Despite historic levels of partisanship, Americans on both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly want to hold Google and Facebook accountable and pass legislation like the JCPA that can save local journalism, protect free speech, and defend our democracy.”
From News Media Alliance | Read more

Today, newspapers are making public notices more visible than ever

Editorial cartoonist Ben Sargent once penned a masterful sketch of a newspaperman — a skinny, bug-eyed fellow in a baggy suit with a press card in the band of his porkpie hat.
The unnamed journalist was depicted in the simple act of entering a dark room at city hall and switching on a light. The cartoon had no caption. It didn’t need one. In your mind’s eye you could see cockroaches scurrying for cover.
Sargent’s message to Austin (Texas) American-Statesman readers was clear and timeless: Light is the best disinfectant, and nothing shines light on the activities of government like a newspaper. That’s especially true in this era of real-time news coverage, instantaneous online commentary and partisan electronic echo chambers.
Governments today are larger, more pervasive and more powerful than any time in our history. Fortunately for those of us who believe in self-governance, newspapers are still around. And they're the best source for information on how government spends your money and what government plans to do to you. That’s because newspapers still cover the behind-the-scenes goings-on at city hall and not just the horse-race aspect of political campaigns. It’s also because newspapers are still the home of public notices, and some of the most important journalism in your newspaper arrives in the form of public notices.
By Donnis Baggett, Texas Press Association | Read more

When you’re expecting Easter eggs and the bunny delivers rocks...

The Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 became law on April 6, the same day the U.S. Postal Service announced an 8.5% postage increase for Periodicals mail. For Within County mail, the average increase is 7.%.
The timing of the rate increase as it coincided with legislation designed to provide the U.S. Postal Service with financial relief was coincidental, driven by unexpected scheduling of the bill signing by the White House and USPS’ need to file for new rates to achieve a July 12 increase date. But it struck many in the industry as ironic.
“For hundreds of publishers who worked on this legislation for 15 years, it was like the Easter Bunny delivering a basket of rocks,” NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, said. “This legislation removed more than $50 billion in obligations from the Postal Service balance sheet, yet here was the basket full of requests for new revenue. But for those of us who follow USPS closely, the only surprise was the timing. This legislation, while welcome, took too long and let too much damage to the infrastructure occur while we waited. Meanwhile, USPS has shifted its expectations to grabbing maximum revenue to help it build out changes in its infrastructure. We were dismayed, but not surprised.”
From National Newspaper Association | Read more

Writing online: How to strike the right balance between engaging and clickbait

To keep up with the growing demand of a competitive digital media market, journalists are finding new ways to make their online writing more engaging. An experienced leader in online media engagement shared her most important lessons on writing successful online stories during the National Press Club Journalism Institute’s inaugural Writing Workshop in 2019. We’re revisiting that advice today.
“Typically when we write, we are writing on our computers. And so we think of what the story is going to look like on a desktop computer. But really … most readers … are going to see it on this tiny phone screen,” said Nisha Chittal, then Vox.com engagement editor, now managing editor. “Often, what they’re first going to see on their phone is not even any text of the story at all. … All you can really see is the headline, the deck, the byline, and the photo. So, you really have to make those things count.”
Think about your audience before you start writing
  • Identify who your audience is.
  • Determine what your audience needs to know about the story and why they should care.
  • Allow this to drive how you format and present the story. 
  • Structure your story in a digestible way. Attention spans online are short, so split your text up, use subheaders, embed multimedia content, and make it easy to read on a phone.
  • Do not grow attached to just one online platform. Platforms change, and their algorithms will affect your readership
By Alex O’Sullivan, Journalism Institute, National Press Club | Read more

Compelling Writing by Jerry Bellune

By Jerry Bellune,
Writing Coach

How to interview complete strangers

“For a good journalist, every encounter is an interview,” a magazine editor once told me.
My wife kids me about interviewing strangers. 
“I love it,” I tell her, “and those you call strangers do, too.”
My wife is a more private person than her nosy husband.
We were having lunch at one of our favorite restaurants the other day. 
We have known the owner and his family for more than 30 years. 
Our server was another story.
Most servers are attractive young women — high school or college students who need the money.
Our server was an older male, probably in his 50s.
“What attracted you to this business?” I asked.
“I’d never done it before,” he said. “I’m giving it a try.”
“What did you do before this,” I asked.
“Lots of things,” he said, warming up. “Jack of all trades.”
“What’s the most interesting work you’ve done?” 
“I read books for movie producers,” he said and began telling us about writing reports on why parts of books they should consider turning into a movie.
I let him go at that point because he had other customers but I will go back. 
I’d like to hear the rest of his story,
Most people you encounter love to talk about their experiences and their lives. They receive little attention at home, work or elsewhere. They will welcome your attentive ears.
What will I do with what I learn from strangers? 
You can see that I’ve already turned it into a writing tip for you. 
Next: Turn experiences into stories
If you are looking for a gift for an editor, reporter or writer you care about - maybe even a child who seems inclined to follow in your footsteps - consider writing coach Jerry Bellune’s The Art of Compelling Writing, available for $9.99 at Amazon.com.

Columns

By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant

Use your special insight to recommend election choices

Coverage of public affairs – recording the actions and inactions of governing bodies from local to federal levels – demands attention from newsrooms year-round. And for good reason. Elected officials regularly debate and craft public policies that affect citizens’ everyday lives.
Newsrooms provide readers a ringside seat, and often a behind-the-scenes view, into the decision-making process.
So why are newspapers increasingly hesitant to recommend individuals for elective office, especially those officials serving on local city councils, county boards and school boards?
Regular readers of my column know my passion for vibrant editorial pages. I firmly believe that vibrant editorials are at the heart of vibrant communities. It’s time to once again encourage newsrooms to take that final step in their election coverage: Endorse those individuals you believe will best represent and advance the interests of your community. I consider endorsements among the highest calling in a newspaper’s role as government watchdog.
The general election is months away. Now is a perfect time to start the internal discussion to design and implement a methodical and logical process for offering endorsements. It’s easier than you may think. Read more

Upcoming Events

As a service to its member newspapers, SCPA lists employment opportunities on our site upon request. There is no charge for this service to SCPA member newspapers. Please email openings to Kassidy Wright.
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