Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Dec. 1, 2022


The clock is winding down on entering the 2022 News Contest! The deadline is tomorrow, Dec. 2.
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 everything can be submitted digitally. 
Also remember that we're here to help! Give us a call at (803) 750-9561 or email us if you need or log-in information or have 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.
The Lexington County Chronicle and the Lexington Chamber held a ribbon-cutting Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the newspaper's new office on Main Street! 

"Hunter Biden's laptop" 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

Column: The real radicals in Berkeley schools aren’t in the classroom

That new Berkeley County School Board sure knows how to get stuff done.
Why, in just a few short hours this past week, the board managed to:
  • Oust the sitting chairman.
  • Fire the superintendent.
  • Fire the in-house attorney.
  • Hire a new superintendent.
  • Hire new outside counsel — for $14,000 more per month.
  • Ban the teaching of critical race theory.
  • Deputize parents to ferret out all that “porn” in school libraries.
  • And float the idea of a tax cut.
There’s probably never been a local government that’s effected more seismic change in less time. Yes, the Berkeley County School Board is working hard … for someone. ...
But you know what’s really impressive?
Some of the board members who did all that stuff were only sworn into office at the beginning of that three-hour meeting.
Which means that either these folks are telepathic, or they at least violated the spirit of numerous state laws regarding public notice, the Freedom of Information Act and open meetings.
By Brian Hicks, The Post and Courier | Published Nov. 20 | Read more
Related: BCSD Board Chair Issues Statement On Superintendent’s Termination (By Zach Giroux, The Daniel Island News | Published Nov.  30)

Should Blythewood be divided into council districts?

Blythewood Mayor Bryan Franklin suggested at the Monday night joint town council/planning commission meeting that the town’s residents might want to consider dividing the town into council districts as opposed to all the council members serving at-large as they do now.
Franklin said he had not provided the district information to his fellow council members until just before the meeting, so there was little input from the other members during his presentation.                                            
Franklin also discussed the option of adding more members to the town council, saying that more members would more easily accommodate the creation of more sub-committees.
“Subcommittees don’t have to meet in public if they don’t want to,” Franklin said. “They don’t have to post meetings or give notice,” he said, pointing out some of the advantages of subcommittees.
The SC Freedom of Information Act, Section 30-4-20, states, however, that subcommittees are subject to the Freedom of Information Act and must meet in public, post meetings and give notice, according to Media Attorney Jay Bender.
“The meetings of “public bodies” are to be preceded by notice, open to the public, with minutes kept. The definition of “public body” in the law specifically includes subcommittees,” Bender said.
By Barbara Ball, The Voice of Blythewood | Read more

SLED’s widespread tracking of license plate data is illegal, court filing alleges

You probably don’t even notice the cameras. They are mounted on bridges and on top of police cars. They sit on top of poles extending from mobile trailers watching cars pass by. But what they’re really watching is your license plate.
These automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) are alleged to be part of a vast and growing system of “unlawful and unaccountable surveillance” overseen by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, according to a petition filed in the state Supreme Court on Thursday morning.
The surveillance produces a database called “Back Office,” containing approximately 400 million time-stamped and geolocated images of license plates that are retained for three years, according to the petition.
This vast trove of data, primarily made up of information belonging to law-abiding drivers caught up in an indiscriminate surveillance dragnet, is accessible to almost a hundred law enforcement agencies with little oversight, according to court filings. That means police could track cars in a given area or a motorist’s travels across the city or state without any court approval or oversight, which is usually required with surveillance programs.
”SLED has not been served yet,” said Renée Wunderlich, SLED’s director of public information. “SLED has no comment while litigation is pending.” ...
Freedom of information requests included in court filings show that in 2014, ALPRs captured approximately 26 million license plate images. Last year they recorded over 150 million.
By Ted Clifford, The State | Read more

Greenville storage facility fight triggers investigation and allegation of racism

A decision from Greenville's Board of Zoning Appeals has triggered a city probe over ethics concerns and alleged “dog-whistle" racist language after the board approved a sitting member's development plans against residents' wishes and city staff recommendations. ...
The Board of Zoning Appeals reviews land-use issues, particularly special exceptions and variances to city zoning code, and hears appeals of decisions made by the city zoning administrator.
Matt Johnson, former Planning Commission chairman, told City Council they should speak with the board members "because it sounds like there was a lot of discussion going on before these meetings."
"It shouldn't occur," Johnson said. "The city attorney probably knows more than I do, but under the Freedom of Information Act, things like this need to be public; they need to be out in the open. If they're happening on text, if they're happening on telephones before the hearings are occurring, that's a problem."
The Greenville News has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all correspondence between Board of Zoning Appeals members about projects on Wade Hampton Boulevard.
By Macon Atkinson, Greenville News | Read more

People & Papers


Whisnant named interim editor of Gannett's S.C. newsrooms

Gabe Whisnant has been named interim editor of the USA TODAY Network newsrooms in South Carolina. Whisnant replaces Elizabeth Walters, who left her position Friday, Nov. 25.
Whisnant has been news director for the Greenville News, Anderson Independent Mail and Spartanburg Herald Journal since September. Prior to that, he was the news director for the Herald Journal. 
In his new position, Whisnant will oversee operations in Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson and Bluffton in South Carolina. 
Walters, who has been named audience development editor at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., had been interim editor of the Upstate newsrooms since September.  
"Gabe has a deep love and commitment to the Carolinas and to telling the important stories in each of our Upstate communities," Walters said. "His emphasis on local journalism is evident, and I know that he will continue to build on the success of our newsrooms and be a great leader for this team."
Whisnant is a native of Shelby, North Carolina. He has lived in Spartanburg and has been in an editor role for the Herald-Journal for the past five years. Whisnant, with 20 years of experience in newsrooms, has previously worked in editor roles for North Carolina publications in Gastonia and Shelby. 
From The Greenville News | Read more
Tillman (right) with Sumter Mayor David Merchant

Student shadows Sumter Item newsroom

Lillian Tillman, a senior at Crestwood High School, visited The Sumter Item this week to shadow the newsroom. In her visit, she got to see what the news industry could offer her as a career, diving into local government reporting, interviewing the City of Sumter, South Carolina mayor, learning about the visual and digital side of the newspaper and how reporters balance different beats.
“I walked in here not really knowing what I was going to experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to hear from each and every one of you the role that you play,” Lillian said. “And of course, getting to meet the mayor, not very many people can say they got to meet the mayor, let alone sit down and have a conversation with him.”
Her biggest takeaway was how a reporter can balance two very different beats at once, something Lillian learned and appreciated from our arts and entertainment AND public safety beats reporter, Alaysha Maple.
“How she’s able to do both,” Lillian said, “she says she has emotional ties to a lot of her stories, and I would probably be the same way.”
Lillian plans to attend college to major in geography and minor in mass communications. Prior to furthering her education after high school, she will follow a military path and head to Marine Corps basic training.

Industry Briefs

Contrary to concerns, news organizations are still seeing a rise in subscriptions

One ray of good news during the COVID-19 pandemic: More U.S. consumers read and subscribed to local news publications.
But industry experts feared that rising tide might ebb in 2022 as people headed back to work and inflation began to crimp household budgets. Indeed, there have been signs that readership was falling off. In September, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies reported that pageviews and unique visitors have fallen about 20 percent at local newspaper sites in 2022, a scary metric at a time when costs are rising and traditional advertising revenue continues to fall.
But data from the Medill Subscriber Engagement Index shows that even as the pandemic eased, subscriptions have continued to rise at all three categories of newspapers tracked: large, medium and small.
By Susan Chandler, Medill Local News Initiative | Read more

Clemson Media Forensics Hub receives $3.8 million grant to study, fight online disinformation

The fight against online disinformation is getting a boost thanks to a $3.8 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support Clemson University’s Media Forensics Hub at the Watt Family Innovation Center.
Researchers with the Hub study disinformation and inauthenticity online and create tools to educate people and stop the spread of disinformation. Clemson University is matching the grant, making the total investment in the Hub $7.6 million over the next four years. This funding will allow the Hub to hire four more faculty in different disciplines — psychology, communication, marketing and computer science — to each bring their unique perspectives and expertise to the issue. The grant will also fund technology infrastructure for the Hub, as well as graduate assistants and postdoctoral researchers.
From Clemson News | Read more

USC Media & Civil Rights History Symposium call for abstracts

Abstracts of up to 1,000 words for research papers, research-in-progress presentations and panel sessions on any aspect of the historical relationship between media and civil rights are now being accepted for the 2023 Media & Civil Rights History Symposium sponsored by the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
The symposium will be held March 30-31, 2023.
Topics may include, but are not limited to, the media and the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Freedom Struggle, the contemporary Social Justice Movement, and Black Lives Matter.
Abstracts for research papers and research-in-progress presentations must include a title, a brief description of the research, and a sample of primary sources. Abstracts for panel sessions must include a title, a brief description of the panel and a list of confirmed panelists.
The submission deadline is Jan. 9, 2023.
Visit the symposium website to submit an abstract.
Contact Kenneth Campbell, symposium chair, for more information. 

MIT Environmental Journalism Fellowship seeking applications through Dec. 14

The MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative has opened its 2023 Journalism Fellowship that supports freelance or staff journalists associated with U.S. newsrooms in developing a high-impact news project that connects local perspectives, values and priorities with climate change science and solutions. The four-month paid non-resident fellowship provides an opportunity for newsrooms to dedicate time and attention to deep, local storytelling on this topic.  
We’re especially seeking applications from reporters and journalists affiliated with local or regional U.S. newsrooms. Applications are due Dec. 14.

NABJ provides grant funding through Black Press Grant Program

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) will provide grant funding directly to support freelance reporters and producers at Black-owned print, broadcast, and digital outlets through the Black Press Grant Program.
The grants aim to help ensure Black-owned media outlets are resourced with original and innovative coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its intersections within the nation's K-12 education system.
Journalists and those within Black-owned media are invited to submit original proposals for investigative, feature, and enterprise for a single or series of original stories published/broadcasted in Black-owned media. Fast grants to freelancers and Black-owned media will be up to $10,000. The deadline to apply is Dec. 12.

Knowing the news: How Gen Z and Millennials get information on essential topics

If news organizations want to win over new audiences at a time of substantive transition in journalism, growing misinformation, and multiple crises in the world, we need to understand the news habits and interests of Americans 40 and younger. These Millennials and members of Generation Z will soon become the industry’s dominant generations of news consumers and subscribers. What news topics do they follow most often, and how do they get that coverage?
New in-depth analysis by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute, outlines how this group follows and interacts with information critical for both their personal lives and how we function collectively as a society.
From The Media Insight Project | Read more


By Leonard Woolsey, Publisher of The Daily News in Galveston, TX

Time for newspapers to get their swagger back

I’m sick and tired of apologizing for being in the newspaper business, and I suspect you feel the same way.
Our industry suffers mightily from self-inflicted wounds. We’re more likely to publish stories about our problems than our successes. We focus on print copies trending down instead of digital readership going up. And we fail to engage detractors who falsely claim that nobody reads newspapers anymore.
Too often, we can’t seem to put down our self-pity hymnal and sing a happier tune. We should be telling the remarkable story of how newspapers are an ever-evolving enterprise instead of a static wait-and-see-what-will-happen business.
Folks, we have a remarkable model with brag points most other businesses would give their eye teeth to claim. Our local newspapers are highly credible with our readers and advertisers, influential in the community, and we uphold a noble mission of serving the greater good. Read more
By John Foust,
Advertising Trainer

Advertising’s Bill of Rights

In the advertising business, there are things which must be done in order to create an effective campaign. Think of it as Advertising’s Bill of Rights: Send the right message…to the right audience…in the right medium…at the right time…about the right product (or service)…which sells for the right price…in the right environment.
Although some other rights might be added to the list, this covers the basics. Here’s a closer look:
1. Send the right message: In other words, watch your language. Instead of using empty claims and exaggerations like “fantastic,” “incredible” and “best ever,” stick to legitimate features and benefits. If you’re putting together a response ad (as opposed to an image, or institutional, ad), make a compelling offer – discounts, time-sensitive offers, two-for-price of one, etc.
2. To the right audience: There’s no such thing as selling to “everyone.” On any given day, only a small slice of the total audience is in the market for a new car or a refrigerator or a pair of jeans. Aim your message at the people who want/need/qualify to buy what your advertiser is selling. Read more

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