Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  June 8, 2023

Editor's Note: There will not be an eBulletin next week.
We'll be back in your inbox on June 22.

New member benefit coming soon!

'Earn Your Press Pass' provides newsroom training solution

The South Carolina Press Association Foundation is excited to offer "Earn Your Press Pass."
Thanks to funding from the Foundation, this self-paced online training course will be available starting later this month to all SCPA members at no charge. This training will be especially helpful for early-career journalists, collegiate journalists, freelancers and employees with limited journalism training or experience.
Training topics include newspaper basics, interviewing and reporting skills, sourcing considerations, news judgment, headline and cutline writing, AP Style, copy editing and basic photography. Members who complete the entire course will receive a Certificate of Completion.
If you have a reporter who could benefit from this training, be on the lookout for more details coming soon! SCPA will also host a Q&A/demo on Thursday, June 22, from 2-2:30 p.m. Please let us know if you'd like to attend.
Reporter John Monk of The State. (Photo by Teri Saylor)

Local reporters struggle and shine covering Alex Murdaugh murder trial

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” Alex Murdaugh said from the witness stand at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, last February, quoting Scottish author Walter Scott. Murdaugh was on trial for the June 7, 2021, murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul.
Murdaugh tucked years of serious crimes inside the nooks and crannies of South Carolina’s low country, but secrets and lies don’t stay hidden forever.
For years, death had swirled around the Murdaugh clan as Alex Murdaugh was stealing money from his firm, friends, clients, colleagues and his own family, a total take estimated at $10 million.
His trial in the fourteenth circuit of the South Carolina Circuit Court began on January 25 and ended on March 2 with a guilty verdict on all counts. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole.
The trial was the culmination of one of the most high-profile and sensational cases in South Carolina legal history.
For national media, the trial brought a bonanza. But some local newspapers that cover the low country and come face-to-face with their readers every day were out of their comfort zone.
Michael DeWitt, managing editor of the Gannett-owned Hampton Guardian, covered the trial for his local readers and the USA Today Network.
Charlotte Norwood, a longtime marketing executive, navigated her transition as the new publisher of The (Walterboro) Press Standard with the trial as a backdrop.
John Monk, a legendary investigative reporter, applied his decades of experience to lead the coverage for The (Columbia) State.
Here are their stories.
By Teri Saylor, Special to NNA Publishers' Auxiliary | Read more

Quote of the Week

"In addition to the watchdog function, local news — of a different sort — has a community cohesion role. Obituaries, high school sports, school board meetings, the new economic development plan, the amateur theater production, a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary — these types of stories teach neighbors about each other, provide basic information on community problems and create a sense of shared interest."

Legal Q&A

SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith
Q: How do I reply to law enforcement when it holds back an incident report (this is usually even after the fact when we have a booking mug and charges on file with detention center and on warrants) on the claim of an ongoing investigation? We, and maybe others, are also being told reports are “secured” or no one in records is available to release the reports “just yet.” Seems they are resorting to tactics. Why is a report secured and then unsecured? Maybe we need to ask the agency, but again, it’s not as if the report is incomplete. A person has been arrested, mugshot taken, report of charges and their being processed at detention center are already out, so why not the damn incident report that led to the arrest?

I shared with you the heavily redacted report we initially got when a guy got ticked at another who was dating his ex and ran his ass over with a car and killed him. They redacted so much, to include the name of the deceased and the weapon used, that it was beyond ridiculous. And that report came to us several days after the incident. We got another this week, less redacted, but still redacting the dead man’s name and info about weapon used. Witness names were redacted, and I get that. But sometimes these narratives are hard as heck to figure out in writing a report for readers.
A: State law requires the release of all reports which disclose the nature, substance, and location of any alleged crime but prohibits withholding an entire document. The law allows redaction of info, but the data removed must relate to a legally recognized claim of exemption. Note: an exemption doesn’t have to be claimed and no liability can come to a government employee for responding to a FOIA request. In the words our governor: “When in doubt – disclose.” 
Taylor M. Smith IV is a media lawyer who represents the S.C. Press Association and its newspapers. As one of our FOI/Legal Hotline attorneys, he is available to answer your open government, legal and libel questions. Call (803) 750-9561.

FOIA Briefs

Editorial: What’s behind SC budget impasse? We shouldn’t have to wonder.

S.C. Senate Finance Chairman Harvey Peeler didn’t give senators any explanation last week for why he suddenly thought it was wise to adopt a continuing resolution to keep government operating if the Senate and House negotiators couldn’t reach an agreement on a new budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, saying merely, “I’m not here negotiating the appropriations bill in the well of the Senate.”
Given how often we’ve seen negotiations set back when a legislator denounced the other body for its unreasonable demands or tactics, it’s tempting to applaud his restraint. Until you recall that he’s talking about how our lawmakers will spend $13 billion of our money. That is the epitome of the public’s business, and those spending decisions ought to occur in public, which means the public ought to be able to find out why it’s not happening the way we had expected.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Before freeing convicted killer, SC judge reduced another man’s life sentence. Was it legal?

The Richland County judge and solicitor under scrutiny for their roles in the secretive release of a convicted murderer used questionable legal means to reduce another man’s mandatory life sentence, a review by The State Media Co. has found.
Nine months before now-retired Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning signed an order freeing convicted killer Jeriod Price this past December, he spared a 48-year-old Columbia man at the request of 5th Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson.
Manning’s order, which reduced Lahborn Allah’s sentence from life without parole to 30 years, cites no legal rationale and does not appear to conform with state law, according to legal experts interviewed by The State.
By Zak Koeske, The State | Read more

Beaufort Chalkboard’s run comes to end

In just more than three years in Beaufort, Cindy “CJ” Lamprecht built a castle out of feel-good stories and charity generated by warm messages on a chalkboard in her front yard. On Friday night, June 2, that castle came crashing to the ground.
The subject of a cover story for Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine for the month of May, reaching the pinnacle of what passes for royalty here, Lamprecht deactivated her Facebook pages for The Beaufort Chalkboard and left home just two days into the month of June amid a web of allegations of lies, theft, and fraud.
“She’s in the wind,” Tom Lamprecht, Cindy’s husband, said late Friday night.
Lamprecht, known to the community as The Beaufort Chalkboard Lady, gained prominence due to her chalkboard messages on her front lawn during the COVID-19 lock-down.
But recently, allegations began to surface from members of the community that Lamprecht and the Beaufort Chalkboard’s message were not what they were drawn up to be.
Lamprecht moved to the Beaufort area in 2019 with her husband Tom, and they initially erected the large chalkboard in the front yard of their rental home on Parris Island Gateway in March 2020 to thank first responders and essential workers, according to media reports.
Since then, she has been writing funny or inspirational messages on the board and sharing photos of the chalkboard on her Instagram and Facebook accounts.
By Delayna Earley and Mike McCombs, The Island News | Read more

People & Papers

From The Times and Democrat archives: 1972 Blaze wrecked press but didn't stop T&D

Industry Briefs

Opportunities, challenges of AI are top of mind throughout news media companies

The single most-discussed — in a thrilled or anxious way, depending on your perspective — point of discussion among the panels, study tours, and workshops of this year’s INMA World Congress of News Media was, not surprisingly, AI.
Sara Fischer, senior media reporter at Axios, pointed out during one of her daily summaries of the Congress that it took news media publishers a decade to get on board with the full force of social media: “The fact that ChatGPT rolled out less than six months ago and that is the entire topic of this Congress shows you how much we have evolved as an industry.”
During the Congress’ Smart Data Workshop, Jessica Davis, senior director/news automation and AI product at USA Today, asked attendees to stand up if they were excited about AI, then to stand up if they were nervous about AI. Some did both, but most landed on excited.
As with all the seismic shifts in technology that have happened before — the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, the Internet, and, most recently, social media — enthusiasts are finding creative ways of utilising AI toward more efficient workflows, new means of advertising, and increasing readership. Critics fear without proper regulation, AI will spread misinformation and eliminate human touch, which is essential to the quality control of journalism’s most precious ideal: the truth. 
By Nevin Kallepalli, Sarah Schmidt and Dawn McMullan for INMA | Read more

10 things to build community in your remote or hybrid news organization

Even before the pandemic, reporters would often file from coffee shops, cars or living room floors — so we are familiar with a remote or hybrid work setting.
Despite this, it’s still easy to feel isolated or disconnected from our colleagues when everyone isn’t given the opportunity to see each other and build relationships in person. This has become a common challenge as some news organizations have maintained or even launched with a fully remote model.
The good news is — as more news organizations adopt some level of remote work, many are also taking a harder look at how to make this a thriving, healthy and inclusive environment.
We spoke with 20 people at journalism organizations across the country to gather and share practical ways to build community, camaraderie and connection.
To identify some of these best practices — and a few to avoid — we used direct interviews, participation in a Google survey and comments in Slack or social media. We hope this will be a resource for those looking to try something new. 
By Emily Lytle, Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more
By Charles Perry

 It’s been a great ride

“I have big plans for the Herald and would love to have you be part of our team.”
Steve Robertson wrote those words to me in an email on March 6, 2009. A month later, I would leave my job in Rock Hill and return to my hometown to work for him.
It was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Yet at the time, I wasn’t so sure about coming back to the beach. My wife had just lost her job as a school psychologist during the recession-induced layoffs. She’d also just given birth to our first child. Suddenly, we were a family of three without health insurance, moving across the state during
a terrible economy and needing to sell a home in a sluggish housing market.
On top of those issues, the paper itself presented some, well, challenges.
I remember my first day at the Myrtle Beach Herald. Back then, the newspaper’s office was in a mobile home behind a porn store. When I walked in, the page designer told me to be careful because she’d recently received a call at the office from some guy who said “I see you in there” and then proceeded to breathe heavily into the phone.
Clearly, I’d made a brilliant move. Read more
By Al Cross,
Sustaining Rural Journalism

Report for America is looking for rural newspapers

Rural newspapers are missing out on a great deal — subsidized, eager, young reporters who can boost coverage and build the paper’s brand as a public service.
The deal comes from Report for America, an initiative of the nonprofit Ground Truth Project, which for several years has placed journalists in hundreds of local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.
That includes rural America, and many of its “corps members” are doing rural stories, but not for rural newspapers, so RFA is trying to change that.
“RFA has and will continue to work at sustainability related to local news and rural communities. This is at the heart of our mission,” says Earl Johnson, its vice president of recruitment.
The list of news outlets that have had RFA reporters includes very few rural newspapers, but the smallest news outlet on the list is an illustration of the impact one can have.
That’s the Ouray County Plaindealer in Ridgway, Colorado. The county in the San Juan Mountains has fewer than 5,000 people, but it has a fine newspaper run by Mike Wiggins and Erin McIntyre. Their third RFA reporter just joined the staff, replacing Liz Teitz, who was the first RFA reporter at any Colorado paper and is now at the San Antonio Express-News.
“While we’re thrilled for her new position (and have warned her she’s not getting rid of us), we know we’ll miss her dogged reporting on affordable housing issues here in Ouray County,” McIntyre told the paper’s readers. “Liz has produced hundreds of articles, shed light on complicated problems and sat through countless hours of meetings. She also reported extensively on other topics for the community, using public-records requests and making sense of issues. She listened and told your stories.” Read more

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