Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Oct. 1, 2021
Bill and Annie Laurie Kinney
Bill and Peggy Kinney
Dan and Elisabeth McNiel

Champion Media acquires Herald-Advocate in Bennettsville

Editor's Note: The Kinney and McNiel families have a long history of involvement in SCPA. The late W.L. Kinney Sr. served as president of SCPA in 1952 and was inducted into the S.C. Journalism Hall of Fame in 1987. His wife, the late Annie Laurie Mayer Kinney, served as president of SCPA’s Women’s Division in 1951 and 1963. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002. W. L. “Bill” Kinney Jr. served as president of SCPA in 1972, president of the SCPA Foundation from 1992-1994, and currently serves on the SCPA Foundation Board. His daughter, Elisabeth Kinney McNiel served on SCPA’s Executive Committee from 2017-2019. We are thankful for the Kinney and McNiel families' decades of service to our industry and their community.
BENNETTSVILLE – Champion Media of the Carolinas, a family-owned company based in Mooresville, NC, announced today that it has acquired the Herald-Advocate, the community newspaper in Bennettsville, SC.
Champion Media is owned by CEO Scott Champion and President Corey Champion.
“We are excited to become part of this community,” Scott Champion said. “The Herald-Advocate fits with our current North Carolina properties and we know this acquisition will help our South Carolina business partners to expand their current advertising reach.”
Champion Media currently owns more than 20 newspapers in six states. Its largest footprint is in North Carolina with newspapers in Robeson, Sampson, and Bladen counties as well as the Laurinburg Exchange in Scotland County, The Richmond County Daily Journal in Rockingham, and the Anson Record in Wadesboro. The company also owns two South Carolina publications, the Newberry Observer in Newberry, and Sentinel Progress in Easley.
The Herald-Advocate was sold by Marlboro Publishing Company, which is owned by Bennettsville native Elisabeth McNiel and her husband, Dan. She represented the third generation of family ownership for the Herald-Advocate.
“We want to thank everyone who has supported our family and the newspaper for the last 90 years. We feel confident that Champion Media will do a great job and ask the community to assist them during this transition,” said Dan McNiel, who has served as the editor for the last seven years and publisher and editor for the last four years. 
The late Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Kinney began the Marlboro County Herald in 1931 and purchased the Pee Dee Advocate 20 years later forming the Marlboro Herald-Advocate. In 1972 W. L. Kinney Jr. purchased his parent’s interest with his daughter and son-in-law taking over the paper in 2014.
Over the years the newspaper garnered several awards from the South Carolina Press Association and has been a cheerleader for social and economic growth in the region.
“It’s important to know that your community newspaper will remain just that, your newspaper,” Scott Champion said. “We intend to continue, and expand, your local coverage of news, sports and human interest and we believe, by partnering with our other area newspapers, will provide an expanded reach for the business community.”
Included in the sale is the regional magazine Pee Dee Life, which the Herald-Advocate staff started in 2019.
The sale of the newspaper was finalized Thursday. Many of the same faces that have worked and supported the newspaper for years will remain. The Herald-Advocate will continue to have an office in Bennettsville and offer both a print edition and online content.
This ad is available in color and black and white. 

National Newspaper Week starts Sunday... local column and ad now available

Editor's Note: National Newspaper Week is Oct. 3-9. In addition to this column and ad (available on the S.C. News Exchange), the national content kit includes ads, logos, columns, editorials and other features available free to newspapers.
By Jen Madden and Randall Savely, Co-Executive Directors
The past year has illustrated how desperately communities across our state need a source for local, credible news. No source can be trusted to deliver such news more than the Palmetto State’s local newspapers.
Quite frankly, many of the important stories in your community would not be covered at all if it weren’t for this newspaper and nearly 90 others across the state just like it. Research shows our communities are stronger when they have a healthy local newspaper.
There’s more misinformation and fake news out there than ever before, but your local newspaper – staffed by local reporters – can be trusted to report the facts.
S.C. newspaper journalists are dedicated to accurately reporting on stories that matter and impact your community because they live in and care about this community, too.
Whether it be sharing the impact of COVID-19 or holding public officials accountable to ensure they’re keeping your community safe, your local newspaper is there. 
Day in and day out, reporters are digging for facts, interviewing sources and breaking news that matters… powerful stories only local journalists can provide. Read more

SCPA announces Community News Fund for S.C. newspapers 

In recent years, philanthropic support for journalism has emerged as a promising solution to sustainability for media organizations. In an effort to advance newspapers interested in producing public service journalism supported by their community, the S.C. Press Association invites its members to apply to participate in our Community News Fund. 
The program, made possible through a partnership between SCPA and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation, will offer for-profit news organizations the opportunity to receive tax-deductible contributions to fund local, community journalism. Participants will receive ongoing training on how to develop and implement philanthropic campaigns, an extensive fundraising toolkit and guidance on donor policies and best practices.
As advertising and event revenue continues to decline, the ability of local newspapers to provide their communities with critical information is increasingly at risk. The Community News Fund aims to help ensure these organizations can continue fulfilling their critical mission of providing consistent, fact-based information to the public.
Participants will receive:
  • A customized fundraising campaign page on the donation platform Givebutter. (Newspapers with existing platforms will have the option to continue using their current donation method with adjustments.)
  • Guidance on structuring your giving campaign and defining reporting projects that will be supported by philanthropy.
  • Marketing and engagement assets, including graphic elements, appeal templates and suggested timelines.
  • Continued coaching regarding ongoing best practices
  • Fiscal sponsorship through the WNA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) Foundation, that will allow participants to solicit and accept tax-deductible donations.
Each participant will be asked to return a completed fiscal sponsorship agreement, define specific fundraising goals, assign a dedicated staff member as a liaison and administrator of the Community News Fund and participate in monthly meetings (held remotely).
All contributions will be managed and distributed by the WNA Foundation. Participating news outlets will be required to submit quarterly reports on how funds are spent. While there is no upfront cost to participate in the program, the Community News Fund charges a 7% administrative fee as a percentage of total contributions received through the program.
Applications can be submitted online and will be accepted until Oct. 22. 
Please reach out to Jen Madden or Randall Savely if you have any questions.

Publishers: please return 2022 SC Media Directory proofs

Member publishers should have received proofs of their newspaper listings to be included in the 2022 edition of the S.C. Media Directory. Please return your corrections to SCPA as soon as possible. If you need us to resend your proof, please let us know. SCPA will start distributing the updated guide at the end of October. 

Don't forget to submit your postal statement by Oct. 1

Paid newspaper members: The deadline to complete and file your annual U.S. Postal Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation (Form 3526) with your postmaster is Oct. 1. This form must be published in your newspaper as follows:
  • Dailies and 2-3 Times Weekly: by Oct. 10
  • Weeklies: by Oct. 31
Please email SCPA a copy of your form.

"Dewormer" 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.

People & Papers

The Times and Democrat's first edition was published on Sept. 29, 1881.

The T&D celebrates 140th birthday

Editor's Note: If you'd ever like to republish part of the Palmetto Press history book, please let SCPA know.
The Times and Democrat marks its 140th birthday on Sept. 29, continuing as the source of local news and an engine for commerce in Orangeburg, Calhoun and Bamberg counties. Far different today than from its origins in 1881, the newspaper reaches thousands daily via its website and social media, as well as the printed newspaper. Following is a history of The Times and Democrat as adapted from the 2018 book "Palmetto Press: The History of South Carolina's Newspapers and Press Association" by Patricia G. McNeely and Michael A. Smith.
From The Times and Democrat | Read more

Post and Courier reporter Tony Bartelme wins prestigious 2021 John Chancellor Award

The Columbia Journalism School awarded its 2021 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism to Post and Courier senior project reporter Tony Bartelme, citing a career that stretched the limits of what local newspapers can offer their readers.
Given annually, the award honors a journalist for his or her cumulative accomplishments. Past winners include well-known journalists such as Nikole Hannah-Jones, a former writer for The New York Times Magazine, Dan Balz of The Washington Post and Gwen Ifill of PBS, who died in 2016.
The award’s eight-person jury also looks for journalists who may not be widely known but are respected within the profession for the caliber of their work.
Bartelme “exemplifies the ethos of the Chancellor Award — dedicating his career to telling big, important stories through the lens of his local community,” said Steve Coll, dean of Columbia Journalism School and a member of the Chancellor jury. “In this time of increasingly large news deserts and economic turmoil for local news outlets, Tony Bartelme’s work models excellence for the profession.”
Judges noted that Bartelme’s ambitious projects often push the envelope. They pointed toward his work in The Post and Courier’s recent project, Uncovered, a unique collaboration between the paper and smaller ones across the state to identify waste and misconduct.
From The Post and Courier | Read more
From left are Dr. Ashley Woodiwiss, Whiting and Dr. Lucas McMillan.

Index-Journal editor joins Lander students and faculty to discuss the Constitution and a free press

Lander University’s student body and faculty were treated to a live discussion surrounding the First Amendment and media on Sept. 16.
Richard Whiting, executive editor of Greenwood’s Index-Journal, made his way to campus for the discussion with interested Bearcats.
The program discussed the Constitution and freedom of the press, how the press can seek to hold government accountable and help create active citizens, as well as the information literacy in a complex multimedia environment.
Conversation was moderated by Lander’s Dr. Ashley Woodiwiss, chair of the Department of Government, Criminology and Sociology and professor of political science, and involved Dr. Lucas McMillan, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and professor of political science. The pair spoke with Whiting about media literacy, community involvement in the media and the ways communities view local media outlets, among other related topics.
Whiting talked about the difficulties they face producing a small, local newspaper, especially with a small team and seemingly fewer prospective reporters applying for jobs.
Submitted by Zackary Bennett to the Index-Journal | Read more

Post and Courier wins 6 first-place awards in national feature writing contest

The Post and Courier earned 10 awards, including six first-place finishes, in a national features journalism contest with stories about climate-driven flooding, COVID-19 and Charleston’s neglected racial history. It was the best showing for a newspaper with a circulation under 90,000.
The Society of Features Journalism honors the nation’s best storytelling and design work. This was the second year in a row that The Post and Courier had the most awards in its division. 
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Industry Briefs

SCPA members invited to Oct. 13 panel discussion on the future of photojournalism

South Carolina Humanities and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston are planning to host a riveting panel discussion about the challenges photojournalists face in the current media environment.
How do the ethics and practices of staffed, professional photojournalists differ from non-staff photographers who fill in the gaps? What are the consequences of the de-professionalization of photojournalism? What does the future of photojournalism look like?
Join moderator Tara Mortensen and panelists Kyser Lough, Sean Rayford, and Cecil Williams at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre on Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. This event is free and open to the public but tickets are required. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Without a local newspaper, Americans pay less attention to local politics 

The internet has displaced local newspapers across the United States. To understand the consequences for an informed citizenry, Prof. Michael Sinkinson and his co-authors looked back to when television was the new technology chipping away at newspaper circulation. They found when readership diminished, engagement with local politics did too.
By Dylan Walsh, Yale Insights | Read more

How to elevate your journalism while using the stories format

On social platforms, the “stories” format has dominated strategy.
The appeal of stories on most platforms is that the content is ephemeral, often lasting for less than 24 hours before disappearing, and users have the ability to mark up or draw on the vertical content along with adding multimedia stickers to content, including question stickers or links. 
Though Snapchat was one of the earliest pioneers of the format introducing vertical story content in the early 2010s, many platforms have found success duplicating the format, including Instagram Stories and, eventually, Facebook Stories.
Yet, the stories format hasn’t been a success for every social platform. Twitter invested briefly in the format with “Fleets,” hailed as a way to offer a “lower-pressure, ephemeral way for people to share their fleeting thoughts,” while LinkedIn introduced LinkedIn Stories as a way to “enable members and organizations to share images and short videos of their everyday professional moments.” Both companies sunsetted the feature, with Twitter citing a lack of users and LinkedIn expressing a desire to reimagine the video experience.
Still, on platforms where stories have found success, most notably Instagram, the feature is widely used. According to Instagram, there are over 500 million daily active Instagram Story users, with over 70 percent of all users watching stories daily. In addition, 86 percent of users also post to stories. 
By Adriana Lacy, Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more

Compelling Writing by Jerry Bellune

By Jerry Bellune

What is compelling writing?

Novelist Josephine Humphreys describes what she thinks news reporters do: Like bees, we fly out to gather news like pollen.
She describes what she does in grim, novelistic style: “I’m like a spider spinning stories out of my guts.”
As she was not a reporter, she made news reporting seem simpler than it is – yet she was right. 
Reporting and storytelling are challenging. They don’t have to be difficult. 
They can be joyous, like a great symphony, gripping book or unforgettable movie.
Reporting is grounded in keen observation, collection of facts and respect for accuracy and truth.
Storytelling grabs your readers and compels them to read.
Write conversationally. Make your readers feel you are talking with them.
Show that you care about their concerns and interests, what baffles or angers them.
Make a complicated world understandable.
Love your readers and they will look for your byline and love your writing.
Jen Madden invited me to share my ideas about compelling writing with you.
Next month we’ll discuss how your writing can be more like a letter to Mom.
Veteran writing coach, newspaper editor and book publisher Jerry Bellune is author of “The Art of Compelling Writing, Volume 1.” Contact him at


By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant

The ‘blue shirt’ won. Is that the best we can do?

Local names and faces are the lifeblood of community newspaper content.
There’s no better way to spotlight your readers than through photos. After all, “a picture is worth a thousand words” – right? I rephrase. A picture can be worth a thousand words.
The most interesting story will go unread if it has a nondescript headline.
The best photos will have little meaning without adequate explanation. Read: Identify the people in photos.
“Nameless” photos always have bothered me. When I sat behind the editor’s desk, photographers and reporters knew better than to submit photos without identification.
The unfortunate practice is becoming more widespread, an observation passed along by Fred Noer of Burlington, Wis., who had a long career working for publications. In some instances, he notes, photos are absent any cutlines.
Identifying individuals satisfies everyone, he correctly notes – “those in the photo, their families and friends who recognize the people photographed, and the publication for having preserved its credibility.” Read more

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