Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Oct. 28, 2021

SCPA presents collegiate awards 

During the Collegiate Awards on Oct. 27, SCPA honored Evan Myers of The Paladin at Furman University and Erin Slowey of The Daily Gamecock at the University of South Carolina as our Collegiate Journalists of the Year.
In the Under 5,000 Division, judges said Myers is a talented news and opinion writer and editor who tackled important issues on campus and showed leadership and innovation.
He reinvented the campus newspaper from an every other week publication to an online publication capable of breaking news, and engineered a resurgence in the newspaper elevating it to a must-read independent source of information on campus.
The news he broke was important but sometimes controversial, including coverage of Furman’s student government president who violated new rules put in place to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks. He also covered early outbreaks of coronavirus on campus, including one that resulted in the suspension of one fraternity. Myers attempted to hold university administrators accountable for their silence following the dismissal of a Furman professor for misrepresenting her ethnic identity. He also hosted a podcast that explored issues of interest to college students and university communities.
Evidence of the impact of Evan Myers' leadership in student journalism at Furman has been widespread. Students, faculty and alumni are reading the newspaper and talking about it.
In the Over 5,000 Division, Slowey was honored for strong reporting on important topics and helping lead a national discussion on mental health. She also grew her newspaper’s digital audience and engagement by delivering content directly to every university student via email… a first in the newspaper’s 112 year history. Slowey also served as editor during COVID-19 and the abrupt shift from print to online. She made waves with the university administration by doing her job — and doing it really well. Her focus was on the critical function of watchdog journalism at a time when students and parents need answers that aren’t always made clear by the university. Slowey pitched hard-hitting stories like what was happening in the quarantine and isolation dorms, why FERPA wasn’t a legitimate excuse for UofSC’s lack of information, and how the student conduct process works.
She also led a national conversation on mental health when The Daily Gamecock went dark for a week. Erin Slowey’s leadership is a blend of grit and compassion.
SCPA also presented First Place General Excellence in the Under 5,000 Division to The Patriot at Francis Marion University. In the Over 5,000 Division, The Daily Gamecock at the University of South Carolina took home the First Place General Excellence win. 
View the full collegiate awards presentation.

Coming Up:

"Ivory-Billed Woodpecker" 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

Lawsuit dismissed against SLED, accused of hiding public information in Murdaugh murders

A lawsuit brought by an S.C. newspaper accusing police agencies of shielding information from the public in the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh was dismissed on Thursday.
The Charleston Post and Courier filed the lawsuit more than a week after the June 7 killings, when the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office was releasing only a two-line incident report on what happened. The S.C. Law Enforcement Division, leading the investigation, denied public records requests for the 911 call audio.
The lawsuit said the Sheriff’s Office and SLED were breaking S.C. Freedom of Information law by withholding that information.
Four days after SLED was sued, the agency released heavily redacted versions of supplement reports to the public. They were written by Colleton County deputies on the scene of the Murdaughs’ rural home where Paul, 22, and his mother, Maggie, 52, were found shot to death.
A month after that, SLED released the 911 call Alex Murdaugh made, saying he had arrived home to find them shot.
Edward Fenno, of Fenno Law Firm LLC, represented the Post and Courier. He said the newspaper voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit, in agreement with the agencies, because they got what they came for.
“The fact that we filed the lawsuit this time will hopefully make law enforcement act differently next time when they want to give a two-liner,” Fenno said, referring to Colleton County’s incident report.
What they didn’t get, however, was a ruling from a circuit judge finding that SLED and the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office broke Freedom of Information law by initially declining the requests for information. S.C. FOIA law requires police agencies to provide reports that “disclose the nature, substance, and/or location of any crime or alleged crime.”
They can get around that by releasing only the bare bones description of the crime in an incident report. Police are also protected by exemptions to FOIA law, which permits information to be blocked if it will impact a criminal investigation or future prosecution.
By Jake Shore, The Island Packet | Read more

Reporting on park vandal getting expensive

No progress has been made in a vandalism case that caused glaring tire track damage to Doko Park.
Richland County investigators still haven’t publicly identified the prime suspect who remains at large, and now the sheriff’s department is charging hefty fees to provide its email communications with Town of Blythewood leaders concerning the Doko Park vandalism.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from The Voice, a sheriff’s department representative initially declined to provide the emails.
“Unfortunately, as your request is written we cannot fulfill it, as we have no way to search and pull those emails, if there are any,” Sgt. Catherine Smith with the sheriff’s department wrote via email, without citing a specific FOIA exemption.
The Voice requested emails between the sheriff’s department and either the town administrator or members of Town Council for the past three months that discuss Doko Park vandalism.
Most common email programs, such as Microsoft Outlook, Google Gmail and Yahoo Mail, come equipped with search bars allowing users to search for old emails by entering a keyword or email address.
After The Voice noted this functionality to the sheriff’s department, an agency spokeswoman said the newspaper would have to pay $200 to access the records.
By Barbara Ball, The Voice of Blythewood | Read more

Anderson police captain demoted after investigation found he violated department policy

A top Anderson Police Department officer has returned to duty but has been demoted from captain to lieutenant after an internal investigation that included a sexually explicit text message.
Mike Aikens returned to work [earlier this month], police chief Jim Stewart said Oct. 13.
Aikens had been on paid administrative leave since April. He was the subject of a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigation that led to no criminal charges being filed.
The police department did an internal investigation and found that Aikens violated general conduct for officers, which apply even more for a captain, according to a two-page memo from Stewart to Aikens, which the Independent Mail obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
By Mike Ellis, Anderson Independent Mail | Read more

Opinion: How will SC carry out the death penalty? Execution details must remain in public view

South Carolina currently has 35 souls listed on its “Death Row Roster,” a single-page document that lists inmates facing the death penalty. Their names are public information, as they should be, because they have been prosecuted by the state in the name of its citizens. We have every right to know what steps are taken on our behalf and that includes, should the day come, the manner in which each of these 35 people is put to death.
Support for the death penalty in murder cases remains high according to the Pew Research Center, and it remains the law of the land in South Carolina. As long as that holds true, the state has a duty and obligation to be open and honest about the process. That’s why a push by Bryan Stirling, director of the state’s Department of Corrections, to see the State Legislature pass a law that would allow the drug companies that sell the ingredients for the lethal injection to remain anonymous is shameful and an insult to every South Carolinian.
From The State Editorial Board | Read more

Uncovered: Summerton water tank wasn’t cleaned for years as sludge grew inside. Apparently no one noticed.

SUMMERTON — The sludge grew inch by inch with each passing year inside the water tank that fed a nearby housing complex. The blanket of grime was at least a foot deep in some places, and turned the tank’s white interior black and brown.
Apparently no one noticed it. Not the town of Summerton and the company it hired to operate the water system. Not the company employee who also happened to work as a county water official. Not the state health department, which did not look inside the tank during regular visits.
The revelation only came after residents complained about their water quality. Summerton hired a new water operator this year who found the tank hadn’t been cleaned in more than a decade. He had it inspected.
The mucky buildup found inside is a striking example of the disarray the town of Summerton’s water systems were in. Earlier this year, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control found broken equipment, concerning test results and records that were allegedly falsified. DHEC ordered fixes, and the town became the subject of state and federal investigations.
The episode also shows a gap in how drinking water is protected in South Carolina and across the country, an investigation by The Post and Courier and The Sumter Item found. The state and federal governments don’t require the inside of water tanks to be inspected, instead only recommending it. That leaves it up to local officials to carry out inspections. If they don’t, layers of sediment that sometimes harbor harmful bacteria can go undetected.
By Stephen Hobbs, Thad Moore and Kayla Green, The Post and Courier and The Sumter Item | Read more

After expensive gifts for board members, Greenville sanitation district promises change

After spending nearly $22,000 in public funds on gifts for seven departing board members over the past 10 years, the Greater Greenville Sanitation District is promising change.
Former board member Ray Easterling said he didn't expect to receive a $2,400 Swiss watch when his five-year term ended.
"I was surprised and sort of shocked," Easterling said. "I just took it and sat down."
He was given the Tag Heuer watch during a 2017 holiday party for the sanitation district's five board members, the agency's top managers and their spouses. The district spent $2,124 on the event at the Commerce Club, which overlooks downtown Greenville from the 17th floor of the One Liberty Square building. 
Easterling, who spent a decade driving sanitation trucks for the city of Greenville before being appointed to the county board, said he has never worn the watch. He also said the money for his going-away gift could have been better spent on the sanitation district's 110 rank-and-file employees.
By Kirk Brown, Greenville News | Read more

People & Papers


The Sumter Item adds 2 to newsroom

The Sumter Item welcomed two multimedia reporters to its newsroom team this month.
Alaysha Maple joins The Item as a reporter, and Cal Cary joins as a photojournalist and reporter.
Maple was born and raised in Sumter and returns now after graduating from the College of Charleston with a degree in communication. She will cover public safety in Sumter and Lee counties, and she will help the newsroom expand its coverage in Lee County to provide more access to information and prevent rural and underserved communities from ceasing to see their stories told in local news.
After college, Maple applied her creative skills and love for writing to create the H.E.R. Blog. While in college, her self-taught experience in editing and social media coordinating was useful in promoting The Apiphany Podcast.
Her passion for storytelling, love for connecting with others and endless need to create drives Maple to continue to find new, unique ways to share the extraordinary experiences of those around her.
"Being a reporter for the same newspaper I grew up reading is surreal," Maple said. "My passion for writing, admiration for the art of journalism and love for the people of my hometown has made me into who I am today. Giving back to my community by showcasing the beauty I know it has is a dream of mine, and writing for The Sumter Item is only the start."
Cary was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in northern Virginia. He started studying journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2014 and slowly transitioned into studying photography. In 2016, he transferred to Rochester Institute of Technology and earned a bachelor's degree in photojournalism in 2018.
After graduating, he began freelancing for The Washington Post and worked as a freelance photojournalist for three years. His work has been picked up by the Virginia Pilot and Associated Press.
"I love photography because of the way it can tell a story through images and how it can act by itself as a way to convey emotions and describe a scene," Cary said. "Working for The Item gives me the opportunity to tell a story with more than just my writing, but also with my camera."
From The Item | Read more

Newberry Observer office move announced

The Newberry Observer is proud to be moving to the heart of downtown.
The Observer office is relocating to the former Elizabeth’s on Main location at 1216 Main Street.
“I’m excited to embed ourselves right at the corner of College and Main” said Publisher Andy Husk. “With this move we will be in a prime location for everything that goes on in downtown, especially festivals and other happenings right on Main Street.”
The current location of The Newberry Observer was sold to the City of Newberry to become the new home of The Newberry Arts Center.
It was previously reported that the offices would be on Harrington Street, due to unforeseen circumstances that space was deemed unsuitable for The Observer.
From The Newberry Observer | Read more

Passing of a Landmark: The Herald building’s rich legacy isn’t defined by location.

One evening, after I’d been editor of The Herald for just about a year, I took keys to the building and toured the complete site. Many sections of the building had been long shutdown as new technology and economic downturns took their toll.
Former Herald Editor Terry Plumb, a true champion of the city of Rock Hill and it’s hometown newspaper, had graciously told me the grand history of this local newspaper. So I decided on that evening it was time to know the place where all the history, at least since the 1950s, had happened. I was reminded of that late-evening tour when developers broke ground Thursday for new, mixed-use construction coming to that site. The new construction is expected to be completed by 2024.
Demolition of the old building is expected to be completed by the end of this year. In the not-so-distant future, people will walk or drive past that site, but they won’t remember the site once was home to an institution, a place of employment, a place of commerce, a place bustling with human beings who worked to help others. So it seems fitting now to say a fond farewell to that building. On my tour, I walked through the ample newsroom that had evolved from typewriters to desktop computers. I walked through several meeting rooms. There was the darkroom that photographers used before the age of digital images. There was a large, imposing press room where the paper was printed each night. The floors and walls had the residue of ink, years deep and with the accompanying smell. I’ve been told that, at it’s peak, 125 people worked in the building daily to get the paper published.
By Cliff Harrington, The Herald | Read more
SCPA's Randall Savely, Jen Madden and Jay Bender presented MacLeod and Jerry Bellune with a certificate of recognition at their retirement party last week. The Bellunes are retiring after decades of service to our industry and readers of the Lexington County Chronicle & The Dispatch News. Photo by Tom Poland

UofSC student media orgs win big in 2020-2021 CMA Pinnacle Awards

The College Media Association's 2020-2021 Pinnacle Awards were recently announced and UofSC's The Daily Gamecock, Garnet Media Group, SGTV and Garnet & Black magazine placed in several contests. Notable wins include:
  • First Place Column for Ian Greiner's story on sexual harassment on campus
  • Second Place in 4-year Daily Newspaper of the Year to The Daily Gamecock
  • First Place Pacemaker in Best Special Section to Garnet Media Group
  • First Place Pacemaker in Best Magazine Cover to Garnet & Black 
A complete list of winners can be found here.

Industry Briefs

Prognostications, predictions and prophecies from industry execs

In this episode of “E&P Reports,” Publisher Mike Blinder moderates live from America's Newspaper's Senior Leadership Conference, a panel of industry executives that includes Heidi Wright, COO and Publisher, EO Media Group; Tim Prince, Senior Vice President, Boone Newspapers, Inc; PJ Browning, President and Publisher, The Post and Courier and John Rung, President and CEO, Shaw Media who address some important predictions on what the future holds for news publishers. Topics covered during this lively discussion included:
  • Print frequency and what it may look like in the years to come
  • Should Google & Facebook be made to pay for the content they monetize from our journalists?
  • The future of funding our newsrooms and can local journalism survive on just ad and reader revenue?
  • Finding talent and what it will take to recruit and keep employee
  • The return of local ownership and how this impacts the future of local journalism
Editor & Publisher Reports Vodcast with Mike Blinder | Watch recording

How a group of UofSC student journalists went from online punching bag to reshaping newsroom culture

‘We’re not OK.’
Last October, that was the opening salvo in the college newspaper editorial read ’round the world.
That’s not hyperbole. All the major state newspapers covered it. So did we. So did CNN.
Press clubs weighed in. Social media ran it through its fangs ….
All talking about what a group of journalism students decided they needed to do to reset their mental and emotional states.
“We’re not OK” answered the main question suggested by the editorial’s headline: ‘Why We’re Going Dark.’ It was an utterly unheard-of decision by the editorial staff of The Daily Gamecock – the University of South Carolina’s student newspaper. They shut the whole operation down amid mounting pandemic/social upheaval/student death-related stress. They would not publish for one whole week, citing mental health and the need to be more than the sum of their work.
It went over about like you imagine. The students were both embraced for their no-apologies decision to take control of their mental healthcare and blasted for being privileged snowflakes – the latter coming mainly from middle-aged men (judging by the comments and social media profiles from which they lashed), and plenty of those were working journalism professionals offended by how a group of college kids were about to sully a profession so sacred it’s spelled out in the First Amendment.
OK, that part was hyperbole, but its essence is true. Working journalists over 40 or so tended to have the strongest reactions against what’s become known around The Daily Gamecock’s newsroom as “Dark Week.” Most generally stated, they didn’t think it was very professional of these students to take a week off from the news, because that’s not how it works in the real world.
By Scott Morgan, S.C. Public Radio | Read more

Diversifying voices: Op-ed editors share tips for finding that ‘diamond’ perspective

Diversity doesn’t look the same from community to community. Op-eds can help, because they can be powerful expressions of thought leadership that amplify fresh voices and reach new audiences, according to a panel of op-ed newsroom leaders. 
The following tips come from panelists: 
 - Deborah Douglas, The Emancipator co-editor-in-chief
 - Terry Tang, L.A. Times op-ed editor
 - Kate Woodsome, Washington Post senior producer of op-ed video
 - Moderator: Nancy Ancrum, Miami Herald editorial page editor
Slow down: Bringing in original voices takes time and patience. 
The search for new op-ed contributors is a balancing act between relationship and trust building.
“That first piece might not be the best piece, but over time, if people feel like they are supported, listened to, they will grow into a more powerful voice,” Woodsome said. “And then when others see themselves on the screen, on the pages, it’s a modeling exercise where we’re saying, you count.”
Follow through by reminding people that they have degrees of lived experience and are the right experts for the job. 
“We help them identify the core of their expertise, what they know stone cold, and then explore the metaphorical potential for that,” Douglas said.
By Holly Butcher Grant, National Press Club Journalism Institute | Read more


By Richard Whiting,

Yes, we can spell and edit — mostly

We make mistakes.
Seriously. It’s true. We in the field of journalism, especially we involved in the daily output of a newspaper, are indeed fallible.
We have made and will continue to make spelling errors, grammatical errors, errors of omission and occasionally, errors of fact. Rest assured, we aren’t proud of any of the errors. We do own up to them, however, which is more than can be said of many other news sources.
I bring this up merely to explain to readers why Voice of the People — formerly Letters to the Editor — might seem different. Perhaps you couldn’t quite put your finger on it. No doubt, some probably thought we just did a sloppy job of editing and proofreading. Fair enough.
Let me explain.
For quite some time we got pushback from letter writers who took issue with our editing their letters. They said we changed the meaning or intent of what they wrote. In short, they did not want us messing with their words.
Newspaper editors have traditionally taken the stance that letter writers are not professional writers, so it was our job, if you will, to clean up misspellings, make some grammatical corrections here and there and invoke what we somewhat loftily refer to as “proper newspaper style.”
Could we, should we take a more hands-off approach to letter submissions? Admittedly, it’s been hard to do. Kind of like taking your hands off the steering wheel and letting the smart car parallel park itself. Try it, if you haven’t.
We took our hands off the editing wheel on Sept. 21. And that’s why when you read a letter — Voice of the People — it really is in their voice. Some write single paragraphs, some abbreviate words the way one might do when trying to save a buck taking out a classified ad and some take a stab at the spelling of words — not always with success. By golly, however, they cannot accuse us of changing what they mean to say, even if you and we are not sure what that is. Read more
By John Foust,
Advertising Trainer

Cut down on exclamation marks

Lately I have noticed a disturbing trend in print and online advertising: the overuse of exclamation marks. They’re all over the place. Interestingly, no grammar book I have ever seen has suggested using more exclamation marks – or exclamation points – as some people call them. All the guides say they should be limited.
Maybe some ad writers are pulled into the abyss by overly zealous advertisers who think of their businesses in terms of superlatives. After all, exclamation marks seem to fit with words like “unbelievable,” “fantastic” and “incredible.”
Not long ago, I saw a half-page, four-color ad for a home remodeling company. Of the 18 phrases and sentences in the ad, 14 of them ended with exclamation marks. That had to be some kind of record.
Of course, a well-placed exclamation mark is legitimate punctuation. But like your favorite dessert, it’s not smart to have too much at one sitting – especially when it comes to advertising. In my opinion, emails and texts are in a different category. In those informal environments, it makes sense to add exclamation marks to phrases like “Congratulations,” “Well done,” and “Wow.” (Or for Shakespeare types, “Hark!”). Read more

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