Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Sept. 21, 2023
Dunlap standing in front of Air Force One.
Dunlap interviewing Ralph James, the chairman of the St. George School Board.

SCPA Foundation intern Sydney Dunlap's summer in Soda City

By Hank Lunn, SCPA Marketing Intern
USC junior journalism major Sydney Dunlap said her eight-week SCPA Foundation internship helped her to solidify her career goals.
Dunlap spent her summer as an intern at The State covering a variety of topics ranging from breaking news and crime coverage to community features to local growth and development.
“I now know so much more about the Columbia community and walked away with hands-on experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to find in a classroom,” Dunlap said. “After this summer, I feel more connected to the journalism community in the area and am excited for the future!”
Dunlap said that she worked closely with Sarah Ellis, state editor and reporter who covers Columbia and Richland County.
“She showed that she is a thorough, dependable reporter and a diligent self-editor,” Ellis said. “Her personality was very welcome in our newsroom.”
Dunlap said that she was also able to grow skills outside of writing.
“In addition to writing, I also grew my skills in my other passion, photography,” Dunlap said. “I learned a lot about what it means to tell a story through photographs and even got to photograph the president, which was definitely a highlight of my summer.”
Dunlap currently serves as editor-in-chief of The Daily Gamecock. Her writing and photography have won awards on both the local and national levels.
“Overall, I’ve grown so much in my skills this summer, and I now have knowledge I can bring back to my work at The Daily Gamecock and utilize for the remainder of my time at USC,” Dunlap said. “I really appreciate SCPA and The State for allowing me this opportunity.” 

Invest in the future of our industry

The Foundation's internships and scholarships are provided by contributions from you! Please support the Foundation's valuable work by making your tax-deductible contribution today.

How to apply

Internships are open to student journalists who attend a four-year college in South Carolina or reside in South Carolina and attend a four-year college elsewhere. Rising juniors and seniors, and recent college graduates are eligible. Applications for Summer 2024 are now available. The deadline to apply is Dec. 8.

S.C. Journalism Hall of Fame nominations due Dec. 1

The deadline to nominate someone for the S.C. Journalism Hall of Fame is Dec. 1. 
The Hall of Fame was established in 1973 to recognize and honor men and women who have excelled in their craft and made significant contributions to journalism and their communities.
Requirements for admission specify that a nominee must have made his or her journalistic reputation in South Carolina. If the reputation reflects achievements outside the state, the nominee must have been a native of South Carolina. Nominees must have been deceased for four or more years.
Nominations may be made by anyone now or previously employed by or associated with a South Carolina newspaper.
We will honor Hall of Fame recipients at the Annual Meeting and Awards in March 2024. 
Here's how to nominate someone for the Hall of Fame.

Managers: Please approve your directory proof by Friday

All publishers/general managers should have received a proof of your newspaper's directory listing for the 2023-2024 S.C. Media Directory.
Please review and submit corrections by Friday, Sept. 22. 
The new edition will be distributed in October.  
Let us know if you need us to resend your proof(s).
Thanks for your help with this important project!
SCPA hosted Bill Ostendorf of Creative Circle Media Solutions last Friday for a full-day, high energy workshop on how to strengthen print and digital products, and grow revenue and readership.
National Newspaper Week is coming up Oct. 1-7.
In Print. Online. For You. #NewspapersYourWay.

Legal Briefs

RCFP, media coalition urge Supreme Court to make live audio permanent

For much of the U.S. Supreme Court’s history, the opportunity to follow oral arguments in real time was limited to the 50 some-odd members of the public able to squeeze into the courtroom. That changed in 2020, when the justices — adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic — shifted to telephonic arguments and let the press and public tune in. This week, the Reporters Committee and a coalition of 62 media organizations sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., urging the Court to make a permanent commitment to live audio.
By all measures, the Court’s experiment with live argument audio has been a runaway success. According to a tally put together last year by the Project on Government Oversight, more than 3.8 million listeners have engaged with the Court’s live feed — a mammoth audience for the justices’ immediate, unfiltered reactions to the cases before them. An even larger share of the public is able to connect with the Court’s live proceedings thanks to the journalists who can now incorporate live audio into their reporting.
By Grayson Clary, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press | Read more

Alex Murdaugh brought new attention to old policy barring SC inmates from talking to media

When former attorney and convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh was punished last month for flouting the South Carolina prison policy prohibiting inmates from speaking to the media, many viewed it as the latest example of the Lowcountry scion thinking the rules don’t apply to him.
The 55-year-old, who is serving two life sentences in the custody of the S.C. Department of Corrections for the murders of his wife, Maggie, and son Paul, lost privileges after participating in a recorded interview for television — a move that violates a prison policy designed to spare crime victims from having to hear from those who wronged them. 
The incident, which generated news stories amid a hurricane, brought fresh attention to an old rule inside South Carolina’s prison system that regulates inmates’ ability to communicate with the public. The policy highlights a conflict of interests between victims of crime and incarcerated people, who are physically hidden from the public’s view but have increasingly taken to media outlets to shed light on their confinement.
By Ema Rose Schumer, The Post and Courier | Read more

FOIA Briefs

Public comments limited as accusations of bad behavior fly

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County Council Chair Douglas Pauley announced at Monday night’s council meeting that council would no longer allow the public to speak during the second public comment session of council meetings. In that session, speakers are allowed to address any issue concerning the county. Pauley said the decision to eliminate that session was made by council members. ...
According to the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, any kind of decision by council on an issue – vote, agreement, straw poll, etc. – is only allowed to take place in the public meeting.
“Council cannot make a decision unless the decision is made by public vote in a meeting properly announced and convened in public,” said Media Attorney Jay Bender who represents the S.C. Press Association, of which The Voice is a member.
Council’s decision to eliminate the second public session, as described by Pauley, had not appeared on the agenda and the decision was not voted on by council members in public.
By Barbara Ball, The Voice of Fairfield County | Read more

Editorial: Public bodies should stop holding executive sessions

If you boil down just about any issue before an elected or appointed public body, does it ever make sense for them to have an executive session — to meet in the shadows of secrecy when what they’re supposed to be doing is business for the public?
While the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees or various municipal councils often preen because they think they can do business in private, they should follow a simple rule: Don’t go into executive session. Ever. Do business in public. You might get occasional political blowback but not for doing the duty you took an oath to uphold.
Consider this: State law does not actually require public bodies to ever hold executive or private sessions for public business. It offers very narrow exceptions that allow public officials to meet privately — for things like contract negotiations or land deals.
But public officials too often and too easily adjourn for specious and sometimes illegal reasons just to keep voters from keeping an eye out for what they’re really doing.
Stop it. Meet in public.
From Charleston City Paper | Read more

Columbia Council wasn’t meeting in secret despite failure to post minutes, judge rules

The city of Columbia violated state public information laws in failing to post committee meeting minutes, but a neighborhood advocate bringing a lawsuit against the city could not prove council members met secretly, a judge ruled Sept. 13.
The complaint, filed Aug. 31, centered around the city’s short-term rental committee and ordinance, which the council passed in April. What was originally proposed as a moratorium on all Airbnb and VRBO listings morphed repeatedly over the course of a year, until the council finally approved a permitting process with no restrictions on how many rentals could be approved or where they could locate.
Council members met publicly four times as a committee between April 2022 and August 2023 to talk about the proposed restrictions, but the city did not make meeting minutes public until this month, argued attorney Cody Smith, who represented the plaintiff, Kit Smith. She is a staunch supporter of strict restrictions on short-term rentals.
The Freedom of Information Act requires public bodies, which include committees, to publish minutes within a “reasonable time,” which Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman determined the city did not. 
“I hope we made a big change in calling to attention that (the city) has to have public record of actions, even in task forces and standing committees,” Smith said after the hearing.
Newman rejected the other legal argument that Smith made — that council members conducted backroom meetings to change the short-term rental proposal between public meetings — because she could not prove the meetings really happened.
By Skylar Laird, The Post and Courier Columbia | Read more

Scoppe: How one SC county illegally hid a judge’s salary for 6 weeks

It was a simple question: What’s the salary of Master-in-Equity Joseph Strickland, who wanted so desperately to keep his job that he took the audacious step of suing Richland County legislators to make them recommend his reappointment?
The Post and Courier’s Seanna Adcox asked it the day after she broke the news about the lawsuit. Then she waited. And paid a fee allegedly to cover the cost of a bureaucrat perhaps sending her the answer. And she nudged. And waited. And nudged. And six weeks later — after the notoriously foot-dragging S.C. Supreme Court had already issued its surprising ruling in the judge’s favor — she finally got the answer: $191,508.30.
If you want to know what most state employees make, you can go to a state government website that lists exact salaries of people who make $50,000 or more and salary ranges for those who make less. Even those not listed can usually be ascertained with a single phone call or email.
But it’s more complicated when you’re looking for salaries that are paid by local government. Or maybe I should say time-consuming. And not free.
By Cindi Ross Scoppe, The Post and Courier | Read more
This year's National FOI Summit will be held online Oct. 3-5. You’ll get access to more than 20 sessions, including thoughtful panel discussions, tool training sessions, and networking -– all for only $25 (SCPA members should register as NFOIC Coalition members). View the full schedule and speakers, plus register for the summit.

People & Papers

Carolina Panorama Publisher Nate Abraham Jr. and Patricia Abraham accept the Presidential Award from Columbia NAACP President Oveta Glover. The Columbia branch of the NAACP’s 36th Annual Freedom Fund Awards Gala was held Sept. 16, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. During the event, the Columbia NAACP honored several individuals and organizations for their service to the community. The Abrahams were recognized with this top honor for their efforts to preserve and promote the legacy of Nathaniel Abraham, Sr., founder of the newspaper and for their dedication to the community awareness through the art of journalism. Nate Abraham also serves as the S.C. Press Association's Vice President for weekly newspapers.

Explore the world with Post and Courier Editor-in-Chief Autumn Phillips

Travel with an adventurous, experienced world traveler who spent her career writing and teaching people to write, teaching reporters how to listen, research, and ask the right questions. Expect a transformational experience that helps you see the world and yourself in a new way. 
Trips are in the works for Cuba, Ireland/Northern Ireland, Morocco, Cambodia and Rwanda.
The Post and Courier has partnered with Academic Travel Abroad to put these together. That’s the same company that creates trips for The Smithsonian.
Learn more at Post and Courier Travel.

Industry Briefs

Be prepared for the storms: Journalists must plan now to cover severe weather

Editor's Note: Your newspaper has a unique and important responsibility to the community and must plan to operate in a crisis. Review SCPA's disaster checklist.
Environmental journalists covering weather disasters are having a hectic year. "New government data revealed that the U.S. has already experienced more billion-dollar weather disasters in 2023 than in any other year since authorities started tracking such data 40-plus years ago," reports Lydia O'Connor of HuffPost. "The catastrophes include 18 severe storms, two floods, a tropical cyclone, a winter storm and the deadly wildfire event that struck Maui last month." Reporting on weather disasters like these takes planning, reports Emily Foxhall for the Society of Environmental Journalists. Foxhall shares these tips:
Prepare supplies and food well ahead: My guiding principle for reporters in the field: Be prepared to rely on yourself for everything, as if you were spending a week camping.
Step one happens before disaster hits. Newsrooms need to organize go-bags for reporters with essential supplies. Reporters who will be assigned to disaster coverage should get stipends to purchase nonperishable food to last however long they will be there.
Some supplies I've found especially helpful include a power inverter to charge devices in your car, a flashlight or lantern with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, sunscreen and bug spray, quick-drying clothes, rain gear, waterproof bags for a phone and notebooks, thick-soled shoes to walk safely in debris-strewn floodwater — and lots of extra socks.
Make a reporting plan when the disaster looms. Meteorologists know when a hurricane is approaching, giving newsrooms time to plan. Other disasters might not have the same lead time. No matter how rushed you are, before leaving to cover any emergency, try to take the time to do the following:
  • Fill your gas tank.
  • Be sure your spare tire is full of air.
  • Charge devices and backup power banks
  • Download Maps. Maps. Me for offline map access.
By Heather Close, The Rural Blog | Read more

AP Stylebook releases topical guide on education

The Associated Press has compiled a style guide of essential words, phrases and definitions related to the return to classes. From STEAM and school choice to playing hooky, education words and topics are covered in this useful guide
Here's the bingo card Ruth Serven Smith made for her team at to foster diversity in sourcing. Click here to access her example card, as well as a blank template to recreate and adapt to fit your needs.

How to audit sources: A guide to help you get started

Journalists have a lot of power. The sources we choose to quote affect and indicate many things in our local communities, like whose stories get told and how; who the news is for and about; which communities are served; and who is seen, heard and listened to.
In recent years, news organizations have attempted to reckon with a history of unfairly covering communities of color. API and our partners at Trusting News have projects aimed at helping newsrooms improve coverage and rebuild trust with their communities. All news organizations — old or new, big or small — should ideally reflect and represent the communities they serve in their coverage. Practicing more inclusive journalism is one goal many of our partner newsrooms have when they start using Source Matters. Knowing who’s being included — and who’s being left out — of your coverage can begin with a source audit or source inventory.
Blanca Méndez, community engagement editor at San Antonio Report, along with Leigh Munsil, editor-in-chief, outlined why they’re tracking sources in an edition of their newsletter. “[We] don’t just want to listen to our community’s concerns — we want to show through our actions and data that we take them seriously.”
By Katie Kutsko, The American Press Institute | Read more

Full digital accessibility may come down to one line of code 

A line of code may be all that is needed to open the door for readers with disabilities to access digital journalism.
Patrick Merlihan, who runs digital strategy for the Woolwich Observer in Elmira, Ontario, thought he was about to tackle a monumental task in a quest to make the website fully accessible for the 15,000-circulation newspaper in September 2021.
“I thought I was going to have a lot of challenges to make our site accessible, and then it was, like, 10 minutes,” he said.
Merlihan, who served as a ward councilor for about 13,000 people in his community, became more aware of accessibility issues in his political role. He said updating older infrastructure for accessibility is a project that requires budgeting years in advance.
“I think people make assumptions about your audience and think, ‘Oh, they must be just like me,’” he said. “When you meet people face to face that have these difficulties, you put a face to these issues, and you say, ‘Oh, it really wouldn’t be that hard to add and install different features to make life a little bit better.’ Then you also learn that when you do that, it actually helps everyone.”
Merlihan said he never would have conceived of all the options to make content accessible. He purchased a plug-in that modifies their website for various disabilities and challenges, such as dyslexia, ADHD, vision impairments and more.
By Alyssa Choiniere, Editor & Publisher | Read more
Developing mentor/mentee relationships can open your eyes to new things, assist you in building networks and help you grow as professionals. News Leaders Association invites you to join them on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m., for The Power of Mentoring.  The event is free and open to the public, but you need to register


By Andy Brack,
Charleston City Paper

Schools need to teach media literacy

With so much misinformation, disinformation, fake news and outright untruths floating around these days in cyberspace, it’s easier than ever to get misled. 
And because information jacklegs are trying to jack you up with bad information, something needs to be done about it. Otherwise, our democracy will suffer.
In the past, the news media have been the conduit for providing vetted, objective news and information to Americans so they can make decisions in our democracy. The newsgathering and reporting process disseminates information to help people pick candidates, decide on referenda and hold their elected and appointed officials accountable. This is a fundamental responsibility of real news organizations not obsessed with clickbait.
But when the internet came along, all of the sudden individuals had the power to espouse information — and opinions — to the world. In the years since Al Gore invented it (that’s sarcasm, by the way), countless platforms have arrived that allow people to build new electronic communities — websites, Facebook, X/Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, just to name a few that are popular now.  
With these communities, there are people who use it for good, legitimate reasons to spread information and others (such as Russians and non-democratic authoritarians) who want to interfere with democracy and elections by spreading lies to undercut faith in truth and the American system of checks and balances. 
By Andy Brack, Charleston City Paper | Read more
By John Foust,
Advertising Trainer

Advertising’s slippery slope

I remember taking a day-long ski trip to Virginia. The charter bus was filled with skiers who had different levels of experience: a few were pretty good, most were average, and some were novices like me. 
 After a morning on the beginners’ slope, I took a break to have a sandwich on the deck of the lodge. From my perch atop a picnic table, I could watch skiers on the trail in front of me. The ski lift lowered at a couple of places along the way, from which skiers could exit. The higher up the mountain the lift went, the steeper the slope. The last exit (which I never saw) was meant for expert skiers only. 
As I munched on my turkey sandwich, I noticed a couple of dots way up on the mountain. Instead of gracefully zigzagging their way down like the others, they were travelling in a straight line. As they got closer, I could tell that they had fallen. All I could distinguish were two snow-covered lumps sliding down the mountain, elbows flying and skis dragging behind. As they got closer, one of the lumps shouted, “I can’t stoooooooop!”
Eventually – within about 30 seconds of each other – the lumps slid up against the deck, right in front of me. When they stood up, they looked like snow monsters, covered from head to toe with thick coatings of ice and snow. As they talked, it was obvious that neither had been skiing before. They had driven to the slope that morning, parked their car, rented skis, gotten into the first lift line they saw, rode it to the top, and immediately fell down. They didn’t stand up again until they stopped at the bottom. One enthusiastically asked, “You gonna do it again?” His buddy shook his head and said, “No, I’ll wait in the car.” Read more

Upcoming Events

Thanks to funding from the SCPA Foundation, "Earn Your Press Pass" a self-paced online community journalism training course is now available to SCPA members at no charge. Sign up to start learning!
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