Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Oct. 29, 2020

Upstate officials credited with keeping public access to licenses

Two Oconee legislators are being credited with helping preserve public access to information about businesses who apply for business licenses.
The S.C. Business License Tax Reform Bill passed the S.C. General Assembly and was signed by Gov. Henry McMaster last month.
But it went through nine versions before the final version went through a conference report and was agreed to by both the State House and Senate.
Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association, said State Sen. Thomas Alexander of Walhalla and State Rep. Bill Sandifer helped ensure the bill didn’t keep the public from having access to information about what types of businesses are in local communities.
“Sen. Alexander and Rep. Sandifer stepped in to stand up for the public’s right to know what kind of businesses are opening in their community,” Rogers said. “This openness provision was a small part of a major bill, and that likely would have been lost without their efforts.
“The public is a winner in this legislation, just as are South Carolina businesses who will find paying business license fees much easier,” he added.
Sandifer dealt with the bill in the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee he chairs. The bill originally would have exempted business licenses from the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), keeping them from public access.
Sandifer said he and his committee replaced the language with a “compromise position” that gives the public information about businesses that apply for business licenses but doesn’t provide the amount paid for the license, which would give information about the income of businesses.
“I think that satisfied the press association, and it was something that the business community could agree to,” he said. “I’m very thankful that it did, because I think John Q. Public needs to have the ability to determine through a FOIA whether or not a business has a license to operate in a municipality or in the case of a county that requires it, a county.”
By Norm Cannada, The Journal, Seneca | Read more

Loris Times approved for membership

Loris Times, a weekly newspaper in the Loris/northern Horry County area, was approved for membership at the Oct. 22 SCPA Executive Committee meeting. The paper was started in 1991 by Polly Lowman, who is also publisher/owner of the North Myrtle Beach Times.

Send SCPA your postal statement

Paid newspaper members: If you have not already done so, please email SCPA a copy of your annual U.S. Postal Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation (Form 3526). 

Email SCPA your tax sale notices

SCPA is happy to upload your newspaper's delinquent tax sale notices to our statewide public notice site, scpublicnotices.com. Just email the PDF files and run dates to us and we will upload the listings to the site.
Thanks to everyone who is regularly posting their newspaper's legal/public notice ads. The site now hosts more than 180,000 ads and is viewed by roughly 2,500 users a month. 

Special sideline pass may be needed for high school football games

Last month we heard of a few cases where high school football reporters and photographers were not allowed on the sidelines using their official press ID because of COVID-19 safety protocols and limits on the number of people allowed in the stadium/on the field. 
This week we heard from an athletic director in Horry County who is instituting a new policy requiring media outlets to let them know in advance if they are covering the game. This policy is based on the SC High School League's “Guidelines for Return to Play/Practice Team Sports."
You're probably aware of your local schools' COVID-19 policies, but you should reach out to the away game's school/district to see if you need special clearance to get on the sidelines for game coverage.

Brinson captures the first-person stories of black activists in 'Stories of Struggle'

Claudia Smith Brinson’s “Stories of Struggle: The Clash Over Civil Rights in South Carolina,” which captures the first-person stories of black activists, will be published on November 23 by the University of South Carolina Press.
Black South Carolinians played key roles in efforts by the NAACP, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to secure the vote; desegregate public schools, colleges, and universities; and end segregation of public spaces. Over several years, Brinson interviewed more than 150 activists who participated in petitioning, lawsuits, sit-ins, picketing, and marches in efforts to secure their constitutional rights.
Historian Walter Edgar says “Stories of Struggle” combines “unforgettable personal remembrances with traditional public sources to give all twenty-first century South Carolinians an important, thought-provoking resource for our challenging times.” Civil rights photographer Cecil Williams describes the book as “a major contribution to understanding the people behind the scenes who led the fight.”
Brinson worked as a journalist for more than 30 years in Florida, Greece, and South Carolina. She was a national columnist and writing coach for Knight-Ridder when the former newspaper chain owned The State in Columbia, South Carolina. Her reporting at The State won more than three dozen state and regional awards. She was the first person to win Knight Ridder’s Award of Excellence twice and a member of the newspaper team whose Hurricane Hugo coverage was a Pulitzer finalist. Brinson was named a S.C. Woman of Achievement by the S.C. Commission on Women and a S.C. Journalist of the Year by the S.C. Press Association.
Read more

Brinson has provided an excerpt from "Stories of Struggle" that newspapers may publish. View and download the excerpt, Brinson's photo and book cover here.
#SCPRESS20 Sponsor Spotlight: Dominion Energy
Tell us about your organization:
Since expanding into South Carolina, Dominion Energy now operates in 20 states, offering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to more than 7 million customers. At Dominion Energy, our power is our people. More than 3,700 employees in South Carolina are dedicated to keeping the lights on and gas flowing to approximately 1.2 million customers throughout the communities we serve.

How can SCPA member newspapers help keep your customers and communities informed?
In addition to meeting the energy needs of our customers safely, reliably and efficiently, Dominion Energy is committed to helping our communities and helping our customers, especially during times of crisis. As the pandemic continues to impact communities across the state and country, Dominion Energy continues to expand assistance to South Carolina customers facing financial hardship, including the following:
  • We are working with customers, some of whom have past-due balances for the first time, to find payment plans and assistance options that fit their unique needs.
  • We are connecting income-eligible customers with our community action agency partners for additional energy assistance options, including Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) federal funding.
  • We increased financial support for EnergyShare, our year-round program to help qualified income-eligible customers, people with disabilities, senior citizens and veterans pay their electric and natural gas bills.
Just as we care about our customers, we care about our communities. Last year, we donated almost $7 million to worthy causes in South Carolina. Our primary areas of focus for community support are basic human needs, environmental stewardship, education enrichment and community vitality.
In March 2020, for example, Dominion Energy committed $1 million to coronavirus relief efforts. Recently, we committed $5 million to support social justice and equality and to help community rebuilding efforts across our company's footprint.  Recognizing the importance of education as an equalizer, we have committed $35 million to advance higher education equity at historically black colleges and universities, including four in South Carolina. In addition to charitable contributions, we encourage employee volunteerism.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your organization?
We’re innovating. Always looking for new ways to make it easier for customers to do business with us, we recently launched our new, enhanced mobile app. It’s smart, fast and secure. Dominion Energy customers can report outages, pay their bills, make payment arrangements and monitor their energy usage on the go with just a few simple taps. Download the Dominion Energy app today from the Google Store or from the Apple Store.
Investments in technology, such as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), help modernize our grid and improve the customer experience with enhanced two-way communication, as well as increase operational efficiencies. Smart meter technology provides customers more detailed daily energy usage information, and more control of how and when they use energy. It allows faster outage detection and power restoration. And, it’s safe and secure.  

Why do you support SCPA and our member newspapers?
Dominion Energy values transparent and timely communication with our customers, community partners, regulators, legislators and other stakeholders throughout the communities we serve. We recognize the important role that members of the media play in reporting the news. We do our best to work with journalists to help them report in a manner that is fair, accurate and timely.

Interesting fact about your organization:
We recently announced four new solar projects in South Carolina. Located in Bamberg, Barnwell, Hampton and Beaufort counties, these projects are another example of how the company has fully embraced adding solar generation on our system and making it accessible for all customers as we work to help build a clean, sustainable energy future for South Carolina. 
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has recognized Dominion Energy South Carolina as a top-performing utility for installed solar for the past three years. Among the 13 largest utilities in the Southeast, Dominion Energy South Carolina ranks second – with 807 solar watts per customer, which is 2.5 times the average for the region. Both the current and projected numbers are about 50% higher than the overall average for South Carolina.

Contact: Rhonda Maree O’Banion, Manager, Public Affairs
rhonda.obanion@dominionenergy.com
803.217.9088 | 800.562.9308 (24-hour media line)


Know someone that you’d like SCPA to spotlight? Email us your recommendations.

FOI Briefs

Who will be Beaufort’s next police chief? Here’s what we know about finalists

Beaufort is keeping secret its final candidates to be the city’s next police chief, allowing only a small group of select citizens to meet with them or learn about their backgrounds.
South Carolina law demands that information be made public when three or fewer finalists have been chosen for a public position. The city sent out a press release Thursday saying finalists have been chosen, and The Beaufort Gazette has confirmed that about 15 people were allowed to interview three candidates who are being considered to replace Chief Matt Clancy, who died in July.
City manager Bill Prokop, however, defends the secrecy, saying that because he has yet to interview the final candidates, they are not “real” finalists. City Attorney Bill Harvey also said Prokop “has not determined the finalists” but added the city would comply with the newspaper’s records request when Prokop has chosen the finalists.
But information from Mike Sutton, a former council member and candidate for mayor, paints a different picture. Sutton says he was part of a panel that interviewed interim Beaufort Police Chief Dale McDorman, a department head from Savannah Police Department, and an interim chief from a department in North Carolina. The panel asked candidates the same set of questions, individually completed critiques of each candidate and gave them to Prokop, Sutton said.
By Stephen Fastenau, The Island Packet | Read more

Technical difficulties mar SCHSL conference call

A chaotic South Carolina High School meeting Tuesday morning ended with the league's adoption of a Return To Play plan for winter sports.
The meeting happened via conference call, which caused disruption when many on the call did not mute their microphones. For journalists and others from the public on the call, little could be heard of the league's deliberations. ...
Multiple reporters left the meeting before it ended because the technical difficulties made it impossible to follow the deliberations.
A group of media sent a letter to Singleton addressing communication issues with the South Carolina High School League from Tuesday and other long-term issues. The letter was written by Ian Guerin of the Myrtle Beach Herald and signed by Guerin, Skylar Rolstad of the Index-Journal, Jed Blackwell of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, Eric Sprott of The Seneca Journal and Jeff Hartsell of the Charleston Post and Courier.
The letter stated that technical difficulties made the meeting "chaotic to the point of detrimental to our goals." The letter also called for the body to host the meeting "from scratch with proper assurances of clarity."
"This is not how major policy meetings — including those determining SCHSL's approach to a sports season in the middle of a pandemic — should be conducted," the letter read.
SCHSL meetings are subject to laws on public meetings, which are required by state Freedom of Information law to be available to the public and announced 24 hours before meeting.
By Skylar Rolstad, Index-Journal | Read more

People & Papers

Moultrie News welcomes new editor

Life is funny. I used to visit the Charleston area and often thought, “What a nice place to live.” I loved the food, the big trees, the coast, the rivers and marshes, the downtown market and so much more. My first time here was with my husband. He worked for a big daily paper in Florida and I worked for a medium-size daily. There was a journalism conference in Charleston and our papers sent us both to attend. My paper figured it was saving money because his paper was paying for the hotel. One room. A bargain! Well, we both loved it. So much so we started to visit whenever we had a long weekend together, but living here didn’t seem possible at the time.
Today I live in Mount Pleasant. But, a lot has happened to take me from there to here. Let me tell you a bit about it. Later, if we meet in person we can share some more.
I’m a Canadian transplant from childhood who grew up moving around the country as my father, who worked on the early space program, moved with government contracts. Eventually we settled in Sarasota, Florida, where I attended high school. Even then my love of journalism was evident. I was the news editor for the school paper. (As an aside, my journalism teacher ran away and joined the circus. I’m not kidding.)
Eventually, after trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, which took me down many paths (college classes, marriage, two children, divorce), I decided to make a change and finish my education at the University of South Florida. I majored in writing and spent a lot of time in the theater as well.
I worked on the college’s daily paper in features. I was having a blast. Then one day, a young man transferred in from Miami as the sports editor. It was love at first sight. His, not mine. I hardly noticed him. But a phone call from the Dinah Shore Show changed all that. They needed an audience for a show they were doing at Busch Gardens. I needed a ride. He had a tangerine Mustang. The rest, as they say, is history. Forty years of a very happy history.
Since that auspicious meeting I have worked as a copy editor for Knight Ridder, reporter for the Hollywood Sun-Tattler, run a small business, did a great deal of freelance writing and editing, worked as a designer for the University of South Florida, was a special sections editor/education reporter/news editor/features editor for the Winter Haven News Chief.
By Catherine Kohn, Moultrie News | Read more

Clinton Chronicle hires writer/designer

The Clinton Chronicle welcomes Kelly Duncan to its staff as a writer and graphic designer.
“Kelly will help with our ad design and learn layout,” said publisher Brian Whitmore. “Having some backup in composition will help me greatly and her writing will help Editor Vic MacDonald and allow us to bolster our local coverage.”
Duncan is a 2016 graduate of Newberry College with a bachelor’s degree in communications. ...
“Adding a position to our paper during a pandemic shows our ownership's commitment to The Clinton Chronicle and our community,” said Whitmore. “Kelly will be key to the future of this publication.” 
[She worked as a writer at The Newberry Observer for three years.]
From The Clinton Chronicle | Read more

Industry Briefs

USPS proposes rate changes – minor to no change for newspapers’ mailed products

On October 9, the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced rate changes for Marketing Mail and for Periodicals mail. Assuming that the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will approve the new rates, they will go into effect on January 24, 2021.
In Marketing Mail, rates for High Density Plus and Saturation flats – used primarily by newspapers’ Target Market Coverage (TMC) packages – will not change at all. In the category of Marketing Mail, USPS devoted much of its available rate authority under the price cap structure to increase rates for catalogs and parcels. However, it should be noted, if your TMC package includes a Detached Address Label and Detached Marketing Labels, there will be a one cent increase per label.
In Periodicals Mail, the In-County pound rate and the carrier route piece rates will not change, but the rate for Non-barcoded 5-Digit flats will rise by 8.22 percent.
In Outside County mail, USPS is making changes to encourage mailers to enter their mail in ways that the agency can handle more efficiently. Most notably, the USPS is establishing a separate rate for trays (“tubs”), so for the first time they will be priced differently from sacks.
By Paul J. Boyle, News Media Alliance | Read more

In the final days of election season, tell (and show) your audience why they can trust you

The Trusting News team has had a lot to say about the elections over the past few months. We’ve written newsletters, given presentations, conducted Election SOS trainings, launched a text-message course, worked with API’s Trusted Elections Network and generally looked for any avenue to be useful to journalists.
Yet we know our advice around transparency and engagement has not yet reached a lot of overwhelmed, dedicated journalists. This post aims to collect what we most hope to convey in one place.
Demonstrating credibility matters. There has been a lot of uncertainty and confusion around the elections, and local communities are looking for fair and trustworthy coverage. It’s on us to let them know we are providing that information and to defend our credibility. So while it can be easy to blow off negative comments or people questioning your reporting, it’s essential to respond, fight back and share your processes.
By Mollie Muchna, Trusting News | Read more

Deepfakes: How USC is fighting to stay ahead of misinformation

... Such is the weight of public trust on news agencies in an age when anyone with a phone can say absolutely anything to absolutely everyone; can collect videos and photos and sound clips and share them with anyone who will listen – and who in turn can do the same.
For journalists, this is a chronic and ceaseless pressure. For Andrea Hickerson, Matt Wright, and John Sohrawardi, it’s an opportunity to stay ahead of a dangerously disruptive curve.
Hickerson is the director of the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications; Wright and Sohrawardi are researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Together, they are building a software designed specifically to help journalists ferret out deepfakes – videos so believable that even those charged with vetting reality could inadvertently share them.
Fundamental to this is the dynamic played out in the 90s movie example above. See, it would be relatively easy to verify whether a presidential candidate or a congressional majority leader said something in front of a room filled with press.
But what, Hickerson asks, about video of a local mayor saying something kind of racist?
“[Most people] don’t know who the mayor is,” she says. And that lack of familiarity with a public figure’s nuances could easily lead people to not question a video’s authenticity.
And this is the level where most journalism operates. The overwhelming majority of reporters cover their towns, their counties – small regions with low voter turnouts and where few people outside of a local paper could name a single person on the town council. These are conditions, Hickerson says, ripe for exploitation.
So in comes DeFake, the software the USC/RIT team is building. Hickerson says it is being designed specifically for news agencies to use as a tool to help identify suspicious videos. It looks for those things that don’t quite seem right – things like misaligned lip sync or fuzzy edges around the face or hair; things we as humans might still be able to intuit as off.
By Scott Morgan, SC Public Radio | Read more

Obituaries

Former Hartsville Messenger Editor Kent Mahoney dies from COVID-19

Former Hartsville Messenger Editor Kent Mahoney, the current editor of the Walterboro Press and Standard, died Oct. 21, from COVID-19.
He was 60 years old.
He had been on a ventilator since Oct. 12, according to his daughter's post to his Facebook page.
A native of Sedalia, Missouri, Mahoney was a graduate of Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman State. He worked at several Texas newspapers — the last the Post Dispatch in Post, Texas, before moving to Hartsville in 2016.
He left Hartsville in 2019 for a paper in Henderson, Texas.
"Kent believed strongly in community journalism, and he burned with passion and pride," said Don Kausler Jr., the regional editor of the Morning News and its affiliates. "He took his work seriously, but he took life cheerfully."
While at The Messenger, he was best known in the community for his coverage of high school and middle school sports. He won several South Carolina Press Association awards for his work.
From the Morning News | Read more

Related: Obituary in the Sedalia (MO) Democrat

Columns

By John Foust, Advertising Trainer

A different kind of question

One of the basics of selling is to get the right kind of information from prospects. There is a big focus on asking about prospects’ goals, target audiences, marketing budgets and previous campaign results. That’s how we put ourselves in position to create effective ad campaigns.
Monica, a long-time sales manager for a publishing company, told me about a different kind of question. “Years ago, I heard about a technique to turn the process around and ask questions to ourselves,” he said. “The objective is to create more interest in what you are selling. It all starts with the words, ‘If I were in your position, I would want to know…’
“For example,” she explained, “let’s say you’re meeting with someone who doesn’t talk much or someone who seems to be running down rabbit trails during your presentation. Simply say something like, ‘If I were in your position I would want to know how The Gazette’s coverage compares to other media outlets in this market.’ Then transfer ownership of the question from you to them, by asking if that is something they would like to know. That opens the door for you to answer the question and cover an important sales point. It’s a way to keep everyone on the same path.” Read more

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