Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  March 25, 2021

SCPA Annual Business Meeting to be held March 31 on Zoom

Votes will be taken on proposed changes to the Constitution and Slate of Officers

SCPA will hold its Annual Business Meeting next Wednesday, March 31, at 10 a.m. on Zoom. During this brief event, the full membership will vote on the slate of officers (listed below) and hear updates on legal, lobbying, membership and financial matters.
We will also discuss and vote on proposed changes to the SCPA Constitution, which would allow monthly and bi-monthly active newspaper members in the Association.
In the past year, SCPA has lost nine member newspapers, and we are looking to the future when current members may permanently drop print publication days. It is vital to the health of the Association to sustain and grow our membership.
The Board and SCPA staff have spent the last year studying a number of membership issues related to print and digital news organizations, and are proposing that SCPA expand its membership to allow monthly and bi-monthly printed newspapers. Like all active newspaper members, applicants would be required to meet the eligibility criteria defined in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution.
While a few current Associate member print publications would be eligible for active membership with this change, it would also allow SCPA to provide better support to Black, Latinx and other minority-owned print news outlets that do not qualify for membership under the current SCPA Constitution because they do not publish at least weekly.
Growing the membership will help keep dues, contest and event fees low for all SCPA members to encourage participation.
Inclusion of monthly and bi-monthly papers will not impact SCNN Advertising Network revenue that is sent to daily and weekly member newspapers. Instead, SCNN might consider special add-on buys in the monthly/bi-monthly papers.
It should also be noted that this does not change the S.C. laws and codes that relate to legal/public notice advertising. In South Carolina, to receive public notice/legal ads, a publication must be published at least weekly in a printed newspaper format.
Other Constitutional changes proposed include adding SCPA’s Diversity Committee as a standing committee of the Association, allowing printed magazines to join as Associate Members, updating communication methods from fax/mail to email, and updating wording to more gender inclusive terms.
The Executive Committee voted on March 19 to present these changes to the Constitution for approval by the full membership. All SCPA members are invited to attend this Zoom Meeting
  • Meeting ID: 850 5943 1881
  • Passcode: 270621
  • One tap mobile: +16465588656,,85059431881#,,,,*270621#
  • 1 646 558 8656 (Enter  Meeting ID: 850 5943 1881  |  Passcode: 270621)
If you have questions or comments, please contact Jen Madden.

Nominations for 2021-22 SCPA officers, Executive Committee

SCPA's Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of officers and Executive Committee members for consideration by the full membership at the 2021 Virtual Annual Business Meeting, which will be held on March 31 at 10 a.m. on Zoom. (All have agreed to serve if elected.)

• President: Don Kausler Jr., Morning News, Florence
• Vice President – Weeklies: Charles Swenson, Coastal Observer, Pawleys Island
• Vice President – Dailies: Richard Whiting, Index-Journal, Greenwood
• Treasurer: Nathaniel Abraham Jr., Carolina Panorama, Columbia
• Immediate Past President: Suzanne Detar, The Daniel Island News

For Executive Committee, weekly representatives:
• Andy Brack, Charleston City Paper
• Chase Heatherly, The Post and Courier Columbia/Free Times; Evening Post Industries Community Newspaper Group
• Abbie Sossamon, The Gaffney Ledger


For Executive Committee, daily representatives:
• Steve Bruss, Greenville News; Independent Mail, Anderson; Herald-Journal, Spartanburg
• Rhonda Overbey, Aiken Standard
• Brian Tolley, The State, Columbia; The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island; Beaufort Gazette; The Sun News, Myrtle Beach
Member Spotlight: Rose Cisneros
What do you like best about your job?
My favorite thing is working with local nonprofits in my coverage area. Getting to cover the events and accomplishments of those who work tirelessly to make our community better, makes the job worth it.
What is your proudest career moment?
Last fall, the Dickerson Children's Advocacy Center presented the Chronicle with an award of recognition thanking us for all we've done for them. I was honored to accept the award on behalf of the paper.
What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
We are excited to be expanding our online sales. Since the pandemic, we've had to make major cutbacks to our print editions. We've been using our website like a daily, posting free Coronavirus coverage that has generated us tens of thousands of new views and clicks. Our advertisers have benefited from all the exposure, making it a win-win.
What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
I really enjoy the yearly editors roundtable discussions. Besides taking a break from the daily grind to be among great company, I learn so much. I also like being able to share with others the ideas that have worked for us in the past.
What adjustments have you made during COVID-19?
At the beginning of the shutdown, our office went almost fully remote. We closed our office to the public, and those of us who could, began working from home. What was challenging at first has actually become a bit of a blessing, because it has forced us all to be much more communicative as a team. We've always relied pretty heavily on email, but now it's even more important to be able to gather information and get what we need.
When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
We have so many fun and unique festivals throughout the year in Lexington County. Some of my favorites are the Lexington County Peach Festival, Irmo Okra Strut and the 4th of July parades. We're lucky to have a lot of green space here that we're still able to enjoy while wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Most people don't know I used to play roller derby!
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am an avid roller skater. I started park skating 3 years ago and never looked back. I also play guitar, do calligraphy, sew my own clothes, and hang out with my cat, Wombat. I'm a homebody, so all this time "stuck" at home has suited me just fine.
Know someone that you’d like SCPA to spotlight? Email us your recommendations.

FOI Briefs

AG’s Office: Beaufort Co. doesn’t have authority to require affidavits for public records

A month after Beaufort County proposed a public records policy that required some citizens to sign an affidavit before records are released, the S.C. Attorney General’s Office said local governments do not have authority to require an affidavit when someone files a records request under the Freedom of Information Act.
In a March 15 opinion, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Houck said a court would likely agree that the S.C. Freedom of Information Act does not authorize Beaufort County to require citizens to sign an affidavit before public records are released.
The opinion came after The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette reported that Beaufort County was considering a new policy that could restrict the public’s right to access government records.
By Kacen Bayless, The Island Packet | Read more

Editorial: Whatever Charleston County Council is hiding, it needs to stop.

Did you hear the one about the county council chairman who, confronted by a reporter over the fact that the council had spent 47% of its time over the past six months meeting in secret, said 1) we meet in secret when our attorney tells us we should and 2) “It’s not like we’re making secret deals in the backroom”?
Just a month after it was revealed that the council had in fact gone behind closed doors to approve a secret deal … drafted by its departing attorney … to give that attorney $216,000 as “an inducement” to provide his “institutional and historical knowledge and insight on proceedings related to services performed or required to be performed, or non-legal advice on matters where he possesses pertinent knowledge” during 2021. Along with 1.5% on any recovery the county receives from an opioid lawsuit he helped file as part of his job as county attorney.
Unfortunately, the joke’s on us, for reelecting this gang of public-service-averse Charleston County Council members year after year, and allowing them to get away with this sort of abusive behavior.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Greenville sheriff's office faces lawsuit after bodycam shows deputy grabbing man's neck

The Greenville County Sheriff's Office is facing a personal-injury lawsuit after body-camera footage showed a deputy grabbing a man's neck and taking him to the ground during an encounter in 2020.
Deputy Jose Medina responded to a call on Poinsett Highway near Rutherford Road on Feb. 18, 2020, to investigate an unidentified man asking others for drug paraphernalia, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges Medina used excessive force in his interaction with Billy Darrel Prescott. ...
The Greenville News obtained a copy of the bodycam footage through Greenville attorney Jake Erwin, who shared the footage on behalf of Prescott, his client. Prescott obtained the footage through discovery in his criminal case. Bodycam footage is not subject to disclosure through Freedom of Information Act requests in South Carolina.
By Daniel J. Gross, Greenville News | Read more

An SC councilman’s company did work for his city for years. No one asked questions.

DILLON — Every year, from Greenville to Charleston to this small city near the North Carolina border, elected officials flood the State Ethics Commission with paperwork intended to reveal potential conflicts of interest.
But for more than a decade, a medical practice owned by Dillon’s current acting mayor made money from the city and he never disclosed it. The case shows how in South Carolina, clear entanglements can fall through the cracks.
When the words “conflict of interest” were uttered from a plastic table during a council meeting in July, Dr. Phil Wallace’s business dealings with the city he serves were already deeply entrenched.
Wallace’s medical practice, Dillon Internal Medicine, had been tending to city employees for so long that he and Dillon’s longtime city manager had forgotten when the business collected its first check. It had been the better part of a decade, at least, since he had updated his rates for services like physicals.
The relationship was hardly a secret. Wallace’s medical practice had a list of clients on its website. “Historic City of Dillon, S.C.” was at the top of the list.
Yet until days ago, Wallace, who has served on Dillon’s council for more than two decades, did not include the money his practice made from the city in any of his past 14 annual financial disclosures. He amended his filings after he was questioned by The Post and Courier.
By Stephen Hobbs and Thad Moore, The Post and Courier | Read more

People & Papers

Iva Stratton retires after 25 years as Pickens County Courier's office manager

Sometimes you don’t miss something until it’s gone. We know everything changes. But still, when someone who has always been there is suddenly gone, they leave a big empty place.
Iva Stratton is retiring after 25 years as the office manager of [the Pickens County Courier].
There are few employees who stay with a company for a quarter of a century. It is a rarity these days.
But she did.
She was always there, and while there had responsibility for a vast number of things. She did a lot more than managing accounts, taking ads, balancing books and juggling the daily demands of running an office. She was a problem solver and could be counted on to take up slack in almost any area of the paper’s operations.
I can seldom remember a time of coming in and not seeing her at her desk.
She is multi-talented, dependable, responsible and trustworthy.
When we did a photo shoot of a food page, she’d have to help set up the food for the shot, then double as a hand model for cake slicing or other food shots featuring hands.
If we were shorthanded and needed a photo, Iva would grab a camera and go.
She put together the special hunting and fishing section each year, getting interviews, selling ads, finding and sometimes writing great stories herself.
She counted the money, made the deposits, got the mail and, if needed, would even run a paper route.
We expected her to do everything, and she pretty much did.
By Olivia Fowler, Pickens County Courier | Read more

Industry Briefs

NNA adds voice to the call for Congressional action on USPS

National Newspaper Association Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, this week echoed the call of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for quick Congressional action in providing $58 billion in financial support to the Postal Service.
Wesner’s comments came at the conclusion of DeJoy’s release of the USPS 10-year plan “Delivering for America,” in which multiple changes in USPS’ approach to preserving Universal Service were laid out in broad strokes. Much detail in how the plan will be executed is yet to come. Wesner said NNA would take a “wait and see” approach on specifics, but was watchful for any threat to service reliability.
The plan includes the expectation of $44 billion in higher postage revenue from mailers and package businesses over 10 years, following the Postal Regulatory Commission’s authorization of higher postage rates that could cost newspaper mailers up to 9% increases each year. The plan also asks Congress for $58 billion in changes for funding of employee benefits. DeJoy said if Congress acts, the Postal Service might not need to use the full authorized postage rate increase.
USPS will eliminate air transportation for much of its long-distance First-Class mail, but does not expect a loss of actual service performance for local First-Class mail, DeJoy said. He noted that by reducing hand-offs of mail and packages to multiple legs of air travel, USPS hopes to make surface transportation more dependable than air freight.
By Tonda Rush, NNA | Read more

What news publishers do to retain subscribers

As the future of the news focuses more on reader revenue as its economic model, retention of subscribers and members is becoming more critical. It is one thing to get users to subscribe, particularly with discounted introductory offers. It becomes essential to keep those consumers. To continue growing net revenue, publishers need help to evaluate what they are currently doing and where there are opportunities to improve retention and decrease churn.
To advance this cause, the American Press Institute surveyed news publishers across the United States about what they were doing, what was helping maintain customer loyalty and what was not — and what they need to know more about. We also partnered with publishing associations, including the News Media Alliance, Institute for Nonprofit News, and LION Publishers, to reach their members.
We assessed how adept news publishers are at each of nine key strategies for retaining subscribers — including such operations as onboarding new subscribers well, studying subscriber behavior, and testing price options. Within those strategies, we asked about nearly 40 discrete tactics to see what techniques are common or uncommon. We also asked publishers, in their own words, to share what methods are helping them the most with retention.
The result is a unique current snapshot of the retention strategies and needs among news publishers, with some of its findings contained in this report.
By Jeff Sonderman and Gwen Vargo, American Press Institute | Read more

Crime, mugshots and takedown requests: Editors share newsroom approaches April 9

Newsrooms are invited to register for the free online webinar “Crime, mugshots and takedown requests: Addressing the long-tail of digital crime reporting,” happening at 10:30 a.m. CT on April 9. The event is being hosted by the News Leaders Association and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.
People identified in crime news often face long-term effects that can last a lifetime. As newsrooms grapple with cultural shifts to address racism, social inequity and the damage a long-tail of publishing can cause, they're fielding an increase in requests to unpublish crime reports online. Even traditional crime reporting practices such as using mug shots are increasingly under scrutiny in newsrooms across the country.
News leaders from The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Chattanooga Times Free Press and will share their newsrooms’ editorial policies and the philosophies driving them — including managing requests to remove, de-index or alter "the first draft of history.”
Learn more and register

‘Not racially motivated’?: The Atlanta spa shootings show why the media should be wary of initial police statements

It’s inevitable that reporters will have to rely heavily on law enforcement sources in the first hours after a horrific crime. Amid chaos and wild speculation, the police may be the only ones with any hard information at that point.
But sometimes their information is flawed. And sometimes the way they tell it reflects a damaging bias.
And so it was on March 17 when Jay Baker, a captain with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, described the motivations of the man accused of killing eight people, six of them Asian women, at spas in the Atlanta area.
By Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post | Read more

From the S.C. News Exchange

SC native Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton’s life, military career detailed in new book titled ‘Living the Dream’

By Mark A. Stevens
To say Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton had lofty goals through the years is something of an understatement, both literally and figuratively.
Growing up in Ridgeland, South Carolina, Newton helped work his family’s Jasper County farmland, but it was a long way from where the now-retired United States Air Force 4-star general would eventually find himself, including flying high as the first Black man to serve with the USAF Thunderbirds.
“It was important to me and to my siblings that we never let our parents down,” Newton said in a telephone interview from his Bluffton, South Carolina, home that he shares with his wife, Elouise. “That drive always gave me the energy to get the job done – as a boy or in the military.” Read more


Jim Owen, former owner/publisher/editor of the Clover Herald and Yorkville Enquirer, and past president of SCPA, died March 16

James "Jim" Henry Owen, Sr., 95, passed away on March 16.
After serving in the Army Air Corp during WWII. Owen entered Emory University and graduated in 1948 with a degree in journalism. In 1953, Owen and his wife moved to Clover, SC and he became owner/publisher/editor of The Clover Herald. Later, Jim and Ned Burgess formed Carolina Newspapers that also owned The Yorkville Enquirer. Jim was well known for his weekly column "Main Street", where he highlighted the town and its residents. Jim served as the President of the South Carolina Press Association in 1984 and received recognition as National Editor of the Week by a publishing journal. He retired in 1990 and enjoyed his retirement playing golf and traveling.
Jim was actively involved in the Town of Clover and several civic organizations. He will be remembered for his strong will but kind and gentle manner. Read more

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