Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  July 22, 2021

Editor's Note: There will not be an eBulletin next week. We'll be back on Aug. 5.
By Bill Rogers,
Executive Director

Keep up the good work!

A gracious thanks to the roughly 100 friends who came to my retirement party last week…it was a blast and a great sendoff. Thanks to Jen and Randall for the planning and hard work to put it together.
And thanks for all the emails, notes and phone calls.  Much appreciated.
People ask me what I will do in retirement. Well, from the looks of the gifts I received, I plan on doing a lot of drinking.
It is so bittersweet as I go through my email addresses and Rolodex files. So many colleagues and contacts.  So many memories.
My parting words are these: Keep up the good work our South Carolina journalists are doing and have done.
You make a difference in your communities and the state. You are watchdogs, but so much more. You bring your communities together.
It has been my honor to serve our SCPA members for 33 years. I can think of no finer group.
I was humbled by the 40 nomination letters for the Order of the Palmetto.
One letter talked about the open government team we had: Jay Bender, John Shurr and me.  We worked together so well. Richard Whiting, Jay, Taylor Smith and Jen will carry on the work.  And not to forget our great lobbyist Cathy Dreher.
Speaking of carrying on, Jen and Randall each have superior skills and will make a great management team.
So if you have questions or need help, give them a call.
Gov. Henry McMaster presented Bill with the Order of the Palmetto last week. Rep. Chip Huggins (left), Bill's local representative, nominated him for the high honor. | Photo by Gwinn Davis, Gwinn Davis Media

Rogers receives Order of the Palmetto

Gov. Henry McMaster presented SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers with the Order of the Palmetto during Bill's retirement party last week.
The Order of the Palmetto is the state’s highest civilian honor, given to residents “in recognition of a lifetime of extraordinary achievement, service, and contributions.”
Gov. McMaster presented the award on behalf of more than 5 million South Carolinians.
Bill will retire July 23, after 33 years of distinguished service to the citizens of the Palmetto State by leading the state’s newspaper industry.
During his career, which has spanned 55 years in journalism and journalism education, Bill has served as a dedicated journalist, teacher and advocate for press freedoms and open government. As the longest serving full-time director in SCPA’s nearly 170-year history, he has shown passion for quality journalism, open government and serving the members of SCPA. 
Thanks to nearly 40 SCPA members, journalism educators, legislators and friends who wrote letters of support for Bill's nomination. 
Longtime SCPA Attorney Jay Bender and FOI Chair Richard Whiting (not pictured) announced the renaming of the FOI Fund at the retirement party. | Photo by Gwinn Davis, Gwinn Davis Media

SCPA renames FOI Fund to honor Rogers; receives nearly $4,500 in donations

As a fitting tribute to someone who has served as a leading force for open government and the watchdog role of the press, SCPA has renamed its FOI Fund the "William C. Rogers Freedom of Information Fund."
The fund, which helps newspapers fight open government battles, will be lovingly known as the "Bill Rogers Chicken Gravy Fund." 
SCPA's FOI Fund started years ago after an Annual Meeting in Charleston. The hotel served what was perceived by members as chicken gravy over fish. There were many complaints and the hotel refunded money for the dinner. Bill, Jay Bender and longtime FOI Chair John Shurr suggested the money go into a fund to help papers fight FOI battles. The SCPA board agreed and the “chicken gravy” fund was created.
More than $4,500 has been donated to the WIlliam C. Rogers Freedom of Information Fund in honor of Bill's retirement. Bill's efforts have been key in making significant improvements to the state’s FOIA, and in building the understanding of the importance of open government to our state’s journalists, public officials and residents. f you'd like to make a contribution to the fund in Bill's honor, please donate online or mail a check to SCPA at 106 Outlet Pointe Blvd., Columbia, SC 29210.
More than 100 SCPA members and friends attended Bill's retirement party last week. Special thanks to Gwinn Davis for sharing these great photos from the event! Check out the full gallery on our Facebook page. | Photos by Gwinn Davis, Gwinn Davis Media
Thanks to more than 20 newspapers who sent commemorative pages for Bill's retirement! He loved the stories, memories, photos and design. View the full gallery of pages to read these great tributes.

PALMY Awards will be presented Friday at 4 p.m. on Facebook Live

2021 PALMY advertising award winners will be presented on SCPA's Facebook page this Friday, July 23, at 4 p.m. If you miss the live presentation, a recording will also be available on SCPA's Facebook page and embedded on scpress.org.
Judges' comments, Best of Show, Designer of the Year and the President’s Award for Best Overall Advertising will be announced during the ceremony.
SCPA will ship out all awards to the newspapers on Friday, mostly using USPS Priority Mail. Please be on the lookout as your awards should arrive early next week.

"Carolina Heat" 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

Review board demands all records from Greenville police when reviewing cases

Members of Greenville's Public Safety Citizen Review Board postponed an appeal hearing Monday night and told Police Chief Howie Thompson they want more information when reviewing internal affairs investigations.
The action comes after The Greenville News, in an exclusive report, found that portions of a full internal-affairs investigative synopsis of an armed-robbery case were left out of the board's version of the file. The News also found that recommendations from the police command staff, ones that called for the arresting officer to face disciplinary action for a lack of competency, were also not given to board members for their consideration.
Thompson, the police chief, said it's customary to give the review board only condensed versions of investigative reports, and he said it's typical to withhold the recommendations from command staff.
By Daniel J. Gross, Greenville News | Read more

Judge delays trial in FOIA suit

When voices down the hall interrupted a workshop of Pawleys Island officials last month, someone pushed the door to the meeting closed. The town attorney objected.
“We don’t want to get sued,” David DuRant said.
The door was left ajar. That has become the new protocol as the town prepares to defend itself in Circuit Court against claims that it violated the state Freedom of Information Act.
Even after voting this week to hold an executive session to get a briefing from DuRant about the case, a sliver of light was still visible at the edge of the meeting room door.
Henry Thomas, an island resident, filed suit in December 2019 alleging that the town had failed to follow the FOIA in conducting executive sessions and in failing to provide notice and minutes for meetings of an ad hoc finance committee. The case pits the former mayor against two council members and the town administrator, who have denied the allegations.
By Charles Swenson, Coastal Observer | Read more

Lex-Rich 5 board hires $10K consultant without details on duties

Lexington-Richland School District 5′s board voted to hire a two-time superintendent as a consultant July 12 without disclosing her duties.
District officials and board leaders did not respond to requests July 13 about the hiring of Angela Bain, former Lex-Rich 5 human resources director before leading school districts in Chester and Clarendon counties.
The only hint of her duties come from the board agenda item that said Bain, 62, was being brought in to “review the district’s organizational structure to increase efficiency.”
She will be paid up to $10,000 for the work.
Trustees unanimously voted to retain Bain, who worked with the district covering Irmo and Chapin from 2006 to 2015. She also worked in the state Department of Education and spent five years at Lexington School District Two as assistant superintendent.
Board members didn’t speak publicly about Bain’s hiring but trustee Catherine Huddle said on her Facebook page she was being brought in to assist Akil Ross, who began July 1.
By Adam Benson, The Post and Courier Columbia | Read more

Legislative delegations skirting state open-meetings law

One day last month, state lawmakers representing Greenville County held separate meetings in a legislative building on the State House grounds in downtown Columbia – about 103 miles from Greenville – to discuss certain county board appointments that they control, as well as rules governing their delegation meetings.
In the smaller Darlington County, the county legislative delegation doesn’t meet as a group on county matters, according to a delegation member.
In neighboring Florence County, delegation meetings for years have been held in Columbia – about 83 miles from Florence – organized by a Senate employee who works for arguably the state’s most-powerful lawmaker.
As The Nerve repeatedly has pointed out, legislative delegations, made up of senators and House members representing a county, exert considerable control in their respective counties. They make, for example, appointments to various county boards and committees, such as county transportation committees, which approve local road projects to fund with part of the state gasoline tax.
But the delegations don’t always make it convenient for their constituents to participate in delegation meetings.
And state law gives them cover to do that.
By Rick Brundrett, The Nerve | Read more

Legal Briefs

Editorial: Federal shield for journalists is needed

While press and public are one in the same in the right of access to their government, judges and lawmakers historically have recognized the need for certain reporting privileges if journalists are to fulfill their mission. One is limited immunity from being summoned to court to testify about sources and provide information available by other means.
In South Carolina, the General Assembly in the 1990s passed a shield law. It grants news organizations limited protection against orders to testify and turn over information in cases about which they have reported. The law remains important.
As researchers and investigators in their own right, reporters gather information pertaining to many incidents that end up in the court system. To routinely compel reporters to come forward with that information excuses the legal community from doing its homework and endangers the media's ability to gather information.
If you speak to a reporter and he or she promises that something you say will not be published, the promise is to be upheld. If it's not, among the least of your actions is a vow never to speak with the reporter again.
If the reporter is compelled to testify in court about something to which your interview relates, you might expect only what is printed as public record to be the subject of questioning. Yet if a reporter is on the stand, the questions and cross-examination are likely to go far beyond.
From The Times and Democrat | Read more

Reporters Committee statement on historic Justice Department policy barring news media records seizures

In a formal memorandum released on Monday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland outlined the framework of a new policy barring the Department of Justice from seizing journalists’ records — a move championed by news media leaders and press freedom advocates in the wake of several recent disclosures that the DOJ under the Trump administration authorized the seizure of reporters’ phone and email records as part of leak investigations.
Bruce D. Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, made the following statement:
“The attorney general has taken a necessary and momentous step to protect press freedom at a critical time. This historic new policy will ensure that journalists can do their job of informing the public without fear of federal government intrusion into their relationships with confidential sources.”
In setting down a bright line rule barring records seizures, the memo explicitly addresses the failure of the longstanding balancing test in the guidelines, which required the Justice Department to weigh investigative interests against press freedom. The memo states that such a test “may fail to properly weight the important national interest in protecting journalists from compelled disclosure of information revealing their sources, sources they need to apprise the American people of the workings of their government.” Read more

Supreme Court sides with First Amendment freedoms, but questions linger

Significant First Amendment cases involving religion, student speech, assembly and press rights were at the top of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the just-finished 2020-21 term.
In several key cases, the court ruled on the side of First Amendment freedoms, including where they seemed to conflict with other values and interests. But support was not equally strong for all five freedoms. ...
In an end-of-term decision (Shkelzen Berisha v. Guy Lawson), the court declined to hear a defamation case. But Justice Neil Gorsuch disagreed and appeared to join an earlier call by Justice Clarence Thomas to revisit the seminal 1964 case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which could signal a future First Amendment collision over free speech and free press.
The court in the Sullivan decision set a high standard of proof for defamation cases: requiring showing those statements are made with “actual malice” — that is, with knowledge the information was false or with reckless disregard for whether or not it was true.
Those who would not revisit Sullivan say journalists, and anyone speaking or writing in public, would face a near-impossible task in this litigious-happy society if even a minor, inadvertent error could subject them to harassing or meritless lawsuits aimed at making speakers spend money on defending themselves.
But the two justices say deliberate falsehoods are so prevalent that a revision is needed to allow some an easier path for defamation complaints.
By Freedom Forum staff, with Gene Policinski, Freedom Forum senior fellow for the First Amendment, and Tony Mauro, special correspondent for the Freedom Forum | Read more

Probe: Journalists, activists among firm's spyware targets

An investigation by a global media consortium based on leaked targeting data provides further evidence that military-grade malware from Israel-based NSO Group, the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire outfit, is being used to spy on journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents.
From a list of more than 50,000 cellphone numbers obtained by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories and the human rights group Amnesty International and shared with 16 news organizations, journalists were able to identify more than 1,000 individuals in 50 countries who were allegedly selected by NSO clients for potential surveillance.
They include 189 journalists, more than 600 politicians and government officials, at least 65 business executives, 85 human rights activists and several heads of state, according to The Washington Post, a consortium member. The journalists work for organizations including The Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and The Financial Times.
Amnesty also reported that its forensic researchers had determined that NSO Group's flagship Pegasus spyware was successfully installed on the phone of Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, just four days after he was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The company had previously been implicated in other spying on Khashoggi.
By Frank Bajak, The Associated Press | Read more

People & Papers

Katrice Hardy named editor of Dallas Morning News

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Katrice Hardy, who served as executive editor of the Greenville News and regional editor of USA Today Network's South region. She is also a former Executive Committee member of SCPA.
The Dallas Morning News has named Katrice Hardy, a veteran journalist whose newsrooms have a track record of award-winning reporting, to be its next top editor.
Hardy, 47, joins The News next month as executive editor. She’s currently executive editor at the Indianapolis Star, which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, and Midwest regional editor for the USA Today Network.
Hardy becomes the first woman and Black journalist to hold The News’ top newsroom job. She also led newsrooms in Virginia and South Carolina before joining The Star in March 2020.
Under her leadership, The Star won several prestigious awards, including journalism’s top honor, the Pulitzer Prize in national reporting for its investigative work on “Mauled: When Police Dogs are Weapons.” The report was produced in collaboration with The Marshall Project, AL.com and Invisible Institute.
Grant Moise, The News’ publisher, praised Hardy’s “journalistic wisdom and passionate leadership style.”
By Maria Halkias, The Dallas Morning News | Read more

Robyn Tomlin promoted to McClatchy vice president

... Robyn Tomlin, the top editor at The News & Observer and Herald-Sun, is taking a new job at McClatchy, which owns those properties and 28 others across the country. Tomlin has been named Vice President for Local News, supporting the company’s newsrooms in small and medium-sized markets, including the Triangle. ...
Tomlin came to McClatchy from the Dallas Morning News in 2018 to become the company’s first regional editor for the Carolinas. From her base at the N&O, she has supervised newsrooms in Charlotte and at five news organizations the company owns in South Carolina, including The State in Columbia and the Sun News in Myrtle Beach.
McClatchy papers in Georgia and Mississippi were added to her list of responsibilities in 2019, and she also became president of The News & Observer last year.
As executive editor of the N&O and Herald-Sun, Tomlin’s successor will not have any of the regional duties that she did. That person will report to Tomlin, who will continue to work at the N&O’s office in downtown Raleigh.
By Richard Stradling, The News & Observer | Read more

Obituaries

Johnnie Wilson, longtime Newberry Observer pressman dies

Johnnie James Wilson, Jr., 56, passed away July 16, at MUSC in Charleston.
He was a former pressman at The Newberry Observer, where he worked for 30 years.
He was born April 22, 1965, in Prosperity, S.C., to Dixie Benson Gallman and the late Johnnie James Wilson Sr.  Read more

Columns

By Richard Whiting,
Index-Journal

Bill Rogers: A champion of journalism

It’s a -30- after 33 years for Bill Rogers. That’s not quite accurate. The 33 only accounts for the years he’s been at the helm of the South Carolina Press Association.
Heck, after dusting off Bill’s resume for another look, it seems Bill is much older than he claims. That’s a lot of newspapering and even military service, plus teaching, before taking the helm of the press association.
I’ve been associated with Bill for all but two years of his 33-year run at SCPA since migrating south from the other Carolina in 1990. Considering the changes our industry has gone through during that three-decade run, it’s amazing how Bill hasn’t really changed much.
Oh, sure, maybe a pound or two more, but I attribute that to his teaming up with S.C. Press Association attorney extraordinaire Jay Bender, Esquire, as they conducted their own barbecue judging across the state and, possibly, points beyond. He’s a certified Kansas City Barbeque Society judge and a founding member of the S.C. Barbeque Association, which allows for some meat on those bones.
But Bill seems to maintain a steady demeanor. That’s not to say he hasn’t had outbursts or gone on some profanity-laced rants. He’s a journalist, for one, and any stint in the Navy requires certain words be in one’s lexicon.
For a sampling, all you had to do was be around Bill when government or elected officials thumbed their noses at the state Freedom of Information Act.
As executive director of the press association, Bill has been passionate about journalism, more specifically newspaper journalism where he got his start. He has led the organization well and been a champion of all things that make for a stronger Fourth Estate in South Carolina. When it comes to FOIA, however, his passion is unbridled. Read more
By Jerry Bellune,
Lexington County Chronicle
& The Dispatch News

Old Geezers

Who are all these old geezers?” my wife joked as we walked into the River Center at Saluda Shoals Park late one afternoon last week. We were there to celebrate the retirement of Bill Rogers, the man who turned the SC Press Association into a force for freedom of information and transparency in government.
Editors, writers and publishers from all over the state were there including Gov. Henry McMaster, Rep. Chip Huggins. Press association leaders from as far west as Mississippi, professors from the USC journalism school and a few spouses who were lured into coming for free margaritas, fried chicken and barbecue.
The press association was once an ugly baby. My wife worked there when it was housed in Earl McIntire’s tiny office at the Jschool on the USC Horseshoe. She clipped stories from newspapers for corporate public relations people, answered phones and whatever else was needed.
The press association outgrew that office and moved to a little white clapboard house on Calhoun Street. Reid Montgomery worked part-time when he wasn’t teaching at Carolina.
Keeping members served and the clipping service going was an overworked lady.
We had no Cathy Dreher, a Lexington native, to protect us at the Statehouse. The lawmakers made it tough to ferret out what they were up to which was plenty troubling.
We had no attorney Jay Bender to bail us out of jail. You needed your own law degree to stay out of trouble. Newspaper editors were pretty much on their own.
In 1988, we recruited Bill Rogers, a young instructor at Carolina. Bill had worked for a number of newspapers before becoming an academic. The only question was did he have the managerial skills the job needed?
Bill proved he did and a miraculous change began that continues today.
Bill saw a vision for the association to keep editors out of jail and help sell advertising for always cash-strapped publishers.
Bill is no whipper snapper. The three of us grew up working in noisy newspaper newsrooms with the clacking of typewriters and teletype machines. You typed “30” on the end of a story to let editors know that’s all. Read more

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