Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  March 3, 2022
Editor's Note: There will be no eBulletin next week because SCPA staffers will be busy preparing for the Awards Banquet! Check our Facebook page for breaking news.

Celebrate Sunshine Week March 13-19

Make plans now to join the annual nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community. It’s your right to know.
Sunshine Week is set for March 13-19. We encourage you to write and share editorials, stories and columns about the importance of openness to your community. 
If your organization is holding an event to highlight Sunshine Week, please let us know so we can help promote it.
SCPA will also offer a content kit next week containing print and digital ads, columns and more.
We expect News Leaders Association to also share content that SCPA member papers will be welcome to use. 
Sunshine Week was launched in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors — now News Leaders Association — and has grown into an enduring initiative to promote open government. 

Lend a hand judging Mississippi’s News Contest

Members of Mississippi Press Association did a great job judging our News Contest in January and now it’s our turn to return the favor!
SCPA needs 50 members to help judge MPA’s News Contest. Professional journalists, editors and publishers, as well as retired members, associate members and college instructors are invited to help. 
Judging will start in mid-to-late March and volunteers will have two weeks to review entries online and submit judgements.
These judging exchanges make our own contest possible and give you the opportunity to see the best work from another state! To volunteer as a judge, please submit this form.

Executive Committee to review membership applications March 12

SCPA has received the following applications for membership:
  • Associate Member Application: Georgetown County, represented by Jackie Broach,
    Public Information Officer
  • Individual Member Applications:
    • Tony Kukulich, reporter and photographer in Bluffton
    • Hanna Raskin, writer and founder of The Food Section
SCPA's Executive Committee will meet March 12 to discuss and approve applications for membership. Please contact Jen Madden at (803) 750-9561 or via email if you have any comments about these applicants.

Virtual Annual Business Meeting set for March 16 at 10 a.m.

The Annual Business Meeting of the South Carolina Press Association will be held Wednesday, March 16 at 10 a.m. SCPA members are encouraged to participate in this virtual meeting, which will include brief FOIA and financial reports, as well as the election of officers. 

Zoom Log-In Details

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 831 5654 5050
Passcode: 526227
One tap mobile: +13017158592,,83156545050#,,,,*526227# 

Don't foul out with March Madness words in ads

March Madness is a couple weeks away, which means it is time for a refresher on  NCAA trademarked words. Remember you can use these words in your news copy, but they should be avoided in print and digital ads. Some protected words include:
- Elite 8®/Elite Eight®
- Final 4®/Final Four® 
- March Madness® 
- NCAA Sweet 16®/NCAA Sweet Sixteen®
View the full list of trademarked words here. 

Last chance to reserve ad space in Awards Celebration program

March 7 is the deadline to submit camera-ready ads for the Awards Celebration Banquet program. 
This is a nice way to let your staffers know you’re proud of them and their work. The program will be distributed to attendees of SCPA’s March 11 Awards Celebration Banquet and it will be available for viewing online.
Ads start at only $20. Here are more details.

"Gold Meddle" 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

SLED denies request for video, audio from police shooting in Georgetown County

The State Law Enforcement Division has denied a request for video and audio recordings of the fatal police shooting of Robert Langley Jr., claiming release of the materials would interfere with law enforcement proceedings, among other issues.
The agency said in a Feb. 22 letter it would continue to evaluate The Post and Courier’s request for dash camera footage and audio recordings of dispatchers. Additional records would be provided “as the exemptions cease to apply,” SLED said.
The agency claimed releasing the records would interfere with a prospective law enforcement proceeding, deprive a person of a right to a fair trial and constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy.
By Brandon Alter and Steve Garrison, The (Kingstree News) and The Post and Courier | Read more

School board member’s email sheds new light on departure of Irmo High School principal

After recent controversies at Irmo High School, a member of the Lexington-Richland 5 school board has criticized the leadership of the high school’s principal in an email provided to The State newspaper. Board member Nikki Gardner responded to a parent’s email on Feb. 2 saying that she was aware of concerns about student safety at Irmo High, following reports that an off-campus shooting earlier that week was tied to fights between students on the St. Andrews Road campus. ...
The State asked for copies of the emails from Lexington-Richland 5 under Freedom of Information Act, but received copies with the statements related to Hardy and leadership changes redacted, along with the parent’s response defending the principal. When asked for a justification for the redactions, the district said they included “information of a personal nature that, if disclosed, would violate an employee’s privacy.” Three other sources provided The State with information from the unredacted email.
By Bristow Marchant, The State | Read more

Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers sue Richland County jail chief to stop release of more phone calls

Attorneys for jailed lawyer Alex Murdaugh filed a lawsuit Monday against the interim director of Richland County’s Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center over the alleged improper release to the public last month of Murdaugh’s phone calls from jail.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, seeks to prevent the further release to the public of any taped phone conversations between Murdaugh and others, including his family members. ...
Recordings of Murdaugh’s conversations were aired on internet site FITSNews.com and a podcast, Murdaugh Murders. The organization said it had obtained the recordings by means of a Freedom of Information request.
The release to the public of taped inmate telephone calls, as unprecedented as that is, appears to be legal under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, said Jay Bender, a Columbia attorney who has long been one of the state’s foremost media lawyers.
Bender has represented the S.C. Press Association and McClatchy newspapers in media cases over the years.
“It’s very creative that they (FITSNews) made the request. My thought is that inmates know their telephone conversations are being recorded, so the inmate would have no expectation of privacy with respect to the content of the calls, and since tapes that are in the possession of a public body are public records, they are public,” Bender said.
“If you and I are ever in jail, we just have to remember that our conversations are being recorded, and in South Carolina, conversations recorded by a public body are subject to disclosure — it ain’t going to be private,” Bender added.
By John Monk, The State | Read more
Related: Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers seek to block release of jail tapes by Richland County (By Avery G. Wilks and Glenn Smith, The Post and Courier)

Sumter School District board ousts Martin-Knox before her contract ends; S.C. Press Association media attorney says impromptu 5-4 vote was unlawful

A Columbia attorney with experience in open meetings and open records law says Sumter school board's vote Monday night to end the superintendent's employment was illegal because it was not stated on the meeting agenda.
Jay Bender, legal counsel for the South Carolina Press Association, told The Sumter Item on Tuesday that a motion by a member of the district's Board of Trustees to modify Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox's contract end date from June 30 needed to be a specific agenda item in order to vote on it.
After returning from executive session behind closed doors, the trustees voted 5-4 to pay the superintendent the remaining balance of her contract and allow her to walk away, effective immediately. The motion was brought by Daryl McGhaney and immediately seconded by Sherril Ray. Others voting in favor of the motion were Matthew "Mac" McLeod, Johnny Hilton and Frank Baker, who is vice chairman of the board.
Those against were Chairwoman Barbara Jackson, Brian Alston, Shawn Ragin and Gloria Lee.
In open session, Martin-Knox said Monday she is not in agreement with the terms.
By Bruce Mills, The Sumter Item | Read more

Legal Briefs

With state Anti-SLAPP laws in chaos, new uniform legislation would offer consistent protection for publishers of free speech

Editor's Note: South Carolina does not have an anti-SLAPP law. 
The Washington Post slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” originating from a Sixth Circuit Judge and then adopted by Post Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, encapsulates the need for accountability and quality journalism to maintain our freedom. Unfortunately, many people seek to punish accountability journalism. This “punishment” can sometimes take the form of costly and frivolous lawsuits called SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) suits. State anti-SLAPP laws give defendants an early motion to dismiss meritless claims, but unfortunately, the laws vary significantly among states and there is no federal anti-SLAPP law. However, there is currently federal legislation under consideration that would help discourage these frivolous lawsuits.
SLAPP suits are lawsuits designed to punish speech that is protected by the First Amendment. For example, a local news outlet published a public official’s public, derogatory comments about a local resident, and the public official sued the news publisher for defamation. In that case, the newspaper was quoting exactly what the public official said—fully within their First Amendment rights—but since the public official found this unfavorable, he sued the paper. In this and other similar cases, without legislative action, many news publishers are forced to incur costly litigation expenses with no guarantee they will recover attorney’s fees when they win the case.
By Natalie Seales, News Media Alliance | Read more

Judge defends move to toss Palin’s libel case against NYT

The judge presiding over Sarah Palin's defamation case against The New York Times said he was unfamiliar with push notifications and didn't realize news of his decision to toss out the lawsuit would reach jurors deliberating simultaneously. Despite that, he wrote that it didn’t really matter.
U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff said in a written decision released Tuesday that he was “frank to confess” that he was unfamiliar with the term “push notifications” and did not “fully appreciate the potential for jurors to be involuntarily informed” about his plans.
The libel lawsuit by Palin, a one-time Republican vice-presidential candidate, centered on the newspaper's 2017 editorial falsely linking her campaign rhetoric to a mass shooting, which Palin asserted damaged her reputation and career.
By Larry Neumeister, Associated Press | Read more

People & Papers

The Community Journals staff (Front row, L to R) John Olson, Allen Pruitt, Heather Propp, Shannon Lark, Haley Young, Kristi Fortner, Lizzie Campbell, Susan Schwartzkopf. (Back row, L to R) Sangeeta Hardy, Donna Johnston, Mark Johnston, Chris Lee, Even Peter Smith, Patrick Williams, Holly Hardin.

Community Journals named to '10 news publishers that do it right' list

The Community Journals of Greenville has been named to this year's class of 10 News Publishers That Do It Right. ...
Community Journals has its roots in print media — the Greenville Journal, which began in 1999 as a weekly tabloid-format community newspaper. Since that time, the company has grown its portfolio to include three glossy magazines (TownatHome and vive), a business journal (Upstate Business Journal) and a full suite of digital platforms. The nearly 100% advertising-supported print publications are home-delivered for free in the Upstate of South Carolina. Their newest offerings, vive, a niche quarterly print magazine and website targeting a lifestyle of living well, and Explore 864, an annual print magazine and website offering a complete guide to Greenville, SC, continue to push their growth. ...
The Greenville Journal, Community Journal’s flagship community weekly newspaper, has been publishing Greenville, SC’s “news and views” since 1999.
Utilizing their core content creation and design competencies made sense for many of their traditional advertisers, too. These publications include magazines, fundraising brochures and even a 142-page hard-cover book for local businesses that don't have a full team of writers, photographers, designers and project managers. Creating content and selling ads for publications other than their own has grown to be 10% of Community Journals' business in the past five years. ...
"From day one and for the past 22 years, Community Journals has built its success through identifying and responding to the marketing and messaging needs of our advertising partners and the news and information needs of our community. Listening and responding has driven our innovation in the digital and content creation spaces. We're not sure where it will take us next, but we are sure we'll be ready to rise to the challenge," said Susan Schwartzkopf, general manager of Community Journals.
By Robin Blinder, Editor & Publisher | Read more

Industry Briefs

Cover of this week's Charleston City Paper

The view from Ukraine, through the eyes of local journalists

Editor's Note: UofSC J-School and Daily Gamecock alum Isabelle Khurshudyan is in the Ukraine reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the Washington Post. Khurshudyan is a foreign correspondent for the newspaper based in Moscow. 
“We are living history,” tweeted journalist Anastasiia Lapatina on Monday, February 28, of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s push for immediate membership in the European Union
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine entered a new week, more than half a million Ukrainians have fled amid intense fighting, according to the United Nations, as Ukrainian forces continue to fight off Russians in some areas. 
Below, CPJ rounded up some of the most poignant commentary from local journalists about the invasion.
Kristina Berdynskykh, journalist at independent newsmagazine Novoye Vremya:
“Evening in Kyiv. Many have left the city. The lights on many of the streets are out. We’re preparing for another night of defense.”
By Katherine Jacobsen, Committee to Protect Journalists | Read more

Howard gets $2M grant to digitize Black newspaper archive

Howard University has received a $2 million donation to digitize a major collection of Black newspaper archives in hopes of making it more broadly available to researchers and the public.
The Black Press Archives, dating to the 1970s, contains over 2,000 newspaper titles from the U.S. and countries in Africa and the Caribbean. It includes well-known U.S. papers like the Chicago Defender and New York Amsterdam News as well as publications in French, Xhosa and Kiswahili.
But most of the collection has been inaccessible to the public, with only a small percentage of materials microfilmed and the physical copies fragile, said Benjamin Talton, director of Howard’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, which houses the archives.
“Once digitized, Howard’s Black Press Archive will be the largest, most diverse, and the world’s most accessible Black newspaper database,” he said in an email.
By Tali Arbel, Associated Press | Read more

How news organizations are using timestamp disclaimers to reduce misinformation

As President Joe Biden was ramping up his campaign in the lead-up to the 2020 election, editors at The New York Times noticed something strange. An old Times story from 1987 was making the rounds on Facebook.
“BIDEN WITHDRAWS BID FOR PRESIDENT IN WAKE OF FUROR,” read the headline.
Though some people were sharing the story as a joke, it wasn’t immediately obvious to the casual social media user that the article was more than 30 years old. In link previews, Facebook displayed just the headline of the story, not the date.
An editor had to append the phrase “FROM 1987:” to the beginning of the headline to make it clear to readers that Biden wasn’t dropping out of the 2020 presidential election. The change worked, but it was a manual solution — one that relied on editors noticing traffic to older stories and then rewriting headlines.
This wasn’t the first time the Times had seen its old stories resurface on social media without context. That’s why it decided in October 2020 to automatically apply labels to link previews on social media, notifying readers when a story was published more than a year ago.
“This was our solution to take those (decisions) out of the hands of individual editors in the standards department and really just have a product solution for misinformation,” said Times deputy audience director Anna Dubenko.
These warnings have become more popular in the past few years, and news organizations are applying them to both social media posts and articles themselves. Some simply tell the reader how old the article is. Others are more prominent, using colored banners and additional language warning readers that information contained in the story may no longer be current.
By Angela Fu, Poynter | Read more

Columns

By Al Cross,
Into the Issues

‘60 Minutes’ report on local journalism gives local media opportunity to elaborate, reinforce message

The local news crisis got its biggest play yet to an American audience the evening of Sunday, Feb. 27, as CBS's “60 Minutes” did a story that reached perhaps 9 million viewers. It didn't make the best case ever for local journalism, but as the show usually does, it told the tale through some compelling personal stories.
Most of those stories, and the belief that “journalism is essential for the survival of American democracy,” as one former reporter put it, are familiar to readers of The Rural Blog. But they are not well known by many Americans, so for local news media, the network report is an opportunity to reinforce the message, and elaborate on it.
The story's only evidence of “increased corruption by local officials,” was a rather old story: the 2010 revelation by the Los Angeles Times (uncredited by CBS) that officials in the small L.A. County city of Bell were paying themselves exorbitant salaries after “the local newspaper there shut down,” as CBS put it. Actually, the area had a paper, but it was covering so many municipalities that Bell got little attention.
There's plenty of other evidence that lack of local journalism is bad for taxpayers, such as studies showing higher interest rates for bond issues, fewer candidates for local office and more straight-ticket voting and political polarization. But those points didn't have compelling video, like the footage “60 Minutes” used, showing enraged citizens at a meeting of the Bell City Council. Read more

Upcoming Events

As a service to its member newspapers, SCPA lists employment opportunities on our site upon request. There is no charge for this service to SCPA member newspapers. Please email openings to Kassidy Wright.
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