Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  March 5, 2021

SC broadens COVID-19 vaccine eligibility

Starting Monday, an estimated 2.7 million people will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
According to DHEC, Phase 1B will include frontline workers with increased occupational risk. This is defined as workers who must be in-person at their place of work, and perform a job that puts them at increased risk of exposure due to their frequent, close (less than six feet) and ongoing (more than 15 minutes) contact with others in the work environment.
During a March 2 press conference, Gov. Henry McMaster noted this includes, "frontline workers who perform a job in which they are at increased risk of exposure due to their frequent close and face-ato-face contact with others in their work environment."
DHEC Director Edward Simmer told reporters that proof of eligibility for frontline workers will be self attestation (saying, ‘Yes, I’m in an employment situation that meets the criteria.’).
Tuesday's announcement largely consolidated what was supposed to be the next two eligibility phases (1B and 1C). Phase 1C, estimated to start in mid-April, will include those who work in essential job categories, but do not have frequent, close contact with others in the work environment. Here's more information from DHEC.

Save the date for SCPA Annual Meeting & Awards to be held
Oct. 22-24 in Myrtle Beach

SCPA has once again postponed our Annual Meeting & Awards, originally set for March 19-20, to the fall. 
We are closely watching COVID-19 spread and the vaccine roll-out and are hopeful that it will be safe to meet in person during the weekend of Oct. 22-24 for a long overdue celebration! In addition to networking and educational sessions, our 2021 Annual Meeting & Awards will honor winners from the 2020 News, Associate/Individual and Collegiate Contests. We’ll also induct our 2020 and 2021 honorees into the S.C. Journalism Hall of Fame.
Our discounted group rate at The Marina Inn is $124 per night. 
We can't wait to see you and honor the winners later this year! More details coming soon!

50 judges still needed for  Alabama Press News, Ad Contests

Thanks to the 40 members who have signed up to judge Alabama Press Association's News, Advertising and Magazine Contests later this month!
We still need roughly 35 folks to help with their News Contest and 15 to judge their Ad Contest.
Professional journalists, editors and publishers, as well as retired members, associate members and college instructors are invited to help!
Judging will start later this month and judges will have until the end of April to review entries. Most contests will be judged online.
Please volunteer! 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.

March Madness: Avoid NCAA trademarked words in ads

It's almost time to start filling out your March Madness brackets. It's also a time to be conscious of what words are trademarked by the NCAA.
Here is a list of some protected words to avoid in your print and digital ad campaigns:
- Elite 8®/Elite Eight®
- Final 4®/Final Four® 
- March Madness® 
- NCAA Sweet 16®/NCAA Sweet Sixteen®
View the full list of trademarked words here.
Member Spotlight: Cliff Harrington
Executive Editor, The Herald
What do you like best about your job?
I enjoy that each day we start with an intangible and end the day with something tangible. By that I mean, we start with an idea that becomes an article that can impact people's lives. I enjoy that our profession gives us an opportunity to touch people's lives in ways large and small.

What is your proudest career moment?
What I'm proudest of is not a specific moment. It's that I've worked with a host of young reporters who've gone on to work at other publications from The Wall Street Journal, to The Washington Post, to The Charlotte Observer. It's really cool to see someone else progress in this business, and especially so amid the challenges we've had over the years. AND, I've had a string of first-year reporters who've done really well in earning South Carolina Press Association contest awards.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
We recently completed the Return Man series. It's a series of articles about Jim Duncan of Lancaster, S.C. Duncan was an NFL kick returner who played for the then-Baltimore Colts team that won the Super Bowl in the 1970s. Not long after winning the Super Bowl, Duncan went into his hometown police station, took an officer's handgun, and fatally shot himself. That's at least the official version of what happened. There were, and still is, a host of questions about what happened that day. We were able to take a deep-dive and tell readers Duncan's life story and about the tragic end.

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
I totally enjoy the open conversations, forums, with other editors. It's an opportunity to learn from others and hear some really good ideas.

What adjustments have you made during COVID-19?
Working remotely has shown that there is a more efficient way to construct a news day. Instead of getting up and going to work, I now get up and start my work day. That's good for readers because we now get stories to them earlier in the day and later into the evening, simply because drive time has been eliminated.

When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
There has been a host of new businesses opening in the York, Lancaster, Chester area. One thing I want to see is the new whitewater center that soon will open in Great Falls, in Chester County. My guess is it's going to be a beautiful scene.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I'm a long-time music and tennis enthusiast. I've always been involved in sports, but tennis has stuck the longest. I played competitively until my body wouldn't hold up any longer. So now I play for fun and exercise. I play guitar; have done that since I was 7-years-old. I've also sang professionally, doing commercials, recordings and clubs, but it all started in church.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I still play guitar almost every day. It's my way of relaxing.

If there's anything else you'd like to share with the members, please feel free to include it!
I'm a unicorn. I walked straight out of J-school at UNC Chapel Hill and into a newsroom. I've never done anything else. I've done just about every job you can do in a newsroom. I've had a front-row seat to all of the changes. From p.m. newspapers, to a.m. papers, to typewriters, to teletype machines, to CRTs, to computers, to pagination, to internet, to cell phones, to social media, to where we are today. And I've loved every moment of it.

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

FOI Briefs

The State and The Island Packet release new reporting on hidden earmarks

For more than a year, a team of reporters at The State Media Co. and The Island Packet has investigated the secret world of earmarks, revealing that at least $104 million in earmarks has been included in the state budget since 2015, then disbursed to various pet projects around the state by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle.
In new reporting this week by Andrew Caplan and Lucas Smolcic Larson, Richland County lawmakers Reps. Kirkman Finlay and Todd Rutherford steered earmarks to those close to them.
The newspapers’ findings are raising a new round of concerns among ethicists and good-government advocates who say the state’s earmark process, combined with its weak ethics laws, are working hand-in-hand to hurt taxpayers.
Rutherford and Finlay’s earmarks would have remained hidden if not for an obscure document that linked them to the largest of the payouts. The document was obtained by reporters during a months-long review of earmarks records.
None of the earmarks appear to violate the state’s ethics laws, according to the papers’ review.
In a Twitter thread, reporter Andrew Caplan wrote: "We’ve built a comprehensive database over this time to show which organization gets the money, from what state agency, and (if possible) which lawmaker asked for the money. It took more than 60 FOIAs and endless back and forth conversations with many agency officials."

Despite complaint, governor's office proceeds with Greenville sanitation board appointment

Gov. Henry McMaster's office has decided to move ahead with appointing a new board member for the Greater Greenville Sanitation District despite a complaint regarding how county officials handled the selection process.
Amanda Cass will take her seat on the sanitation district's five-person commission after she completes some paperwork and passes a routine background check, McMaster's spokesman, Brian Symmes, told The Greenville News.
The Greenville County Council voted to recommend the appointment of Cass in October, but the appointment was delayed after her predecessor sent a letter to the state Attorney General's office in November questioning whether the selection of Cass was valid.
In his letter, former sanitation district commissioner David Armstrong said county officials:
- Failed to follow provisions of the state's Freedom of Information Act by acting without timely notice or public input.
By Kirk Brown, Greenville News | Read more

Orangeburg Redional Medical Center CEO search down to 3 finalists; names not yet released

The Orangeburg Regional Medical Center has narrowed down its search for a new chief executive officer to three finalists.
RMC board Chairman the Rev. Dr. Caesar Richburg said all three candidates have the skills do the job, but the hospital’s new CEO must also be “the best fit.”
He foresees the hospital naming a new CEO “within the next couple of weeks.”
The T&D requested names and biographical information for each of the finalists Friday. According to the state’s Freedom of Information Act, the three finalists for a position are a matter of public disclosure.
"We will have the information to you by the end of the 10-day FOIA period," interim CEO and President Kirk Wilson said.
Richburg agreed the information should be readily available without going through the FOI process. He said he would see that the materials are released.
The materials had not been released by the close of business Friday.
The Coker Group, which is helping RMC with the CEO search, declined to provide the information on the finalists due to nondisclosure agreements in its contract with the RMC.
South Carolina Press Association Executive Director Bill Rogers said the “finalists need to be released in time for the public to know about it before the decision is made.
“They can drag it out, but it only hurts the credibility of their search.”
Gene Zaleski, The Times and Democrat | Read more

Bender: Fairfield ad hoc committee meeting likely illegal on 3 levels

Fairfield County Council likely violated several provisions of state law when it shut out the public in hiring a new county attorney, according to an opposing council member and a media law attorney.
In doing so, council members risk costly litigation challenging the process and nullifying related votes, observers say.
At a special meeting Feb. 18, the council voted 4-3 to hire Columbia attorney Charles Boykin to replace Tommy Morgan, who recently announced he was stepping down under pressure, effective March 1. ...
The committee never provided any public notice, never published an agenda and never voted in public — all violations of the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Pauley said the entire process was “shrouded in secrecy,” saying council members reneged on campaign promises of increased transparency.
“So far this process has been conducted every way but right,” Pauley said. “We need to be transparent about what we are doing. The FOIA law was not followed.”
Bell declined to comment.
Jay Bender, an attorney with the S.C. Press Association, of which The Voice is a member, said the council’s vote could trigger a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the council’s vote. That happened in 2001 in Quality Towing v. City of Myrtle Beach. The state Supreme Court ruled that Myrtle Beach violated FOIA when a committee the city set up to review proposals from various wrecker companies failed to provide public notice of its meetings.
“The committee is a public body and all public bodies are required to give advance public notice of their meetings,” Bender said.
By Michael Smith, The Voice of Fairfield County | Read more

Beaufort officer was fired in 2020. New documents reveal why he can no longer be a cop

A Beaufort Police officer was fired last year after lying to investigators about running a license plate for a friend and then giving that friend personal information about his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, according to documents.
The Beaufort Police Department fired Lyle McIntyre on Jan. 8, 2020, for providing protected information to an outside party and for “lack of truthfulness,” according to his termination letter and other documents The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette newspapers recently obtained through a Freedom of Information request.
By Jake Shore, The Island Packet | Read more

Prosecutor clears Greenville County deputies who fired 42 shots to kill armed man

Five deputies who collectively fired 42 shots at a 26-year-old man who was armed with a gun last summer in Greenville have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing, according to investigative documents newly obtained by The Greenville News.
Following an investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division, 13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins said he found no evidence to support criminal charges against the Greenville County Sheriff's Office deputies responsible for the killing of Michael Culbertson. ...
The SLED report also states that, despite Leopold's report, bodycam footage shows he fired a first shot before yelling "Gun!"
The bodycam video was made available to the public 45 days after the shooting. 
The Greenville News received SLED's investigative file and Wilkins' response letter last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
By Daniel J. Gross, Greenville News | Read more

Poisoned water creeps toward popular Upstate hiking trail. Are taxpayers on hook?

On a warm day 36 years ago, an Upstate industrial plant ran into trouble with state regulators over what they said was a failure to obey hazardous waste rules.
The company, Carolina Plating Works, had not cleaned up a toxic waste pond, as required, raising concern that a leak from the lagoon would endanger people and wildlife. So the state slapped Carolina Plating with a $10,000 fine and ordered the company to straighten up.
But Carolina Plating’s troubles weren’t isolated. The 1985 fine foreshadowed what would become a bitter, three-decade long war between Carolina Plating and state regulators that today has taxpayers — and their pocketbooks — in the crossfire.
The Carolina Plating site, after years of environmental violations, contains a slug of polluted groundwater that is creeping toward the nearby Reedy River, a key part of downtown Greenville’s revitalization efforts. The metals-contaminated groundwater exceeds the federal safe drinking water limit in many places, state regulators said recently.
The industrial plant also is closed, and a company official says the business doesn’t have money to finish monitoring and cleaning up the contaminated groundwater.
By Sammy Fretwell, The State | Read more

Editorial: We shouldn’t have to ask why SC disabilities (or any) director was canned

We’ve been here before. The head of a government agency fired without a bit of explanation, the firers hiding behind a hole in the state’s Freedom of Information Act that allows them to have private discussions about letting go of employees.
This time it’s the director of the state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, a wholly unglamorous agency that you might not have heard of unless you have a loved one who needs its help, in which case it’s a vital resource. ...
Government transparency doesn’t mean just holding meetings in public and turning over records upon request. It means explaining to the public what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
What the board members of the disabilities agency overlook — what too many elected and appointed officials overlook — is that even though the law allows them to discuss sensitive information in private, they still have an obligation to be forthcoming with the public. It’s that every single secret further erodes the public confidence in its government. It’s that secrecy begets suspicion: Did they have a legitimate reason to fire the director, or was she resisting the unwise or self-serving or even illegal things the board was pushing her to do? We do not have any information that would lead us to believe such nefarious motivations came into play, but as long as the board remains silent, we can’t rule it out.
From The Post and Courier | Read more
Who cares about public notices? You should. America's Newspapers shared this great cartoon by Rob Tornoe, as well as a column by CEO Dean Ridings on the importance of public notice. 

People & Papers

New Greenville hotel on newspaper's historic site will pay homage to Greenville's culture and roots

For more than 100 years, The Greenville News stood sentinel over Greenville from the corner of South Main and East Broad streets.
The newspaper buildings – first a brick building built in 1914 and then a white “Brutalist” structure built in the 1960s around part of the old building – are gone, replaced by the new AC Hotel Greenville expected to open in early 2021.
The Greenville News has moved to a new 4-story brick and glass around the corner on Broad Street.
But the newspaper’s story – as well as the city’s textile roots, the area’s natural beauty, vibrant arts scene, bygone spaces, and sense of community – will be clear throughout the lifestyle hotel, said John Deck, the hotel’s newly appointed general manager. ...
Take The Press Room, the hotel’s modern speakeasy lounge. ...
The Press Room will be a 40-seat lounge with a contemporary feel. Some cocktails’ names are newspaper-related, such as the Piedmont, which honors the city’s now-defunct afternoon newspaper and the 1874, the year of the newspaper’s founding.
The Press Room will be on the hotel’s second floor, accessible via express elevator. The speakeasy’s entrance resembles an editor’s office with vintage pictures, a typewriter and a desk. Patrons with reservations will receive a secret code the day of that unlocks the door of The Press Room. Auro Hotels commissioned Greenville artist Darryl Debruhl to create large-scale Greenville News-inspired pieces for the space, Deck said.
By Cindy Landrum, Greenville News | Read more

Index-Journal updates Letters to the Editor policy

For years the newspaper’s editorial policy has remained the same and in keeping with a generally accepted industry-wide policy. That policy has been that local authors of letters and/or guest columns cannot submit pieces for consideration more frequently than 30 days apart.
The policy had and still has a purpose, which is to prevent some people from essentially commandeering the editorial page, as well as to prevent a battle of the words among two or, sometimes, more people on the same topic. But the policy also harkens back to a time when we all relied on snail mail. More important, it harkens to a time when instant communication meant using a phone. There was no email, no internet and certainly no Facebook, which seems to be the favored dumping ground these days for opinions. Really, more like the favorite dumping grounds for vitriolic discourse and name-calling.
We’re going to try something different. As we said, we have heard you and listened. That is, we have heard and listened to all but those who for one reason or another think the newspaper itself should not have an opinion. Oh, the irony of submitting a letter to the editor to express an opinion that the paper, which covers the news and events and as an industry has a long history of trying to effect change and opinion via editorials, should not itself have an opinion to share.
We will continue to express our views, but we are also modifying our policy on how frequently readers can express theirs by shortening the timeframe between letter submission to no more frequently than every two weeks. And we are doing so in the hope that more people, not merely the same handful, will participate in the forum.
From the Index-Journal | Read more

Post and Courier food critic explains why the paper still isn’t running restaurant reviews

Almost exactly one year ago the last restaurant review I wrote for The Post and Courier appeared in the paper. ...
I’ve been asked several times by curious chefs what I’m doing now that I’m not writing reviews. And several readers have gotten in touch to ask when I’ll be writing them again.
Even though it made instinctive sense to me last March to quit reviewing restaurants, I now realize that I’ve never disclosed how I reached that decision, nor addressed when they might return. So here’s an overdue overview of the situation:
There are three reasons for the suspension of restaurants reviews. Let’s call them societal, financial and epidemiological. (Don’t worry, that’s the extent of overlong words for this column.)
By Hanna Raskin, The Post and Courier | Read more

Morning News plans to honor Pee Dee nurses

The Morning News of Florence is partnering with McLeod Health to honor the Pee Dee’s nurses, who have faced more challenges in the past year than ever before because of COVID-19.
“With national Nurses Week coming in May, we want to give our community the opportunity to collectively celebrate our friends, family and colleagues in the nursing profession” said Matthew Tranquill, the general manager of the Morning News.
The Morning News is asking its readers to share their stories about nurses who have had an impact on their lives and nominate them for recognition. Ten nurses will be selected to receive a plaque and a gift basket in honor of their service. Nine will be chosen by a panel of judges and one by a vote of the community.
From the Morning News | Read more

Industry Briefs

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones to speak at UofSC

Pulitzer Prize-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the landmark 1619 Project, will be the joint keynote speaker for the 2021 virtual Media & Civil Rights History Symposium and the College of Information and Communications Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Research Symposium.
The conversation-style presentation will be held Friday, March 26, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The virtual session is free and open to the public but registration is required. 
The session is sponsored by the UofSC College of Information and Communications and the UofSC Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Hannah-Jones will be in conversation with Nicole Cooke, Augusta Baker Endowed Chair in Childhood Literacy, and Bobby Donaldson, director of the UofSC Center for Civil Rights History and Research who will engage her in a dialogue about race, social justice, and media. Questions from the audience will also be taken. Read more and register

Engagement is key to earning trust

Most journalists have an avalanche of feedback coming at them. Emails, phone calls, social media messages, online comments … it’s overwhelming. If you’re thinking there’s no way to thoughtfully respond to all of it, you’re probably right. 
And yet you know being responsive to your audience and defending your work are important, right? 
It’s been more than a decade since I dove headfirst into the world of engagement, and I definitely see trust-building as a subset of that work. At its core, engagement is about making sure journalism is focused on the people it aims to serve. 
By Joy Mayer, Trusting News Project | Read more

How journalists in Mid-America became essential workers during the pandemic 

Last year, two journalism professors started an oral history project to document the work of local newsrooms in mid-America. They found the community in community journalism.
By Kristen Hare, Poynter | Read more

Gannett beats estimates for its 4Q results amid growing digital subscriptions and lower costs

Gannett reported a year-over-year decline in fourth-quarter revenue and a wider net loss, but the company beat its earlier estimates for the period as cost-cutting and an increased emphasis on digital subscriptions paid off.
The media company, which owns USA TODAY and about 260 other daily publications as well as several hundred weeklies, reported a net loss of $122.2 million for the quarter, compared with a loss of $95.1 million in the same period a year earlier. The results included a $74.3 million non-cash loss in connection with a derivative due on the company's convertible notes and a $42.1 million loss from an early debt paydown.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 5% to $148.8 million. 
Overall, revenue fell 17% to $875.4 million. On a comparable basis, circulation revenue declined 13.6%, print advertising revenue decreased 26.9% and digital ad and marketing services revenue eased by 2%.
By Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY | Read more

The Arizona Republic considers killing “zombies” a staple of its digital subscription strategy

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: If you want to maximize your digital subscription growth, you must have a focused plan on not only how to grow your subscriber base, but also how to retain and improve the engagement and loyalty of your current subscribers.
By John Adams and Alia Beard Rau, USA Today Network for Better NewsRead more

Columns

By Catherine Kohn, Editor of Moultrie News

Eliminating racism is not only the job of African Americans

I have never experienced racism. Like most White people, my challenges in life have never been added onto due to my skin color. I have experienced sexism, however, I’ll leave that for another time.
I can’t speak to what it feels like to be looked at differently, or to be treated differently because of my race. What I can do is try to understand, empathize and overcome my own innate biases developed while growing up. And, in spite of growing up in many diverse environments I know I have them, even though they may be buried deep. I count myself lucky that my family never said an unkind word about anyone because of their race and we played with other children based on whether they were friendly and fun. I’m glad of that upbringing because when I got older I knew that many of the things around me in the adult world were wrong and unjust.
This month I received an education during my job as editor of the Moultrie News. Black History Month was a unique and valuable learning experience. I had a chance to speak with people who understood the deep divides and history of Black men and women, especially here in Charleston. People who demonstrate grit and determination. They taught me about courage. Read more

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