Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Jan. 7, 2021

News Contest entries off to judging; SCPA members needed to judge Collegiate Contest

SCPA has spent the past month reviewing more than 3,200 contest entries to get them ready for judging (a 4% increase over last year). Seventy nine organizations participated in the 2020 News Contest. 
Members of Alabama Press Association are about to start judging our News Contest. We hope to announce the winners for proofing in early February. We're closely watching COVID-19 spread in South Carolina and plan to announce our plan for the 2020 awards presentation in mid-Janurary. 
We also need 15 members to help judge our Collegiate Contest online later this month. Categories include news, features, opinion and sports writing, photography, design and digital.  
Judges will receive instructions and entries in mid-January and will have two weeks to complete the judging. Let us know if you can help.

New Year, New Press ID

It's time to order your staff's 2021 press IDs
High-quality plastic photo ID cards are available for SCPA newspaper members at $6 each. These durable plastic cards feature your staff member's photo and newspaper information.
SCPA press credentials are recognized by state police and emergency officials, and may be used for admission to the S.C. Legislature press area.
Repositionable PRESS car windshield decals are also available (decals are dated 2020-2021 so if you purchased one last year, it is still valid).
Remember when you order that SCPA has a flat rate shipping fee of $8 per order for all photo ID cards that need a clip or lanyard. If you do not need a clip for your press ID (can re-use an old clip or lanyard or you put in your wallet), let us know and we can ship your order at a much lower rate, typically less than $1.
Orders must come from member newspaper editors. Newspaper staffers, part-time employees and freelancers must contact their editor to order a press ID and/or decal.

S.C. media included in Phase 1c vaccination schedule from  DHEC

DHEC's latest COVID-19 vaccine update shows that S.C. media will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1c, which is estimated to be Spring 2021 (subject to change due to vaccine availability, demand, and provider participation).
The S.C. Press and Broadcasters Associations sent a letter to Gov. McMaster last month asking that South Carolina follow the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The Committee included the “Media” in the list of “essential workers” that should receive a vaccine in Phase 1c. Newspaper production personnel would arguably be included in Phase 1b as manufacturing workers. 
SCPA will keep you updated as we hear more from DHEC. 

Related: Updates from DHEC including the vaccination plan and phase guidance

Pay membership dues by Jan. 15

SCPA member publishers should have received 2021 membership dues invoices in December. Dues should be paid to SCPA by Friday, Jan. 15. If you haven't received your dues invoice or have any questions, contact us.
Member Spotlight: Gabe Whisnant
Gabe and his wife, Heather, with their best friend, Duncan, on a recent trip to Cherry Grove. 
News Director, Herald-Journal and

What do you like best about your job?
Seeing an enterprise story take shape from planning to publishing. Whether that process takes a week or a month, there's still a satisfaction that comes from knowing that our hard work truly pays off at the end - for our readers and our newsroom. 

What is your proudest career moment?
I was the news editor of my hometown paper, The Star in Shelby, NC, and we broke the story of Dylann Roof's capture by the local police. It was a tiring and stressful set of days for our staff, but I'll never forget the exhilaration when those stories posted and papers came off the press. 

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
Our overall direction. We're striving toward and focusing on journalism that emphasizes deeper storytelling, along with breaking news. As a news director, it's a refreshing shift. We're seeing a rise in digital subscriptions and we hope that trend continues - hand-in-hand - with our own growth. 

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
It's been a tremendous help for us to be able to talk directly with SCPA attorneys about FOIA laws and "next steps" when we hit a snag or have a question about a story. We appreciate their availability, expertise and candor. 

What adjustments have you made during COVID-19?
Our reporters and photographers - with caution and safety - are out in the field on their beats. As editors, we remain at home, since our office is closed. Getting and staying on the same page, communication wise, has been the key since March. Once we got in the swing of having set and standing Zoom call times with reporters and photographers, we started feeling better about our direction during the pandemic. 

When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
If big public gatherings resume in 2021, I would recommend a trip to downtown Spartanburg for either the Spring Fling or Dickens of a Christmas street festivals. Or, visit when Clemson or South Carolina has a primetime football game in the fall and just enjoy the downtown food scene and nightlife. Our downtown isn't huge but it's lively and fun. Great local music. 

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I helped my father operate a baseball card shop out of his radiator and air conditioning business during the late 80's-early 90's baseball card boom. We also collected and sold basketball and football cards, as well as sports memorabilia. It was a blast. 

What do you like to do outside of work? 
In addition to a cool downtown, Spartanburg has quite a few scenic spots. My wife, Heather, and I like to take our dog, Duncan, on walks and let him play in the water, especially at Glendale Shoals and the Cottonwood Trail. We also like to take him on trips to the beach and mountains. I enjoy riding my mountain bike around town and on area trails. 

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

FOI Briefs

Secrecy at DHEC? Agency accused of breaking sunshine law in director search

When the state health and environment board picked a new director Dec. 22, it ended months of speculation about who would take charge of an agency heavily criticized for its response to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
But the board’s effort, conducted largely in private and sometimes without voting publicly, has open government advocates upset about secrecy they say has again shaken public confidence in the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, an agency historically criticized over transparency issues.
The DHEC board skirted the state’s open records law by failing to publicize the list of final candidates for the job until the morning it chose Navy doctor Edward Simmer to guide the agency, say open government advocates.
The board also never voted publicly to narrow the list of more than 80 applicants to the three finalists, which critics say is a possible violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
DHEC disputes that it violated the law, but four state legislators and officials with the S.C. Press Association say they’re not happy with the process used to pick Simmer. While nobody has questioned Simmer’s credentials, critics say the process set a bad precedent and undermines support for the agency.
By Sammy Fretwell, The State | Read more

People & Papers

The Post and Courier purchases new press, plans move in 2021

The Post and Courier announced Tuesday that it is purchasing a new press, marking a significant investment in the future of the news organization. ...
The 2008 Goss Magnum Single Width Press is being dismantled, crated and transported from Skelleftca, Sweden. It is expected to arrive via container ship in March.
The addition of the 115-foot press that features eight printing towers and the capability to print simultaneously on two sides at 40,000 impressions per minute, will provide a more energy efficient, technologically advanced printed product on a variety of page sizes. It will replace the company’s current presses, purchased in 1978 and 1990. ...
Evening Post Industries, the parent company of The Post and Courier will continue to develop Courier Square where the newspaper is currently located. With the addition of the new press, the newspaper will seek to relocate and have the new press fully functioning by the fall of 2021.
The location of a new site for The Post and Courier has not yet been determined.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Giroux joins Daniel Island News

The Daniel Island News is excited to welcome Zach Giroux to the paper’s editorial staff as a general assignment reporter. He will also assume copy editing duties.
Zach comes to the paper after a three-year stint with The Moultrie News. He also recently worked as a freelancer for the Island Eye News and The Island Connection. In those roles he covered city and town council news in Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island and Kiawah and Seabrook islands. He also served as copy editor at The Moultrie News, contributed features and photography, and won several journalism awards.
Prior to moving to the Charleston area in 2016, Zach was an assistant sports editor and staff writer for the Vermont Cynic, a student newspaper at the University of Vermont.
 Zach, who hails from a small northeastern town in the Green Mountain State, earned a degree in English from the University of Vermont and a political science degree from Clemson University. 
By Suzanne Detar, The Daniel Island News | Read more

Community Times launches new website

The Community Times of Florence has launched a new website,, where they offer a low-cost online subscription to access the weekly newspaper and daily updates.
Readers also have access to the award-winning weekly special section, "Palmetto State Extra," which includes statewide news,
sports, college campus news, politics, health, and a weekly Podcast with interviews featuring leading voices from across South Carolina and the nation. Palmetto State Extra will also include church news and events from across the state.


Former journalist, state spokesman remembered as man of many interests who built bridges

Sam McCuen told the truth.
He told the truth as a reporter in the pages of The State, as a spokesman for state agencies and to the business leaders he coached as a press consultant.
’Never, ever lie’ was one of his commandments, ‘for you will be found out,’” said John Monk, a veteran journalist for The State, who called McCuen for information when he worked as a spokesman for the Department of Corrections.
His honesty was matched by an uncanny ability to connect with people, a characteristic that he used to encourage and help others.
“He’s going to help somebody — whether they want it or not — to be the best they can be and to get as far as they can,” said Sandra Holland, McCuen’s daughter and deacon of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church of Columbia.
McCuen, 80, died on Dec. 29. A private service will be held on Sunday at St. Michael’s and All Angels Episcopal Church in Columbia.
McCuen worked behind the scenes and occasionally in the spotlight of many organizations that shape Columbia, the Midlands and South Carolina, including the Columbia Museum of Art, Palmetto Place Children’s Emergency Shelter and the South Carolina Center for Birds of Prey.
By David Travis Bland, The State | Read more

Read Sam McCuen's obituary


By Kayla Green
The Sumter Item

Communities need local news, local news needs community support

It has been hard for me to find the right words to properly express everything that has happened this year. I've never professionally been at a loss for words. Maybe it's because we're still living it, collectively navigating the unknown. Maybe the cacophony of 2020 is just too much.
This year, Sumter mourned. We mourned the loss of 1st Lt. David Schmitz, a Shaw airman who died when his F-16 crashed during a training exercise. We mourned Cpl. Andrew Gillette, a Sumter County Sheriff's deputy who was fatally shot in the line of duty while serving an eviction notice. We mourned nearly two dozen Sumterites, most of them young Black men but also including women and an infant, who were killed by gun violence. We mourned the more than 100 people in this county whose lives were taken by COVID-19.
2020 has been a year of confusion, fear and loss. It's been hard to sort through the muck to find the pearls.
One thing we noticed when the pandemic settled in was a need - and a want - for reliable, accurate news. Local news that your neighbors can use to make daily decisions to live better, safer lives. National news is important, especially in an election year, but national newspapers and 24/7 cable channels won't tell you what restaurants are open for curbside pickup. They won't tell you what your school district is doing to keep your child safe. They won't tell you where local testing is available or in what direction your county's unemployment rate is moving or what organizations are offering or need help.
That need for reliable local news is not anecdotal. According to a Pew Research Center survey from June analyzed in an article for Editor and Publisher, 44% said local news sources were the most accurate media source. Pew also found that 61% of respondents in an April survey were consuming national and local news about the pandemic equally, but while 15% were more focused on national news, 23% were focused on local news. Read more
By Jim Pumarlo
Newspaper Consultant

Don’t close books just yet on 2020 elections

Mention election coverage in the aftermath of this year’s tumultuous presidential contest, and many newsrooms will likely turn a collective deaf ear. For most editors and reporters, the next cycle of elections is the farthest thing from their minds.
Not so quick.
This is the perfect time with fresh memories for editors and reporters to evaluate how they performed in 2020 and to identify steps for improved coverage in 2022.
Most important, examine coverage of local campaigns. Indeed, most readers were likely fixated these past months on the presidential matchup. In the end, however, community newspapers should remember they are the primary source of information for local races. That’s where you want coverage to shine.  
To begin the postmortem, convene a brainstorming session to reflect on some of the fundamental elements of election coverage. Read more

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