Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Sept. 7, 2023

Last call to register for Sept. 15 management/revenue training

Monday is the final day to sign up for next week's management/revenue training featuring Bill Ostendorf of Creative Circle Media Solutions.
Join us Friday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., for a day of training and practical advice on how to change the culture at your newspaper, manage staff in tough times, grow readership and revenue, and improve your products. 
Much of the day will be about how to tackle the big picture things, but Bill will also review attendees' newspapers and websites to offer three small things that could be achieved quickly and easily to up your game.
Bill has worked with more than a thousand media companies on three continents as a trainer or management consultant and has led the redesign of more than 750 print publications and hundreds of websites. Because he believes that quality journalism is essential to American democracy, he has committed the company to helping local and family owned media thrive. 
Thanks to sponsorship from the SCPA Foundation Smoak Fund, the cost to attend is only $65, which includes lunch.
View topics & register

Don't forget to file your postal statement with USPS by Sept. 29

Paid newspaper members: The deadline to complete and file your annual U.S. Postal Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation (Form 3526) is Oct. 1. Since that's a Sunday, you should file it by Friday, Sept. 29. 
You can upload your form to the USPS Business Customer Gateway or submit a hard copy to your postmaster.
This form must be published in your newspaper as follows:
  • Dailies and 2-3 Times Weekly by Oct. 1
  • Weeklies by Oct. 31
Members must also email or fax SCPA a copy of the form. 

SCPA seeks feedback for 2023 News Contest

SCPA's Contest Committee will collaborate in September to review contest rules and divisions as we prepare to launch the 2023 News Contest rules and digital entry platform in early October.
The contest period will be for work published between Nov. 16, 2022 – Nov. 15, 2023. The deadline to enter will be Dec. 1, and awards will be presented in March 2024 at the Annual Meeting in Columbia. 
If you have suggestions about the rules/categories (or would like to serve on the committee), please let us know.

Legal Briefs

SC Supreme Court rebukes judge who let killer go, praises press and attorney general

In a blistering rebuke of a solicitor and a now-retired judge, the S.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday defended open courts and praised a free press and a vigilant Attorney General for exposing the secret early release of a convicted killer from prison.
In its 3-2 decision, the majority of justices denounced in scathing terms the secret actions by retired judge Casey Manning and 5th Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson that led to the secret and unlawful release of killer Jeroid Price last March from prison after he served only 19 years of a 35-year mandatory sentence.
“This case reminds us of the critical importance of open courts and the reasons court orders may not be sealed,” Associate Justice John Cannon Few wrote in the majority opinion. He was joined by justices John Kittredge and D. Garrison Hill.
Few’s opinion described the various hidden and unlawful machinations by Manning and Gipson to get Price quietly released from prison without the public knowing. Another player in the action was Price’s lawyer, Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, who served as a go-between for Gipson and Manning.
An order from Manning directing the Department of Corrections to release Price was the final and most essential part of the scheme. Manning, a popular veteran judge and former University of South Carolina basketball player, signed the order on his last official day in office, Dec. 31, 2022, then retired after 28 years as a judge at age 72.
“The plan worked, until the press found out about Price’s release, until this Court exercised its constitutional authority to issue a writ of certiorari and unsealed all documents, (and) until the Attorney General stepped in to demand the law be followed,” Few wrote.
By John Monk, The State | Read more

On the Docket: How to vet your own stories to reduce legal risk

As a journalist, you take a risk every time you publish a news story. That’s true whether you’re breaking news online or rolling out an investigative series in print.
In a perfect world, that risk would be significantly reduced with the help of an in-house media attorney capable of vetting stories before publication. Unfortunately, few newsrooms can afford to pay an attorney to do this kind of work. And it can be hard to find media attorneys willing to do it for free. My colleagues and I at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press regularly provide free legal vetting to journalists and documentary filmmakers, but our limited resources prevent us from accepting every client.
Don’t despair, though. You can still reduce your legal risk by completing your own “pre-publication review,” a process that goes beyond your traditional editing and fact-checking routines. Doing so takes time, but knowing that your reporting is more likely to survive a lawsuit can help you rest easier at night — and give you the confidence to pursue investigative stories in the future.
In this column, I’ll walk you through a few important tips for vetting your own stories, including a couple that you can check off your to-do list during the newsgathering process, long before you even start typing your first draft.
By Paul McAdoo, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press | Read more

FOIA Briefs

Editorial: Dorchester County needs to come clean on double-secret tax giveaway

Here we go again, trying to figure out what part of “public’s business” a county council doesn’t understand.
This time, it’s the Dorchester County Council, which has been skulking around, assembling a detail-impoverished tax giveaway that even one of the most vocal advocates of tax giveaways acknowledges is unusual.
Worse, the council tentatively approved an even more secretive “development-and-supply” agreement that it has refused to make public, even in a redacted or coded version. That implies that the council plans to buy or sell some undisclosed something from or to its secret beneficiary for some undisclosed sum. And that, unlike normal tax-incentive deals that use code names, appears not only to break trust with the public but also to violate state law.
The purpose of requiring councils to vote in public on ordinances is so the public may know what they’re voting on, and state law specifically requires governing boards to release meeting minutes that include the “substance of all matters proposed, discussed or decided.”
From The Post and Courier | Read more

FOIA requests remain unfulfilled in Allendale County

Multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests sent by The People-Sentinel to elected officials in Allendale County remain unfulfilled and The People-Sentinel has not been able to make contact with public officials regarding their status.
The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act is a law that requires governments and municipalities throughout the state to provide the public with records upon request. The law aims to increase transparency by compelling governments to reveal information about non-public decision making by political figures.
Under S.C. FOIA law, if a request is for records that are less than 24 months old, public officials have 10 business days to return a letter of determination. If a request is more than 24 months old, public officials have 20 business days to return a letter of determination. A letter of determination allows public officials to state whether or not the requested records exist and if they can be turned over.
Since May 2023, The People-Sentinel has submitted six FOIA requests to public bodies in Allendale County: one to the Town of Allendale, one to the Town of Fairfax, one to Allendale County Council, one to the Allendale Police Department, and one to the Allendale County Sheriff’s Office.
Of these requests, two have been fulfilled — a request regarding the county’s termination of former administrator Bert O’Rear and a request regarding a former Allendale County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) deputy.
By Alexandra Whitbeck and Elijah de Castro, The People Sentinel | Read more

People & Papers

Kyle Osteen
Jack Osteen

Osteens, Johnson purchase Bluffton Sun, Hilton Head Sun

The Bluffton Sun and Hilton Head Sun have been purchased by a group whose history with South Carolina newspapers dates back to the 1890s.
Jack and Kyle Osteen – part of the family that has owned The Sumter Item, a five-day-per week community newspaper in Sumter, SC since 1894 – purchased the Bluffton-based newspaper group along with Vince Johnson, the current group publisher of The Sumter Item.
Osteen, Osteen and Johnson also own the Lexington County Chronicle in Lexington, SC and Gulf Coast Media newspapers in Baldwin County, AL. The transaction closed on August 31.
As part of the change, former owner and publisher Kevin Aylmer – who has owned Lowcountry Local Media since 2017 – is planning to retire. Aylmer will assist in the ownership transition.
“We are pleased to have served the readers of The Bluffton Sun and Hilton Head Sun for the past six years. We are proud of the newspapers we produce and are confident the Osteens will continue the tradition of providing timely local news and information going forward,” Aylmer said. 
The Osteen/Johnson companies are known for quality journalism in print and online and as an innovator in publishing local news.
The group plans to build on the success of The Bluffton and Hilton Head Suns.
“We’re excited to continue the legacy of this important local news operation in Bluffton and Hilton Head,” the company said in a statement. “The fact that every resident receives the publication for free is a great resource for readers and is ideal for advertisers, and these are phenomenal communities for local news.”
The new ownership group plans to retain current staff positions and add to the local staff in the coming months.
“Much like the previous ownership and current staff, we value authentic relationships with our communities and news that is really, really local,” the company said. “Our commitment is that we’ll listen to the Bluffton and Hilton Head communities and deliver the news you want and need to know.”
The Bluffton Sun is delivered bi-monthly to more than 26,000 homes in the greater Bluffton and Okatie communities. The Hilton Head Sun is delivered monthly to more than 26,000 homes in the greater Hilton Head area. Both newspapers are delivered via the USPS, safe and dry in your mailbox.
From The Bluffton Sun | Read more

Roberts takes helm as Summerville Communications managing editor

Veteran journalist Brandon Roberts has taken the role of managing editor of Summerville Communications Inc., publishers of The Summerville Journal Scene, The Berkeley Independent and Our Gazette in Goose Creek.
Roberts, 43, is a native of Eastern Kentucky who has worked mostly in print, but has spent some time in TV news, public relations and strategic communications.
“We are thrilled to have Brandon join our editorial team as the managing editor” said Bailey Dunlap, regional publisher and advertising director for Summerville Communications. “He brings a level of experience and pedigree in the news industry that will drive Summerville Communications’ content forward so that we are able to provide comprehensive coverage to our readers in Dorchester and Berkeley counties. His perspective and dedication to fair and accurate reporting align perfectly with the company’s core values.”
With a career spanning nearly 20 years in journalism and the recipient of multiple awards, Roberts has consistently demonstrated a commitment to journalistic integrity, a passion for community and engaging storytelling.
“I think I bring a fresh perspective to our editorial team, along with a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape,” Roberts said. “I am confident that under my guidance, our newspapers will continue to provide our readers with high-quality, thought-provoking content.”
Roberts expressed enthusiasm about his new role and said he is poised to lead the newspapers into an era of innovation and growth.
“I am honored to join The Post and Courier family and build on its rich journalistic legacy,” he said. “In this age of rapid information dissemination, we have an incredible opportunity to deliver accurate, impactful news that resonates with our diverse readership. Newspapers also have the ability to produce news readers can’t get anywhere else, and that’s one of my top priorities moving forward.”
From The Gazette | Read more

Related: Our journey together has begun (By Brandon Roberts, Summerville Communications)
By Jacqueline Hough, Editor, The Link

The Link welcomes new editor

Hi, my name is Jacqueline Hough, and I am the new editor of The Link.
Years ago, I was a freelancer for this newspaper and hoped one day to be able to write full time for it. It is fantastic when things come back full circle.
To say that I am excited to be writing to you for the first time would be an understatement.
For the last few days, I have thought about what I wanted to say and have written several different versions.
I am honored to be part of this newspaper and its long history. I appreciate publisher Jane Pigg and my predecessor, Joan Yates, for giving me this opportunity. I plan to continue the motto of this newspaper, “Connecting Chesterfield County, One Week at a Time.”
I can do many things, but one thing I do well is writing.
It is a part of my DNA.
For me, this isn’t just a job; it is a calling and privilege to keep people informed in Chesterfield County and the surrounding areas.
I am not from Chesterfield County but have ties to the county. Currently, I live in Marlboro County. My most recent position was editor of The Herald-Advocate in Bennettsville.
I have more than 20 years of reporting and editing in education, government, crime and sports.
I am the mother of a 17-year-old son and the owner of two grumpy cats.
I also am a huge book nerd and own more than 1,500 books. I love traveling, having a good meal and consuming too much caffeine.
I can’t wait to meet everyone and learn more about Chesterfield County.
Your story ideas, photographs and, yes, even complaints are always welcome.
You can reach me by calling (843) 537-7887 or emailing

Sentinel-Progress goes back to its roots as Easley Progress

You may notice some changes coming to The Sentinel-Progress in the next few weeks — changes I hope our Easley and surrounding community readers will view as steps in a positive direction. None bigger than the first thing — the name of the paper itself.
It doesn’t always feel like it, but I have been working at this newspaper for over 15 years now. Since being made publisher this year, the one thing I really wanted to do was to bring back the old masthead. That wasn’t possible in the past, but times change.
“The Sentinel-Progress” was named after we combined The Pickens Sentinel and The Easley Progress — and at the time, it made sense. The Sentinel, being the older of the two papers was given the honor of first placement in the name. In hindsight, I believe it was a mistake. The name never really caught on and many readers (whether they be Sentinel or Progress readers) assumed their beloved local paper had closed. We didn’t, we’re still here, and believe it or not, this newspaper you’re reading right now is still the oldest continuously operating business in Pickens County.
That’s pretty cool.
That being said, we are based in Easley … Our office is right on Main Street, across from City Hall. (Come visit us sometime!) Long story short, this will be the last edition of The Sentinel-Progress, but I want to assure our readers we’re not going anywhere — except back to our roots. We’re picking up right where we left off and The Easley Progress, Volume 115, Issue 1, will roll off the presses next week.
I’m so excited to bring back a piece of Easley’s history.
By Kasie Strickland, The Easley Progress | Read more

Compelling Writing by Jerry Bellune

By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach

How to interview anybody

Your guidelines for interviewing anybody are thankfully similar.
Your subject may be the President of the United States or the woman who just won best arrangement at the local flower show.
1. Do your research, even if it’s only talking with those who arranged the flower show about the winner.
2. Agree to a location including their office or home. 
They will feel more relaxed and open to answering your questions.
3. Show up on time. Show up even 15 minutes early and be prepared to wait until the subject is ready. 
I once waited three hours after the agreed interview time to talk with a corporate big shot. He was probably testing me. He did not mention the long delay and neither did I. Had he apologized, I would have accepted it but the long delay was going into my story. Read more

Upcoming Events

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