Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  May 26, 2022 training for new staffers set for June 9

We’re so thankful for our members' commitment to regularly uploading public notices to, the central repository for all public notice/legal ads in South Carolina.
Since we launched the site five years ago, thousands of notices have been posted by S.C. newspapers. 
If you're new to the state or your newspaper and are involved in public notice/legal advertising, we invite you to Zoom with us on Thursday, June 9, from 2-2:30 p.m. to go over key functions of the site. During the session, we'll cover:
  • What types of notices should be uploaded to the site
  • Options for manually uploading notices to the site (file types, adding single/multiple notices, run dates, etc.)
  • How to use the newspaper admin portal to add public notices and site users
  • Info on setting up an XML feed to automatically load your notices into the system
  • How to easily link and/or embed notices from on your newspaper's website
  • Print and digital promo tools available
All members are welcome but we recommend this training for new legal clerks and others  responsible for your newspaper's public notice/legal ads. The goal is to ensure staffers are getting your newspaper's notices up in the best, most efficient manner possible.  
RSVP if you'd like to attend this session. We're also happy to meet with your staff one-on-one virtually or at your newspaper. And if you ever need help with the site or have questions, please reach out.

What to do when they close court or meeting

Editor's Note: SCPA has received several calls recently about public bodies attempting to enter executive session without stating the specific purpose. Please keep this link handy in case you need a citation from the law. And remember that if you run into an issue, call SCPA's Legal/FOI Hotline at (803)750-9561 or email us
When in a public meeting and the body attempts to enter executive session without stating the specific purpose of the session, stand and address the chair by stating:
“I am (name), a reporter with (newspaper). The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act requires that the specific purpose of the session be stated. Please be more specific of the matter to be discussed that is broadly identified in S.C. Code Section 30-4-70(a)(1)-(6). My position is supported by the decision of the S.C. Supreme Court in Donohue v. City of North Augusta, 412 S.C. 526, 773 S.E.2d 140 (2015).” Note: “Personnel matters” and “contractual matters” do not qualify as statements of specific purpose.

When you are in court or trying to gain access to a court proceeding, and the courtroom has been closed or a party moves to exclude the public or press from the courtroom, stand and address the judge by respectfully stating:
“Judge, I am (name), a reporter with (newspaper). On behalf of my newspaper I would like to object to the closing of this proceeding and have the opportunity for my newspaper’s attorney to appear to argue the issue. My position is supported by the decision of the S.C. Supreme Court in Ex parte: Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., 369 S.C. 69, 631 S.E.2d 86 (2006).”

Meet our SCPA Foundation interns
In the coming weeks, we'll introduce you to our 2022 interns.


Caleb Bozard

The Times and Democrat

Caleb Bozard is a junior journalism major at the University of South Carolina. He is a native of Barnwell, and is the son of Rick and Amy Bozard.
Bozard has been an active member of UofSC’s student paper, The Daily Gamecock, since his sophomore year and currently serves as News Editor. He has also worked for his hometown paper, The People-Sentinel. He has a background in photography and audio-visual storytelling.
In his free time, Bozard likes watching movies, collecting vinyl records and going to the beach.
“I love learning new things and telling people’s stories,” Bozard said. “I want to continue the grand tradition of newspapers looking for answers and making our communities better. I am so excited for everything I will learn and experience this summer at The Times and Democrat and can’t wait to see how much stronger of a journalist I become.”

Invest in the future of our industry

The Foundation's internships and scholarships are provided by contributions from you! Please support the Foundation's valuable work by making your tax-deductible contribution today.

"Sine dead" 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

Editorial: SC school boards, cities, counties don’t need a mandate to livestream meetings

One of the many heartbreakers from last week’s frantic end of the 2022 regular legislative session was that a bill to make school board meetings more accessible to the public died after getting hijacked by a completely unrelated debate.
After failing to meet a legislative deadline to get a bill to the Senate limiting what schools can teach about race and sex, the House attached the controversial measure to a Senate-passed bill requiring all S.C. school boards to livestream their meetings.
The Senate had declined to take up its own bills to limit public school curricula — borne of social media and cable news outrage over what critics call “critical race theory” — so when the House returned S.945 to the Senate with that addition on the session’s final day, senators simply let the whole bill die rather than sending it to a conference committee to try to salvage the underlying legislation.
Whatever you think about the effort to restrict classroom discussions about race’s role in U.S. history or to prohibit mandatory “gender or sexual diversity training or counseling,” it’s important to note that the House did not reject the livestream requirement, as it could have done. Instead, it kept that requirement in its bill and added the curriculum measure on the bottom.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Uncovered: ‘You’re in Aiken County now’: Pattern of warrantless bus searches on I-20 emerges

At 2:07 a.m. June 19, 2018, an Aiken County Sheriff’s Office deputy pulled over a commercial bus traveling east on Interstate 20 for allegedly crossing over the center line. Within three minutes, two more deputies had arrived and a police dog was searching two dozen passengers’ bags.
Deputy Daniel Puckett, who stopped the bus, would later admit he didn’t know whether the bus driver or any passengers were engaged in any criminal activity. Yet deputies used a knife to slice open and search a Maryland man’s suitcase — conducting what a judge would later rule as an unconstitutional search. ...
It remains unclear when and why Aiken County deputies began targeting commercial buses along the interstate, whether improper searches played a role in other stops and what factor race may have played in these incidents. Reports indicate all passengers charged in the bus stops were Black; the deputies, predominantly White.
These questions prompted an Aiken Standard investigation into the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office’s handling and oversight of the traffic stops.
The newspaper filed several Freedom of Information Act requests to access dashcam footage, examined hundreds of legal documents, and conducted multiple interviews to determine the extent and reasons behind the questionable searches.
By Alexandra Koch, Aiken Standard | Read more

Richland Two board overspends thousands on travel

After Richland Two School District Superintendent Baron Davis refused, during a recent meeting, to share information about school board members’ travel spending, members of the public did what is their right under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information law: They asked for the information.
According to records released by the school district in compliance with the law, four of the seven board members had overspent on travel as of April 30.
In the current fiscal year budget, each board member is allotted $7,000 per fiscal year for board-related travel expenses, adding up to a total budget of $49,000 for all seven board members. The fiscal year ends June 30.
Two members of the board – Chair Teresa Holmes and Trustee Monica Scott – had each spent close to $3,000 more than their budgeted amount. Vice Chair James Manning was showing a negative balance and three yet-to-be-reported expenses, putting him on track to be about $2,000 over budget. Trustee Amelia McKie was over budget by $445.
By Debra McCown, The Voice of Blythewood | Read more

Town of Kingstree set to halt sale of Swamp Fox Golf Club, keeping the land a golf course

The Town of Kingstree is set to exercise its right of first refusal to halt the sale of the Swamp Fox Golf Club, keeping it a golf course.
The issue of the future of golf course was brought before town council by a group of concerned citizens during the May 16 meeting.
The town has had a first right of refusal if the land was put up for sale to be used as anything other than a golf course since 1973. ...
The matter came to attention of the town when they received a May 9, letter from William O’Bryan of the O’Bryan and O’Bryan law firm. The firm is representing David Tomlinson, who operates the golf course, and lives on the property. The letter stated they had a buyer for the property, but that the town had a right of first refusal. The letter, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, details the extent of the offer, a $1.2M cash offer as well as some conditions to the agreement. The letter also says that they would expect the town to be bound by all terms of the agreement, not just the cost. A call to O’Bryan was not immediately returned. Tomlinson declined to comment.
By Brandon Alter, The News | Read more

Sumter School District fees to attorneys total $36K so far in board, Martin-Knox rift, records show

Sumter School District’s Board of Trustees racked up a little more than $36,000 in attorney fees in the last six months during its performance evaluation and ensuing legal action with outgoing Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox.
The Sumter Item obtained May 23, through a Freedom of Information Act request, money paid by the local district to school board attorney David Duff and also payments awarded to a plaintiff attorney who handled a suit against the board related to Martin-Knox’s dismissal in late February.
Duff, of Columbia-based Duff, Freeman and Lyon law firm, did not begin working with the local board until November when members selected him to initially facilitate the second-year performance evaluation of Martin-Knox as district superintendent for the 2020-21 year.
That evaluation was never completed in December after Martin-Knox released a statement following a Dec. 14 meeting that she would not seek a contract extension past this school year. The final day of her employment with the district is June 30.
By Bruce Mills, The Sumter Item | Read more

Review sought in Turner case; S.C. Victim Assistance Network to S.C. Attorney General: look into bond, dropped charge

The S.C. Victim Assistance Network is asking S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson to look into the handling of cases involving Bowen Gray Turner of Orangeburg.
The group, which represents the accusers in cases, wants Wilson’s office to review allegations that Turner violated his bond.
It is also asking the office to review the decision to drop a Bamberg County charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct against Turner. ...
Turner was under GPS-monitored house arrest while he awaited trial on the charges. The 2nd Circuit Solicitor’s Office has claimed a review of Turner’s GPS monitoring records showed repeated alleged violations of his bond, including ignoring curfews and going to places not approved by the court.
SCVAN’s legal director, Sarah Ford, said new issues arose after Live5News obtained emails and notes following a Freedom of Information Act request.
By Martha Rose Brown, The Times and Democrat | Read more

The 3 Cs of record requests: Be clear, communicative, and creative

Always get the name of the dog. 
You’ve heard that reporting advice before, but here’s another reason it’s sound: Helping with information requests. 
Record requests can feel rough — pardon the pun — especially when getting started. Three experts in using the Freedom of Information Act and open records laws shared advice to help journalists and the public gain better access to government records that belong to the people. “My First FOIA: Open records are for everyone” was held on May 20. 
Back to Fido: Agencies often redact officials’ cell phone numbers in information requests. Mark Walker, investigative reporter for The New York Times, suggests thinking about what other public documents exist that may contain that cellphone record: employee directories, or even a pet license. “You have to put your emergency contact” in that form, in case your pet gets lost, Walker said. “They can’t just give them a bad number.”
By Beth Francesco, National Press Club Journalism Institute | Read more

Legal Briefs

Violation? What speech will be allowed at Horry County Council meetings?

If you’ve attended an Horry County Council meeting in recent years, you’ve probably seen — and heard — Katrina Morrison, even if you didn’t know her name.
The 55-year-old grandmother is frequently at county council meetings. Morrison said she’s tried to speak at every other meeting for the past seven years — and addresses topics from domestic violence to flooding to infrastructure needs.
But Morrison’s presence at the podium became a subject of controversy Tuesday night after several council members suggested she was bending the rules and using her time to give political campaign speeches. ...
The biggest question: Can county government control what can and cannot be said at public council meetings? Does limiting speech at council meetings violate the First Amendment?
According to Columbia-based attorney Jay Bender, local governments can in fact make rules for the public input portion of their meetings.
What they can’t do, though, Bender said, is create rules that govern the content of speech. That means rules like time limits, Horry County allows speakers five minutes each during public input, which apply to everyone regardless of the content of their speech are allowed.
By J. Dale Shoemaker, The Sun News | Read more

People & Papers


Hickerson named dean of Ole Miss J-School

Andrea Hickerson, director of the UofSC School of Journalism and Mass Communications,  is joining the University of Mississippi as dean of the School of Journalism and New Media.
Hickerson earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international relations at Syracuse University, master’s degrees in journalism and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas, and a Ph.D. in communication at the University of Washington. She has served on the faculty at both the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of South Carolina. In addition to serving as director of South Carolina's J-School, she's an associate dean and professor.  Read more

The People-Sentinel hires new reporter

The People-Sentinel recently welcomed reporter Alexandra "Alex" Whitbeck to its growing team.
The Greenville, N.Y. native is a recent graduate of Hofstra University with a master's degree in journalism. 
"I am looking forward to serving a community that truly values their weekly paper and aiding in getting news to every corner of the county," Whitbeck said. "Rural areas are commonly overlooked by major media outlets; The People-Sentinel and weekly papers like it have stood as pillars in their communities to spread important information to areas like Greenville, N.Y. or Barnwell, S.C."
She joins Publisher Jonathan Vickery and a team of contributing writers to cover the news of Barnwell County and its neighbors.
Please let us know about your new hires, retirements and promotions
so we can share your news in the eBulletin!

Industry Briefs

Neilsen ad study offers proof advertisers trust newspapers

Here’s further proof that advertisers and marketers seeking a trusted media should hire newspapers: Products in a newspaper’s portfolio show up in the Top 5 “trusted advertising channels” rated by U.S. customers. So says Nielsen’s 2021 Trust in Advertising Study in a special excerpt granted to The Relevance Project. Seven out of 10 consumers said they either trust completely or trust somewhat these four channels, a term Nielsen uses to distinguish where ads show up or are referenced:
Ads in newspapers (No. 5 at 68.5%)
Editorial content, such as newspaper articles (No. 4 at 68.7%); a nice endorsement for branded or sponsored content.
Branded websites (No. 3 at 71.1%), which certainly includes newspapers.
Emails “I signed up for” (No. 2 at 71.7%), a tout to newspapers offering e-newsletters and marketing emails sent to newspaper readers.
And the No. 1 channel: “Recommendations from people I know” (89.2%). What better trusted source than newspaper readers who are informed consumers.
By Tom Silvestri, The Relevance Project | Read more

Remember, journalists, to take care of yourselves

We’ve spoken to journalists who are hurting as they cover ceaseless mass shootings. We can’t stop the grief, but we can offer ways to work through it.

My wife, who is a therapist, and I have spoken to so many journalists in the last month who are hurting, usually quietly and often privately, as they cover mass shootings, one after another. When the higher death count in Texas became public, a news director friend wrote to me, “I can’t believe we are doing this again.”
Sidney and I can’t stop the grief, but we can offer some ways to work through it.
We will not be surprised when an increasing number of calls come from journalists who suffer from what psychologists call “moral injury.” That is a condition that is commonly associated with feelings of guilt.
We will not be surprised when we hear from journalists who wonder if we are doing more harm than good by blanket covering mass shootings. Journalists often tell us they wonder if they should approach the families of victims. They wonder if journalism matters anymore.
By Al Tompkins and Sidney Tompkins, Poynter | Read more

Investments in local news sustainability: early learnings and insights

In February 2019, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced that it would double its investment in strengthening journalism to $300 million over five years, with a focus on building the future of local news and information, which are essential for democracy to function. In early 2020, Knight Foundation and Impact Architects launched this assessment of Knight’s investments in local news sustainability with the goal to better understand the impacts of these investments and promising practices that contribute to sustainability. This report is an interim learning memo assessing these investments after each of these programs has been operating for at least one full year. 
The main objective of this assessment is to understand the effects of grantees’ interventions in the context of Knight’s goals for sustainability of local news, particularly with respect to audience and revenue growth. We know that the long-term sustainability of local news cannot be divorced from the need for local news organizations to be diverse, equitable and inclusive, with sophisticated organizational practices and representation from the communities they aim to serve. So, we include these aspects of organizational growth and development in the qualitative elements of this assessment, as well.
From Knight Foundation | Read more


By John Foust, Advertising Trainer

Two advertising goals: Attention and Retention

As mentioned in previous articles, there are two types of advertising: image and response. Image advertising – sometimes known as institutional advertising – is designed to give people a good impression of the advertiser. (“We’re the dealership that cares.”) The objective of response advertising is to generate immediate response to a specific offer. (“Take advantage of these special discounts.”)
These two ad types have something in common. Each one – whether image or response – should strive for attention and retention. In other words, the ad has to grab attention from the outset, then make the message memorable enough to stay in readers’ minds. It’s not an easy task, but it’s necessary for the ad to have any chance of success.
Because we are bombarded with thousands of commercial messages every day – and because we can’t possibly notice or remember everything we see – we are instinctively selective. A number of factors influence attention and retention, including eye-catching illustrations, legible typography, uncluttered ad designs, plenty of white space, and reader-centered headlines. But the biggest factor is relevance. If an ad doesn’t communicate instant relevance, it will fail the attention test. And if doesn’t leave the reader with a sense of relevance, it is not likely to be retained. 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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