Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Aug. 25, 2022
This event's presenter is Liz Lucas, a training director for IRE and an adjunct professor of data journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism. She previously worked as Data Editor for Kaiser Health News, as a data reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, and as the Director of Data Services for IRE. 

Popular IRE data journalism bootcamp comes to SCPA Sept. 30

Seats are limited so sign up soon! 

Sharpen your data journalism skills on Friday, Sept. 30, as SCPA hosts IRE for a full-day boot camp.
Sponsored by the SCPA Foundation Smoak Fund, this event will be a mix of training and hands-on work featuring the industry’s leading data-driven journalism organization, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). At this event, you’ll learn best practices for effectively using spreadsheets for analyzing data.This event is catered specifically toward S.C. journalists so regardless of your beat or your organization’s size, frequency or resources, you’ll walk away with practical skills.
At only $65, this is a great value for top-notch training that will expand your skills and teach you cutting edge tools and techniques. Less than 30 seats remain for this event. SCPA's past IRE sessions have sold out so if you're interested, sign up soon

  • 9:30 – 10 a.m. | Introduction to data journalism: What is data journalism? It's not a niche role in newsrooms, it's a skill set that all reporters can utilize. We’ll talk about mindset, strategies, tools, and some good examples of using data for journalism.
  • 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.  |   Hands-On Spreadsheet Training Part I: This hands-on introduction to working with data in Google Sheets will equip you with the skills to ask and answer questions of data. We'll cover sorting, filtering, functions such as sum and average, and basic pivot tables.
  • 12 – 12:30 p.m.  |  Boxed Lunch and Freestyle Q&A: Eat lunch, ask questions, discuss project ideas.
  • 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.  | Best practices in data work: Working with data and numbers can be scary, and frankly there are ways to get in trouble. But you don't need to be advanced to do solid work with integrity. We'll talk about best practices when working with data, as well as some common mistakes.
  • 1:45 – 3:30 p.m.  |  Hands-on Spreadsheet Training Part II: Pivot tables are an incredible asset in analyses. In this hands-on session we'll do more with basic pivot tables and even showcase a few advanced features. We'll also touch on importing data into Google Sheets.
Register to attend

Review SCPA's political ad guide

If you haven’t read SCPA’s political advertising guide lately, it may be time for a quick refresher on political advertising in S.C. newspapers.
State and federal political advertising are subject to legal requirements not found in non-political advertising. Those requirements concern disclosure of the sponsor of the advertising and the rate charged for the advertising space.
SCPA's political ad guide offers a refresher on political advertising in S.C. newspapers, as well as tips on payment and avoiding potential libel and invasion of privacy claims.
If you have any questions about an ad’s content or advertising rules, give SCPA a call at (803) 750-9561.

SCPA to host member Happy Hour in Columbia on Sept. 22

Midlands members are invited to join SCPA after work on Thursday, Sept. 22, for Happy Hour.
Drop by WECO Bottle and Biergarten in West Columbia between 4:30 and 6 p.m. to network with your peers from newspapers in the region.
The drinks are on us, thanks to sponsorship by the S.C. Newspaper Network! Food will be available for purchase.
RSVP if you'd like to attend!
While SCPA members from across the state are invited to attend, plans are in the works to host similar social events in the Upstate and Lowcountry. 

Show your support for the JCPA and local news

Earlier this week the lead sponsors of the of the bipartisan Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA – H.R. 1735 and S. 673) announced progress on this critical bill for local news. Senate text was released and listed on the agenda for Senate Judiciary Committee markup on Sept. 8. This is a big step toward moving the JCPA to the final stage, and we need your help to continue to gather support from as many members of Congress as possible. 
The News Media Alliance has identified the list of key targets in the Senate, which includes Sen. Lindsey Graham, a current co-sponsor. Please contact him by Sept. 2 so he knows how important the JCPA is for local news and your organization. Here's a sample letter.
Here are other actions you can take: 
Last week SCPA Co-Executive Director Randall Savely presented The Daniel Island News with their PALMY awards on a sunset cruise. Savely presented the Designer of the Year award to Jan Marvin, a repeat winner!

SCPA Foundation Intern Wrap-Up

Pastis served as a reporting intern at The State during his eight week internship. 
Pastis interviewed many big names in SC politics, including Jim Clyburn.
Editor's Note: As the summer comes to a close, so does the SCPA Foundation's internship program. Over the couple weeks, we'll re-introduce you to our three interns and share how their summers went.
Stephen Pastis, a senior journalism major at UofSC, spent his summer interning at The State as part of the politics team. Pastis said the internship reaffirmed his passion for journalism. 
Over the course of the internship, Pastis covered legislative meetings, primary elections, protests and the stink-inducing Geosim that had gotten into Columbia’s water
"These eight weeks brought me farther than I have ever felt in my career," Pastis said. "I feel infinitely more capable as a journalist than I did before I started."
Pastis said a key part of his internship was learning directly from the professionals. "It is one thing to learn and do, but it is entirely more to watch a talented expert performing their craft."
"Stephen was always one of the first reporters in the office and always came in with a great attitude," said Maayan Schechter, senior editor of The State’s politics and government team. 
"He was awesome to have on the team, and always had a great attitude which made my time as an editor so much easier," said Schechter. "I hope he continues to have that passion post college."
Pastis said the perspective he gained during his internship was invaluable, especially after working late nights and early mornings.
"Ultimately, one of the most important things I realized from my internship was even working in its most complex and demanding form, I still love journalism," said Pastis.
Pastis said the lessons he learned this summer will stick with him for years to come. He will be continuing his work with The Daily Gamecock, UofSC's student newspaper, as the Arts and Culture Editor. 
"I really can’t thank the SCPA Foundation enough for this opportunity," said Pastis. "Even now that the internship is coming to a close, I feel like I can’t wrap my mind around what a privilege it has been."

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.

How to apply 

Internships are open to student journalists who attend a four-year college in South Carolina or reside in South Carolina and attend a four-year college elsewhere. Rising juniors and seniors, and recent college graduates are eligible. Applications for Summer 2023 will be available in September.

"Trump's running" 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

Clarendon superintendent's salary, stipends changed, raised in new contract, Sumter Item FOIA request finds

Though he no longer receives a housing allowance, Clarendon County's now only superintendent gets a monthly bump in other stipends in addition to his $85,000 raise, The Sumter Item found.
Shawn Johnson's salary has been a topic of discussion among residents and county council members for the last few months since the newly consolidated district requested approval of his contract at a Clarendon County Council meeting in June.
The Post and Courier reported in August 2021 in partnership with The Sumter Item for the Charleston newspaper's Uncovered project that Johnson was living rent-free in a townhouse that was meant for teacher recruitment through the former Manning-based Clarendon School District 2. ...
A few changes were approved between Johnson's initial and amended contract, The Sumter Item found as a result of a new public records request under the Freedom of Information Act.
By Ashley Miller, The Sumter Item | Read more

WCSD board member sends unauthorized letter to state asking for date of local control

A Williamsburg County School Board member sent an unauthorized letter to the S.C Department of Education the day after he accused the state of having a hidden agenda.
Martin Cunningham sent a July 26 letter addressed to State Superintendent Molly Spearman asking for a specific date of when the state will hand back control of the Williamsburg County School District to the local board. The letter was obtained by The News in an email.
“Please convey the timeline for the transfer of operating authority to our board of trustees by our August 2022 board meeting, in writing to our board chair, the Honorable Marva B. Cannon,” the letter stated.
Just days before the board’s July 25 meeting, Spearman told The News that she planned on returning control of the school district to the board by the end of the calendar year. The state has been in charge of the school district since April 2018. ...
Cunningham respond to Cannion’s email with one of his own on Aug. 11. Cunningham deflected blame saying he was concerned that Cannion “forgot” what happened at the meeting. Cunningham directed those emailed to a private video of the meeting. The News has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for a recording of the July 25 meeting as well as the minutes. In his email, Cunningham attempted to speak for Cannion.
By Brandon Alter, The News, Kingstree | Read more

Editorial: AG’s threat to sue secretive school board is a good start, more is needed

We don’t know whether the Charleston County School Board ignores the state Freedom of Information Act more than most of our state’s school boards or just gets more news coverage, so its sins are more noticeable. What we do know is that it routinely ignores the law — and too often abuses its spirit even when it stays technically within the law.
So we’re delighted by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s threat to sue or even prosecute the board if it can’t explain what Mr. Wilson says look like blatant violations of the open meetings law.
As The Post and Courier’s Hillary Flynn and Avery Wilks report, Mr. Wilson sent a letter to the board on Tuesday giving it the opportunity to reply to concerns raised by parents that it changed its agenda shortly before two July 18 meetings. If it did, that would violate the law that says public bodies must provide their agenda 24 hours before the meeting and may change that agenda only by a two-thirds vote after the meeting starts.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Greenville City Council defied some residents' wishes about Unity Park tower, emails show

Greenville City Council voted to spend $5.5 million of the city's tourism money to build the Honor Tower in Unity Park despite sharp disapproval from residents, according to emails obtained by The Greenville News. 
While five of seven councilmembers said the $11 million tower would drive economic investment and keep a promise to a marginalized neighborhood, 55 local residents emailed their representatives from January to June, before the council's final vote on the project, urging them to pause or abandon the project altogether.
Six residents emailed in support of the funding, according to emails obtained by The News through a records request. 
City Council voted in June to build the tower by spending $3.5 million in local accommodations-tax money, $1 million in hospitality taxes and $1 million left from Unity Park's first construction-phase budget, also comprised mostly of hospitality taxes. ...
The News submitted a records request in mid-June for emails between councilmembers and constituents regarding the tower dating back to January. More than 1,000 pages of communications were provided by city staff, including the results of an email poll conducted by local media company 6AM City that were never shared publicly due to concerns over bias.
By Macon Atkinson, Greenville News | Read more

Industry Briefs

Research: Digital product acquisition, consumer spending on subscriptions are likely to remain steady

Mather Economics publishes quarterly benchmark reports for news media subscriptions and digital audiences. We’d like to share our perspective on the future of news subscriptions in light of recent trends in the benchmarks for subscription volumes, new customer acquisitions and average rates.
The subscriber benchmarking data comes from more than 300 newspapers in North America. We receive this data weekly through our ongoing work with these publications. To be included in this report, Mather must have 13 months of weekly subscriber data from a publication.
Data on digital audiences is collected using the Listener Data Platform, a first-party tracking tool that captures browser click-stream data from anonymous and known users, events from mobile applications, advertising impressions and paywalls. This data is standardized and consistent across participating publications, which makes this data set unparalleled in the media industry for breadth, frequency and consistency.
By Matt Lindsay, Mather Economics | Read more

Journalists continue to lean on Twitter as fewer Americans use it as a news source

As Boston Globe Celtics writer Adam Himmelsbach summed up about as perfectly as anyone can, “Twitter is at once so great and so horrible.”
Ignore Elon Musk for a moment. Twitter remains a powerful tool for journalism, especially when it comes to breaking news. Following the right experts or local voices can enhance your beat reporting, while sports reporters can create a devoted following of new consumers by sharing mini-scoops and observations about a team or player. Summarizing your news reports with Twitter threads can simultaneously enhance its reach and increase engagement.
Through it all, it can be difficult to remember we’re not writing for Twitter and the dopamine hit that comes when one of our stories starts racking up retweets. In reality, the audience for our reporting on Twitter is shockingly small.
How small? According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, just 13% of adults in the U.S. regularly get their news from Twitter, trailing both Facebook and YouTube. In fact, more than three-quarters of adults online don’t even use Twitter, making it the least popular among all the major social media networks, including LinkedIn.
By Rob Tornoe, Editor & Publisher | Read more

How to find hidden gems in census data

Census reports offer a treasure trove of information if you know how to use them. That’s where data gurus like Paul Overberg enter the picture.
As part of the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) data team, Overberg uses the U.S. Census Bureau’s reports to uncover “hidden gems” – important stories that otherwise might not be told without having a proper understanding of data.  
For example, in the front-page article “Rural America is the New `Inner City,’” the WSJ’s analysis of census data helped reveal a major socioeconomic shift: Since the 1990s, sparsely populated counties have replaced large cities as America’s most troubled areas by key measures such as divorce rates, poverty and opioid use that increase crime.
In their research, reporters scrutinized social indicators and trends over time to uncover the story. “We could see that rural areas were falling behind because of demographic shifts over the last 10 to 15 years. The data indicated a flip from what most people were familiar with. That was surprising to us,” said Overberg, who co-authored the story.
By Sherry Ricchiardi, International Journalists' Network | Read more


By John Foust, Advertising Trainer

The power of being specific

Motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar used to ask, “Are you a meaningful specific or a wandering generality?” He related his comment to a number of areas: long and short-term goal setting, day-to-day activities, and dealings with family members, coworkers and customers.
On closer examination, it’s easy to see that his words could apply to just about any area of life or profession. Even advertising.
Why should we aim for “good” results for advertisers, when it’s much better to strive for x-percent increase in sales for their businesses? Why should salespeople accept vague answers to key questions, when it’s more useful to structure questions to get specifics? And why should we tell someone they did “nice work,” when it would mean a lot more to them to hear specific reasons why they did well? (Besides making them feel good, that kind of sincere praise encourages them to repeat the same successful behavior.)
It’s easy to be vague. It’s challenging to think – and communicate – in specifics. Yes, specifics are meaningful and generalities wander all over the place, without much significance at all. Generalities have no sticking power. Read more

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