Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  June 17, 2020
By Eric P. Robinson,
USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Protests, Free Speech and Press Freedom

The past few weeks have been tumultuous and tragic, with an ongoing pandemic, large (peaceful) protests against police misconduct and riots in some places that involved destruction of property and looting.
Of course, this is all troubling and traumatic. But from a First Amendment perspective, the direst events were the numerous instances of police, law enforcement officers and (in Washington, D.C.) national guard soldiers (in Washington, D.C.) using aggressive tactics and violence against protesters who were peacefully—although sometimes angrily and loudly—utilizing their First Amendment rights to speak, assemble and air their grievances to the government. It was especially troubling when these aggressive tactics and violence were used against journalists covering the protests. Read more 

Local Media Association launches Support Local News campaign

SCPA urges members to include subscribe, advertise links on newspaper websites

Last week the Local Media Association and the Local Media Consortium announced the launch of a major ad campaign, “Support Local News,” in partnership with the Google News Initiative. Backed by $15 million in funding from Google, the campaign will raise awareness of the need and importance of funding newsrooms through subscriptions, donations and advertising.
Here are 10 things to know about the initiative and ways local media organizations can get involved with the Support Local News campaign.
The supportlocalnewsnow.com website includes a massive, searchable database of local news outlets sorted by state. Visitors will find links to subscribe, join, donate and advertise for each media company that is listed.
SCPA worked with LMA last week to make sure all S.C. newspapers are included on the site.
As part of our research, we visited every SCPA member website. In many cases, it was difficult to find a direct URL for how to subscribe or advertise in the paper. If you don’t have this information on your home page, please consider adding a simple text-based link or button at the top of your site (or on the footer) where folks can find information on how to support your newspaper.
By Tom Silvestri,
The Relevance Project

Turning Bye Back to a Buy: Never Give Up

The quickest way to ruin a publisher’s or advertising director’s day — or budget — is for a major advertiser to quit.
As a former longtime publisher, I know that pain.
A NAM (Newspaper Association Managers) colleague called me this month wondering if I could recommend steps to help a member newspaper convince a major advertiser to return.
I’m no expert, but here are a few suggestions to consider as a step, or a series of actions, to win back the business. Read more

FOI Briefs

Some police shootings in South Carolina aren't captured on body camera. Here's why.

After Dick Tench was shot inside his home by a Greenville County sheriff's deputy on June 14, the agency said the deputy fired after Tench opened his front door and pointed his weapon.
But 45 days later, when the Sheriff's Office released body camera footage as part of its new community briefing protocols, the recorded evidence revealed the initial account was inaccurate.
After The News wrote about the discrepancy, the Sheriff's Office explained it was a case of miscommunication.
The case is a vivid example of why body camera use is critical to accountability in use-of-force cases.
By Daniel J. Gross, The Greenville News | Read more

News & Reporter obtains body camera footage of McCree shooting death

The officer-involved shooting death of Ariane McCree at the hands of City of Chester Police Officers in the Walmart parking lot last November appears to have unfolded as law enforcement has maintained it did. After numerous Freedom of Information Act requests to multiple entities, the News & Reporter obtained the body camera footage captured at the scene. The video came from the recorder of one of the two officers who shot at McCree.
By Travis Jenkins, The News & Reporter | Read more

Related: Dashcam footage, radio communications give more insight into McCree shooting (The News & Reporter)

Related: Video shows SC police shot and killed a handcuffed man. They said he pointed a gun. (By Avery G. Wilks and Joseph Cranney, The Post and Courier)

SCPA signs on to NFOIC-Brechner Center statement on police records transparency

The National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information issued a statement on law enforcement transparency and accountability in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, and the following unrest and violence that erupted around the nation. 
More than 50 organizations, including the S.C. Press Association, have signed on in support of the statement, which calls for states to enact reforms opening every aspect of the police misconduct oversight process to public scrutiny. Read more

Dashcam video released in Greenwood officer's fatal shooting of Willie Quarles

“Greenwood, I’ve got shots fired on Hospital. Shots fired.”
Greenwood Police Department Lt. Matthew Caughman’s voice was loud and clear, calling over the radio the night of May 21 after a call he was investigating turned violent. Moments earlier he had been inside the North Hospital Street residence of 60-year-old Willie Lee Quarles, where he and Quarles struggled and a shot went off, hitting Caughman in his protective vest.
In return, Caughman fired 12 times, striking and killing Quarles.
Last week, the police department shared with the Index-Journal dashcam video from Caughman’s patrol car that captured the sights and sounds of that day.
By Damian Dominguez, Index-Journal | Read more

Greenville County Council meets in secret to plan spending $91M in federal COVID aid

Greenville County has been sitting on more than $91 million in COVID-19-related federal aid since late April and has taken only minimal steps to get public input on a spending plan for the money that was developed by county staff behind closed doors.
Last week, Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven said he foresees no public hearings on the aid that came through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. He expects County Council will approve the staff-proposed spending plan in a single vote at some point in coming weeks. No date has been set, he said.
"We have gotten plenty of public input," he said.
So far, County Council has reviewed the plan only during closed-door discussions among small groups of council members. Public input has included emails and calls from constituents directly to County Council members and the results of surveys circulated by the local United Way and business advocacy groups.
This process has circumvented public-notice requirements for government meetings.
By Anna Mitchell, Greenville News | Read more

Berkeley attorney, SC House candidate pulls lawsuit over school district’s public records

A lawsuit filed against the Berkeley County School District over alleged violations of South Carolina’s public records law has been dismissed, according to court records filed last week. 
S.C. House candidate and Berkeley attorney Tom Fernandez has effectively withdrawn a lawsuit he filed last month against the school district.
Fernandez filed the suit after he was asked to pay more than $6,800 to get copies of various documents, invoices and emails exchanged on the district’s server.
He first submitted a public records request to the school district a year ago and filed the lawsuit in mid-May.
By Jenna Schiferl, Post and Courier | Read more

Police disciplinary records are largely kept secret in US

Officer Derek Chauvin had more than a dozen misconduct complaints against him before he put his knee on George Floyd's neck. Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City officer who seized Eric Garner in a deadly chokehold, had eight. Ryan Pownall, a Philadelphia officer facing murder charges in the shooting of David Jones, had 15 over five years.
But the public didn't know about any of that until the victims' deaths.
Citizen complaints against police across the U.S. are largely kept secret, either under the law or by union contract — a practice some criminal justice experts say deprives the public of information that could be used to root out problem officers before it's too late.
By Claudia Lauer and Colleen Long, Associated Press | Read more

CCU football players are testing for COVID-19, but the results won't be made public

Coastal Carolina began testing football players for COVID-19 last Monday upon their return to campus to begin voluntary workouts, and those test results will not be made available to the public.
In a statement to The Sun News, the university said it would not single out any specific faction of the student body when reporting positive coronavirus tests.
By Alan Blondin, The Sun News | Read more

People & Papers

SC McClatchy papers launch 'We Rebuild' digital sections

The State, The Island Packet, The Sun News and The (Rock Hill) Herald have launched sections on their websites called "We Rebuild." Each brings together perspectives and solutions for a path to restore our communities in a post-pandemic world.
In an announcement to readers, Editor Brian Tolley says, "Our reporters, editors and visual journalists have worked day and night to bring you coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic in South Carolina. Now, 11 weeks into this unprecedented test on our society, we’re beginning to tell the story of how we rebuild."

White House reporter Josh Dawsey tells it like it is

Editor's Note: Dawsey is a former SCPA Foundation intern and SCPA's 2011 Collegiate Journalist of the Year
Josh Dawsey is a lowlife reporter.
That’s not us talking. That’s straight from the mouth of Donald J. Trump. Or straight from his thumbs anyway. Here’s the original tweet, which the president of the United States fired off at 10:27 a.m., Nov. 7, 2019:
“The Amazon Washington Post and three lowlife reporters, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, and Carol Leonnig, wrote another Fake News story, without any sources (pure fiction), about Bill Barr & myself. We both deny this story, which they knew before they wrote it. A garbage newspaper!”
No matter what you think of the White House or The Washington Post — no matter how inured you might have become to Trump’s social media bluster — getting trashed by the president is a big deal. Even Dawsey was surprised.
By Craig Brandhorst, UofSC College of Information and Communications | Read more

Industry Briefs

News Leaders Association calls for structural changes on newsroom diversity

The NLA Diversity Study effort is under reconstruction for a variety of reasons, including the fact that news outlets across the country in recent years have declined to participate.  The 40th anniversary of the survey’s creation by the former American Society of News Editors (now News Leaders Association) brought record-low participation in 2018. Only 17 percent of U.S. newsrooms submitted their data.
To reverse the trend and develop tools for more impact,  NLA has been working with Meredith Clark, an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, for the past two years, to update the survey to address   the contemporary realities of the industry’s evolution and make it inclusive not only to journalists who are marginalized in terms of race, ethnicity and gender, but also gender identity and sexual orientation. As part of the survey work, Clark and her team conducted in-depth interviews to provide contextualizing data in attempt to help the industry make sense of the numbers. NLA is in the midst of using this research to create a more detailed data collection strategy.
From the News Leader Association | Read more

Ignited by public protests, American newsrooms are having their own racial reckoning

Like the nation itself, news organizations across the country are facing a racial reckoning, spurred by protests from their own journalists over portrayals of minority communities and the historically unequal treatment of nonwhite colleagues.
Protests and petitions over racial inequities have spilled into public view at major publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It has also intensified internal complaints by employees at others, such as The Washington Post.
And it has taken a startlingly swift toll: In just nine days since reporters and editors at the New York Times publicly objected to the publication of a controversial opinion column urging military intervention in cities where protests have spurred violence, top editors at five news outlets have resigned or stepped aside under employee pressure, including those at the Times, Inquirer, Variety, Bon Appétit magazine and the fashion and culture website Refinery29. The union representing newsroom employees at the Post-Gazette on Friday called for the resignation of its editor and managing editor.
By Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison, The Washington Post | Read more

Five do-them-now steps to making your newsroom (and coverage) more representative

After reading accounts of racism in newsrooms across the country, you might be wondering what you can do to support efforts led by journalists of color to reduce bias and inequality in newsrooms. There are a number of voices calling for systemic changes — say, hiring practices that reflect the diversity of a publication’s audience and pay equality — that take collaboration and time. But if you’re looking for something to do now, a group at The Philadelphia Inquirer has some ideas.
By Sarah Scire, Nieman Journalism Lab | Read more

Newsroom quandary: Should 'black' be capitalized?

As journalists grapple with massive protests and sweeping changes in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, U.S. newsrooms are debating an important style change: whether to capitalize the “b” in black when describing people.
The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and NBC News last week changed their practices to do that, and the National Association of Black Journalists urged other news organizations to follow.
Many are studying the idea, including The New York Times and The Associated Press. The AP Stylebook of usage policies is highly influential in the industry with many news organizations, government and public relations agencies using it as a guide.
By David Bauder, Associated Press | Read more

Columns

By Richard Whiting,
Index-Journal

Testing positive not positive news, but necessary news — I thought

OK, I think I have things straightened out in my head now. Admittedly, it took a while. Actually, almost 21 years.
Many of you in Greenwood do not want a newspaper. At least, that is, you don’t want a NEWSpaper. In simpler terms, many of you only want feel-good stories. Except for those occasions when there’s bad news about someone you don’t particularly care for. Then it’s OK. But if a similar story surfaces about you or your family or friends? Then the paper’s done resorted to meddling and just trying to profit off the misery of others.
You don’t mind a report on the arrest of so-and-so, but how dare the paper report on the arrest of someone you deem an upstanding citizen from a well-bred family lineage. Read more

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