Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Oct. 13, 2022
By Eric P. Robinson, UofSC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Libel without a name?

A parent’s apparently false allegation at a public November school board meeting that an administrator in Richland County School District Two had strip searched his daughter led to a defamation lawsuit against the parent, and against The Voice of Blythewood and Fairfield County for reporting on the allegation. An investigation concluded that the strip search had not occurred.
The defamation claims were made against the newspaper even though The Voice never named the school administrator accused of conducting the strip search in its articles on the allegation. The newspaper also did not name the parent who made the allegation, nor did it name the daughter. The newspaper did originally identify the school at which the incident allegedly took place.
The administrator’s claims against The Voice were withdrawn by the plaintiff in August, although claims against a parent remained. Yet the filing of the lawsuit points to an important component of defamation law: can a plaintiff sue for libel even if s/he is not actually named in the allegedly libelous article?
One of the fundamental requirements of a defamation claim is that the allegedly libelous statement must be “of and concerning” the plaintiff: that is, the statement must make a false, defamatory statement about a particular individual or entity that harms the individual’s or entity’s reputation. Obviously, if the person or entity is clearly identified by name and other particular characteristics, that person or entity can easily prove who or what the statement refers to. Read more

SCPA Diversity Committee to meet Nov. 10; volunteers sought

Diverse voices, backgrounds and experiences make our member news organizations and local news coverage stronger. The next meeting of SCPA's Diversity Committee is Thursday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. via Zoom. We're recruiting professional and student members to serve on this important committee. Make an impact by volunteering to serve or offering suggestions.
The Press Association’s Diversity Committee, created in 2020, is charged with the following
tasks and responsibilities:
  • Dealing with diversity, equity and inclusion issues and initiatives
  • Setting long-term diversity objectives and priorities especially as it relates to
    recruitment and news coverage
  • To provide training, resources and communications that encourage diverse voices,
    backgrounds and experiences to make our member news organizations and local news coverage stronger
  • To study and record the history of South Carolina’s African American newspapers and
  • To partner with and promote the efforts of national diversity-dedicated organizations

Attend News Contest Q&A/entry platform demo on Oct. 20

SCPA is hosting a brief Zoom session on Oct. 20 from 2-2:30 p.m. where we'll share an overview of the News Contest rules, walk you through a quick demo on how to enter using the digital platform and answer your questions. Let us know if you’d like to attend!
All editors should have received log-in info for their paper. If you haven't, please reach out to us and let us know.
Good luck and remember to contact us if you have questions about the rules or need help using the digital entry platform.

Want to cover upcoming election debates? RSVP to SCETV

SCETV and The Post and Courier’s Election 2022 Gubernatorial, Lieutenant Governor and State Superintendent of Education debates at SCETV in Columbia will be open to credentialed media.
  • Cameras are allowed inside the venue leading up to the start of the live debate but must be out of venue five minutes prior to air.
  • The Post and Courier will have a pool photographer taking photos throughout the debate. 
  • There will not be an official spin room, but once the debate is complete, journalists are welcome to talk to candidates. This will be up to the campaigns.
  • There will be a filing room set up for reporters to watch the debate and file stories. 
Press interested in attending or covering this event should RSVP to SCETV Communications at
You can watch the debates live on SCETV's statewide network, the SCETV website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Here's the schedule:

Quote of the Week

"We realize that people who worry that the woke mob is taking over the world tend to believe that mainstream media are part of that mob. But while there’s no question that TV and radio networks and even newspaper reporters can allow their biases to influence their decisions about what topics to cover and which people to interview, they can almost always be counted on to get the basic facts right — and to correct them if they don’t. People who work for established news organizations can be sued and lose a lot of money if they just make stuff up — something that’s not a realistic deterrent for your Aunt Martha’s Twitter posts."

FOI Briefs

Members invited to attend NFOIC virtual summit Oct. 18-20

SCPA members are invited to attend the National Freedom of Information Coalition's virtual FOI Summit Oct. 18-20.
Tune in to hear how police and other government workers are using disappearing messages to avoid FOIA, to learn the best approaches for enforcing FOI laws, to examine whether accurate information reduces political polarization, and to hear real stories from real people who have used FOIA in critical moments of need.  View speakers and agenda.
Registration — $25 for NFOIC members — includes admittance to live sessions plus recordings of most sessions for six months. 

Legal Briefs

Whitaker restricts county employees from talking to media or council members

Last week, Fairfield County Administrator Malik Whitaker informed the county’s department heads that employees are not to talk to council members.
It is the third time this year that Whitaker has tried to curtail who county employees can talk to. Some have expressed concern that the administration is impinging on their right to free speech. ...
Media Attorney Jay Bender addressed Whitaker’s interpretation of the law.
“I think the interpretation by the administrator is not supported by the language of the statute, and quite possibly an infringement on the First Amendment rights of county employees,” Bender said. “The code section exists to prevent council members from giving orders to county employees.  It does not prohibit employees from having conversations with council members, especially in the context of an election.  County employees are free to take political positions and make political statements so long as these are not disruptive to the office in which they are employed.”
By Barbara Ball, The Voice of Fairfield County | Read more

A big week for press freedom in Congress

The last couple of weeks in Congress have been the biggest for press freedom all year.
First, on Sept. 19, the House passed H.R. 4330, the Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying Act, which would create a privilege for journalists that shields them from being forced to reveal protected information, including about confidential sources.
The bill passed by a unanimous vote, and it defines protected information as “any information identifying a source who provided information as part of engaging in journalism,” and “any records, contents of a communication, documents, or information that a covered journalist obtained or created as part of engaging in journalism.” This protects against virtually all electronic device searches of journalists. It includes a few exceptions, but they are narrow (when a court determines disclosure is necessary to prevent an act of terrorism, for example). ... Second, on Sept. 15, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) introduced a federal anti-SLAPP bill. (Raskin was also the lead sponsor of the PRESS Act, so he deserves much credit for this great week.) SLAPPs — or strategic lawsuits against public participation — are meritless lawsuits filed to suppress constitutionally protected speech.
By Emily Hockett, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press | Read more

People & Papers

Aiken Standard celebrates long serving employees for National Newspaper Week

To celebrate National Newspaper Week, the Aiken Standard hosted several fun activities including BBQs and Kona Ice. They also ended the week by handing out Subway catered boxes and Krispy Kreme donuts to their carriers to celebrate International Newspaper Carrier Day. In the newspaper, The Standard profiled employees with 25 or more years of service:
  • DiAnn Bell, having been with the Aiken Standard since June 18, 1984, is the newspaper’s longest-serving employee. She serves as advertising sales assistant with major national accounts.
  • Diane Daniell, the advertising sales manager, has been on board with the newspaper since January 1989.
  • Gloria Dairon has been a fixture at the newspaper’s front desk since 1991.
  • Bill Bengtson began his career as a reporter in Aiken in March 1996 or, as he likes to say, “during Bill Clinton’s first term (as president).”

Stegelin wins major cartooning award for mocking the power

Charleston City Paper cartoonist Steve Stegelin won a major national award for cartoon excellence for the style and snark that Charlestonians have come to love for the last 18 years.
Stegelin received the “Rex Babin Memorial Award for Excellence in Local Cartooning” at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, which was held during the CXC Festival in Columbus, Ohio.
From Charleston City Paper | Read more

Dick Puffer reflects on 22 years at Byerly Foundation helm

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Dick Puffer on his retirement! Earlier in his career, he took a job with the Hartsville Messenger as a sports reporter and was later named news editor.
Richard A. “Dick” Puffer’s last day as executive director of The Byerly Foundation in Hartsville was Sept. 30.
He retired Sept. 30 from the position he has held for 22 years. Brianna Douglas, who has been the associate executive director since March, will take over the position on Oct. 1.
Puffer’s career path has been varied – Marine, teacher, journalist, corporate communications, college professor and leader of a nonprofit dedicated to helping people build a better community in Hartsville.
In a chat with the New York native about his life in Hartsville, what he will miss about his day-to-day connections with people in the community and his plans for retirement, Puffer said, “I have learned a lot from everything I’ve done and enjoyed most of it. I didn’t enjoy being an elementary school teacher, but I enjoyed the journey.”
By Ardath Arvidson, The Hartsville Messenger | Read more 
Left to right: Meliah Bowers Jefferson, Keith Miller and James McDuffie “Duff” Bruce.

Giving Matters: The Jolley Foundation prioritizes equity under new executive director

Editor's Note: Many SCPA members know Meliah Bowers Jefferson, who has handled media law cases and issues during her time at Wyche Law Firm. Jefferson has been a frequent panelist of "Counselors Off the Cuff" at the SCPA Annual Meeting.
In its 75 years of existence, the Jolley Foundation has not turned away from hard problems. Having seen the effects of illness, alcoholism, and larger forces like drought and economic depression on families, founders Albert and Rucker Jolley created a fund to help employees of their business, Royal Crown Cola, in times of crisis. Their children, Bob, Mamie and Jimmy, expanded that legacy to the larger Greenville community, funding organizations focused on alleviating poverty through social services and education. Today, the foundation is working towards a just, compassionate, vibrant community by tackling systemic racism. ...
They listened, holding focus groups and convening a group of community advisors with expertise based on lived experience. On learning that Tish McCutcheon—the foundation’s first executive director, hired in 2017 — planned to retire, they incorporated the new strategic direction into their search for her successor. Among a talented pool, they found a formidable partner in Meliah Bowers Jefferson. 
“The candidates were such a diverse group. The fact that we could have hired any one of the finalists gave us so much hope,” Christman says. “Meliah’s own story is an inspiring one. We’re so grateful and proud that she chose us.” 
By Rebecca Howerton, Greenville Journal | Read more
The Gaffney Ledger’s Associate Publisher and News Editor Abbie Sossamon visited the Palmetto Christian Academy of Gaffney earlier this month. She spoke to Candace Waters’ 8th and 9th grade honors English students about the important role of newspapers in a community and explained the different facets of the newspaper and journalism. The visit coincided with the class’s study of journalism. Students have spent the past week working on a press release for the school’s upcoming 5K Scarecrow Scurry. Sossamon helped refine the students’ work and offer advice on how to submit a well-written press release.
The Link is has gone pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since 2012, the newspaper has printed the first week of October issue on pink newsprint. 

Industry Briefs

The Post and Courier hosts free climate event Oct. 19

The Post and Courier will be hosting From the Arctic to Africa, an event highlighting how climate struggles across the globe are affecting the Lowcountry. Nicolas Haque, an award-winning roving news correspondent based out of Senegal, will join Tony Bartelme, senior projects reporter for The Post and Courier, as a guest panelist.
Haque’s reporting documented the impact of climate change on a coastal community and UNESCO world heritage site in Senegal, where tens of thousands of people have been uprooted by rising sea levels. 
The event will take place Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 6-7 p.m. at the Rita Liddy Hollings Center at the College of Charleston. Tickets are free, but registration is required. Learn more and register to attend.

AP and API host free Oct. 20 webinar on midterm election coverage

The American Press Institute and Associated Press will host a webinar Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. about midterm election coverage plans and advice.
Now is a good time to stop and think through potential developments in the days leading up to Nov. 8, on Election Day itself and in the days after. It’s also a good moment for newsrooms to make sure their coverage checklists aren’t missing any important items. Hear from journalists at Associated Press – including its new democracy team – about its plans for Election Day, and lessons newsrooms can take away from AP’s 175 years of experience covering elections.
This webinar is designed to leave journalists with insights they can take back to their newsrooms for discussion. We plan to leave time for questions and answers. Learn more and register to attend.

SCPA members invited to attend Buchheit Family Lecture on Oct. 26

SCPA members are invited to attend "After the Storm," the Buchheit Family Lecture on Oct. 26 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the UofSC Law School. Two Pulitzer Prize-willing UofSC alumni will be speaking about their experiences covering the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.
Win McNamee, a 1985 graduate shared the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography with a group of Getty Images photographers for “comprehensive and consistently riveting photos of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
Josh Dawsey, a 2012 graduate shared the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service as part of a team of journalists for The Washington Post that delivered a “compellingly told and vividly presented account of the assault on Washington.”
Learn more and register to attend.



Eddie Litaker, Sumter Item sports stringer and longtime journalist, dies Oct. 9 after sideline injury

A person whose name was long found atop articles in the sports section of The Sumter Item died Oct. 9 after initially being taken to the hospital from the sidelines of a Friday Night Lights game in Lake City.
Eddie Litaker was hit Oct. 7 as he was reporting from the sidelines of the Lakewood-Lake City game and initially taken to the hospital from the field with a broken leg. Ahead of his scheduled surgery Oct. 9 after being transferred to McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, a blood clot moved from his leg to his chest, and medical staff was unable to revive him.
He was 56.
Litaker was a staff sports reporter for The Sumter Item before becoming a longtime freelance writer, traveling the region to cover games for The Item’s three-county coverage area. He was a former editor for the Manning Times.
When he was not on the sidelines or in the press box, he could be found helping customers at Walmart Neighborhood Market on Bultman Drive in Sumter. He also previously worked at Piggly Wiggly.
Litaker was a Gamecock fan and received his bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from the University of South Carolina Aiken and studied at USC Sumter. He graduated from Sumter High School’s Class of 1984.
The family will hold a visitation from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct 13, at Elmore Cannon Stephens Funeral Home on Miller Road, and the funeral will be 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 14, at First Baptist Church on East Liberty Street.
A memorial article will be published soon. To share your condolences or memories of Eddie for that article, please email Kayla Green at
The Sumter Item has set up a GoFundMe for Litaker's family to help with funeral and other expenses. All donations will go to the family. Locals can also bring a check to The Sumter Item's office at 36 W. Liberty St. in downtown Sumter that we will collect for the family. Make checks out to John Litaker.


By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant

Go beyond ‘votes and quotes’ when delivering election results

Newsrooms have toiled the past many weeks churning out stories to help voters make informed choices on Election Day. Now you’re ready to put the exclamation point on coverage.
“Votes and quotes” are the typical charge for delivering results by producing voting charts and soliciting quotes from winners and losers. Is that your best use of resources as the community’s clearinghouse of information?  Is it enough to simply regurgitate standard information readily available on a variety of platforms?
In short, newspapers put incredible resources into laying the groundwork for elections, but then often fall short in translating what voters said. This is an excellent time to think how best to examine reporting the results.
Here is one checklist of items to consider when deploying resources on what is certain to be a hectic night:
Decide criteria for pursuing comments from winners and losers. Not all races necessitate the obligatory statements, especially if results were widely predicted.
Be prepared for surprises. Was an especially popular incumbent ousted? Do races require an automatic recount? Read more
By Phyllis Britt,
Guest Columnist,
Aiken Standard

In celebration of National Newspaper Week

This is National Newspaper Week. It’s a time to celebrate newspapers in general, and our local newspapers, in particular.
In today’s world, fewer and fewer people hold a daily newspaper in their hands. In a time when “news” is, literally, at your fingertips through your phone or the TV or on your computer, you might conclude newspapers have outlived their usefulness. But I would disagree.
Yes, over the last couple of decades many of us have changed how we access information, but your community newspaper is still the most reliable source for accurate information. In 2022 the internet has become the fall-back for a lot of us, but what can you trust to be true? There are blogs, social media, even online “newspapers” created by people who disguise their biases in what appear to be news stories. It gets harder and harder to know what you can trust to be factual.
I firmly believe that your community newspaper remains the best source.
Yes, technology has changed how we do things. Only in the last 20 years have newspapers moved away from printing stories out in column-width strips of paper, pasting those strips on a newspaper-sized page, then photographing the pages to make negatives, and finally metal “plates” to put on the press. Since then, we’ve moved to writing, editing and producing pages, and even press plates, totally through a computer – without printing out a single page. Read more

Upcoming Events

Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn
powered by emma