Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Sept. 29, 2022

National Newspaper Week starts Sunday

Don't forget that the 82nd annual observance of National Newspaper Week, sponsored by Newspaper Association Managers (NAM), is Oct. 2-8.
SCPA members can download resources to mark the occasion, including editorials, cartoons, house ads and social media art. Please make plans to promote the week and the importance of local newspaper media in your publications.
This year's observance is coordinated by the N.C. Press Association.
Sharpe

SCPA names Sharpe Governmental Affairs Adviser

The S.C. Press Association has named Ray Sharpe as its Governmental Affairs Adviser.
In this role, Sharpe will oversee SCPA’s legislative efforts and represent the association at the Statehouse.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Ray join our team. He brings the energy and expertise we need and cares deeply about the role local newspapers play in keeping South Carolinians informed about issues that matter,” said SCPA Co-Executive Director Randall Savely.
Sharpe is retiring this year as Executive Director of the SC Cable Television Association, a longtime SCPA Associate Member. He’s led the organization since 2008.
Before joining SCCTA, Sharpe served as Governmental Affairs Director for SCETV, where he partnered with SCPA to produce the weekly television programs, This Week in the Senate and This Week in the House. He also managed ten SCETV Community Advisory Boards and appeared regularly as an on-air fundraising host.
Sharpe also worked as a Senior Rate Analyst at the SC Public Service Commission and SILVERxCARD Manager at the SC Budget & Control Board under Governor Jim Hodges.
From 2019 through 2022, Sharpe served as an ETV Commissioner appointed by Governor McMaster.
Sharpe is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
“Ray has jumped right in to help us prepare for the upcoming session and we look forward to introducing him to our members,” said SCPA Co-Executive Director Jen Madden. “Plans are in the works to host in-person and virtual member advocacy training sessions this fall as well as in-district meetings with the legislators.”
Sharpe succeeds Cathy Dreher, who retired as SCPA’s lobbyist in July.

Reminder to file your postal statement with USPS by Oct. 1

Paid newspaper members: The deadline to complete and file your annual U.S. Postal Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation (Form 3526) with your postmaster is Oct. 1.
This form must be published in your newspaper as follows:
  • Dailies and 2-3 Times Weekly by Oct. 10
  • Weeklies by Oct. 31

IRE workshop canceled due to Hurricane Ian 

Due to the potential threat of severe weather caused by Hurricane Ian, SCPA has canceled the IRE Data Journalism training scheduled for Friday. Registrants have been notified. We hope to reschedule for early 2023. 
Also a reminder that now is a good time to review your newspaper's disaster preparedness checklist. As we’ve learned from recent hurricanes and other natural disasters, your newspaper has a unique and important responsibility to the community and must plan to operate in a crisis. You need to be prepared so you can continue to function in spite of setbacks. Preplanning is the most important step in avoiding or knowing what to do in case of a disaster.
Thanks to all S.C. journalists who will be working this week to keep South Carolinians informed about the storm. Please stay safe and thank you for all you do to serve your communities!
We had a great turnout at SCPA member Happy Hour last week! Thanks to folks from The Sumter Item (pictured here), The State, The Post and Courier Columbia, The People-Sentinel, Lexington County Chronicle and Associated Press for coming out!

"Back to school" 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

Charleston’s tourism machine: Lack of scrutiny and accountability keeps public in dark about millions of taxpayer dollars spent every year

Promoting Charleston as one of the world’s top tourist attractions has cost taxpayers nearly $150 million during the last two decades, and they have no way to know exactly where the money went. 
That’s because the state and local governments that gave away that cash have failed to seek an exact accounting from the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. The nonprofit, more commonly known as Explore Charleston, uses taxpayers’ money to advertise the Lowcountry’s virtues to attract vacationers.
Explore Charleston and similar destination marketing organizations around the state run almost entirely on the public’s dime without the financial transparency normally required by the government. 
The money generated from tourism is significant. Cities, towns and counties across South Carolina have collected more than $942 million in accommodations tax money since 2004. That would be enough to pay the tuition of 18,812 in-state students to the College of Charleston for four years. ...
Lynn S. Teague, vice president of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of South Carolina, said the League also sees it as a problem. “Any time public money is involved, there should be real transparency. The public should know exactly where that money went, and they should know ahead of time.”
Jay Bender, a media lawyer and expert on the state’s Freedom of Information Act agreed: “When public money can be spent without public oversight it is more than likely to be misused,” he said. 
By Briah Lumpkins and Doug Pardue, The Post and Courier | Read more

Editiorial: LR5 had a ‘violation of law’ and nothing happened. SC can’t keep letting nothing happen

Here we go again.
Another piece of evidence has surfaced that school boards regularly violate open meeting and record laws and get away with it.
This has to stop. School boards — and any public board for that matter — need to follow the law or be punished.
The latest evidence comes in an audit of Lexington-Richland 5 spending from 2016 to 2021 that the current board posted online. The audit mostly focuses on money the district spent on building a school, as reported on by The State’s Bristow Marchant. The spending is concerning, but a paragraph on a different topic stands out. 
By David Travis Bland, The State | Read more

Barnwell County Council violates FOIA law, confuses ordinances

After Barnwell County Council Chairman Harold Buckmon welcomed a larger than usual sized crowd to the September 13 regular meeting, the agenda was amended to allow for a brief executive session.
Council members stepped into the Carolina Room at the SouthernCarolina Alliance (SCA) building for less than five minutes to discuss “personnel matters” before both new and old business was addressed.
This action was a violation of South Carolina Code Section 30-4-70 which finds, “councils must be as specific as possible without compromising the issues. The motion to enter executive session should be specific,” according to the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC).
MASC finds specifics include but are not limited to a reasoning such as, “to go into executive session to discuss applications for employment,” within a specific department, or “to discuss negotiation of a contract and receipt of legal advice related,” to a specific project.
The explanation of “personnel matters” is not specific enough for the county council to motion to go into executive session.
By Alexandra Whitbeck, The People-Sentinel | Read more

Barnwell City Council enters illegal session

Why did Barnwell City Council enter closed session? That’s a question even council couldn’t fully answer before voting to close their meeting last week.
Council’s Sept. 12 agenda listed “personnel/procedural/informational briefing” as the reason for closed session; however, those reasons were not specific enough as required by state law. Before a public body can go behind closed doors, the S.C. Freedom of Information Act requires they vote on both the specific purpose and identify one of the six enumerated proper reasons in the Act.
“In voting to go into executive session for ‘personnel/procedural/informational briefing’ the City Council failed to announce a specific purpose, including a description of the matter to be discussed, for going into executive session. This failure robbed those present of an understanding of their public officials’ activities purportedly being done on their behalf,” said Taylor Smith, attorney for the S.C. Press Association, which represents the state’s nearly 100 newspapers.
Fellow SCPA attorney Jay Bender said the lack of stating a specific purpose made the closed-door meeting illegal.
By Jonathan Vickery, The People-Sentinel | Read more

The Voice FOIs the missing Richland County PC minutes

As Richland County planning staff pushes the planning commission and county council to fast track an unpopular mass rezoning plan for the entire unincorporated area of the county, much information has not been transparent to the public – most noticeably, the minutes from many of the planning commission meetings, as far back as three years.
Council members, planning commission members and citizens have all asked staff multiple times for the minutes of the meetings to be posted.
Some of the missing minutes – dating as far back as 2019 – have not even been approved, including those from the crucial June 14, 2021 meeting when the planning commission recommended the new Land Development Code amendments to council. Most of this year’s minutes have not been approved or made public.
“The delay in providing minutes is a violation of the law,” according to Media Attorney Jay Bender, who represents the South Carolina Press Association, of which The Voice is a member. “Minutes do not become minutes when they are approved by the body, but when they are prepared.” 
On Sept. 12, The Voice submitted a Freedom of Information request to Geonard Price in the Richland County Department of Planning and Zoning.
By Barbara Ball, The Voice of Blythewood | Read more

Lake Keowee attacker killed by boat rescuer had BAC triple legal limit

John and Debra Dotson saw the riderless Sea-Doo first, cutting circles in the surface of Lake Keowee as its engine continued to run.
Then they saw the two people in the water, struggling to stay afloat without life vests.
We have to help them, Debra, 70, told her 74-year-old husband that afternoon in March.
They’d set out that day to enjoy a relaxing fishing trip. Their Seneca home sits just minutes from Keowee, a man-made reservoir with 300 miles of shoreline that is a popular spot for fishing or boating in the northwest area of the state. They’d been on the lake for several hours when they saw the two thrown riders, and didn’t hesitate to pull them onto their pontoon boat.
But within moments their rescue attempt devolved into a life-or-death struggle when one of the riders suddenly attacked the elderly couple. Shots rang out, and a 29-year-old man soon lay dead on the deck.
It was the first homicide on Lake Keowee — or on a boat at all — that Oconee County Sheriff Michael Crenshaw is aware of in his 35 years with the agency. 
“It was a unique case for us, a unique set of circumstances,” he said.
In the wake of the shooting, questions swirled about how an act of kindness had taken such a violent turn. The subsequent investigation by both the sheriff’s office and coroner’s office, as reflected in dozens of documents, audio recordings and images obtained by The Post and Courier, sheds light on the only homicide on Lake Keowee in decades. The newspaper obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Act request.
By Conor Hughes, The Post and Courier Greenville | Read more

Anderson asks county for $78K settlement for 2019 separation

Two days after the Fairfield County Council voted on June 13, 2022, to pay $50,000 from the county’s general fund to former employee Diana Robinson after she resigned her position with the county, former County Deputy Administrator Davis Anderson asked the county to pay him $78,661.80 for what he said was a forced resignation after he was accused of cronyism a little over three years ago. ...
“A resignation on my behalf would have been completed on plain paper since I would have been representing myself, not the county,” Anderson wrote.
According to documents The Voice received from the county in response to an FOI request, Robinson also received a termination letter, but submitted a handwritten note of resignation on plain paper, reflective of her own decision to resign, not the county’s.
Councilman Douglas Pauley said that Bell told the council members in executive session there was nothing in Robinson’s personnel file; however, following the $50,000 payout to Robinson, the county released a packet of pages, more than an inch deep, of information from her file in response to a Freedom of Information request from The Voice.
By Barbara Ball, The Voice of Fairfield County | Read more

People & Papers

Tribune-Times ceases publication

The Tribune-Times of Simpsonville published its final edition on Sept. 14.
This free distribution weekly had a long history in the Upstate, starting as the Fountain Inn Tribune in 1911. It was one of the country’s best-known weeklies during the 1920s and 1930s under the leadership of Robert Quillen.
It merged with the Simpsonville Times in 1957, and was sold a few times before being purchased by Ben and Polly Davis. Family members joined the Davises, including Teri Davis Hammond, editor, Gwinn Davis, photo and sports editor, and Sudie Gambrell, advertising sales manager and later general manager.
The newspaper was sold to Multimedia Publishing Co. in 1987 and became a Gannett newspaper in 1996.
Siblings and long-time Tribune-Times employees Sudie Gambrell and Gwinn Davis retired in 2012 after three decades at the paper.
Stone

Merger of newspapers brings broader spectrum of news to three counties

John Stone retired three times, and three times he felt a call to return to the workforce.
“I retired with the full intent that I’m done,” Stone said. “I was just going to fish and play golf and do all those retirement things. I found out that our local paper, the Lincoln Journal, was going to close if they didn’t find a suitable buyer by the summer (of last year).”
Stone, a Lincoln County, Georgia resident, purchased the Journal in July 2021 and then later purchased the weekly papers in McCormick and Washington, Georgia and merged them in April under a new banner, The Lincoln-McCormick Journal Messenger and Washington News-Reporter.
“The main thing we’re doing right now is growing, very carefully. One step at a time,” Stone said. “Some of the folks that been involved with the papers have been involved with them their whole lives, and now they’re passing the baton on. At some point, I’ll pass the baton on, too. I just want to make sure all three papers are in terrific shape and geared for the next century to be successful and stay out there.”
By Greg K. Deal, Index-Journal | Read more
Brinson

Journalist discusses importance of acknowledging history, civil rights at Sumter County Museum event

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But some stories are unlike any other.
In the "Stories of Struggle" series written by South Carolina journalist and author Claudia Smith Brinson, the intimate, heartbreaking experiences shared by Black activists in South Carolina during the Civil Rights Movement paired with the monochromatic yet vividly moving photographs from that time period stand out. Brinson partnered with the Sumter County Museum recently at McKenzie Hall for a discussion about the role the city and its residents played in the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina. Brinson worked as a journalist for more than 30 years in Greece, Florida and South Carolina. As a military child, she moved around a lot and became accustomed to meeting new people - a practice she said prepared her for her career, summarizing the experience as "used to being in, but always somewhat out."
By Alaysha Maple, The Sumter Item | Read more
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Industry Briefs

Klobuchar, Cruz strike deal to advance journalism antitrust bill

A bill that would let most news outlets collectively negotiate with dominant tech platforms for compensation to distribute their content advanced out of a Senate committee Thursday after Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) struck a deal. 
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act aims to help local and smaller news outlets negotiate by leveling the playing field with tech giants like Google and Facebook.
Sept. 22’s vote to advance the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee followed two weeks of negotiations between Klobuchar and Cruz after the Democrat pulled a vote on her bill at a markup earlier this month.
The bill was pulled after an amendment from Cruz about content moderation was adopted when Democrats were down a member with Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) isolating in India with COVID-19.
“Platforms like Facebook and Google are counting on Republicans and Democrats being unable to put aside their differences to agree on meaningful legislation in the tech sector. This is our moment to prove them wrong,” Klobuchar said at the Sept. 22 vote. 
The bill advanced in a 15-7 vote, with seven Republicans voting against the bipartisan amendment.
By Rebecca Klar, The Hill | Read more

Obituaries

Editor's Note: In last week's edition, we shared Bill Click's obituary. Click, who died on Sept. 15, was former chair of the Winthrop Department of Mass Communication. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22 at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Rock Hill. The service is open to the public. 

Columns

By John Foust, Advertising Trainer

Say it and do it, or renegotiate

Joanne is an ad manager with a common-sense approach to managing her team and their goals. She believes in communication – not micro-management – but real communication on how things are going.
“For years,” she told me, “I often found out at the eleventh hour that something wasn’t going as planned. A crucial email wasn’t sent in time, a proposal was held up by research delays, or an ad deadline wasn’t met. Now, those things can happen to even the best members of an ad team at the best of publications. But it puts everyone in an awkward position and threatens to damage our credibility.
“So, I started relying on a little saying that I heard a long time ago: ‘Say what you’re going to do. Then do it, or renegotiate.’ It has become a catchphrase around the office. Start out with a realistic commitment, by saying what you’re going to do, whether it’s to email certain information to an advertiser by the end of the week, submit a proposal by next Tuesday, or have an ad ready to run by this afternoon. Then do what you committed to do – on time. It sounds simple, but some salespeople get so excited about a sale that they have a tendency to overpromise. That’s where they can get into trouble by thinking they can double their effort and get things done on schedule. The result is often a missed deadline or sloppy proofreading.  Read more

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