Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  April 15, 2021
By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Chauvin trial shows importance of court access

There has been a lot of attention focused on the ongoing trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. Occurring in the context of often-heated discussions of police treatment of minorities, the trial has been shown live on TV and online, and most of the coverage by other media has relied on these live feeds.
This shows that a trial can be covered by cameras without turning into a sensation. And it provides a good example of the reasons why courts should be open to the press and other observers, and that media coverage of the courts can play an important role in showing the functioning of the courts and the basis for legal rulings and verdicts.
There is a long history of British and then American courts being open to public observation. One reason for this, famous English judge and lawyer Sir William Blackstone wrote in 1768, is keeping witnesses honest: “open examination of witnesses,” he wrote, “ … in the presence of all mankind, is much more conducive to the clearing up of truth, than private and secret examination. … [A] witness may frequently depose that in private which he will be ashamed to testify in a public and solemn tribunal.” It also assures that the courts are operating fairly, and that government prosecutors are not abusing their power. Thus the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial …” The U.S. Supreme Court has also held that courts are generally required to be open to the public under the First Amendment right of free speech.
But the development of still, film and video cameras led to questions about whether these devices should be allowed in courts. Similar questions arose with portable audio recorders, and more recently with various digital devices. Read more

Member Spotlight: Eric Sprott

Eric with his wife, Cassie, and their sons, Jacob, 6, and Noah, 3.
Sports Editor, The Journal, Seneca

What do you like best about your job?
Being able to shine a light on our local high school athletes is probably what I enjoy the most. We are the only daily newspaper that covers a majority of our area schools, so their chances at the spotlight aren’t plentiful. 
But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my numerous trips to the College Football Playoff covering Clemson football. There’s plenty of work involved, but many of my fondest memories in my career have come from those trips.

What is your proudest career moment? 
I had to wrestle with this one, but I think I’d have to say when I won my first first-place award from the SCPA for top sports feature story in 2015. That was a very proud moment for me, and I took the time to get in touch and thank a pair of my high school English teachers — David Beckley and Nancy Swanson from Daniel High School in Central — who really helped me get to where I am now.

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?

In the sports department specifically, we had some excitement in December with Daniel High winning a state title in football. It was the first state football title we’ve had since I’ve been here — dating back to 2007 — and Daniel’s first since 1998. With the paper on the whole, it’s very exciting that we’ve actually added newsroom positions and continued to grow our circulation in the midst of the pandemic. It’s a real credit to staff at all levels here, and it’s not lost on me how fortunate we are to continue growing through all this mess.

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
I don’t have to reach out often in my current role, but I always appreciated how promptly the SCPA staff would be when I reached out for legal advice during my stint in news from 2015-17. And, of course, the staff is still great whenever I do get in touch.

What are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
If you love the outdoors, there’s a lot to check out in the Oconee County area. Lakes, waterfalls, mountains — there’s a little bit of everything. I’d recommend a stop at the South Carolina Botanical Garden on the Clemson campus, though I’m probably a bit biased since my dad used to be the grounds manager there. Foodwise, your iconic locations include Time Drive-In in Seneca, and the Esso Club and Mac’s Drive In in Clemson. Some of my other favorites are Paesano’s in Seneca, Columbo’s in Clemson and Sardi’s Den in Clemson.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
My close friends are well aware, but I’m a fanatical fan of The Who — as a nearly 37-year old man who was born well after Keith Moon’s death in 1978 and the band’s official breakup in 1982. I’ve seen the band nine times, and I’ve met Roger Daltrey after several shows, and Pete Townshend once after a 2007 show in Little Rock.

What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work — and largely recalling my pre-pandemic self — I spend most of my time with my wife and kids, as well as my friends. Going out for dinner and a movie, going to sporting events and playing cards with my buddies are all things I’m looking forward to getting out and doing again. 

Anything else we should know?
It's worth mentioning I've been at The Journal since graduating from Clemson in 2007 — I actually came on board about two weeks before graduation — and have been in sports almost the entire time. I was Sports Editor from 2012-15, switched into news from 2015-17, and came back to Sports Editor from 2017 through the present.
Know someone that you’d like SCPA to spotlight? Email us your recommendations.

FOI Briefs

Beaufort County’s ‘problematic’ public records policy is now in effect. What it says

A new policy that legal experts say could impede the public’s right to access government records is now in effect for Beaufort County.
Monday night, Beaufort County Council voted 7-3 to approve the county’s uniform Freedom of Information Act policy. Supporters say it creates a countywide roadmap for how to respond consistently to requests for public records from reporters, lawyers, business owners and residents trying to find information about such things as taxes, real estate and trash and recycling programs.
The policy seeks to “balance Beaufort County’s commitment to transparency and openness” while protecting confidential information, it states.
But legal experts say the policy, which allows the county to redact disciplinary issues and resumes, withhold video and audio recordings and requires some citizens to sign an indemnity agreement before records are released, is problematic and places unnecessary barriers between citizens and their elected officials.
“While trying to address what could have been important changes to the way Beaufort County handles (S.C. Freedom of Information Act) requests, they may have created more problems with regards to trust from their constituents,” said Taylor Smith, an attorney who litigates Freedom of Information Act cases.
By Kacen Bayless, The Island Packet | Read more

People & Papers

Hannah Strong Oskin named managing editor of My Horry News

Horry County is one special place.
I may be a bit biased, but it certainly is beautiful from the coast to the western parts. And is full of great people with many stories to tell.
My name is Hannah Strong Oskin, and I'm the new managing editor at My Horry News.
I'll be focusing on coverage in western Horry County, which will include the Loris government, stories about folks in the community, public safety, farming and everything else in between.
While I love the coastal parts of Horry County, the western area holds a special place in my heart. My late grandfather, Wallace Bruton, was a longtime tobacco farmer and I remember spending summers on my grandparents’ farm, watching the tractors roll by, checking out the greenhouse and helping my grandmother cook meals for my grandfather and all of our family members who were outside working hard in the summer heat.
I'll never forget how big of a deal it was to go into town with my Grandma Reba on Saturday mornings for her weekly hair appointment and then going to Goody's and Walmart to shop. We would always run into someone she knew or a family member, and that's one thing I love about this area: You know someone almost everywhere you go and people love to stop and speak.
I was born right in the heart of the county at Conway Medical Center and grew up in Pawleys Island. After graduating from Waccamaw High School, I went to Winthrop University in Rock Hill where I majored in mass communication with a minor in marketing. From there, I worked with The Lancaster News before I came back to the area to work with a couple of local publications. My favorite things to do in my free time are spend evenings and weekends with my family, cook and read. Read more

P&C selected for LMA’s Covering Climate Collaborative

The Post and Courier is one of 22 news outlets recently selected to participate in the Local Media Association's Covering Climate Collaborative.
Together, these newsrooms will focus on covering the impacts of climate change at the local level and reporting on ways communities can take action.
“We’re thrilled to announce this group of newsrooms that are recognized for their commitment to reporting locally on the impacts of climate change,” said Frank Mungeam, LMA chief innovation officer. “This collaboration brings together newsrooms with diverse platform expertise — from print to digital to audio and video — and represents key regions directly affected by our changing climate.” Read more

Industry Briefs

New initiative aims to help journalists address the ‘unpublishing’ dilemma

The only resource of its kind, launched last week to help journalists confront the rising pressures to “unpublish” — a digital-age dilemma that challenges everything from daily reporting practices to the fundamental values of the news profession.
Unpublishing is industry jargon for a set of complex issues surrounding requests from individuals to remove, obscure or significantly alter then-accurate information published about them in the past — potentially a decade or more ago. Newsrooms did not face problems of information permanence in the days when news was printed with ink on paper and yesterday’s edition was quickly discarded.
Deborah Dwyer, a Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow and a doctoral candidate in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, created this resource in collaboration with an expert advisory board. One member, Alan Sunderland, is executive director of the Organization of News Ombudsmen and former editorial director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Unpublishing is a significant and growing issue for every working journalist,” he said. “The new website provides a fine introduction to the ethical challenges involved in unpublishing, as well as some handy tips on how to approach those challenges without undermining your work."
As early as the 1990s, news professionals raised the issues of preserving digital news content and the impact these “digital attics” could have. However, no industry standards have been agreed upon for newsrooms to adopt. “That leaves each newsroom — part of a profession often characterized as the ‘first draft of history' and one that roots its professionalism in consistent standards — to go at it alone,” Dwyer said. “That’s a tall order, especially when newsroom resources are tight and public trust of the media is low."
From Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more

How the AP Stylebook has kept up with the pandemic

The pandemic gave us a new vocabulary to describe everyday life — Zoom, anyone? — and editors at the Associated Press Stylebook have been working to keep up.
AP first published its coronavirus topical guide last March and has since updated it “five or six” times in the past year, AP Stylebook editor Paula Froke said. The current version, published March 10, contains 74 entries, 43 of which are new to the stylebook.
The guide includes medical terms — hydroxychloroquine and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children — as well as phrases to describe the socially distant lifestyle many have adopted since the pandemic’s start. Pods, as in learning pods or social pods, get their own entry, and AP now recognizes that FaceTime, Skype and Zoom can be used as verbs (but does not recommend such usage).
By Angela Fu, Poynter | Read more

For Black journalists, working Chauvin trial drains emotions

NEW YORK (AP) — At the end of a stressful day, Sara Sidner seeks the friendly wag of a dog’s tail. Shaquille Brewster turns to sports on TV, and Julia Jenae talks things out with colleagues.
Each is covering one of the nation’s biggest stories, the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin. Each is also a Black journalist, reporting on an issue of great racial significance and forced — as part of their jobs — to watch video of George Floyd’s life ending again and again.
“You really feel the consequences of it,” said Brewster, who at age 28 is delivering repeated reports on NBC News and MSNBC programs.
The National Association of Black Journalists has taken note of the assignment’s potential difficulties, calling on news organizations to make resources available to help employees cope. Reporters covering the trial may be susceptible to trauma tied to their own experiences or previous stories about encounters between police and Black people, said Dorothy Tucker, NABJ president.
By David Bauder, Associated Press | Read more

Managing the costs of your mailroom

Once pages and files are released to platemaking, there are several areas throughout the process that must work together to produce the final product and get it into the hands of readers. Typically, when the printing is complete, the focus quickly turns to one of the most critical areas of any production department—the mailroom. Some of us refer to this operational area as post-press; others classify it as part of distribution. Whatever you’ve grown accustomed to calling it, its function can range from a simplistic catch and stack-down operation right up to a very complex mailing and processing center that is the heart of your production operation.
Each area of the production process has its own important and unique role in the success of the overall distribution of the final printed product to circulation. In order for everyone to be successful, our mailroom—no matter how simplistic or complex—must operate with a high degree of efficiency. Regardless of the size of your operation, there are several pieces of the puzzle that need to fit into place in order to maintain the necessary workflow and efficiency to run a strong, productive mailroom operation.
By Jerry Simpkins for Editor & Publisher | Read more

SCPA members invited to April 28 webinar on protecting women journalists

The New England First Amendment Coalition has invited SCPA members to its upcoming webinar on protecting women journalists. The event will take place at noon on April 28.
Throughout 2020, the Coalition for Women in Journalism identified 716 miscellaneous attacks worldwide on female reporters — more than double than the year prior. The first months of 2021 foreshadow another demanding year ahead. Women experience the kind of assault and harassment that rarely affects their male counterparts. These attacks are focused not on the reporting, but on the journalists themselves, including death and rape threats. With newsrooms often lacking effective support systems, women journalists are regularly belittled, have their professionalism questioned and endure mistreatment strictly based on their gender. By attending this class, you will learn about:
• How to secure your presence online and avoid attacks and trolling.
• How to stay safe while covering riots and protests.
• What can be done to prevent harassment (including mistreatment in the workplace) and what kind of support you should demand from your own newsroom.
This session is part of NEFAC's “30 Minute Skills” series. The program is free, but you must register. Here are more details.

Benchmarks show importance of news subscriber yield management

The recent report on pricing by INMA shared several case studies on smart pricing from publishers. With this in mind, here are a few other details on pricing strategies and tactics working well with print and digital subscribers. ...
The average monthly price for newly acquired digital-only subscriptions is $3.16 per month and $15.79 for hybrid (print + digital) subscriptions. Digital-only new starts are 41.6% of total starts, and hybrid are the remaining 58.4%.
Across all subscribers, including newly acquired and existing subscribers, the average rate for digital-only subscriptions is $9.50 per month and $29.39 for hybrid subscriptions.
Weekly churn averages 0.98% per week for digital subscribers and 0.78% for hybrid. The difference in churn rates is due to the longer tenure of hybrid customers. Long-tenured customers, those with more than two years of active subscription life, tend to churn much less than customers in their first two years.
By Matthew Lulay and Matt Lindsay, Mather Economics | Read more

A new way of looking at trust in media: Do Americans share journalism’s core values?

The deep divides over trust in the news media are usually portrayed as largely ideological. Democrats are seven times more likely than Republicans to say they trust the mainstream media, and independents are four times as likely. But the argument over media trust often has the feel of people talking past each other—many journalists denying they slant the news to help one party over another, while many of their critics, especially on the right, scoff at that denial. Still others, particularly on the left, question whether some basic notions of journalistic independence and open-minded inquiry are a delusion and the press should become more strictly partisan.
A major study released recently by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration of the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, opens up a new way of looking at the issue of media trust and may offer new avenues to address it.
The study finds that not all Americans universally embrace many of the core values that guide journalistic inquiry. And uneasiness with these core values of journalism is more connected to people’s underlying moral instincts than to politics.
When journalists say they are just doing their jobs, in other words, the problem is many people harbor doubts about what the job should be.
From The Media Insight Project | Read more


By Jim Pumarlo,
Newspaper Consultant

A salute to those who wave the editorial banner

Last summer’s Grassroots Editor still sits in my stack of journalism publications. The edition announced the Golden Quill winners in annual competition sponsored by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.
I have a passion for vibrant, local editorials. I believe energized, local editorials are at the foundation of energized communities. The Golden Quill recognizes the top 12 editorials written among nondailies.
The competition is a reminder that many newspapers – even the smallest – still wave the banner of local editorials. They are a bright note amid a disappointing landscape of more and more newspapers giving less attention to their editorial consciences.
Among last year’s honorees:
Overall winner Brian Wilson at the Star News in Medford, Wis., addressed the death of a mentally ill man who was killed after shooting at and injuring a police officer during a standoff. “Legislative leadership cares more about playing political games than in having a grown-up discussion about firearms and lack of mental health care,” he wrote. “ … No action will be perfect, but action needs to take place in order to prevent the next tragedy.”
Marcia Martinek at the Herald Democrat in Leadville, Colo., gave accolades to a deputy who brought to light official misconduct in the sheriff’s department that was reinforced by a grand jury investigation. “For several years, we’ve been writing stories about how various law enforcement officers in Leadville and Lake County have run amok,” she wrote. “… So what a relief it is to be able to talk about a law enforcement officer who did the right thing.”
Dan Wehmer at the Webster County Citizen in Seymour, Mo., articulated in detail why residents should support a levy increase for the school district. “Over the past two decades, this newspaper has never endorsed a tax increase of any type,” he wrote. “Our tax-bump tally is zero. Until today.”
The editorials represent the best in community journalism. Many newsrooms devote immense resources to coverage of local public affairs. Yet they often fall short in the final step: advancing the exchange of opinions through local editorials. Read more

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