Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  Sept. 16, 2021

SCPA shifts Annual Meeting plans to virtual... again! 

Due to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant in South Carolina, SCPA has decided to cancel the fall Annual Meeting originally set for late October in Myrtle Beach. We will instead host virtual awards presentations, similar to what we did last fall. 
We are sad to make this call and know the virtual presentations leave much to be desired. Still, we feel it's necessary given the current surge of COVID-19 cases in our state and the valuable feedback provided from nearly 100 SCPA members on our recent Annual Meeting survey. The health and safety of our members and their families is our number one priority.
Plaques, certificates, President’s Cups and cash prizes will be shipped to member newspapers in October.
Secret winners will be announced during the virtual presentations.
Awards will be presented Oct. 27-29, on Facebook Live at 4 p.m. daily. Directly following each presentation, a recording will be available on Here's the schedule of events:
  • Collegiate Awards Presentation: Wednesday, Oct. 27
  • Weekly & Associate/Individual Awards Presentation: Thursday, Oct. 28
  • Daily Awards Presentation: Friday, Oct. 29
Although we really hoped to see everyone in person at the beach, we'll need to wait a little longer. The good news is that we are already making plans for an in-person meeting next March. Go ahead and save the date: March 11-13, 2022, at The Marina Inn in Myrtle Beach! We promise to make it a celebration you won't want to miss after being apart for so long! 

We're also hosting a ton of free virtual training over the next few months. Please register for these training sessions and send us your suggestions for training topics of interest. 

SCPA to offer virtual Census data training for reporters and editors on Oct. 1 at 10 a.m.

Make sense of the latest Census data during a virtual training event on Friday, Oct. 1, from 10-11 a.m.
From press kits to population estimates, this introduction to the website will give you an overview of how to utilize ongoing data releases from the Census Bureau to tell stories about your community. Among the topics covered are:
  • Understand Data Releases: Where and when survey data are released (Newsroom)
  • Generate Stories from Census Data: Where to find pitches, tip sheets and news releases, as well as Census Bureau Embargo policy
  • Use Census Data to Support News Stories: How to access and use
  • Learn the difference between Decennial Census Data and the American Community Survey (ACS) plus more++
  • Support Positions in Presentations and Speeches and Other Communication Mediums with Census Data: How to cite US Census Bureau data
This training will be conducted by Ileana C. Serrano, Data Dissemination Specialist in the Customer Liaison & Marketing Services Office/Data Dissemination and Training Branch of the U.S. Census Bureau.
There is no cost to attend, but you must RSVP no later than Sept. 28.
This event is open to all SCPA, SCBA and AP members.
By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications

SOS for South Carolina’s FOIA

In the past several weeks and months we have seen numerous examples of local and state government boards and agencies refusing to comply with South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act. These include school districts not disclosing numbers of COVID cases, law enforcement’s initial refusal to disclose more than scant information about the extraordinary Murdaugh case, and Chester’s human resources director, Coastal Carolina’s women’s lacrosse coach, the director of the S.C. Department of Disabilities and Special Needs and Lexington-Richland District 5’s superintendent all mysteriously left their positions without any actions in a public meeting. Municipalities including Mount Pleasant have even gone to court to prevent public disclosure of their actions.
And there are many other examples. So many, in fact, that a Post & Courier editorial recently suggested that Attorney General Alan Wilson—who said that he was just enforcing the law in challenging mask mandates at public universities and in public schools—“could start filing lawsuits over what likely is the most violated law by S.C. state and local governments: the Freedom of Information Act.”
South Carolina is not the only state where government entities violate or ignore freedom of information and open records laws. A 2019 survey by the National Freedom of Information Coalition found that nearly 87% of respondents said the incidence of open records or open meeting violations in their state and local jurisdiction stayed steady or increased over the prior two years, and more than half of respondents said government officials’ understanding of and voluntary compliance with open government requirements in their state and local jurisdiction had decreased over the prior two years.
Amendments to South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act in 2017 were meant to curb agency’s abuses and unfaithful interpretations of the statute. But a provision that would have created an Office of Freedom of Information Act Review under the auspices of the Administrative Law Court to hear FOIA disputes at lower costs than the usual process in the district courts, was removed from the 2017 amendmentsRead more

Deadline to file your postal statement with USPS is 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
SCPA members must also send SCPA a copy of the form. This is a requirement of membership.

Celebrate National Newspaper Week Oct. 3-9

National Newspaper Week will be celebrated Oct. 3-9.
A promo kit will be available in late September with ads, logos, editorials and cartoons.
We also encourage you to editorialize about your newspaper’s unique relevance to your community.
National Newspaper Week recognizes the service of newspapers and their employees across North America and is sponsored by Newspaper Association Managers.

SCPA welcomes two new members

SCPA's Executive Committee met virtually on Sept. 9, and approved membership for two new members: 
  • Lowcountry Weekly as a non-paid, published at least monthly newspaper member. The paper is distributed every other Wednesday in Beaufort County. 
  • Clemson University's Public Service and Agriculture and College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, as an Associate Member. Clemson's PSA-CAFLS contact is Communications Director Jonathan Veit
The Board will meet again on Nov. 5 to discuss membership matters. If you'd like information about how to apply for Newspaper, Associate, Collegiate or Individual Membership, please contact Jen Madden.

S.C. newspapers remember 9-11: 20 years later

View gallery of front pages. If you'd like to include your newspaper's page or section front, please email

Quote of the Week

"Now, I’m guessing you’d never whomp a Palmetto Bug with your iPhone. Sometimes you need a real newspaper. All the news that’s fit to print...and kill."

"Earmark" 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.

People & Papers

Editorial: Murdaugh murders spur rumors, conspiracy theories in SC and beyond

... The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) website notes that it “is committed to providing valuable and beneficial information to the public in a timely manner.”
But more than three months after mother and son were brutally slain and 17 days before the current deadline to claim the $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction expires on Sept. 30, it appears SLED’s definition of timely might differ from others.
Now, we understand that ongoing criminal investigations require discretion and as SLED noted in a June 15 press release the organization “cannot and will not do anything that could jeopardize the integrity of this investigation or that would violate the due process afforded to all in our constitutional system of justice.”
Fair enough.
But SLED does have a responsibility to operate in a manner which gives the public confidence in its investigations.
From The State | Read more

‘He’s upside down over here’: Dashcam footage tells story of deadly Horry police chase

Two Horry County officers parked next to each other under fluorescent gas station lights on Highway 9. The sun would be up in about two hours, but until then, the rural roads remained dark.
Cutting through that 4 a.m. darkness came a four-door Honda, the driver pushing the accelerator just past 100 mph, despite the speed limit being 45 mph.
The officers peeled out of the gas station and glided through the few cars on the road. It took them more than two minutes to catch the speeder, Jermaine Jackson, who was on his way home from visiting his girlfriend and children. The officers then turned on their lights, blue and white flashes lighting up the otherwise dark road. It is unclear why they waited to turn their lights on.
The Sun News obtained dashcam footage from the June police chase — which shows the incident in its entirety — through a Freedom of Information Act request. The county had previously denied interview requests from Sun News reporters about the chase, which resulted in Jackson’s death. The county also sent The Sun News redacted police pursuit policies, leaving most of the details of the chase unknown until last week.
By Gerard Albert, The Sun News | Read more

People & Papers


Goulding, Leible take on editor roles at Sumter Item; Weber joins Studio Sumter

The Sumter Item welcomed one new person to its newsroom and announced the promotion of two others this month.
Shelbie Goulding has been promoted from reporter to news and newsletter editor after working with the newsroom in Sumter since 2019. Tim Leible has been promoted from assistant sports editor to sports editor after also joining The Sumter Item in 2019. Also, Richie Weber has joined the newsroom as its video producer and editor.
Goulding moved to Sumter after graduating from Kent State University, where she earned her bachelor's degree in journalism. She started out covering Sumter's breaking news/crime and courts beats as well as Sumter city and county government beats while also writing features and picking up basically anything thrown at her. Not literally. We're not that kind of newsroom. ...
Tim Leible hails from Missouri, where he covered high school sports professionally for four years, including as the sports editor for The Rolla Daily News, before making the move to Sumter. He received his bachelor's in journalism from the University of Missouri.
Since joining The Item's sports department, he has helped lead its evolution into a multimedia department that aims to tell engaging stories across platforms our readers are already on, from high school football's Media Day on Facebook Live and Athlete of the Week/Year contests, all presented by Hines Furniture, to exclusive podcast interviews on The Blitz, presented by SKF, and the behind-the-scenes, print, digital and video storytelling series The Grind. ...
New to the team is Richie Weber, a New Jersey-born transplant who came to Sumter in 2020 because of his fiancee, Mia.
Serving as The Item's video and audio producer and editor, Weber will propel Studio Sumter, The Item's digital media and commercial production department, to new heights with experience in podcasting and radio. He will work on Sumter Today, The Item's weekday online news show, and other video, audio and digital services. ...
Weber graduated from Millersville University in Pennsylvania in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Communications, where he spent time as a DJ on WIXQ 91.7 The 'Ville and as a tournament organizer for the Super Smash Brothers Club.
He was an avid member of his high school's music programs and the Jersey Surf Drum & Bugle Corps, which instilled in him a love of the arts and the desire to always tell better stories.
He can usually be found in front of a computer, with one of two cats in his lap and a dog at his feet. His favorite icebreaker is that he's been in a Super Bowl Halftime Show, but you'll have to ask him for that story yourself.
From The Sumter Item | Read more
Norma Donaldson-Jenkins creates art in the old pressroom of The Newberry Observer. Photo by Andrew Wigger of The Newberry Observer. 

The Newberry Observer partnered with local artists on a pop-up studio and art show using their old pressroom. During the span of roughly a month, about 28 artist of various ages and backgrounds came to the newspaper to collaborate and create art. They even utilized supplies found at The Newberry Observer, with permission from staff. Read more about the project.

Industry Briefs

This local journalist studied other locally owned newsrooms. Here’s what he found.

A confluence of political, economic and journalistic root causes have created a perfect storm for the resurrection of community journalism at the hyper local level, despite the prevailing and oft-perpetuated belief that newspapers are doomed by emergent technology. 
While the learning curve has been steep for community papers and has led to the demise of many such publications, some that steadfastly clung to traditional models of serving their communities and partners while simultaneously leveraging new tools to diversify revenue streams illustrate the relative resilience of the local newspaper and provide a blueprint for startups poised to fill the void left by less nimble papers, or those pillaged for profit by media conglomerates.
What follows is an examination of several such examples in the upper Midwest as derived from interviews with publishers, managers and editors of those publications identified by their respective press associations, as well as a survey of more than 50 small newspaper publishers across the United States. The purpose of this study is to help an emerging group of journalism entrepreneurs to better identify strategies, locales and models in an effort to stabilize and rebuild the proud tradition of small-town newspapering in the United States.
While many rural local economies have been ravaged by the rise and fall of so-called big-box retail and subsequent boom of online shopping and advertising, publications that embrace the uniqueness of their local economic systems have continued to find success; agriculture, tourism and industry being the most common of those small newspapers surveyed. There is an undeniable correlation between a strong local news product and a persevering local business dynamic. While one cannot attribute the success of one to the other with any certitude, publishers and the businesses they serve are confident their shared endurance is no accident. 
Communities would do well to embrace and support their local watchdogs as they struggle with the issue of how best to communicate with the public in an era of caustic social media dialogue and ever-shifting technology formats. Newspapers, even at the most local levels, continue to be the best arbiters of these new modes of communication while remaining dedicated to their traditional model. 
To put it alternatively: Good newspapers are as integral to the survival of rural America as just about any bellwether. 
“People can’t make the distinction between ‘The Media’ and what we do,” said Julie Bergman, a 30-year veteran of community newspaper publishing in northern Minnesota. “And it hurts to be put in that same basket. But I think that the people that really matter in the communities, those that are doing something and not just observing, can see how important the newspaper is. Because the old adage goes, if your school goes, your bank goes; or your newspaper goes, your community goes as well.”
By Tony Baranowski of the NewStart program at West Virginia University for Poynter | Read more

Newsroom tax credit component included in Ways and Means Committee markup

The Payroll Credit for Compensation of News Journalists has been submitted as a component of the Ways and Means Committee’s markup that was released Monday morning. This credit, a key component of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act (LJSA), will provide local newsrooms the opportunity to receive a five-year tax credit of up to $25,000 per journalist in the first year and up to $15,000 in the subsequent four years. 
The reconciliation bill has been submitted and is scheduled soon for a vote in the Ways & Means Committee.
By Dean Ridings, America's Newspapers | Read more

How to optimize your videos on Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels is one of the most featured and amplified types of content offered on Instagram right now. This category even has its own space and tab — the center at the downbar menu in the app’s interface in both Android and Apple devices — plus exposure on the Feed, Explore and Profile. If your newsroom wants to grow on this platform, give Reels a try.
By Carolina Vásquez, Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more


By Gene Policinski, Freedom Forum senior fellow for the First Amendment

Protect assembly and petition by preserving listening at public meetings

Two of the least-known freedoms protected by the First Amendment — the rights of assembly and petition — are being tested in today’s rancorous, confrontational social atmospherics.
With confrontation comes vexing problems, for both speakers who fear retaliation from opponents and the government officials who often must preside over meetings that run from contentious to violent.
At a Salt Lake City area public meeting in May, protesters shouted down a speaker and disrupted the meeting with catcalls and loud insults, forcing the Granite School District board to adjourn.
In Loudoun County, Va., this summer, protests erupted over a proposed school policy of protection for transgender students. The online news operation LoudounNow reported disruption at a June board meeting led to the public being expelled and an arrest for disorderly conduct. At an August meeting, small groups were admitted for comments, requiring some to wait outside in a rainstorm, with no general audience present — a new policy adopted after the June disorder.
In Anchorage, Alaska, hours of public testimony to a school board about mask policy repeatedly were interrupted by shouting audience members. Alaska Public Media reported that at least one person cursed at the board, with some shouting to board and administrators, “You’re going to jail!”
Anti-mask demonstrators heckled masked people, including doctors and nurses, leaving a Williamson County, Tenn., school board meeting Aug. 10. One man was followed to his car and had a person shout at him, “We will find you” and “We know who you are.” Read more

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