Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news
Your connection to industry & member news  |  April 1, 2021
Don Kausler Jr.
Morning News, Florence

Florence editor to lead state press association

Don Kausler Jr., regional editor of the Morning News in Florence, has been elected president of the S.C. Press Association after a vote of the Press Association’s membership.
Other officers elected were: Charles Swenson, editor of the Coastal Observer in Pawleys Island, as weekly newspaper vice president; Richard Whiting, executive editor of the Index-Journal in Greenwood, as daily newspaper vice president; and Nathaniel Abraham Jr., publisher of Carolina Panorama in Columbia as treasurer.
Elected to two-year terms on the SCPA Executive Committee were: Andy Brack, publisher of Charleston City Paper; Chase Heatherly, publisher of The Post and Courier Columbia/Free Times and Chief Revenue Officer for Evening Post Industries Community Newspaper Group; and Abbie Sossamon, associate publisher and news editor of The Gaffney Ledger.
Re-elected to continuing terms on the SCPA Executive Committee were: Steve Bruss, executive editor of The Greenville News, Independent Mail in Anderson, and Herald-Journal in Spartanburg; Rhonda Overbey, publisher of the Aiken Standard; and Brian Tolley, executive editor of The State in Columbia, The Island Packet on Hilton Head Island, The Sun News in Myrtle Beach and The Beaufort Gazette.
Kausler succeeds Suzanne Detar, publisher of The Daniel Island News.
“I’m delighted to serve,” Kausler said. “South Carolina has a rich newspaper heritage and has produced many journalism legends. The transition to the digital platform has been as fun and fulfilling as it has been challenging as the industry adjusts. Local news on any platform is still supreme.”
By bringing support, guidance and camaraderie to journalists throughout the state, Kausler said, the SCPA is the water and fertilizer that help reporters, photographers, editors and others grow.
“We have a strong, active press association that provides needed services and advice to our members,” Kausler said. “I look forward to working with our organization and its dedicated staff to support our member papers in providing great journalism for our readers across the state.
“As we contend with and adjust to the challenges and impacts of the COVID-19 virus on our industry, I am confident that our association will continue to provide guidance and support to our members.”
A 1979 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Kausler began his career in sports journalism. He was a sports reporter and/or sports editor at the Milwaukee Sentinel, The Birmingham (Ala.) News, the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune and the Birmingham (Ala.) Post-Herald. He was the managing editor and editor at the Independent-Mail in Anderson, S.C. He has been the regional editor of the Morning News in Florence since 2013.
Kausler is married to Kathy Kausler. They have three grown children (Rose, Paige and Donald III) and four grandchildren.
The press association was founded in 1852 and serves the state's 15 daily and 76 weekly newspapers.
The election was held during a virtual Annual Business Meeting on March 31.
Charles Swenson
VP Weeklies
Coastal Observer, Pawleys Island
Richard Whiting
VP Dailies
Index-Journal, Greenwood
Nathaniel Abraham Jr.
Carolina Panorama, Columbia
Suzanne Detar
Immediate Past President
The Daniel Island News
Andy Brack
Charleston City Paper
 Chase Heatherly
The Post and Courier Columbia/Free Times
Abbie Sossamon
The Gaffney Ledger
Steve Bruss
Greenville News, Independent Mail and Herald-Journal
Rhonda Overbey
Aiken Standard
Brian Tolley
The State, The Island Packet, Beaufort Gazette and
The Sun News

SCPA Constituion amended during Annual Business Meeting

Proposed changes to the SCPA Constitution were approved during SCPA's virtual Annual Business Meeting on March 31. Changes included allowing monthly and bi-monthly active newspaper members in the Association, adding SCPA’s Diversity Committee as a standing committee of the Association, allowing printed magazines to join as Associate Members, updating communication methods from fax/mail to email and updating wording to more gender inclusive terms.

SCPA Foundation raising money for 2021 internship in memory of Hubert Osteen

The SCPA Foundation recently received a pledge of $3,000 of the $4,000 needed to offer a 2021 internship in memory of Hubert Osteen to be placed at The Sumter Item.
The donor has asked the Foundation Board to raise the additional $1,000 needed to fund the internship. So far the Board has raised a little over half of the amount needed. 
Osteen, who was a past president of SCPA and former member of the Foundation Board, passed away in December. He was known as the dean of newspapermen in South Carolina.
In past years, the Foundation has awarded two or three summer internships. This would allow the Foundation to offer an additional internship.
"We think this is a fitting remembrance to Hubert," said SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers. "Your support to get us over the top would be appreciated."
If you are able, please consider donating to this internship.

Orangeburg Leader, Bamberg County Leader approved for membership

The Bamberg County Leader and Orangeburg Leader were approved for membership at the March 19 SCPA Executive Committee meeting. Andy O’Byrne Sr., publisher of the Aiken Leader, The Calhoun Times Leader and The Kershaw News-Era, launched two new weekly publications in October. The Bamberg County Leader and Orangeburg Leader are published each Wednesday. The Orangeburg Leader covers northeast Orangeburg County, east of the Four Hole Swamp. 
Member Spotlight: Jessica Brodie
Jessica and Matt Brodie with their four kiddos, ages 11-15.
What do you like best about your job?
I love the ability to help impact social justice and increase awareness about authentic faith. So many times, faith matters can seem boring or “too sweet” or even too formulaic/ritualistic for modern culture, so I love being able to tackle faith topics in new, fun, relevant, interesting ways so people experience that vitality.

What is your proudest career moment?
Having been a community newspaper reporter, then editor, and now the editor of a historic religious publication, that is so difficult to answer! There are so many, and every year I have such new experiences that keep my answer constantly changing. One was the opportunity to be part of the news team at a huge global gathering of United Methodists—both representing my paper and the people of South Carolina but also readers all around the world—trying to cover hot topics like gay clergy and racial justice and climate change in a balanced and faithful way. It was such an honor! Another was when our newspaper launched its book publishing arm in late 2017. I write fiction and nonfiction in addition to being a journalist, so the merger of all my passions is a dream come true. 

What's the most exciting thing going on at your paper?
We’re launching a new website, really working on brand awareness, and are super-invigorated about our successful new book-publishing arm.

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
As I lead a small paper with a staff of two and a board of directors, I have sometimes felt like I work “alone,” and there are occasions I have had editorial or ethical challenges my board doesn’t feel equipped to answer. It’s such a great feeling to know I have both expertise and fellowship in the SCPA staff and can call to get advice, input or even just brainstorming help. 

What adjustments have you made during COVID-19? 
We have an office in Columbia, but I now work almost entirely at home. It has increased my creativity and efficiency, which is wonderful! While photography has sometimes been challenging, the stories themselves are nonstop, and interviewing people over the phone or via Zoom has worked really well. 

When it’s safe to get out and about again, what are some area attractions/restaurants in your community we shouldn’t miss?
Everything, ha! I live in Lexington, and my favorite restaurant is Bodhi Thai, and I am really looking forward to organizing a ladies' night there with friends. I miss our big, fun church events like Concerts at Mt. Horeb and other music settings where people are all crammed together, which we can’t do right now. I also love museums, esp. Columbia Art Museum, and can’t wait to be able to do those in big ways again. 

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I write Christian women’s fiction and am actively seeking publication through my literary agent. Also, I have four kids that are very close in age thanks to my “blended” family: two kids and two step kids ages 11, 13, 14 and 15. Our house is wild with teen hormones and angst, but it’s so much fun!

What do you like to do outside of work?
Reading, writing fiction, hiking, yoga, and travel with my hubby/bestie.  
Know someone that you’d like SCPA to spotlight? Email us your recommendations.

FOI Briefs

SC school board members accused of illegally meeting at Waffle House

After last week’s regular meeting of the Lexington-Richland 5 school board, a majority of the seven-member board gathered again at a nearby Waffle House.
Images posted to Facebook show the dinner included board chairwoman Jan Hammond, vice chairman Ken Loveless, secretary Nikki Gardner and board member Catherine Huddle, along with two former board members, Kim Murphy and Loveless’s wife, Jondy Loveless.
Commenters online pointed out that state law requires an announcement of a meeting if a quorum of the board is present and the members discuss or act on a public issue. One pointed to guidance issued by the S.C. School Boards Association that a “common” violation of open meeting requirements is, “Having a board dinner before or after the meeting and talking business at that time.” ... 
Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association, said such a get-together would only violate the law if it included discussion of school business. But he said the public ultimately has to depend on the members involved to not bring up district issues.
“It would be unnatural if they didn’t,” Rogers said. “It’s dangerous because you can appear to be going around the meetings law, even if they’re not. You just shouldn’t do it.”
By Bristow Marchant, The State | Read more

Editorial: SC House is all for transparency — until it involves something important

On Tuesday, the S.C. House voted to require the Commission on Higher Education to produce a report on whether colleges are complying with a possibly unconstitutional law that requires students to pass a course on U.S. history and complete a loyalty oath in order to graduate.
Representatives also voted to add a proviso to the state budget requiring the State Election Commission to report on the number of election fraud investigations conducted regarding the November election.
The Ways and Means Committee had already added — and the full House adopted without incident — a proviso requiring the state Education Department to compile a report examining pandemic-era test data in all public schools. And another requiring the department to produce a report on the number and type of employees all schools and districts employ.
Those are fairly typical of the sort of reporting requirements the Legislature routinely inserts into the annual budget bill, typically with little or no debate — sometimes because the Legislature honestly wants the information to help it make decisions, and sometimes to make a political point.
But when Reps. Russell Ott and Marvin Pendarvis proposed requiring the state Commerce Department to submit annual reports to the Legislature “explaining how recipients of these (economic incentive) grants funds are meeting required obligations,” well, you would have thought they had suggested giving out the nation’s nuclear codes.
From The Post and Courier | Read more

Simpsonville police are tracking your license plate using cameras around the city

At the end of Scot Garrett's Simpsonville cul-de-sac a small black camera sits perched atop a shiny black pole, recently installed at the corner and pointed up the street toward his house.
The camera is one of 10 automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) the city of Simpsonville is using to help solve crimes by tracking license plate data. The cameras record plate information for every vehicle that drives by, according to Flock Safety, the company that makes the devices and sells its program to local police departments, like Simpsonville's. ...
Simpsonville began using the program in May 2020, according to the city. The Greenville News first learned of the city's use of the technology last November and began filing Freedom of Information requests to find out more about the cameras that have grown in popularity among police departments, including Greenville's, as well as homeowner associations across the country, according to the Flock Safety website.
But the cameras have also raised questions about privacy. 
The News requested a list of the locations where Simpsonville police placed each of its 10 ALPR cameras, but the city provided redacted maps in the records it returned, citing an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act for "techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations."
The News located what appear to be nine of the city's 10 cameras by driving through the city and recording their placement.
By Gabe Cavallaro, Greenville News  | Read more

Uncovered: Suspended over past felonies, Chester councilman kept treating himself to taxpayer funds

In South Carolina, elected officials who are suspended from office aren’t supposed to be paid for the jobs they have been barred from doing.
But that’s precisely what happened in Chester, a former textile town where a legacy of corruption and mismanagement has left city finances in shambles and eroded local residents’ trust in government.
In this city of 5,400 an hour north of Columbia on Interstate 77, the scion of an influential Chester family won a seat on City Council even though his criminal past should have barred him from seeking public office.
Months later, a watchdog group discovered the more than two dozen felony forgery convictions on William King’s record and filed a lawsuit that saw him suspended — and ultimately removed — from his council seat.
Yet King continued to help himself to taxpayer money, collecting nearly $10,000 in pay and charging thousands more for his travel and lodging during the 21 months he was barred from serving on City Council.
Taxpayers were unwittingly made to stuff King’s pockets even as the city struggled to make payroll. Days before King flew out to San Antonio for a four-day conference that cost taxpayers more than $2,000, City Council discussed Chester’s ”cash flow problems” and debated layoffs and other cost-cutting measures.
King’s spending, revealed here for the first time by The Post and Courier and Chester News and Reporter, remains unexplained by the City Council that enabled it. All but one council member dodged or declined requests for comment. King did not respond to multiple messages and calls. ...
Reporters examined nearly 700 pages of spending records obtained through open-records requests, studied more than 100 pages of court documents, pored through ethics filings and interviewed more than a dozen people to piece together how King — whose rap sheet includes convictions for forgery, writing fraudulent checks, larceny and swindling — was able to take public office and treat himself to public money.
By Avery Wilks of The Post and Courier and Travis Jenkins of The News & Reporter | Read more

New FOIA coordinator, database, look to improve USC's responses to FOIA requests

In an effort to comply with the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) more efficiently, the University of South Carolina hired a new FOIA coordinator and is working to develop an online portal to submit FOIA requests through.
The drive to improve USC’s ability to handle FOIA requests came after two lawsuits were filed against the university in 2019 by Frank Heindel and 2020 by The State newspaper. The lawsuits said USC did not provide public records within the legal time frame required by the South Carolina FOIA. University spokesperson Jeff Stensland said the university recognized it needed to improve.
"A big part of the reason why we made it a priority to hire the FOIA coordinator, to make an investment in the software, is that we realized that we need to be — we need to be better; we need to do better," Stensland said.
Heindel dropped his suit after USC promised to improve the process for tracking FOIA requests. The State also dropped its suit after receiving the information it had previously requested, according to Stensland.
“The reality is, is that when FOIA’s come in, the information is often housed in multiple areas around the university, and so it’s not as if it’s always easily accessible,” Stensland said. “With COVID, we’ve had lots of other things going on here at the university. It’s certainly not an excuse, but hopefully it helps explain how this stuff can kind of work in real time."
According to Stensland, following Heindel's suit in 2019 the university starting keeping track of FOIA requests through spreadsheets. This January, USC hired Shannon Beaudry to be the school's first FOIA coordinator.
As FOIA coordinator, Beaudry's job entails finding documents or information requested and ensuring requests are responded to and fulfilled within the legal time frame allotted by South Carolina FOIA. She is also responsible for redactions and removing information that is legally protected before turning over documents to a requester.
By Camdyn Bruce, The Daily Gamecock | Read more

People & Papers

Johnson stepping down from SC Biz News after 26 years

SC Biz News CEO and Group Publisher Grady Johnson is leaving the business he helped found after 26 years.
An entrepreneur who owned several businesses before joining the Charleston Regional Business Journal in 1995 with founder Bill Settlemyer, Johnson started as a salesperson.
Johnson led SC Biz through a massive expansion in 2008. The company launched the Columbia Regional Business Report in the Midlands and took over GSA Business Report in the Upstate of South Carolina. SC Biz also began expanding its reach with statewide events and an economic development magazine, SCBIZ. The company went through several owners during and after the Great Recession.
Settlemyer and his wife, Sarah, who was a head nurse at the Medical University of S.C., founded the Charleston Regional Business Journal by pulling cash out of her retirement account and starting the business in an extra bedroom of their home. Settlemyer published the Business Journal for six months and realized they needed help.
“I was the editor, the publisher, the finance person, the salesperson, the whole thing — which is ridiculous, but that is what I was doing,” Settlemyer said. “Everything was a panic-loaded blur until Grady showed up.”
Johnson ran a surf shop in Mount Pleasant for a decade after graduating from Clemson University. He also owned a business selling automobiles and exporting antique cars.
He knew nothing about advertising, but he wanted to get off the road as a sales consultant.
“I love startups, and I really liked publishing, and I liked small business because I was a small-business junkie,” Johnson said. “So this was all of those things. I was really excited by the thought of something that dealt with businesses.”
Today, the company is owned by BridgeTower Media and is part of a national group of business-to-business publishers serving commercial interests in more than 25 markets from coast to coast. SC Biz News now includes the N.C. Lawyers Weekly, S.C. Lawyers Weekly and The Mecklenburg Times in Charlotte.
By Andy Owens, Charleston Regional Business Journal | Read more
Kayla Green with her husband, Micah, chief digital officer at The Sumter Item, during a Best of Sumter awards ceremony in 2019.

Green, Sossamon named E&P '25 Under 35'

Kayla Green, executive editor of The Sumter Item, and Abbie Sossamon, associate publisher and news editor of The Gaffney Ledger, have been named to Editor & Publisher's  25 Under 35 list. 

Kayla Green, 30

What advice do you have for other young professionals in the news industry?
Say yes and be willing to adapt.
Our industry is in flux, but that means we have the opportunity to write our own future. Use it to create. However, you must be willing to adapt and collaborate for those ideas to come to fruition. Pitch and try new ideas out. Set goals you can track in numbers or impact. Don’t be afraid to fail, and always approach the work and your interactions with a solution-minded focus. There’s no place for getting hung up on how it used to be, what would be easier or what should have been.
It comes down to doing the work and putting your own boots on the ground. No matter what your role is, your team will follow a good work ethic and a positive focus on moving forward to find new, improved and always evolving ways to bring news to people.

What are some video strategies publishers should be looking at?
Find the hole in your news coverage or advertising capabilities and curate video content to fill it. In our community, we found a want for positive, hyper-local news, and for ad clients to have one local media company they could go to for all their needs, which now includes commercials in addition to print and digital advertising.
We produce a daily online news show that tells only positive stories, and we got large companies that want their brand connected to community-based “good news” to sponsor it, paying for our video editor and allowing us to make the show free to nonsubscribers.
Whatever you’re doing, meet your audience where they’re at. For our video content, that is on Facebook and our website. It helped us with brand awareness and reaching new eyes.

Abbie Sossamon, 28

What advice do you have for other young professionals in the news industry?
Make connections and make friends, you never know who will turn out to be a great source.
Don’t read the social media comments.

What is the key to connecting with your community?
Immersing yourself in the community. Since I work at my hometown newspaper, I was fortunate to already have many established relationships in the community, but there were more to be made. Within my first six months on the job, my boss (aka my dad) told me I needed to get involved. Being a good employee (and daughter), I heeded his advice—and, like always, he was right. I joined the local Rotary Club, volunteered on nonprofit boards and covered events and stories that sometimes only a handful of people cared about.
Through becoming involved, I have been able to learn about some of the real issues concerning the community. The connections I have made often provide great news tips and story ideas.

By Nu Yang and Evelyn Mateos, Editor & Publisher  | Read more

Journalists at The State are unionizing

On March 31 the journalists of The State newspaper moved to form South Carolina’s largest newspaper union, The State News Guild.
"Our mission is to foster an environment in which The State’s journalists can continue producing works of truth, accountability, culture and compassion without constant worry of professional insecurity,” The State News Guild’s mission statement says. “We will fight for a fair deal while striving for a positive relationship with management. Organizing can be adversarial, but it must always be based on respect and understanding. We believe in The State and its mission, and we want it to succeed.”
Reporters, photographers and newsroom producers at the newspaper in South Carolina’s capital city have signed cards expressing a desire to be represented by the Washington-Baltimore News Guild Local 32035 of the Communications Workers of America. The CWA represents more than 700,000 media professionals across the United States and Canada.
Because of a high level of support for unionizing in the newsroom, we are requesting immediate, voluntary recognition from our paper’s management and the McClatchy Company.
McClatchy, The State’s owner, is a 164-year-old news company that owns 30 newspapers across the country, and emerged from bankruptcy in September 2020 as a privately-held company owned by Chatham Asset Management. Since then, the company has voluntarily recognized unions in other newsrooms, including at our sister paper the Island Packet in Hilton Head, SC. The State News Guild asks for similarly swift recognition. Read more

Spartanburg photographer talks about growing up during Storytellers Project

You can watch a recording of last week's "The South and Southeast Storytellers Project," which features Alexander C. Hicks Jr., a photojournalist at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. The theme of this USA TODAY Network event is "Growing Up." Alex and other storytellers share first-person stories celebrating our youth and the rites of passage on the way to adulthood.

Michael Smith pens book on Hamburg

Author Michael S. Smith has a new book coming out April 5 titled “The Lost Freedmen’s Town of Hamburg, South Carolina.”  Hamburg is perhaps South Carolina’s most famous ghost town. Founded in 1821, it grew to four thousand residents before transportation advances led to decline. During Reconstruction, recently freed slaves reshaped Hamburg into a freedmen’s village, where residents held local, county and state offices. These gains were wiped away after the Hamburg Massacre in 1876, a watershed event that left seven African Americans dead, most of them executed in cold blood. Yet more than a century after Hamburg, the one white supremacist killed in the melee is canonized by the racially divisive Meriwether Monument in downtown North Augusta. Author Michael Smith details the amazing events that created this unique community with a lasting legacy.
A resident of Aiken, Smith worked as a journalist in South Carolina for more than twenty years and as a technical writer for the past three years. He worked as a reporter for the Coastal Observer before serving as editor of The Loris Scene, Carolina Forest Chronicle and Aiken Standard. He has won dozens of SCPA awards for writing and investigative journalism, including Journalist of the Year in 2006 and 2008. 
The book is available for preorder through Arcadia Publishing.

Industry Briefs

10 steps to more inclusive reporting

... If you’re part of a small reporting team, belong to a large newsroom or an independent journalist like me, there are small steps you can take to make your journalism more inclusive and enhance the depth and breadth of your reporting.
Quality journalism means inclusive journalism and, like the people we report on, journalists are also liberal and conservative, economically privileged and disadvantaged, rural and urban. In the absence of opportunities to reflect on our identities, we can miss our own blind spots around preconceived stereotypes and assumptions about individuals and groups.
Because we have the power to influence the public’s perception of our social and political reality, journalists have a responsibility to check our biases at the newsroom door even when it’s virtual in order to provide fair and equitable reporting of the issues, people and communities we cover.
Through this fellowship, I have created a step by step guide to help reporters do that.
By Melba Newsome, Reynolds Journalism Institute | Read more

5 lessons from newspapers on growing digital subscriptions

For most newspaper companies, growing digital subscriptions has been key to survival as the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reduced advertising revenue.
Local Media Association members and constituents are no different, and at LMA’s Accelerate Local 2021 event, we assembled an all-star panel of five experts to share their successes in growing digital subscriptions.
Here are five valuable tips they offered:
1. Longer introductory offers lead to an increase in digital starts: Hearst Newspapers is on track to exceed 300,000 digital subscriptions by the end of 2021, which is three times the number of subscriptions the company had in 2019. How? The company grew its number of weekly starts through an increase in promotions, paywall optimizations, and a few other tactics.
By Penny Riordan, Local Media Association | Read more

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