FOI bill passes out of subcommittee,
moves to full committee for action
The House Judiciary Committee's Special Laws subcommittee passed Rep. Bill Taylor's FOI reform bill Thursday morning, sending it on to full committee for a possible vote in two weeks.
The bill was amended concerning charges for copies, but remains a strong bill the Press Association backs fully, said Bill Rogers, SCPA Executive Director.
Subcommittee chair Rep. Jenny Horne called for the vote in what was the third hearing on the bill.
Taylor told the subcommittee the amendments came after listening to citizens and officials at those hearings.
The bill does not include a repeal of the Legislative exemption. Taylor favors this change but said a separate bill or amendment would likely be introduced to deal with that issue.
Rogers said the bill offers several improvements:
--It reduces the time for an FOI response from 15 to 10 working days. (The original bill had called for seven calendar days.)
--Fees cannot exceed actual copying costs and may not exceed the local prevailing rate. Fee schedules must be posted online. Search and redaction fees cannot exceed the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid employee with skills and training to perform the request.
--A document must be turned over to the requester within 30 days of the request. More time is allowed for records over two years old. The law currently sets no time requirement for the delivery of documents to the requester.
--The bill sets up an appeal process for both citizens and public bodies through the Administrative Law Court. Currently, a citizen must hire a lawyer and take his appeal to circuit court, which is costly and slow.
"These changes would solve a lot of access problems," said Rogers. "We hope this bill will move through the full committee and on to the House floor for a positive vote. This is a citizen-driven bill and Rep. Taylor has really stepped up to move it forward."
A similar bill died in the Senate last year.
Here is a link to the full bill as amended.
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Rep. Wendy Nanney’s bill moving county public notices from newspapers to the internet has been sent to the Special Laws subcommittee. The action came after a motion last week to send the bill to committee instead of having it voted on without reference to a House committee. No hearing date has been set.
SCPA Greenville meeting offers programs, awards
It's an exciting time for SCPA members -- News Contest judging is nearing completion and it's time to make plans to join us at the Annual Meeting & Awards Presentation, which will be held March 22-24, in Greenville!
We have more than 250 contest results back and posted to our website for proofing. We're anxiously waiting on the last seven contests to be returned to us. Please do not call or email us and ask if we have the results of those last few contests. The judging was done by mail this year and we are still waiting on the results to come back to us. We can assure you that as soon as we get each of these remaining contests back, we will post them online and send out an alert on Facebook.
The deadline to make corrections is Feb. 15. Please email Jen corrections to newspaper, name(s) and headlines.
Later today, editors will receive an email with the Sharefile URL to drop your winning writing and design entries for use at the Annual Meeting.
From the Opening Reception on Friday to great educational events all day Saturday, we have a packed lineup planned for the weekend of March 22-24! Of course the highlights of the meeting will be the Weekly and Associate Member Awards Luncheon and the Daily Awards Dinner, but we also have some great networking and educational sessions planned. Furman University's President Rod Smolla will join us to talk about the First Amendment. He is a nationally recognized scholar, teacher, advocate and writer, and is one of America's foremost experts on issues relating to freedom of speech, academic freedom and freedom of the press. We'll also have Doug Fisher of the USC School of Journalism, who will give us an update on new media industry technology trends. And you don't want to miss our afternoon session, which will feature SCPA Attorney Jay Bender; Lee Harter, editor of The Times and Democrat in Orangeburg; and Benjy Hamm, editorial director for Landmark Community Newspapers, as they discuss how to hire and train correspondents and how to stay out of legal trouble concerning contracts and legality.
Click here to view the full schedule of events and register for the meeting.
It's also time to reserve your room at the Westin Poinsett in Greenville by clicking here or calling (864) 421-9700. Make sure to mention you are part of the S.C. Press Association Meeting to get our group rate of $139 a night. The deadline to get the discounted rate of $139 is March 2. We STRONGLY encourage you to go ahead and reserve your rooms as soon as you know how many you'll need. After March 2, the rates will increase significantly, so do not delay!
Last chance to sign up for Henninger's news design workshop
There's no more perfect way to spend your Valentine's Day than with Ed Henninger, who will train and motivate you to step up your newspaper's design to better serve the community you love.
Join us next Thursday, Feb. 14, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at SCPA Offices in Columbia. After a day with Ed, we guarantee you'll walk away with tons of tips that will help improve your newspaper's design and help make your work easier and faster.
Ed has spent more than 50 years pursuing the perfection of newspaper editing and design, so you don't want to miss this session.
Time is running out to sign up, so click here to register today! The cost is $45, which includes lunch.
Beaufort County School board selects superintendent finalists, withholds names
The Island Packet reported that the Beaufort County school board selected finalists this week for the district's top post behind closed doors and declined to release their names until the applicants agree to participate in another round of interviews with the board.
SCPA Attorney Jay Bender said state law allows school boards to discuss applicants in private, but must vote in public to narrow the list of candidates.
"If the list of applicants is narrowed at any time without a public vote, that is illegal," Bender said.
The only actions that can be taken in closed session are to adjourn or return to public session. The law also prohibits informal polling in executive session, Bender said.
Not releasing the names of all finalists violates a 2007 S.C. Supreme Court ruling that says the public is entitled to see all materials collected for persons under final consideration -- whether they choose to participate in further interviews or not -- according to Bender.
Charleston City Council considering allowing meeting attendance by phone
A press advocate said it would be bad for open government if Charleston City Council adopts a formal policy allowing members to take part in meetings by telephone or other electronic device.
“There is a saying about ‘phoning it in,’ ” said Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association.
The Post and Courier reported earlier this week that Council is considering a phone participation policy after three members opted against attending a recent Real Estate Committee meeting where there was only one item on the agenda. They took part by conference call.
While telephone attendance by a public official is allowed under the FOIA, Rogers said expanding the habit would be a step toward a more closed form of government which reduces the public’s view and exposure of elected officials at work.
Last month, when not enough council members said they were going to attend the meeting to make a quorum, the city’s legal staff determined it would be OK for the three to participate by telephone.
The state FOIA law does allow for electronic participation of members of a public body, as long as the meeting and agenda are advertised ahead of time, minutes are kept and the site is open to the public, which it was.
But now that the precedent of “electronic” attendance has been set, some council members say it’s time for the city to look at adopting rules which address the practice as a matter of policy.
New editor named for The Post and Courier
Mitch Pugh will be the next editor of The Post and Courier.
The Sioux City (Iowa) Journal, where Pugh currently serves as editor, was named one of “10 That Do It Right” in 2009 by Editor & Publisher, a top journalism industry publication. He is known for his focus on local news and his attention to providing unique content online.
At the Sioux City Journal the paper’s digital-first approach to covering breaking news, weather and other core topics has earned national recognition, and its aggressive social media strategy has become a model in parent company Lee Enterprises and beyond, Post and Courier Publisher P.J. Browning said.
Pugh also led an Associated Press Managing Editors initiative that looked at the best ways for newsrooms to maintain ethical standards and credibility while breaking news on digital platforms.
“I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Charleston and be a part of what is clearly an experienced, talented news team,” Pugh, 39, said.
The Sioux City Journal, with roughly half the readership of The Post and Courier, won a National Newspaper Association award in 2012 for best newspaper website, and the same year won a Local Media Association award for newspaper of the year.
“I couldn’t be more pleased that we found someone the caliber of Mitch to lead The Post and Courier newsroom,” said Browning. “I am excited about his passion for our industry and look forward to the great things to come.”
Pugh is expected to start work at The Post and Courier in March. He replaces William E.N. Hawkins, who retired in September after serving as editor and publisher of the paper.
Publisher of The Link inducted to S.C. Broadcasters Hall of Fame
Jane Pigg, publisher and owner of The Link in Cheraw, has been inducted into the S.C. Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
In addition to owning the newspaper, Pigg owns WCRE-AM/FM in Cheraw.
The Broadcasters Association honored Pigg for her, "sheer passion of the industry and personal determination has become one of the state's few female broadcast owners with unparalleled commitment to the communities she serves."
Pigg is a 39-year veteran of broadcasting. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.
Pigg's radio station was the first in South Carolina to broadcast female high school sports.
S.C. online directory of public officials available
Need to know who is the mayor of a town you don't cover regularly? Or the chief judge? You can now find it online as the state Municipal Officials Directory has been launched as an online publication with real-time updates.
Click here to access the directory, which allows you to search alphabetically, by county and population for each city. You can access the names and contact info for elected officials and key municipal staff. Each city listing includes a Google map to city hall, a link to every city's legislative delegation and a PDF printable version, according to Reba Campbell, deputy executive director of Municipal Association of South Carolina.
NNA disagrees with USPS decision to eliminate Saturday delivery
"The U.S. Postal Service's announcement today that it intends to maintain Saturday delivery of packages but abandon delivery of newspapers is an indication USPS is moving further and further away from the universal service the American public expects," said NNA President Merle Baranczyk, Publisher of the Mountain Mail, Salida, Colo.
"This unfortunate decision sees packages as profitable but forgets the importance of money in the mail for small businesses and thousands of American communities who depend upon local newspaper delivery on Saturdays," Baranczyk added.
"The National Newspaper Association has a long record of supporting six-day delivery. It is regrettable the inaction of Congress to deal with the unfair requirements it imposed upon the Postal Service in 2006 has led USPS to make such a discriminatory choice. NNA disagrees with both the policy decision and the legal reasoning behind it. We hope to still work with the Postal Service on a plan to ensure timely delivery of newspapers."
Circulation Managers to share ideas at SCPA Offices on Feb. 15
The Mid-Atlantic Circulation Managers Association will hold a “Spring Idea Sharing Symposium” Feb. 15 at SCPA Offices in Columbia.
Participation is free and lunch will be provided. Participants are asked to bring their best ideas and be prepared to talk about challenges they face. SCPA members that are not members of MACMA are welcome and encouraged to attend. To register, click here. The deadline to sign up is Feb. 8. Contact event coordinator Todd Benz if you have any questions.
Sunshine Week 2013 launches with New Website, Renewed Partnerships
Sunshine Week is set for March 10-16 and already there are plans across the country for events spotlighting open government, for special news reporting and for the release of freedom of information studies.
SCPA will be offering members a house ad, a cartoon and Op-ed focusing on the importance of public notice to government transparency.
Additionally, the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have renewed their partnership to oversee the national coordination of resources and provide support for participants. Sunshine Week 2013 is made possible by a continuing endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has funded Sunshine Week since its 2005 launch, and by a 2013 donation from Bloomberg LP.
The Sunshine Week website has been revamped to streamline access to the materials participants may need during the weeklong look at the importance of government transparency. The toolkit will be continually updated as Sunshine Week nears, and will include a selection of opinion columns, cartoons, house and public-service ads, and event logos, all of which are offered free to participants.
Leadership webinars coming in February and March
New York Times, Wall Street Journal say Chinese hackers broke into computers
will launch a series of leadership and management webinars starting later this month. The webinars will be conversational in format -- each will include a 40-minute presentation followed by a 20-minute Q&A session. The first webinar will take place at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 20. George Stanley, managing editor of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, will discuss how to successfully commit time and resources to enterprise and watchdog journalism.
The second will be hosted at 10 a.m. CST on Tuesday, March 19. Tracy Collins, director of Gannett's Phoenix design studio, will discuss the centralized copy/design center model and how to make the most of the approach for your organization. There is no cost to attend. Visit ASNE's website for more details on how to register.
The New York Times says Chinese hackers have carried out sustained attacks on its computer systems, breaking in and stealing the passwords of high-profile reporters and other staff members.
According to The Times, the cyber assaults took place over the past four months, beginning during an investigation by the newspaper into the wealth reportedly accumulated by relatives of the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that its computer systems also had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers. The hackers were monitoring the newspaper’s China coverage, according to a written statement from Paula Keve, chief communications officer for parent company Dow Jones & Co.
The Times said in an extensive article dated Wednesday that it had worked with computer security experts to monitor, study and then eject the attackers. It said that by following their movements, it aimed to “erect better defenses to block them” in the future.
Buffett Buys Landmark's Greensboro News & Record
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is adding the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record to its growing newspaper division.
Berkshire Hathaway said that it bought the 122-year-old daily newspaper from Landmark Media Enterprises, based in Norfolk, Va. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Anne Mae Pickens Collins, The News & Reporter
Anne Mae Pickens Collins, age 103, died Jan. 16 in Chester.
She was born Jan. 9, 1910, and was educated at Greenville’s Womens’ College (now Furman University) and at the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism.
She was a reporter for The State in Columbia and a feature writer for The Chester News, the Rock Hill Herald and the Charlotte Observer. For five years she was columnist for the Chester News with a weekly feature column “Ambling With Anne."
Collins was very active in local, statewide and national causes. Among the honors she has received are Clemson University Mother of the Year, S.C. Library Trustee of the Year, community service awards from both local and state Civitan Clubs, Salvation Army, Interagency Council, York Technical College Foundation, Chester Little Theater and Brainard Institute Club.
J. Nolan Etters, The News & Reporter
Dr. James Nolan Etters died peacefully in his sleep at home on Feb. 1.
He was born on July 2, 1938 in Chester, and earned his undergraduate and graduate degree from Clemson University in Textile Chemistry.
Although his career was as a chemist, Dr. Etters' passion was to write an article for the past two years for his hometown newspaper, The News & Reporter, called "Chester Memories".
Dr. Etters worked for 23 years as a senior research chemist for the Dan River Corporation and later received his PhD from UNC-Greensboro. He had been a professor at LSU prior to coming to the University of Georgia where he taught and directed numerous graduate students for 17 years.