NAA files brief in suit against USPS' Valassis deal
The Newspaper Association of America filed its initial brief this week in its lawsuit against the Postal Regulatory Commission regarding that agency’s August 2012 decision to approve a negotiated service agreement between the U.S. Postal Service and Valassis Direct Mail. The lawsuit is being heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Under the NSA, USPS granted Valassis Direct Mail discounts of 20% to 34% on new mail pieces containing advertising from national retailers.
“Through these discounts, the USPS has given one company a price incentive to move advertising inserts out of newspapers delivered to consumers’ homes,” the NAA said. “Advertising inserts comprise a critical revenue stream that supports the original reporting done by local newspapers in service to their communities.”
In its brief, NAA said that the commission’s decision is contrary to law, as well as arbitrary and capricious, because it does not consider the “impact of the agreement on competitors to the Postal Service, on competitors of its NSA partner, and mail users in general.”
Order your congratulatory ad in the Annual Meeting program
Contest winners are invited to place a congratulatory ad in the SCPA Annual Meeting program. Ads will be accepted through March 8. Here are the rates:
- Full page color — $50 (Only one spot left; available first come, first served.)
- Full page black-and-white — $25
- Half page black-and-white — $15
If you are interested in purchasing an ad, contact Jen.
Also, don't forget that tomorrow, Feb. 15, is the deadline to submit corrections on your newspaper's winners. You still have until Feb. 22 to submit the PDFs of your newspaper's winning entries. If you need a link to upload your files, just let us know!
NAA assessment of USPS proposal to end Saturday delivery
The U.S. Postal Service announced last week that it will stop Saturday mail delivery beginning in early August. The agency said Saturday delivery of packages and mail to post office boxes will continue.
Is this a done deal? No.
Serious questions are being raised on whether the Postal Service has legal authority to stop Saturday delivery. Since the early 1980s, Congress has included a legislative rider to appropriations bills preventing the Postal Service from altering its delivery schedule. Some in Congress believe the USPS does not have the authority to take this unilateral action. (See a Feb. 7 article from The Washington Post highlighting policymakers' views on the proposal.)
The Postal Service argues that it has legal authority because it will no longer accept appropriations funding that it has received in the past for subsidized mailings to specific customers, such as military personnel. Therefore, the USPS maintains that an appropriations rider is not germane.
Regardless, the Postal Service's proposal is controversial and likely to be settled by Congress either through a special provision prohibiting elimination of Saturday delivery or through a compromise that will be hammered out in comprehensive postal reform legislation. In the last Congress, the Senate approved a postal reform measure that included a provision that would have allowed the USPS to end Saturday delivery after two years – and after the conclusion of a General Accountability Office study confirming that reduction in service is absolutely needed to keep the Postal Service in the black. The House bill, however, would have given the Postal Service authority to eliminate Saturday delivery immediately. This bill did not reach the House floor for a vote before the end of the 112th Congress.
NAA views the proposal as a move to call attention to the Postal Service's financial problems and put pressure on Congress to come together and approve a postal reform measure. Senate and House negotiators are expected to work on a compromise bill over the next six months.
Elimination of Saturday delivery may be inevitable given the rapid decline of first-class mail volume and revenues. It is NAA's view that Congress is more likely to coalesce around the provision in the Senate-passed bill, which provided a path toward elimination of Saturday delivery if the GAO determines it is necessary to ensure that the USPS remains financially viable. As this legislation proceeds, NAA will provide member newspapers with updates on new developments.
|‘Envision SC’ multi-media project seeks newspapers, call to offer more info
Envision South Carolina is a series of online and real world events to enable South Carolinians to ‘dream, connect and learn’ together about making our state world class. Sponsored by the College of Charleston, this project uses traditional and interactive media, over seven weeks (March 4 to April 19), to engage 30+ of our state’s "best and brightest" from a variety of fields, in a series of video and print interviews about what we need to do to be world class.
To date participating media partners include The Post and Courier, The State, The Greenville News, The Anderson Independent Mail, Florence Morning News and a major TV station in each market.
The project is free and open to all daily and weekly newspapers in the state. There are also revenue opportunities via newspapers selling their own print and online advertising in support of the project. Click here for more info.
The interviews will be distributed and promoted by media partners and others across the state and audiences will be encouraged to respond, comment and suggest their own ideas via a central website using online tools, video uploads, polls, discussion boards and other online methods. The project will be structured with many different components so that everyone in the state will be encouraged to participate, make suggestions, connect with others and provide ideas and content. A key component of Envision S.C. is the World Class Scholars project - a special interactive learning project that students at all grade levels can participate and learn about the wider world and their place in it.
The project is based on similar project run with the BBC in London and it is extremely user-friendly with interesting new content, conveniently packaged for easy use in both print and online platforms.
A conference call will be held on Friday, Feb. 15, at 11 a.m. with Envision co-founder Phil Noble to explain the project and to answer any questions. The call in number is (605) 475-6700 and the access code is 4786371.
S.C. Attorney General’s Office says law won’t allow release of documents
By Scott J. Bryan, Index-Journal
Details into a state grand jury investigation of former Abbeville County sheriff Charles Goodwin will remain secret after the S.C. Attorney General’s Office denied the bulk of a Freedom of Information Act last week.
“As this was a state grand jury case, this Office is specifically prohibited from transmitting many of the materials you seek in accordance with the South Carolina State Grand Jury Act,” a letter from Assistant Attorney General Adam L. Whitsett wrote Thursday and the AG’s office emailed Friday morning.
Mark Powell, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said state law prohibits the release of evidence presented to the state grand jury.
“Our practice is to release when we’re allowed to, but when we’re bound by the law, we have to maintain the law,” Powell said. “If a telephone book is presented to the grand jury, I can’t release that telephone book. We don’t get a say in that.”
Goodwin, the longtime Abbeville sheriff, resigned, was indicted and pleaded guilty in January to misconduct in office. Goodwin, who secured his seventh term in office in November, was accused of accepting cash kickbacks from a local business and using inmates to work on vehicles he owned.
The 61-year-old sheriff was sentenced to five years of probation, 100 hours of community service and a restitution of nearly $4,500.
It’s the second time the attorney general’s office denied the bulk of an FOIA request involving Lakelands sheriffs. In December, the AG’s office denied an Associated Press reporter access to state grand jury records involving former Saluda sheriff Jason Booth.
In the Goodwin matter, the AG’s office did offer a two-page state grand jury indictment, a one-page news release and a sentencing sheet filed Jan. 18. After Goodwin paid his restitution and completes his community service, his probation is revoked.
Jay Bender said he disagrees with the Attorney General’s office, but is sympathetic to their decision.
“We have had a difference in our interpretation of the law,” Bender said. “The assistant attorney general who presents stuff to the statewide grand jury says, ‘If we give this up, we’re subject to criminal prosecution. That being said, we’re going to be conservative about it.’
“I’m still trying to persuade the attorney general’s office that’s not an appropriate interpretation of the law, but they’re quite understandably reluctant to release information.”
Bender said he met with several high-ranking members of the attorney general’s office “a couple of weeks ago,” and he hopes to have further conversations with them about the issue.
“I’m hopeful at some point, without anybody having to file a suit, they can be persuaded to give up the records, but it hasn’t happened,” Bender said.
Bender said he’s searching for alternatives that will lead to information from the state grand jury being released once a conviction is secured. He said it might take new legislation to make that happen.
“My argument is, you have a sheriff accused of criminal activity,” Bender said. “It’s harmful to the public’s confidence in the process that you can’t see what he was accused of doing. I think the attorney general is sensitive to that issue. Obviously, the (state grand jury) law was passed before Alan Wilson was elected to the position. Hopefully, something can be done.”
Blackwell named publisher of Greer newspaper
Steve Blackwell has been named the new publisher of The Greer Citizen.
A 1986 graduate of Gardner-Webb University, Blackwell served in various positions at the Union Daily Times from 1986-94, was the classified advertising manager at the Logan (W.V.) Banner from 1994-96, and was also the publisher of Hometown News from 1996 until 2012.
He replaces Don Wilder, who has retired.
Also joining the staff are Phil and William Buchheit. Both have extensive experience in the newspaper industry, each having won multiple awards from SCPA, and will serve as reporters and photographers.
After five years of being printed in Woodruff, The Green Citizen will now be printed by The Anderson Independent Mail.
Hughes promoted to Aiken news editor
Haley Hughes, who has served the community as an Aiken Standard reporter for six years, has been promoted to news editor.
Hughes is now responsible for managing the day-to-day coverage in the Aiken Standard as well as The Star, a weekly newspaper in North Augusta.
“I am so pleased to have Haley fill this position,” said Melissa Hanna, executive editor. “Her organization skills, breadth of knowledge of Aiken and her dedication to making the Aiken Standard a better paper every day is commendable.”
Hughes is a native of Knoxville, Tenn., and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Middle Tennessee State University in 2006.
She interned at The Gleaner in Henderson, Ky., then worked as a reporter, covering the education beat at the Times-Georgian in Carrollton, Ga., before moving to Aiken in 2007. She is the daughter of Butch and Cindy Hughes of Anderson.
New Morning News ad man has newspapers in his blood
The Morning News recently hired a regional advertising director who is a third-generation newspaper man.
In his college and high school years, Peter Gray worked as a paperboy for a local newspaper in Kentucky where his father and grandfather were both circulation directors. Gray said he realized newspaper advertising was his calling after working in the family business.
As the regional advertising director, Gray advises and creates plans for the advertisement team in all aspects, including marketing and advertising with multimedia. He said he teaches his team to be a consultant to other businesses instead of being a salesperson.
“I believe in consultative selling, which is a solution-based approach,” Gray said. “I’m a firm believer in if the products are aligned, the frequencies are correct, that it will produce a better return on investment for our advertisers and help solidify relationships.”
Gray comes from 16 years of previous experience in sales and marketing. His background includes six years with the New York Times regional newspaper group. He most recently moved to Florence from being the advertising director of the Shreveport Times in Louisiana.
Gray is a native from Louisville, Ky., and graduated from Bellarmine University. Some of his hobbies are spending time with his wife, Hannah, and daughters, 5-year-old Lily and 3-year-old Madilyn. In his spare time, he also enjoys golfing and cooking.
Herald advertising staffers promoted to new positions
Mary Pettus has been named The Rock Hill Herald's advertising director. Pettus has worked for The Herald and its community publications -- The Fort Mill Times, Lake Wylie Pilot and Enquirer-Herald -- and its online and direct marketing efforts for the past 16 years.
Pettus is a native of Chester and a graduate of Chester High School. She holds a degree in mass communications from Winthrop University.
She resides in Clover with her husband and two children.
Two other personnel changes were also announced. Sonya Van Sickle has been named advertising manager. Sherry Avant was named assistant advertising manager.
NASCAR columnist pens book about Darlington Raceway
Cathy Elliott, who writes a NASCAR column for the S.C. News Exchange, has written a book about the Darlington Raceway.
Darlington Raceway: Too Tough To Tame includes 200 photos featuring Darlington from her initial ground-breaking through last year's Bojangles Southern 500, with detailed captions for each.
The Darlington Raceway has been part of the landscape of South Carolina and of NASCAR for over six decades and a new nostalgic book celebrates the history of the track through extraordinary vintage images. From races run on dirt and clay to the paved speedways of today, the historic events, colorful characters, and memorable moments of "The Lady in Black" are revealed in more than 200 vintage images.
The book will be available Feb. 25. Find out more by clicking here.
Pew identifies four profitable newspapers
Five reasons mobile will disrupt journalism like the Internet did a decade ago
By Hazel Sheffield, CJR
Contrary to prevailing trends, it’s not all doom and gloom in the newspaper industry — at least, not for the four papers listed in a new Pew report released on Monday. Titled “Newspapers turning ideas into dollars: Four revenue success stories,” Pew profiled four papers “bucking the trend.” This new report comes after a yearlong effort prompted by “The search for a new business model,” research released by Pew in March of last year. Pew associate director Mark Jurkowitz said that the four papers profiled were spurred into drastic changes because of the threat of extinction. “Each of these newspapers had suffered severe losses,” Jurkowitz said, “and each had recognized that taking risks was less risky than going down the path they were already on.” Instead of closing, Florida’s Naples Daily News, California’s Santa Rosa Press Democrat, The Deseret News in Salt Lake City, and The Columbia Daily Herald in Tennessee have all seen revenues improve over the last few years. Each paper generated new revenue in different ways. The Naples Daily News overhauled its sales team to see overall revenue grow in 2011 and 2012. In Santa Rosa, the paper started a media lab to consult with local businesses on marketing strategy, which proved to be lucrative. In Salt Lake City, the company saw a digital revenue growth of 40 percent a year since 2010. And in Tennessee, the publisher tried out multiple new ideas, from paywalls to consulting to new magazines, that grew the digital revenue stream and kept the paper’s annual loss at 2 percent — well below the national average, according to Pew.
By Corey Bergman, Poynter
Imagine being able to rewind to the 1990s and help your news organization make key decisions — and create new habits — to help prevent a landslide of layoffs and enable the business to thrive on the Internet. That’s the opportunity we have today with mobile, the second tidal wave of change about to collide with the news industry.
To compete in this new world, news organizations must adopt a “mobile first” mindset and create sustainable mobile businesses. But many newsrooms believe that a “mobile, too” approach will be enough, as advocated by Business Insider’s Henry Blodget.
“The reality is that we live in a multi-screen world, not a ‘mobile world’ that operates parallel to a ‘desktop world,’” he writes in a blog post. “For some services, such as news and information, the laptop/desktop screen is still by far the most dominant screen. So abandoning that screen, or designing for another screen first, just doesn’t make sense.”
Blodget’s view is matched by many in journalism, but it misses the big picture. Here’s why.
|The passing of printed paper:
A palpable loss
It is comforting to think of death as a passing rather than an end. In that vein, I prefer to think of Steve Jobs' final words as editorial commentary: "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow."
If the Afterlife were unpleasant, wouldn't he have said something more profane?
Similarly, I have forced myself to think of the last print edition of Newsweek magazine as a transition rather than yet more evidence of The Death of Print. The last hard copy, which left the presses a few days ago, is merely the magazine's passing from this life to the next.
Dust to dust; paper to digital?
Design: Let's get to work
“We work hard at writing. Our reporters work hard at getting the facts.
Our editors work hard at putting it all together. And when all the material is ready, we get to play with the design.”
Ahhh. Writing, reporting and editing are work. But design is...play?
Saying that design is “play” belittles the design effort. And those who say it often do so because they don’t understand that design is so much more than just placing elements on a page.
It’s true that designing a bright, clean, compelling page can be a kick. But there’s also the rush only a reporter can get when he know’s he’s got the story first, right and well-written. And there’s the thrill that only an editor can feel when he has taken a discordant story and made it sing.