FOI bill stalled in House until March 20
The FOI reform bill stalled in the House of Representatives Wednesday as the body adjourned debate on the measure, meaning it will not come up again until March 20 because of budget discussions next week.
There was talk that several amendments would be forthcoming, but none were filed prior to the vote to delay.
The House first adjourned debate on the bill in the morning session, with plans to take the bill up after lunch. That didn’t happen when Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, moved to adjourn debate.
“This is a disappointing delay, but we still have time to get it passed,” said Bill Rogers, SCPA Executive Director.
'Quick! I need a mug shot... Let's look on Facebook'
By Jay Bender, SCPA Attorney
Breaking news. Excitement in the newsroom. Someone is injured. Someone is dead. Someone has been accused of a crime.
We're getting the story. We're telling the world.
The editor: "Quick, I need a mug shot."
A few years ago a number of USC students were killed in a fire at a beach house during fall break. Newsrooms all over South Carolina got names of victims, but needed mug shots.
Facebook to the rescue? Many news organizations covering the tragedy turned to Facebook to grab mug shots from profile pages in what was probably the first widespread use of the site to get nearly instantaneous shots that in less technologically advanced days could have taken a day or longer to acquire.
With the spectacular growth of everything Facebook (except its stock price) it is becoming a "go-to" site for photos of people in the news. It is not my role in life to say "don't do that" when it comes to publication decisions, but I do see some risks.
Copyright: For years newspapers have railed against radio stations infringing copyrights by reading the paper on the air as the station's news show. Of course such activity is an infringement of the paper's copyright. Can you complain about someone else's infringement when you are yourself an infringer? The photo of me posted on my Facebook page was not taken by me; therefore, I do not own the copyright in that photo. I think it would be unusual for most Facebook users to own the copyright in the photos of themselves on their sites. Would someone who owned the copyright in a posted photo sue for infringement? It seems unlikely, but at least judge whether the risk, remote that it might be, is worth taking.
Editor's Note: If you enjoy reading Jay's columns, please make plans to join us on March 23 in Greenville. Jay will take part in a panel discussion on dealing with correspondents. From 2:30-3:45 p.m., Jay will join 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, train and motivate correspondents and how to stay out of legal trouble concerning contracts and legality.
Next Wednesday is Annual Meeting registration deadline
March 13 is the deadline to register for the 2013 Annual Meeting and Awards Presentation. Get excited to see your SCPA friends and meet new ones at the Westin Poinsett Hotel in Greenville.
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.
In an industry where technology seems to change by the minute, we’ll sit down for a briefing of new media industry technology trends with Doug Fisher of the University of South Carolina School of Journalism.
Following Doug will be Furman University's President Rod Smolla, who will present on the ever-expanding First Amendment. Smolla 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.
In the afternoon, we'll have a panel discussion on dealing with correspondents.
Click here to check out the full schedule of events. To sign up, fill out this registration form and return it to SCPA no later than March 13.
Celebrate open government March 10-16
by promoting Sunshine Week
Join newspapers across the country in celebrating Sunshine Week, our annual observance in which we promote the importance of open government and freedom of information.
Though created by journalists, Sunshine Week is about the public's right to know what its government is doing, and why. SCPA members are strongly encouraged to join this national initiative.
SCPA's Sunshine Week theme takes on one important area of open government that is often forgotten -- public notices. SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers has penned a column on the topic. We also have two house ads, Sunshine Week logos and Web ads that link to the Citizen's Guide to the S.C. Freedom of Information Act. An editorial cartoon will be available no later than tomorrow afternoon.
"It's important that our industry speaks up for openness in government including FOIA improvements and keeping public notices in newspapers," said Rogers. "We also encourage you to write your own editorials and stories highlighting the importance of open government in your community."
You can access SCPA's Sunshine Week promotional materials here.
|Opinion: S.C. Supreme Court should define 'public body'
From The Island Packet
No matter what you think of Hilton Head Island businessman Skip Hoagland's tactics or his criticism of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, he will have done the public a service if they result in clear legal direction about the definition of a public body under South Carolina law.
The chamber, as a result of a lawsuit Hoagland filed seeking information under the state Freedom of Information Act, has asked the state Supreme Court to take the case without its going through the lower courts.
In its petition to the high court, the chamber states that it does not meet the definition of a public body, based on the state accommodations tax law and how it handles that money as Hilton Head Island's and Bluffton's designated marketing organization.
But it also states, "... if the chamber is deemed to be (a) public body, it needs to begin as soon as possible to provide notice of meetings and otherwise govern itself in accordance with FOIA."
Hoagland has asked for financial and personnel records from the local chamber, saying the chamber is a public body. A significant portion -- nearly 30 percent -- of its annual income comes from accommodations tax revenue and state grants.
We said in January that a Supreme Court ruling would bring clarity on this very important subject. Guidance from the state's high court is critical because many nonprofit groups, including the chamber, operate under the assumption they are exempt from the state's open records law. The chamber turned down Hoagland's information request, as well as one from this newspaper. A lawsuit is the only recourse when such requests are denied, a potentially daunting and expensive proposition.
Evening Post executives announce retirement
Two longtime senior executives and corporate officers at Evening Post Publishing Co. have announced they will retire from the Charleston-based media company this year.
Travis O. Rockey, president and chief operating officer, plans to step down from those roles on June 30.
Roger A. Berardinis, chief financial officer, will retire at the end of the year.
Rockey has been with Evening Post Publishing for 30 years. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2000 to oversee the day-to-day operations of the company’s newspapers, television stations and other subsidiaries. He was named president in 2009.
Berardinis joined Evening Post Publishing in 2001 as corporate director of finance. He was named CFO in 2008 and joined the company’s board in 2009.
Berardinis will be succeeded by Ron Owens, Evening Post Publishing’s vice president of finance. Owens also will become senior vice president of finance and accounting, and he will join the company’s board.
Evening Post Publishing CEO John P. Barnwell also announced several key promotions in conjunction with changes to the corporate structure that take effect July 1.
Terry Hurley will become president of a new division that includes the company’s television business, online operations and marketing services company. Also, Hurley, who is based in St. Paul, Minn., will join the board and will become a corporate senior vice president.
Pamela J. “P.J.” Browning will become president of the newspaper division and a corporate senior vice president. She will continue as publisher of The Post and Courier, and she also will oversee the company’s other daily papers along with its Community Newspaper Group, Shared Services, Newspaper Marketing and Evening Post Books.
Paul Sharry, corporate director of human resources, will be promoted to senior vice president.
Clifford named executive editor at Montgomery Advertiser
Tom Clifford was named executive editor of the Montgomery Advertiser.
Clifford, who will take the helm March 18, previously served as executive news director of The Post and Courier. Before that he was director of digital media at the paper following a similar stint at Florida Today.
Clifford, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism. His career in the field has included stints at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.; Florida Today in Melbourne, Fla.; The Baltimore Sun; NBC News; and ABC News.
Clifford and his wife Annette, a former newspaper editorial writer and college teacher, will be searching for a permanent home in Montgomery over the next few weeks.
Cherokee Chronicle publisher pens book
Tommy Martin, publisher and editor of The Cherokee Chronicle in Gaffney has published his first book, "Son of a Peach: Darn Near True Tales from the World's Largest Fruit."
It's a compilation of 45 of Martin's columns from his first 45 years in the business.
Martin has won scores of state, national and AP awards over the past 47 years and still writes a popular weekly column, along with covering county council and school board meetings and emptying the trash regularly, as he likes to say.
Some friends in the business have said that Martin is one of the last of a dying breed of old-time newspaper junkies with ink under their fingernails who still love the thrill of a “scoop.”
Perhaps they are right. he says.
“I think I’ll retire when I hit 70 – which will be 50 years since I started this darn job” he says with a smile. “But if I’m working on a hot story at the time, don’t hold me to that deadline!”
Martin's book is available from Amazon as an eBook or paperback.
It was published by Bear Manor Media in Albany, Georgia.
Evening Post Publishing selects AdPay
Adpay, Inc., the technology leader for online and print classified solutions to the media industry, has been chosen by The Evening Post Publishing Company to power four new online classified portals to benefit print readers and digital users. The four sites will deliver interactivity and networked search for The Charleston Post & Courier, The Salisbury Post and The Aiken Standard, as well as for the regional publication, Farm Carolina. The weekly properties will be available as part of a comprehensive marketplace search, with edition upsells configured from the publications’ packages. Memoriams, Adpay’s direct order entry network for funeral directors, will comprise a key component of the installation.
Adpay’s solutions will provide simple and easy-to-use tools for Evening Post site advertisers. The properties’ content will be searchable locally, as well as through Adpay’s pioneering Classified Network. This allows buyers from other Adpay media company partner sites to view ads on the new Low Country Marketplaces, offering a more meaningful buyer/seller experience for all involved. The installation will include Adpay’s patented Call Center upsell process and integration of web orders for print back into each of the newspaper’s Brainworks front end systems.
Press+: Pubs tightening meters, raising prices
Publishers are increasing digital subscription prices and lowering the number of articles non-subscribers can view without charge, according to stats released today by Press+. The digital subscription vendor, a unit of RR Donnelley, said 76% of publishers now allow readers to view fewer than 10 articles per month for free, with only 5 percent permitting access to more than 16.
Press+ said that since July 2011, the average price of a monthly digital subscription has increased nearly 40%, with publishers boosting prices 5% just in the last six months.
At the same time, they are ratcheting down the number of articles available to non-subscribers, with 35 percent of Press+ affiliates permitting fewer than five free articles per month, the company said.
The average meter setting dropped 30% (from 13 to 10) between January 2012 and February 2013 — and continues to drop, the company said.
NNA challenges Valassis deal in federal court
NNA this week filed a brief in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit arguing that the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) failed to follow federal law in approving a historic postage discount deal between the private direct mail company, Valassis, Inc. and the US Postal Service.
In a joint filing with ValPak Direct Marketing Systems, Inc. and Valpak Dealers Association, Inc., NNA told the court that the PRC did not exercise its responsibility to protect against unreasonable harm to the marketplace. It also overlooked the threat to small businesses expressed by more than 200 community newspapers across America.
NNA joined the Newspaper Association of America in a lawsuit against the PRC after postal regulators approved a Negotiated Service Agreement (NSA) for Valassis that provides deep postage discounts if the direct mail firm is successful in enticing certain advertisers away from newspapers and related products and into a new Valassis weekend direct mail piece. This NSA was a first-ever attempt by USPS to formally square off against newspapers in the advertising markets through discriminatory contract postage rates. Both NNA and NAA protested the proposed deal at the PRC in the summer of 2012, but the PRC decided the deal is not anticompetitive because it is not offered at a below-cost postage rate and because it believes USPS should be encouraged to compete against newspapers for weekend advertising inserts.
Editor & Publisher's ten newspapers that do it right
As newspapers trudge on through report after report of declining ad sales, shrinking audience, and waning relevancy, they are also, thankfully, getting better at tooting their own horns.
If the industry has come to learn anything from the Great Recession, it's that we produce a product, a product that needs to be marketed just as well as — if not better than — any other product. This year's 10 Newspapers That Do It Right are all prime examples of how newspapers can flex their marketing muscle to take back their place in the community, produce the high-quality products that readers demand, and update their sales tactics to accommodate the needs of modern advertisers.
Their results are sometimes tangible — like the Arizona Daily Star, which earned back the advertising dollars of grocery stores that had switched to a local competitor, or the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, which produced and sold hardcover books honoring local veterans in its community. Often the results can't be seen — like The Vancouver Sun, which draws 550,000 pageviews per month by catering to a niche audience of Chinese-Canadian readers, or The Denver Post, whose iPad app is so popular it's currently being replicated across the Digital First Media titles.
The newspapers featured on the following pages are making a difference, not in leaps and bounds necessarily, but in calculated, thoughtful steps designed to position them to seize even more opportunities for growth. All is not doom and gloom in our industry, and these papers are the proof.
Hip to be square: the modular advantage
By Cindy Durham, SNPA
Newspaper advertisers find modular ad programs very easy to use and understand – almost empowering, Leonard Woolsey told attendees during the closing session of last week's Key Executives Mega-Conference. These programs allow them to visualize their ads more clearly and, therefore, invest more wisely.
In turn, newspapers are capturing a larger share of local advertising dollars. Woolsey, publisher of the Times-Georgian in Carrollton, Ga., says more than eight out of 10 new contracts signed are with new businesses. And, this finding isn't unique to Carrollton.
Woolsey, who also is a group publisher with Paxton Media, reports that additional Paxton papers in Georgia, plus those in Arkansas and North Carolina also are reporting the same common observations.
"The whole concept here," Woolsey said, "is trying to make ourselves more user-friendly to our customers ... to allow us to work more comfortably with them." It's about simplifying the sales process, he said.
Buffett admits an 'almost unnatural' newspaper love
If ever anything desperately needed a champion, it's newspapers.
Once world-class profit-generating machines, the retro old print products have taken a relentless pounding in the digital era.
Readers have gravitated to the Internet. So have advertisers. Craigslist took their classifieds. Young people avoid them like they were flip phones.
Savants have been dismissing them as dinosaurs pretty much since a handful of actual dead-ender dinosaurs still walked the Earth. Predicting when the last newspaper will roll off the presses is virtually a cottage industry. All in all, newspapers seem to have acquired as many haters as Anne Hathaway.
So what's up with Warren Buffett — the savviest of the savvy when it comes to money, the Oracle of Omaha himself — enfolding the much-maligned relics in his warm embrace?
The newsonomics of selling Main Street
By Ken Doctor, Editor & Publisher
Main Street is finally going digital. With the digitization of smaller business, newspaper companies believe they’ve found that elusive third leg of a business model — a model that could keep them standing, maybe even taller, into the second half of this decade.
We’ve seen “marketing services” grow as a business pursuit over the past couple of years. Now — as newspaper publishers have just left the “Key Executives Mega-Conference” in New Orleans, where such services led off the weekend with a three-hour session — we can characterize it as the number one new business pursuit of many U.S. newspaper chains. It’s the new initiative they are most heavily investing in. In fact, in surveying the field, I’m estimating that marketing services revenue could equal at least 10 percent of newspaper company ad revenue — pushing $2 billion — by 2016. Aspirationally, this is the third leg of newspaper revenue — after advertising and circulation revenue — publishers know they need.
AP issues style guide for papal succession
The Associated Press has issued a helpful style guide for what promises to be an eventful March in the Roman Catholic Church. For example: Mass is “celebrated, not said.” The word “pontiff” is “not a formal title and always spelled lowercase.”
Crime coverage now requires constantly ‘feeding the beast’
By David J. Krajicek and Debora Wenger, Poynter
Covering breaking news is more demanding than ever, driven by unrelenting micro-deadlines and financial pressures that have whittled staffs and forced a spot news makeover, crime reporters and editors say.
“The news cycle is now 24/7 due to the Internet,” said Amanda Lamb, a 20-year crime-reporting veteran at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C. “We no longer work for the next show. We work for the next five minutes on the Web.”
John Strang, an editor with WFLA-TV in Tampa, called it “feeding the beast.”
Why retail apps should worry publishers
From Best Buy to CVS and from Kroger to Macy's, the biggest buyers of newspaper advertising have launched sophisticated smartphone apps to establish increasingly direct and profitable relationships with individual customers.
These efforts should give publishers the shivers, because this new channel represents a major threat to the retail lineage that constitutes half of what's left of the advertising sold by newspapers – an industry, lest we forget, whose collective print and digital ad sales are less than half the record $49.4 billion achieved in 2005.
Smartphone apps appeal to retailers, for starters, because they are far cheaper than buying full-page ads and preprint inserts in newspapers. Perhaps even more compelling to merchants is that apps enable them to precisely target offers to individuals, thus achieving not only happier customers but also fatter tickets at the checkout line.
At the moment, the most prominent feature in nearly every one of the free retail apps is the local version of the retailer's weekly newspaper advertising insert. While the presence of the ads provides publishers with a tangible representation of their immediate relevance to retailers, here's why the apps pose a long-term threat:
The more consumers interact with apps that know their names, locations and buying patterns, the smarter marketers will get. The smarter marketers get, the more productive their direct-to-consumer promotions will become. At some point, retailers naturally will begin wondering if they need to spend as much on newspaper advertising as they did in the pre-digital era.
Here's what publishers are up against:
| Former Greer reporter passes away
Mark Stafford Linder, 63, of Greenville, passed away Feb. 19. Linder was a retired news and sports reporter for the Greer Citizen.