Legal ads can lead to good stories... and a new contest
If you aren't reading your own legal ads for story leads, you are missing the boat.
And to encourage this type of reporting, SCPA will next year have a contest category for Best News Story developed from a Public Notice Ad.
And to further encourage this, we're going to offer a cash prize of $200.
This is for next year's contest -- 2014 -- so you have plenty of time to come up with great entries.
The idea for this contest comes from the National Newspaper Association, which is contemplating a similar national contest. For reporters who don't read the legal ads, here is a brief sampling of what I found in S.C. newspapers recently:
- DHEC ran a notice (The Post and Courier) that it is proposing the change its standards for Medicare payments to rural hospitals and will determine which hospitals will be subject to a reduction in their payments. What is the status of your local hospital? Will they lose money?
- The Aiken/Barnwell Counties Community Action Agency is asking for bids to get the property at their seven Head Start Centers appraised (Aiken Standard). Are they planning to sell these properties? Worth a phone call.
- The Duncan Chapel Fire District is having a public hearing on issuing $1.5 million in bonds to buy a new truck, among other things (Greenville News). A story about the need for a new truck and how the bond will be paid for would be in order.
- The City of Camden is demolishing a building on Broad Street in the downtown area (Chronicle-Independent). A story about traffic rerouting during the process would be worthwhile.
It doesn't take long for an editor or reporter to scan the legals. Graham Osteen of The Item tells of the time his newsroom found out about the proposed location of a huge pig farm in their area through a legal ad. Coverage that followed led to abandonment of the plan, much to the relief of neighbors.
SCPA does have an ulterior motive in starting this contest.  We think it will show Legislators the importance of public notice advertising in newspapers, as demonstrated by published stories resulting from them.  Each year we have to fight to keep public notice from moving to the Internet... which is a terrible idea on so many levels. The most basic one is that few will read online legal notices.
Speaking of the news contest, the contest committee is finalizing the 2013 rules and they will be sent to member editors in early October and posted on the SCPA website.

Join SCPA members for braggin' rights on pigskin picks
Who's ready for some college football?
Join your fellow SCPA members and SCPA staff in a little friendly competition!  SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers (diehard  Crimson Tide fan) challenges you to play ESPN College Pick' em in a Press Association group. 
College Pick 'em is a pick-the-winner game with a twist: players must rank their picks in order of confidence. Pick 'em challenges you to select the winner of 10 selected games for 15 weeks during the NCAA football season using a confidence scoring system. You receive the amount of confidence points you assigned to each game, but only if you correctly selected the winning team.  Log in to the College Pick 'em page every Monday for the upcoming week's matchups and previews. You may change your selections at any time during the week, but all game selections must be finalized by the scheduled kickoff time of the first game listed each week.
To get in the action now, you must create an ESPN username or log in with Facebook. Click here to join SCPA's Pick' em game.
If you get lost, go to the group directory and search for S.C. Press Association to join our group.
We'll award a trophy to the overall winner to keep for a year and bragging rights as the best football prognosticator in the Palmetto State's newspaper industry.  
Get your picks in soon and invite your co-workers and SCPA friends to  play... Kickoff is in 9 days (7 days if you're a Gamecock)!

Newspapers should be aware of Gmail changes
Gmail recently made a change to the way it handles incoming emails, which may cause concern for newspapers that send out daily e-editions, afternoon news e-blasts, daily deals and other emails to newspaper subscribers.
Gmail inboxes now sort all email into "Primary/Social/Promotions" category tabs. Newspaper emails are likely being pushed to Gmail's "Promotions" inbox, causing your messages to get easily bypassed by readers.
Instead of arriving in your inbox, newspaper e-blasts are likely landing alongside Groupon, Pottery Barn sales emails and other spam, even for subscribers who have opted in to your mailing list.
Here's more about this issue, (and more), and examples of step-by-step instructions that you can use to send your readers info on how to move messages out of the "Promotions" tab and back to Gmail's "Primary" folder. While many say Gmail's redesign is not the end of email marketing newspapers should be aware of the change and look at their click-to-open rates for Gmail users.
Google says it redesigned its service to help users manage email overload. Users can reroute emails they want to land in their regular inbox with a simple drag-and-drop, or by going back to the old layout altogether.

SCPA uses an email marketing system to send the weekly eBulletin, SCNN network ads, contest info and other important member communications. We urge you to move our communications back to your "Primary" inbox so you don't miss anything
. We've gotten a few calls lately from folks not receiving the eBulletin or ads and in each case, our emails were going to the "Promotions" tab and not the "Primary" inbox.

J-School seeks alumni for mentoring program
The USC College of Mass Communications and Information Studies is seeking J-School alums to help with its annual alumni-student mentoring program. This year-long program helps students develop professional connections, and allows them to get coached by industry leaders in the fields of journalism, PR, advertising and visual communications.
"Getting involved in the mentoring program is a great way to reach out to today's college students and show them that our industry is thriving and that journalism is a rewarding career path," said Jen Madden, SCPA Assistant Director and chair of the CMCIS Alumni Steering Committee that puts on the mentoring program. "Bill Rogers and I mentored two very talented J-School students last year and had a wonderful experience!"
There is little time commitment -- you can just meet for coffee and talk a few times a semester -- and it's a great way to stay involved as an alum and get to know some bright young people! The Mentor Match Night will be Tuesday, Sept. 10, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Capstone Campus Room. If you are a USC J-School alum and are interested in helping or you'd like more details, email Jen Madden by Aug. 26.

SCPA Executive Assistant

What do you like best about your job?
I love switching between the different projects we have going on at any given time. No two days are the same. I also feel very fortunate to work in an office with such a wonderful group of people. I am constantly learning new things.

Latest Accomplishment:
Digitally recording all the 2012 PALMY winners and making the PALMY presentation! My favorite project that I've worked on was drawing the 2012 National Newspaper Week cartoon that ran in papers across the country.

How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
Positively. It is definitely evolving, but the journalism world is filled with passionate and dynamic individuals who will thrive in the mix of old and new media.

What profession would you have chosen if you could not have worked at SCPA/SCNN?
Being a full time actor/cartoonist would be a pretty sweet gig.

What is something most people don't know about you?
As a kid, I was picked out of a live studio audience to be on TV, but I was too shy to go down to the show floor. The kid that went in my place got pooped on by a bird. :)

Any big plans coming up?
I am currently illustrating a new webcomic debuting this fall that I co-wrote with a a young adult author. In September, I am taking a trip to visit my sister in D.C., where I will probably enjoy delicious treats from my favorite coffee shops: Baked & Wired and Peregrine.

Opinion: Following FOI law necessary for legal business
The Times and Democrat
Openness is fundamental to the system of government in which Americans take pride – and take for granted. While public officials as the elected representatives of the people should be the ultimate champions of openness in government, it just doesn't seem to work that way. And citizens don't really seem to hold their elected officials accountable for openness until there is some issue that stirs the public interest and about which people find they have been illegally left in the dark.
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but it is not a mandate that government provide information to the people. On both the federal and state levels, laws outline the responsibilities of government and public officials, agencies and employees in doing the public's business in the open and ensuring that the public has access to information deemed public record.

Fort Mill Times moving to a new address
The Fort Mill Times is moving. At the end of August The Times is moving out of its current location at 124 Main St. to its new office at 422 Hwy. 21 Bypass (ZIP code 29715). Their phone number will remain the same.

CCU bans distribution of Weekly Surge on campus
By Maya T. Prabhu, The Sun News
Coastal Carolina University has banned distribution of the Weekly Surge from its campus.
CCU’s Vice President of Student Affairs Debbie Conner decided earlier this week not to allow the free weekly to be distributed on campus because of the publication’s articles and advertising related to alcohol.
Surge editor Kent Kimes acknowledged the alcohol-related content, but pointed to additional types of stories featured in the paper, such as columns devoted to local crime and music as well as cover stories ranging from dealing with addiction to CCU women’s athletics programs. Surge is a publication of The Sun News.
“I spoke with Conner today and she said she reviewed copies of Surge and felt that the editorial and advertising content was geared too heavily toward alcohol and not a good fit for CCU’s campus,” Kimes said. “Whereas I can understand where she’s coming from, and alcohol abuse is a serious matter as is underage drinking, I disagree with this apparent ban of Weekly Surge on CCU’s campus and suppression of the First Amendment.”

Tinker Tour coming to Columbia
The S.C. Scholastic Press Association will bring living history to USC this fall on the wheels of an old RV. Mary Beth Tinker, plaintiff of the historic Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines, is traveling the country on a bus tour to educate students about First Amendment rights and promote free speech.  The Tinker Tour bus will stop in front of USC's Russell House Oct. 7 for the SCSPA fall conference.  Accompanying Tinker on her tour is Mike Hiestand, former attorney for the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C. Both Tinker and Hiestand will teach sessions throughout the day and Tinker will serve as the keynote speaker for the conference's closing ceremony.

The newsonomics of Patch's unquilting, S.C. sites have layoffs, closings
By Ken Doctor, Neiman Journalism Lab
Too much of last week’s Patch news focused on CEO Tim Armstrong.
Sure, it was a memorably punk moment, one of those historic instants (recall that other AOL-related one when then-Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin awkwardly embraced AOL founder Steve Case? oh so 1999) when things just seem to change. As Patch itself was about to be cut in half — the news of that dribbling out over a week, filling the post-Bezos news-about-news cycle — Armstrong began to unravel, much like the Patch he has enthusiastically worked to build. He rambled, blaming Patch’s woes on “leadership,” a train of people he of course had appointed.
You can listen to Armstrong’s public, on-the-spot firing of Patch’s creative director. On Larry Mantle’s KPCC show last week on the topic of Patch and hyperlocal, a caller said she wasn’t surprised by Armstrong’s outburst. Her experience, and that of many of us, was that many digital media workplaces are volcanos of emotion. Armstrong’s humbling may give us a picture into tech-led media change itself at the moment, but our immediate question is: What does Patch tell us about the future of local news, about continued reliance on advertising, and about the value of technology?

Use social media as a sales tool to grow revenues
By Barbara Cohen,
Want to find out more about your advertising clients' needs and concerns? Don't buy them lunch or a drink. Follow them on Twitter and in other digital communities, and listen in on the conversation they're already having with their customers.
We often talk about the power of social media to connect with each other, whether we are participating in INMA LinkedIn groups to discuss upcoming conferences or networking for a job. I am afraid we are not fully addressing how our advertising sales teams can use social media to find, retain, and grow customers. Here is the self-quiz to see if you are fully taking advantage of social media for sales:

Tips on how newsrooms can develop a mobile-first strategy
By Anna Li,
Damon Kiesow, senior product manager at The Boston Globe, offered insights into important mobile metrics during a recent visit at Poynter. In this video, Kiesow — a former digital media fellow at Poynter — explains how to craft a mobile strategy and describes common mistakes newsrooms make when it comes to mobile.

Washington Post considered using robot sportswriters
By Andrew Beaujon,
Last year, The Washington Post considered using automated writing to cover the region’s many high-school sports, Brook Silva-Braga reports. Currently, the paper has four reporters on that beat, and deputy high school sports editor Matt McFarland estimates the paper would need “like 300″ to stay on top of all prep sports in the region.
McFarland says the Post decided “for now” not to use automated writing, but “down the line it might be something that happens.”
Asked by Silva-Braga if he worried about the rise of robot sportswriters, McFarland said, “If a computer can do my job better than me, I need to go somewhere else.”

Designing from data — How news organizations use A/B testing to increase user engagement .
By Jessica Soberman, Northwestern University Knight Lab
User-research methods like A/B testing help news organizations iterate on design elements such as page layout and headline writing-style that help publishers meet their success metrics. Ideally, an A/B test isolates one variable on a web page — a photo, a headline, link placement, etc. — and allows editors to determine whether option A or option B is better at achieving a set measure of success, or goal.
The measure of success for a test varies depending on the metrics and goals of individual publishers. This test is typically used to measure business-side metrics. Commerce sites, for example, typically want users to buy more and they utilize this testing method to optimize a design or layout, that results in more users making a purchase.
News organizations can use the test to understand how readers are engaging with their websites.

Blaming the blockers: What's the future of online advertising?
The Internet Advertising Bureau and its members are stirred up by two trends in advertising technology: The release of future versions of web browsers such as Firefox that ship with third-party tracking cookies turned off by default, and the rise of ad blocking software such as AdBlocker Plus.
Congress is getting into the ad blocking game by filing legislation to make “Do Not Track” the law of the land, and consumers are on high alert about their personal privacy in the aftermath of the NSA Prism disclosure. While privacy concerns over digital advertising are as old as the Internet itself, the prospects are especially bleak for the digital advertising and marketing industry just as the category appears poised to dethrone television advertising as the dominant form of advertising.

Podcast discusses how newspapers are adjusting to the internet age
An ESPN B.S. Report podcast from earlier this month features Nate Silver and Malcolm Gladwell as they discuss how newspapers are adjusting to the internet age (scroll to 5:00 for journalism segment).

William Thomas "Bud" Shealy
Former newspaper photographer William Thomas "Bud" Shealy, 81, of West Columbia, died July 22. After the Korean War, Bud spent 10 years as a photographer for The State and The Columbia Record newspapers. He retired from the Commission of Technical Education with 25 years of service as a photographer and videographer.
Changes and how they affect community newspapers
Over the past 15 years or so, I've worked with newspapers of all sizes. My clients have included some of the biggest newspapers, as well as a few of the smallest papers in North America. I would like to dedicate this column to my friends in the community newspaper world.
So much is going on in our business - and I receive so many messages asking me to write about my thoughts on these events - that I wanted to take one column to explain how I think some of the big "stories" about the newspaper industry particularly effects those of us at smaller papers.
Why it's time to stop romanticizing and begin measuring investigative journalism's impact
Charles Lewis, one of the luminaries of nonprofit investigative journalism, sees a culture clash brewing as the sector continues to grow, covering what shrinking legacy media may miss and, more recently, innovating with powerful reporting techniques.
On the one hand, foundations big and small want metrics that demonstrate results analogous to assessments they apply to arts projects, social service initiatives and advocacy work.
On the other hand, Lewis wrote in a white paper last month, “veteran editors and reporters, particularly of the investigative ilk, have an inherent, almost visceral dislike of audience measurement and engagement strategies.” Instead they see themselves “as intrepid hunter-gatherers of information” who overcome a host of obstacles to produce important, even heroic, journalism.

Aug. 28: Webinar: The Latest Apps For News Reporting

Aug. 29: Webinar: Photoshop and Color: Laying a Good Foundation

Sept. 12: Ad Design Workshop, SCPA Offices, Columbia

Sept.13: Daily Publishers Roundtable, SCPA Offices, Columbia

Sept. 13: Webinar: Digital Subscriptions: Highlights, Trends and Potential

Sept. 19: Advanced InDesign and PDF Workshop, SCPA Offices, Columbia

Sept. 20: Webinar: Collaborating for Success: Competitive Business Models

Sept. 20: SCPA Collegiate Leadership Summit, SCPA Offices, Columbia

Sept. 26: SCPA Executive Committee Meeting, SCPA Offices, Columbia

Oct. 3: Webinar: The Five Most Important Questions In Sales

Oct. 6-12: National Newspaper Week

Oct. 10: You Call the Shots: create your own design workshop with Ed Henninger, SCPA Offices, Columbia

Oct. 24: Ad Basics, SCPA Offices, Columbia