Aiken publisher Hunter retiring; Ellen Priest to take helm
Scott Hunter will retire as president of Aiken Communications and publisher of its newspapers at the end of the year.
Ellen Priest, president of Summerville Communications, will succeed him.
Hunter began work as a sports writer at the Aiken Standard in 1973. He later served as sports editor, news editor, managing editor and general manager before being named publisher of the Aiken Standard and president of Aiken Communications in April of 1989.
Priest and Hunter will work through a transition period over the next few months, and Priest will take over at the first of the year. Priest had served as business manager at the Aiken Standard before being promoted to Summerville.
“I am thrilled to be returning to Aiken, where I began my newspaper career over 25 years ago,” Priest said. “Aiken Communications is a wonderful company, and I am honored to be following in Scott’s footsteps. Scott has been a wonderful mentor to me in my career.”
Hunter is a native of Maryland and a graduate of USC and UNC.
When he began work in 1973, the Aiken Standard was an afternoon newspaper, published just Monday through Friday.
Hunter was managing editor when the Sunday paper was added in 1985. The Saturday edition was added after Hunter became publisher in 1989. The newspaper then changed to a morning publication.
Also occurring during Hunter’s term were the purchase of The Star (North Augusta), the addition of the cable TV channel ASTV; the addition of TootSuite, a digital and marketing division; and the recent additions of The Signal, the newspaper and website for Fort Gordon (Augusta), and Spurs & Feathers, the official publication of the University of South Carolina’s Gamecock Club.
Hunter served as president of SCPA in 1995 and he is currently serving on the board of the SCPA Foundation and previously served as its president. Hunter has been an active member of SCPA's government affairs committee.
“It is almost unheard of these days for a daily publisher to serve for almost 25 years at the same paper. This is a testimony to Scott’s skills, intellect and energy,” said Bill Rogers, SCPA Executive Director. “According to my research, he is retiring as the longest serving current publisher.”
“Scott has been a pillar of service to SCPA and our educational foundation for so many years,” he added.
Hunter said he will continue to live in Aiken after he retires.
Priest is a native of Middletown, Conn., and a graduate of USC Aiken.
In Summerville, Priest has served as publisher of the Summerville Journal Scene, the Berkeley Independent (Moncks Corner) and The (Goose Creek) Gazette.
Rogers said Priest, who is currently treasurer of SCPA, is an amazing publisher and person. “We look forward to working with her in her new role.”
She was Summerville Rotarian of the Year for 2011-2012 and was named Publisher of the Year for EPI in 2009.
Priest's successor at Summerville Communications has not yet been announced.
Aiken Communications and Summerville Communications are owned by Evening Post Industries, the new name for the company previously known as Evening Post Publishing Company.
Read more in the Aiken Standard and Summerville Journal Scene.
SCPA Foundation internship helps
Winthrop senior broaden experience
By Jennifer Blencowe, SCPA Graduate Assistant
Winthrop University senior David Thackham spent his summer sharpening his journalistic skills while completing his 10-week SCPA Foundation internship at the Fort Mill Times.
Thackham, a journalism major, worked as a general assignment reporter and he had a chance to showcase his storytelling talents by covering everything from feature stories and news stories to taking photos and writing police report roundups.
“An internship is designed to put you directly in the thick of a profession, with all the pitfalls and successes you might see on a typical week-to-week basis,” Thackham said. “I can say, without a doubt, working at the Fort Mill Times has done just that for me.”
Although he has a strong background in sports reporting, as well as writing feature stories, Thackham worked closely with the staff to gain more experience in writing hard news.
“I've been completely shoved out of my comfort zone and into stories I never would have dreamed I could pursue,” Thackham said. “In the end, though, I've come out a stronger writer, reporter and journalist. I could never forget my time here.”
The newspaper enjoyed having Thackham as their summer intern, and Mike Harrison, editor of the Fort Mill Times, hopes he will continue in the newspaper business.
“David is very bright and likeable,” Harrison said. “He’s a very nice young man with a passion for storytelling.”
Thackham, of Walhalla, has served as a writer and campus news editor for Winthrop’s student newspaper, The Johnsonian, for the past three years, and he is currently working as sports editor.
“My internship with the Fort Mill Times was a brilliant opportunity to hone my reporting skills and solidify my passion for journalism,” Thackham said. “My goal is to work with a well-respected newspaper after graduation and the Fort Mill Times gave me the experience I need to be ready for that chance.”
The Foundation's internships and scholarships are provided by contributions from SCPA member newspapers and individuals like you! Your donation is critical. Over the past few years – which have been challenging financial times for all – donations to the Foundation have been significantly down, making it more difficult to fund our internship and scholarship program.
Support the Foundation's valuable work by sending your tax-deductible contribution today. A gift of any amount will make a difference to the future of the Palmetto State's newspaper industry. No gift is too small and every dollar you donate goes to fund internships and scholarships for deserving S.C. college students! To give, simply click here to make a secure credit card donation of any amount to the Foundation or mail your gift to SCPA Foundation at PO Box 11429, Columbia, SC 29211.
Collegiate members: Click here to apply for a scholarship or internship. The deadline is Jan. 17, 2014.
Celebrate National Newspaper Week Oct. 6-12
SCPA is currently working on promotional materials that you can use Oct. 6-12 to promote National Newspaper Week. We will have a column by SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers, an editorial cartoon about the watchdog role of newspapers, a house ad and more.
New this year will be a newspaper promotion ad created by the Newspaper Association Managers (NAM) group that is part of a nationwide campaign promoting the value of newspaper readership. Each state's ad is localized with specific readership information compared with a piece of state trivia. The campaign theme is fun, but clearly demonstrates the value of newspaper readership. The copy for our ad in South Carolina compares golfers with newspaper readers. The ad says, "The Palmetto State is a golfer's paradise with more than
380 courses and 190,000 rounds of golf played per week. With 2.5 million readers each week, South Carolina newspapers are the local pros when it comes to news and advertising."
NNW is the only industry observance of newspapers of the year and deserves our support. Run the promotional materials as much as possible during the week, and please create (and share with SCPA) your own Op-Eds and columns about the important role your newspaper plays in your community.
In these changing times, it is more important than ever that newspapers promote their image and relevancy, according to Bill Rogers, SCPA Executive Director.
“National Newspaper Week is a great way to tell our communities that newspapers play a vital role in our society and will be around for many years to come,” Rogers said.
SCPA members are also welcome to use the NAM promotional kit, which contains national editorials, Web ads, crosswords and more.
The Island News, Beaufort
What do you like best about your job?
I love building relationships with advertisers and in the community. Getting to know them and their businesses' needs, and finding ways to create ads that work well for them that generate needed $$$ to their bottom line.
What is your proudest moment from your career in the newspaper industry?
While working for The Greenville News in the late '80s, I was asked to take over and manage our first attempts of producing a Guide and Membership directory for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. Within two years I had developed a new company model that produced guides and directories for Chambers, Convention and Visitors Bureaus, and military bases across all of South Carolina. I was given the freedom to create a new revenue source for the company, took the initiative, and led a great team to success.
How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
Constantly evolving by adding new media outlets as they come into being that provide more interest for our readers and adding better reach for our advertisers, while creating more revenue streams for the newspaper company. Understanding who your target readers are and then making sure that you deliver the news that directly affects them is the key.
What's your favorite SCPA member service?
I like the emails from Alanna Ritchie, director of advertising of the S.C. Newspaper Network, because it give us some good lead ideas. I think it's great to have an organization that works hard to support the efforts of their members.
Any big plans coming up?
Our website is going through a new development stage and once finished it will add to our effectiveness in reaching readers, which of course means a better resource for our advertisers.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?
My first boss, Bill Gardner, who was the classified director of the News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C. He taught me that if I would give my best to the smallest of advertisers like I did for the largest, I would succeed both professionally and personally. He always said it was important to have the correct "altitude" (his take on attitude) in life and business. He mentored a sales team that generated 20+% linage gains in the '70s, and man those were the days. He passed away the same month I moved to Greenville in 1983 and he is greatly missed by the industry and his friends. Every year he took his team on a golf retreat and we still honor him in Pinehurst once a year with a golf tournament that is named after him.
What are some area attractions/restaurants in your community visitors shouldn't miss?
There are a bunch to choose from! Any business on Bay Street and be sure to enjoy time on the adjoining Waterfront Park after dining at one of the many restaurants overlooking it. Breakwater is a great fine dining spot where you may get to rub elbows with some of the movie celebrities that live or visit here. There are horse buggy and walking tours of the 301 year old historical town and you can see film sites of movies like the Big Chill, Forrest Gump and Prince of Tides (yes, Pat Conroy lives here too). You can visit the Penn Center on St. Helena Island (home of America's Idol Candice Glover) to see where Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his "I Had A Dream" speech. If you love to fish you are in the right place and Bay Street Outfitters can hook you up (pun intended) with fine clothes and fishing gear/charters. And, you can visit the Marine base at Parris Island to see where men and women of the best fighting force in the world are trained. Come on down!
What is something most people don't know about you?
I believe in miracles. I've had too many in my life to ignore that God makes them happen exactly when you need them. When he was less than one year old my third son had 12 episodes of intussusception (Google it), each about three days apart, and as the surgeons were poised to operate when the next one occured – the episodes stopped. The doctors told us to rush back to the hospital when it happened again and that was 22 years ago. How I came to Beaufort was a miracle too. I received a call from Kim Harding exactly at the right time asking me to come and be a newspaperman again, something that after being away for 12 years I really wanted to do one more time. These are just a couple of a long list of miracles I have experienced. Miracles happen to us all the time. You just have to keep your eyes open and watch them unfold.
If you could change one thing about the newspaper industry, what would it be?
I think every newspaper should have an Ombudsman that constantly reminds them of who they serve. It seems that we sometimes forget who our readers are and push what we think they want instead of catering to them. I also know it's easy to pick up a story of something nice happening in a classroom a 1,000 miles away instead of using the same space for a story of a classroom in the community the paper serves, but I think that is a major opportunity missed.
What do you like to outside of work?
I would like to say it's playing golf, but I haven't had much of a chance to enjoy that hobby as much as I would like in a while. I do like piddling with an old Miata I have that used to be a rally car. It's got headers, adjustable shocks, over-sized brakes and my boys wish the supercharger was still on it. Great for hitting the curves in the mountains with the top down! Zoom Zoom!
If there's anything else you'd like to share with fellow SCPA members?
I guess my last thought and advice to everyone is to remember that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated 16 days before his 70th birthday and did a pretty darn good job running the country for eight years. We "mature" adults still have a lot of good left in us and deserve to be measured by our experience and desire to achieve. Don't close the pasture gate on that old horse who may still be able to outrun the herd.
Newspapers challenge judge's ruling to seal reports and files in murder case
Request made for hearing to have the order changed
By Larry Franklin, The Clinton Chronicle
Two newspapers in Laurens County are fighting a judge’s decision to seal the records in the case of two men charged with killing a Clinton woman.
The Clinton Chronicle and The Laurens County Advertiser last week filed a motion to challenge the consent protective order issued Sept. 3 by Eighth Circuit Judge Eugene C. Griffith Jr.
The notice and motion to intervene to challenge Griffith’s order was filed in Laurens County General Sessions Court by SCPA Attorney Jay Bender.
Copies of the motion were sent to Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo and defense attorneys Rauch Wise and Chelsea McNeill.
Wise is the attorney for Michael V. Beaty Jr., who is charged with murder in the June 29 death of 19-year-old Emily Anna Asbill. McNeill is the attorney for William J. Alexander, who is charged with accessory after the fact of murder in Asbill’s death.
Both newspapers filed an FOI request with Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols, asking for a copy of Asbill’s autopsy report, including toxicology reports. Authorities allege Beaty strangled her to death.
Laurens County denied the request based on the Protective Order, which was signed by Stumbo and the defense attorneys.
Bender is asking Griffith to schedule a hearing “as quickly as possible” for the challenge to the consent protective order. The motion is made on the grounds the order is inconsistent with the South Carolina Constitution, the first and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution and decision of the state and U.S. Supreme Court and the FOIA.
“The order…was entered without notice to the press and public and unsupported by any evidence of record justifying the drastic remedy of foreclosing the press and public from learning and reporting on the activities of public officials and public agencies in connection with a criminal prosecution,” Bender wrote in the motion.
The SCPA FOI Fund is helping support the filing of the motion.
“We are sorry there is so little transparency that it has come to having to take legal steps,” said SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers. “However, we commend the local newspapers for stepping up and demanding public accountability and we are glad to be a part of this effort.
“It does seem wrong that a public agency is using tax dollars to fight public access to public documents,” Rogers said.
In the order signed by Griffith, news media, and anyone in the public, is barred from receiving copies of “any relevant or material evidence in this case.”
|How reporters can localize coverage
of the Affordable Care Act
By Mary Shedden, Poynter
Health reporting is steeped in science and certainty. Healthcare reform is a different beast, dominated by politics and unpredictability.
Congressional battles, U.S. Supreme Court decisions and state legislative votes meant to clarify the Affordable Care Act instead produced universal frustration. Reporters are tasked with sorting through the confusion and localizing one of the most significant federal laws in decades.
I’ve written numerous “what-if” reform scenario stories the past few years. Early on, my editor and I created a mantra to focus only on our Florida and Tampa-area audience — and their ability to take care of their health and their pocketbooks. Political reporters have chopped through ideological thickets. For the most part, I’ve been able to stay focused on health.
Now, as the ACA lumbers toward its biggest milestone — the Jan. 1 health insurance requirement for nearly all Americans — more journalists want to sort the political stories from the practical. And it’s a good time, considering most of my sources, neighbors and friends all seem to be asking: “What’s this all really mean to me?”
Some important, immediate stories surrounding the 2014 changes include:
- The new online exchange or marketplace, which primarily affects the uninsured and people who buy their own coverage
- Expansion of Medicaid insurance for the poor (or the impact of no expansion in states opposed to it)
- Elimination of restrictions of people with pre-existing conditions
- Transitions businesses large and small will be making to prepare for a Jan. 1, 2015 rule change
Here are ways you can identify local issues and add community flavor.
Quickest path to Postal Service disaster: Make mail more expensive
By Robert M. Williams, NNA president and publisher of the Blackshear Times in Blackshear, Ga.
The United States Postal Service Board of Governors [met] in Kansas City [Sept. 23] to debate what to do next with the nation's troubled mail delivery service. USPS has posted $20 billion in net losses in the past two years and the root of its troubles is no secret. First-class mail has moved rapidly to the Internet and USPS's large network and cost structure hasn't adapted quickly enough to the change.
Add in the fact Congress, in 2006, imposed rigorous advance funding requirements for future retiree health benefits that no other government agency has to meet. Then add the fact people who buy postage are also paying twice by funding Medicare for USPS employees.
It isn't hard to see the plight the governors face. Failing Congressional action, the Postmaster General is looking for more money from postage-paying customers.
That would be a big mistake.
There are two kinds of mailers in today's world. Some, including smaller newspapers like mine, have to use the mail to reach readers. Also dependent on the mail are people in rural areas who lack effective broadband coverage, America's poor who cannot afford that broadband service, plus many seniors and others who justifiably do not trust the Internet for bill payments and presentments.
The other kind is the optional mailer. That might include someone who wants to send one of Kansas City's cherished Hallmark Cards, but may opt for an electronic greeting instead. It might include a large bank that pressures customers into going paperless to avoid rising postage. It might include a catalog company gambling on more electronic mail to reach consumers because postage has been rising faster than any other cost in the world of printing.
Increasing postage beyond inflation levels, as the USPS Governors are considering this week, is unfair to the first group. Their income is not rising beyond inflation.
For small papers, digital now indispensable
One clear message emerged from Local Media Association's fall conference in St. Louis: digital is the way forward for the nation's community papers. If ideas like digital agency services and metered paywalls were met with skepticism just a couple of years ago among this group, they have moved into the industry's mainstream thinking now.
The newsonomics of the new Chattanooga (Events) Choo-Choo
By Ken Doctor, Nieman Lab
“Events” has been a buzzword in publishing circles for years — but few have been able to execute on a strategy as well as the daily in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Here’s how they built their business.
Jason Taylor is a madman, even at 8,100 feet. While many of his fellow conferences gasped for breath in the thin Vail air, Taylor commanded the room possessed with the energy of a Boyd Crowder, the wild-eyed, tow-headed preacher criminal of (Elmore Leonard’s) Justified.
Taylor sells neither religion nor rowdiness. He sells events. He is high on events, a Barnum & Bailey events promoter of the 21st century. And, he’s a newspaper guy. Just celebrating his sixth year as president of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, a WEHCO paper, the small chain run by early paywall advocate Walter Hussman, Jr.. Taylor is in the events vanguard.
Sure, Tina Brown just won a new round of notice, leaving Daily Beast and devoting herself to her new Tina Brown Live Media company. And “events” as a revenue strategy are seemingly everywhere nowadays, at the Times, Journal, FT, dozens of metros, public radio stations, the Texas Tribune, and many magazines. But the zeal Taylor brings to the idea — and his success — is worth noting.
But first let’s put the events business in a little perspective. It’s nothing new. But it’s been mostly been business-to-business business, with B2C events and conferences run largely by companies that specialize in them. In fact, about 10 percent of all marketing money in the U.S. is spent on events of one kind or another, amounting to $40 billion or more, according to Outsell research. Of that, $17 billion is spent on B2C events; in the B2C realm, that’s 6.5 percent of overall marketing spending.
Now news publishers are waking up to the potential. Why? It’s part desperation, as the ad business has forced them to push into all kinds of “alternative revenue.” There’s also the high-tech/high-touch angle: The more we go digital, the more we crave actual human connection, it seems. It’s the connection between the written word and the spoken word — from publishing to event to…more publishing. It’s a circle of reader usage, and publishers are starting to round it. If you speak the language of brands, call events “brand extension.”
McClatchy: Papers need digital to stabilize
By Michael Depp,
Newspapers need to move beyond "the giant suck of print" to find a sustainable future, and digital is the only path out.
So says Christian Hendricks, VP of interactive media at The McClatchy Co. With 24% of his company's total advertising revenue (though June) now coming from digital, he's building the numbers to back up his point.
Speaking to publishers at the Local Media Association's fall conference earlier this month, Hendricks drilled into an aggressive and varied digital strategy headlined by $200 million in digital revenue out of $1.23 billion total revenue across the company's 30 newspapers in 29 markets in fiscal year 2012.
The nation's third largest newspaper company, all of McClatchy's papers are delivering digital revenue above the industry average with its lowest performer pulling in 17.4%, its highest 30.9%.
The growth is being driven by what Hendricks calls a "disproportionate attention" to digital within McClatchy. "It's the most watched metric in our company," he says.
Even if an individual paper is growing its print revenue, Hendricks says it's in the doghouse unless its digital-only growth is steadily over 10%. "Don't show up without digital growth being above 10% until further notice," he says of the company's new mantra.
The pageview's days are numbered
By Josh Sternberg, Digiday
We’ve all clicked on an enticing link only to find that it leads to a 100-page slide show. So we half-heartedly click through a couple of slides before closing the tab in frustration.
But the publisher doesn’t mind. It got your pageview. An ad impression is delivered for every page that a person clicks on. And since most publishers sell on a CPM basis slideshows have become a go-to shortcut for inflating their pageview numbers.
That may be changing.
Publishers have been beefing up their strategies in how to optimize engagement, a squishy term meaning anything from racking up clicks on social networks to building off-line relationships through events or concerts. For example, last week, The Fader teamed up with Vitamin Water to put on a concert with artists Kendrick Lamar and SchoolBoyQ in New York City. Publishers, like BuzzFeed and Pitchfork find similar ways to monetize.
“The key stats are unique visitors and social lift,” said Jon Steinberg, BuzzFeed’s president. (“Social lift” has become de rigueur jargon for “sharing.”)
“This is especially true because it doesn’t make sense to paginate the Internet, which is why we do long lists instead of slide shows. That’s why pageviews have never been a metric that BuzzFeed focuses on, and we focus on uniques and visitation.”
PitchFork’s svp of sales, Matt Frampton echoed this sentiment, telling Digiday that it doesn’t feel pressure to monetize every single piece of content it produces. Pointing to its cover story of Daft Punk, Frampton said, “That type of piece brings people to the site, gets noticed and keeps people coming back time and time again. It helps us attract the type of audience we’re looking for, so even if it’s not monetized directly, it will be elsewhere.”
But most publishers remain beholden to the pageview metric, so while they can’t quite totally break free, they have started to create opportunities to monetize beyond just the pageview.