Top 10 S.C. newspaper stories of 2011
Looking back on 2011 for S.C. newspapers, here is a list of SCPA's nominations for the Top-10 newspaper stories of the year in our state (using impact, historical precedence and general interest as criteria).   We welcome your nominations also.

  1. The S.C. Supreme Court rules in favor of the Post and Courier in its appeal of an FOI case from Berkeley County in which the school board wanted to shield reviews by claiming attorney client privilege.
  2. The first criminal prosecution of an FOIA violation was held in Spartanburg County.  Unfortunately, the newspaper lost the case, but all of the Fire Department Board members charged were turned out at the next election.  A second FOI criminal case is pending in Winnsboro.
  3. The Index-Journal won an FOI suit with the Dept. of Public Safety over a Highway Patrol policy of withholding records until a case was adjudicated.
  4. A bill by Rep. Wendy Nanny to move county legal notices from newspapers to the internet was stopped in subcommittee.
  5. The SCPA FOI fund financed the distribution of more than 5,000 FOI booklets to public officials across the state.
  6. The first same-sex marriage announcement was printed in an S.C. newspaper.
  7. The Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce stooped to a new low in responding to an FOI request, forcing a reporter to look through nearly 100 boxes of papers in an un-air conditioned warehouse while Achy Breaky Heart and the Chipmonk's Christmas Song blared from boom boxes.
  8.  The coroner in Sumter refused the release an autopsy report claiming he was a health-care provider.  The Item has sued.
  9. The growth of social media use by S.C. newspapers and the proliferation of internet pay walls.
  10. The USPS targets local advertisers with a new saturation mailing program, going so far as sending letters and op-eds to newspapers to promote it.

Only a few spots left for the next Ad Basics session
New sales people on staff? Help them get started with the essentials of ad sales on Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at SCPA Offices in Columbia. Ad Basics, SCPA's popular quarterly sales training workshop, is designed for newspaper ad sales employees with less than a year's experience. Alanna Ritchie, SCNN's Advertising Director, will conduct this full-day workshop. A veteran of weekly and daily newspaper sales, Ritchie will help attendees understand the basics, including selling against competition, objections, closing skills, basic design and consultative selling. The cost to attend is $45 and space is limited. Register today.

NNA asks SCPA members to design convention logo
The deadline to participate in the National Newspaper Association convention logo contest is fast approaching!

Jan. 10 is the deadline for SCPA members to help create a logo for all convention promotional literature. The winning designer will receive a $100 stipend. The winning design will be highlighted in Publishers' Auxiliary, NNA's official print publication, with a short bio of the designer.

The NNA Annual Convention will take place Oct. 4-7, in Charleston.

The planning committee met in November and came up with some key words that could be used in a theme for this convention which are: Value of Newspapers to Civics & Democracy, We are the Press & We have a Purpose, High Value in the Lowcountry, Preserving Democracy, Press in the Palmetto, Press, Power, Purpose. The logo designs should include the theme and following information/or be able to accommodate it to the side or below the logo:
- Key Phrase/Logo
- National Newspaper Association
- 126th Annual Convention & Trade Show
- Embassy Suites North Charleston Airport

The logo is used on both 8 ½ x 11 and 4.25 x 9 inch pocket program. 

The deadline for submissions is Jan. 10, 2012. Email your entry to

Publisher and Editor of The Allendale Sun

What do you like best about your job? 
Even though owning my own business is a lot of work, it has given me more flexibility around family matters. This is great, especially with a three-year-old at home.

What is your biggest challenge and how are you facing it?  
Keeping everything balanced is a juggling act, but it seems to work with the help of family and great employees.

What's the best part of working in the newspaper industry?
Each week, we see something that we have accomplished because of teamwork and dedication. It really pays off when comments, both good and bad, let you know people are paying attention to what you are doing.

What's your favorite SCPA member service?  
I like knowing there is some place to turn when a difficult situation comes up. The SCNN Network classifieds and display ads are also great for our bottom line.

Any big plans coming up?
Researching ways to make technology a strong part of our business structure.

industry news

Opinion: A victory for FOIA law, from The Post and Courier
Keeping government honest depends on an informed public, and that depends on a strong FOIA. Keeping the FOIA viable is a work in progress.
That's because some government officials are willing to ignore the law to exclude the public, even when the FOIA demands transparency.
Just look at Gov. Nikki Haley's initial failure to provide emails related to the public's business on health care exchanges. Fortunately, she's recognized that error and is making policy revisions accordingly.
But sometimes the courts have to intervene. In one recent case, a district court judge brought the state Department of Public Safety to heel for its refusal to release information on a 2010 DUI arrest of a Greenwood city councilwoman. The agency denied access to information, including the video record, citing an ongoing investigation of the case.
But that excuse isn't allowed under the law, and Circuit Judge James Barber ruled for the Greenwood Index-Journal by ordering the DPS to release information related to the arrest, including the video record. The ruling ensures that the FOIA won't be abrogated by using a nonexistent exemption that literally could be extended for months.
As Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association, observed: "Routinely withholding reports and videos casts a blanket of secrecy over police activity." He cited a Horry County case in which troopers refused to release the videotape of a pro golfer's arrest on DUI charges. "Timely release of this information allows the public to know that politicos and sports stars are being treated just like the rest of us." Efforts to ensure disclosure of matters in the public realm are continually met with inventive subterfuge by public officials who want to arbitrarily decide the limits of what shall be made public.
Thanks to Judge Barber's ruling, "ongoing investigation" will be removed from the lexicon of excuses used by public agencies that want to avoid doing what the FOIA requires.

Former governor deleted thousands of emails
The Herald-Journal reported in December that former Gov. Mark Sanford's administration deleted a massive trove of emails from state-provided accounts during the administration's final days and turned over only a small amount of the emails from the administration's eight years in office. The disclosure of the Sanford administration's destruction of the records came in talks between an information technology official within the Governor's Office of Executive Policy and Programs and a staffer from the state Department of Archives and History, an independent state agency tasked with preserving government records and historic documents.

Collins retires after 3 decades at Index-Journal of Greenwood
Wrapping up a 32-year career as an Index-Journal editor, Editorial Editor William A. “Bill” Collins retired last month.
With experience as a reporter, editor and publisher, Collins has worked for the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, The State, The Columbia Record, the Alexandria (Va.) Gazette and the Kannapolis (N.C.) Daily Independent. As one of the four editors to serve at the Index-Journal since its inception in 1919, Collins’ time has amounted to about one-third of the time the paper has operated, according to President and Publisher Judith M. Burns.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina and once a member of the U.S. Army’s Airborne Rangers, where he served during the Korean War, Collins has also received the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor in South Carolina, in 2006.
Burns announced Collins will be named Editor Emeritus, an honorary status given to retiring editors and a first in the paper’s history. His name will continue to appear on the paper’s masthead during his lifetime.
For more on Collins' retirement including columns by his fellow staffers at the Index-Journal, click here.

NY Times Co. sells Regional Media Group, that includes Herald-Journal
The New York Times Co. has sold 16 regional newspapers, including the Herald-Journal, to a Florida-based company for $143 million. The Times announced the sale to Florida-based Halifax Media Holdings in a written statement last month.
Roger Quinn, publisher of the Herald-Journal, said, "We're excited to be joining the Halifax Media Group and look forward to this opportunity to further build our market-leading newspapers and websites."
"The Herald-Journal has a long history of providing great journalism to the Upstate under various owners," Quinn said. "We will continue to meet the news and information needs of our readers both in print and online as part of Halifax."

AP appoints new news editor for the Carolinas
Tim Rogers, a veteran journalist with experience at small and large newspapers in the South and other parts of the country, has been named news editor for North and South Carolina for The Associated Press.
Rogers was most recently the editor of The Daily Citizen in Dalton, Ga. He previously was editor of The Wilson (N.C.) Times and was assistant managing editor of new media and local news at The Wichita Eagle in Kansas. He began his career as a reporter for the Centre Daily Times at State College, Pa., and also worked as a reporter and editor in various capacities at the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer and the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader. He succeeds Evan Berland, who was promoted to the AP's deputy editor of the East region.
Rogers, who grew up in Chapel Hill, N.C., understands the South and the changing needs of the news industry, a combination that will serve news consumers and AP members well, said Michelle Williams, AP bureau chief for the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama.
Rogers has a bachelor's degree from Penn State University.

Wenger leaves The Post and Courier for new post
After seven years at The Post and Courier covering Statehouse politics, Yvonne Wenger has accepted a new job with The Baltimore Sun. The move will put Wenger closer to her family in Pennsylvania.

Three trends from 2011 that will reshape digital news in 2012
By Jeff Sonderman, Poynter
I looked back at the world of digital journalism to find just a few trends and ideas that started small in 2011 and will grow larger in 2012. Here’s what I found.
1. A story is more than one writer’s words
This year will be the last when the word “story” referred almost exclusively to a single stream of words written by a single author. ... Expect to see more experimentation with story formats and context layers in 2012 and beyond, as more people realize digital news is no longer bound by the constraints of two-dimensional paper.
2. Facebook is for news
Facebook has been huge for a while, but in 2011 it took several major steps to make the platform more valuable to journalists and publishers. ...
3. Tablets and e-readers go mainstream
Apple set the high-end standard for tablet computing with the iPad, and again in 2011 with the iPad 2. Its design and app ecosystem are unmatched by competitors. But one of the most important features of any gadget is its price, and in late 2011 we saw new tablets and e-readers break important price barriers. Amazon and Barnes & Noble launched color touchscreen tablets for $199 and $249 respectively, less than half the price of a $499 entry-level iPad. ... At these prices, millions more Americans will be able to join the tablet and e-reading club, accelerating its impact on the news industry. Through 2012 this will create a stronger market for iPad apps and e-books from news publishers. While few tablet owners are paying for content right now, advertising dollars should start flowing heavily into mobile and tablet channels in 2012 and especially 2013 to help support these innovations.

Why publishers can’t afford to forget customer service
One of the most underestimated aspects of business today is good old-fashioned customer service. Newspapers that create and execute a customer service business strategy recognize that delivering high-quality service is a powerful tool in a rapidly evolving industry and tough economy. How does practicing good customer service benefit newspapers? By creating opportunities to improve subscription sales, renewals, product distribution and delivery, advertising sales, back issue requests, and general queries. To find out why first impressions matter and how to use technology to your advantage, click the link above.

How are things going for small papers? Very well, thank you for asking
Newspaper consultant Ed Henninger shared a story on his blog that highlights how community newspapers are thriving. Henninger said that during the past few years, there's been a lot of talk about newspapers consolidating. Or going out of business. Or outsourcing their ads. Or outsourcing their design. (Perhaps they're also outsourcing their thinking!).The one key point not made in most of those stories is that it's the metros and regional newspapers that are struggling to survive. In fly-over USA, though, the story is very different. Community newspapers are not only thriving, many are doing better than they ever have before.

Court to decide ownership, value of journalist's Twitter account
When a journalist leaves a news organization, who owns the Twitter account and followers he accumulated while working there? In the suit, a technology blog alleges a former staffer should have left his Twitter account and its 17,000 followers with the company. Instead, the staffer renamed the account and now has about 23,000 followers. The filing seeks $340,000 in damages. Click the link above to read the Poynter faculty's opinions about the issue and why newspapers should have social media policies in place for their staffers.

New Year's resolutions for newspaper executives
Kylie Davis of the International Newsmedia Marketing Association shares the promises she hopes newspaper executives internationally will keep in 2012. To view her detailed resolutions, click here.

  1. I will position my business around the needs of my readers and advertisers.
  2. I will look externally for inspiration.
  3. I will aim for ideal solutions, not just incremental improvements.
  4. I will expect opposition -- and even welcome it.
  5. I will be prepared to try multiple ideas or versions of ideas, and be OK if some of them fail.
  6. I will understand the importance of good investment.
  7. I will understand that the best solution won't be the easiest solution.
  8. I will feel the fear and do it anyway.

Thomas Langford, journalist and T&D columnist, dies
Thomas Clifton Langford Jr., of Orangeburg, died Dec. 26.
He was born in Orangeburg in 1924. After attending The Citadel for two years, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he trained for infantry service, and then spent 18 months with the 2nd Infantry Division. He received five battle stars, including those for the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge.
Upon discharge, he attended Duke University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1948. He then did graduate work in creative writing at Columbia University and worked for two years as a trainee at The New York Times.
Returning to South Carolina, he served two years as a reporter, then state editor for the Greenville Piedmont, then returned to Orangeburg as managing editor of The Times and Democrat. From 1961 to 1988, he was director of public relations for DHEC. Early in 2005, he began writing a weekly column, "Some Edisto Stories," for The Times and Democrat. It included many incidents in the life of Orangeburg citizens and other portrayals of S.C. lowcountry life.


Now... why would you wanna do that?
After more than 20 years consulting, I'm not much surprised by what I see. But I am occasionally disappointed. Some design elements and approaches (using those terms may be too kind) leave me wondering: "Now...why would you wanna do that?" Think I'm being too critical? Too much of a purist? A curmudgeon? OK...think what you want. But take this to the bank: Some of the stuff I see is really terrible. Here are some highlights: REVERSES: They certainly do draw attention to themselves. Too much. OVERLINES ON HEADLINES: I know these help to bring negative space into the design. And I'm all for negative space. But not when those overlines state the obvious. Example: A headline starting "Iran vowsÂ…" and an overline that reads "WORLD." Well, no kiddin'. read

Sailing close to the wind
If you are familiar with sailing, you know that you can't sail into the wind. You can sail at angles to the wind, and you can sail with the wind behind you, but it's physically impossible to sail directly into the wind. If you try to sail too close to the wind, the boat will go "into irons." Your forward progress will stop, the sails will flap loudly, and the boat may even move backwards. Experienced sailors have been in irons enough times to know how to avoid it -- and how to get going again, after stalling on the water. They can tell by the feel of the boat when to make adjustments in rudder and the sail. It's all part of sailing. read


Jan. 18: Ad Basics Workshop, Columbia

Jan. 20: Scholarship & Internship Deadline

Jan. 24: Circulation Master Strategies, Charlotte, N.C.

Jan. 26: Webinar: Creating Web ads that sell

Feb. 1: News Contest winners announced

Feb. 10: Contest corrections due

Feb. 10: Webinar: Managing Your Changing Workload

Feb. 17: Winning contest PDFs due

Feb. 23: Deadline to make hotel reservations for the Annual Meeting

March 2: Deadline to register for the Annual Meeting

March 16-17: Annual Meeting & Awards Presentation