On the past, politics and the future
Eastman Kodak Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection. Paul Simon wrote a great song about Kodacrome film. If I were musically inclined, I would write one about Tri-X and have Willie Nelson sing it.
For low those many years, Tri-X film was the standard for news photography. Rated at 400 ASA, it was fast enough to shoot available light in many instances. And you could push it to 1600 ASA with some extra time in the D-76 developer to deal with shots taken in dark high school gyms and night football.
When I was a photographer for the Asheville Citizen-Times, the chief photographer, June Glenn, watched the Tri-X like a hawk. Once I asked for an extra 36-exporure roll and he informed me he could shoot the Second Coming with 12 exposures. And he probably could. But he did give me the film. I later worked at a paper that loaded their own film from bulk rolls. The photo tech would try to get by with giving me rolls of 7 frames. She was ahead of her time in saving.
The old Tri-X days put extra pressure on you at times as a photographer. You never knew what you had until you developed the film. Nothing like holding up the strip of film and seeing almost no image on the film because you had screwed up the exposure. Or realizing you had loaded the film on the reel wrong for processing and it stuck together.
With digital cameras, you can look down and see if you have an image. And you don’t have to worry about getting the story in 12 exposures. That’s progress.
Now if you want a really expert analysis of the Kodak situation and how it compares to newspapers, click here.

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We’ve been picking the brains of other press associations on selling political ads. Like us, the Iowa Press Association had little luck, despite the giant TV coverage of the meaningless caucus there. 
“The real challenge is getting the campaign managers to even meet with us,” said Chris Mudge, Iowa's executive director.  “They place zero value on print.”               
Sad but true... TV seems to remain the end-all, be-all for national campaigns run by out-of-state agencies.              
I give part of the blame for the superficiality of national candidates to the 30-second sound bite mentality fostered by TV ads. That, combined with a lack of good reporting on candidates, is part of the problem.  But short-staffed newspapers can also be tarred by the brush of a lack of good reporting on candidates.               
We made efforts for the primary, but -- like Stephen Colbert -- we were shunned.
We are still hopeful the candidates seeking the new coastal Congressional seat will be a good match for newspapers.  We have put together a QuarterPage+ Network ad buy just for that district.

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It is a little late for my New Year’s resolutions for S.C. Newspapers. However, I have procrastinated. Here they are:

  • Continue to stand up for open government... if you don’t, no one will.
  • Start planning a mobile app strategy. As the prices of tablets go down, their use will go up.  I must admit that I now get most of my national news from the Internet, and when I get a tablet, that is what I’ll use.  Although I would hate to drop it off the treadmill at the gym, which I do regularly with The State.
  • Cover local news with abandon and don’t put it all on your website.
  • Don’t forget the partner who brung you to the dance... the print product.
  • Nurture and train you staff... they are stressed.

Webinar will show you how to MAXimize your postage savings and delivery
The Online Media Campus, sponsored by SCPA, is hosting a webinar with National Newspaper Association Postal Chair Max Heath on March 1, from 2-3 p.m. During this hour-long Web training event, attendees will learn tricks of the trade to cut costs, improve delivery, and stay out of trouble, under struggling Postal Service. Topics will include:

  1. How to increase copies entered at delivery post offices using Exceptional Dispatch to avoid future up-charges, maximize postage savings, AND ensure timely delivery.
  2. The threat of 5-day delivery and what NNA is doing about it, successfully from 2009-2012.
  3. How to use flats trays to improve delivery on presort mail outside your coverage area.
  4. How to deal with the threats of post office and plant closings to keep your mail moving to subscribers on a timely basis. We'll explain what NNA is doing to help keep service intact.

 The cost to attend is $35 for SCPA members. Register here!

USC to host J-School Career Fair on March 16
The School of Journalism and Mass Communications is seeking newspaper recruiters for its spring career fair, which will be held on March 16, from 1-4 p.m., at the Marriott Courtyard in downtown Columbia. The Career Fair is for students and professionals to interview with employers from the Southeast for summer and fall internships and jobs.Recruiters can sign up by clicking here. The deadline to register is Feb. 24. For more information, contact Beverly Dominick.

Skimpy police reports disputed
The Post and Courier recently reported about a trio of robbers who burst into a popular supermarket and held terrified employees at gunpoint while they plundered cash from the store's safe. According to the newspaper, you'd never know that from reading the public report Charleston police completed on the holdup. The official police report offers just a one-line summary of the robbery.
Such one- and two-line reports have become commonplace for Charleston police over the last couple years. In many cases, the real details are hidden in supplemental reports that police officials have refused to release to the public -- in violation of the FOIA.
Charleston police say the practice is not department policy, but likely a well-meaning attempt by some officers to keep a lid on information investigators need to solve crimes.
Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said he would speak to his commanders and have them remind officers of the need to provide enough information in reports for the public to understand what occurred and be better able to help police with tips if they see or learn anything about the incident. Mark Bourdon, the police department's in-house lawyer, said he would also remind officials that supplemental reports are public records and subject to release. Police might have to redact some information to shield certain witnesses from harm or to safeguard facts crucial to pending investigations, but the department never intended to issue a blanket denial to requests for these reports, he said.
SCPA Attorney Jay Bender said the law does not allow police to pick and choose what information they find convenient to release. The open records law has narrowly defined provisions for redacting details from crime reports, and the state Supreme Court has ruled that police must prove that releasing the information would injure their agency in some way. Each instance must be decided on a case-by-case basis, he said.
"They are not entitled to a blanket exemption that 'this is under investigation,'" Bender said.

Opinion from The State: Discuss, approve new fire deal -- in the open
While it's a relief that Richland County finally came to its senses and is seeking to continue its long-standing fire agreement with Columbia, it's also troubling that county officials crafted their proposal in secret.
Instead of discussing this matter publicly, an ad hoc committee of County Council met behind closed doors to draft the proposed agreement, and the full council discussed it in executive session before approving it and sending it to City Council for consideration.
There is absolutely no justification for an elected body to shut the public out of discussions about an agreement outlining the delivery of a service paid for by taxpayers.
As Columbia City and Richland County councils deliberate this matter going forward, they should hold all discussions in public view. Not only do residents need to hear the details first hand, but they should be able to observe how the councils interact as they conduct business on the public's behalf.
There is enough skepticism and distrust of government as it is. Why create more by trampling upon the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act?

Halifax greets Herald-Journal staff
Executives for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal's new parent company, Halifax Media Holdings LLC, made a stop at the newspaper's headquarters last week.
Michael Redding, CEO for Halifax Media, officially welcomed Herald-Journal employees into the fold during a town hall meeting. Redding shared his company's vision for the future, insisting that newspapers are still a viable business and the strategy of sacrificing print for digital products is fundamentally flawed.
“We don't think newspapers are dead,” Redding said. “The stigma placed on our industry is just awful."
Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Halifax Media agreed to purchase the New York Times Regional Media Group for $143 million in cash on Jan. 6. The acquisition was for 16 newspapers, including the Herald-Journal.

The Item declares a new birthday: 1850
In a column to readers earlier this month, Graham Osteen, co-president Osteen Publishing Co., which owns The Item in Sumter, announced a wonderful find. A reader of The Item would stop by The Item frequently to reminisce about the old days with Graham. He would also drop off old editions of The Item to share. Graham was going through some boxes the other day and found the old editions of The Item and The Watchman and Southron, including the 1932 "80th Anniversary and Progress Edition" which dates The Item back to 1850 because of the association with the Black River Watchman, founded in 1850. In his column, Graham writes, "So from here on, I'm declaring The Item to 162 years old - and counting - based on that association rather than the 'official' 1894 founding."

Loris Scene and Horry Independent to share Conway office
Waccamaw Publishers, Inc., parent company of the Loris Scene and the Horry Independent recently consolidated its Loris and Conway offices, but the Scene will continue to be published every Wednesday. Both will operate from the company's headquarters in Conway. The office is at 2510 North Main Street. "The down economy has placed hardships on many businesses including newspapers," said Steve Robertson, publisher. "We decided to operate out of the Conway office to reduce costs. Even though we will operate from a central office, we will continue to provide the kind of hometown news readers of the Scene have come to expect."

AP CEO Tom Curley to retire; Board of Directors launches search for successor
Tom Curley, president and CEO of The Associated Press since 2003, will step down this year, AP announced earlier this month. The search for a successor has been launched by the AP Board of Directors. Curley, who turns 64 this year, charted AP's move into the digital space, from overseeing creation of a digital database of all AP content to assuring its availability on every platform in every format.

Twins serious about news
The Post and Courier had a great story last week about 12-year-old twins from Daniel Island who reported on the S.C. presidential primary. Zach and Faith Dalzell work as reporters for the 59-member Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. "We just research the candidates," Faith said. Zach is a tennis player and his sister is training the family labradoodle, named Folly, to become a therapy dog. She also is taking an interior design course online. They are home-schooled and applied to become a member of the press corps by writing an essay about what makes their town unique and why they wanted to be reporters."Zach has always kind of been a news junkie," his mother, Nichole Dalzell, said. Zach said that in addition to watching the news, he is constantly checking his phone for updates to current events. He likes to keep up with what's going on in the world and not get left behind.

Former S.C. editor pens Civil War book
Emily Cooper
, former editor of the S.C. United Methodist Advocate, has released a new book, Queen of the Lost. It's a different sort of Civil War book that may be used as a teaching tool. It is full of entertaining, well-told and true-to-history stories. Click here for more information.

USC investigative reporting contest suspended
For the past six years, Joe Taylor and Don Tomlin have provided the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications funding for the Taylor/Tomlin Investigative Reporting Award, a $5,000 annual award for the best investigative reporting in South Carolina. Unfortunately, continued funding for the Taylor/Tomlin award has ended, and the competition will be suspended, according to Dr. Carol Pardun, director of the school.  “The school appreciates the support Taylor and Tomlin provided during the previous years,” she added. 

API merges with NAAF
The American Press Institute (API) and the Newspaper Association of America Foundation (NAAF) announced recently that they will merge to create a dynamic new organization focused on meeting newspapers' crucial multimedia training and development needs. The merger agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both organizations.
Over the course of the next several months, leadership of the new entity will map out the specifics of integrating existing API and NAA Foundation programs into the new organization. Organizational and related details will also be addressed through a comprehensive review process, under the direction of board governance that will be drawn from both the NAA Foundation Board of Trustees and the API Board of Directors.

Get ahead with the new spring schedule of free Reynolds Center training in business journalism
Jump-start your business coverage and career with free training in business journalism this spring from the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. Journalists can learn at their desks with the center’s free, live Webinars on topics including:

News media executives cautious about 2012
Newspapers -- and many other industries -- expected at least some economic recovery in 2011. This simply did not happen. Perhaps as a result, newspaper executives and managers are adopting a cautious mindset going into 2012. There is nevertheless widespread optimism in digital as a source of revenue going forward, and many newspapers are putting plans in place to improve both Web and mobile advertising products. KubasPrimedia surveyed more than 400 daily newspaper executives on their expectations for ad revenues and what strategic initiatives they intend to undertake in 2012. There are some differences in responses by country and newspaper size:

  • Smaller circulation papers (under 25,000) are less pessimistic, calling for less severe declines in the weakest areas like national display and real estate, and perhaps even a small gain in retail display.
  • Mid-sized papers are somewhat more bullish than average on their prospects in digital.
  • The largest papers (100,000+ circulation) have lower than average expectations in practically every ad revenue category.

Media General local online revenue up 15%
Media General is reporting that local online revenue topped $5 million for the first time, marking a 15% increase from the previous year. Marshall Morton, Media General president and CEO, said the company's websites overall generated $8.3 million in revenue. Unique visitors to those sites rose 7.5% during the quarter. Morton also reported an explosion in mobile page views, which increased more than 80% year-over-year. “With the acceleration of smartphone penetration, our mobile revenues were up more than three-fold in the quarter and are the fastest-growing advertising category,” he said.

Anti-piracy bills shelved, for now
If nothing else, last week's protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP showed that online calls to action can be effective. Google, Craigslist, Wikipedia and countless other sites devoted online real estate to campaigns urging people to oppose the anti-piracy measures. Web users did so in droves. Google reported that more than 7 million people signed an online petition opposing the bills. At Wikipedia, more than 8 million people used an interactive tool to find the phone numbers of their representatives. Faced with this unexpected populist backlash, dozens of lawmakers backed away from the controversial anti-piracy legislation."At a minimum, Congress should start from scratch to determine the nature of the problem," Public Knowledge legal director Harold Feld said in a statement.

AP tells staff how to correct erroneous tweets in new social media guidelines
The Associated Press has updated its social media guidelines, adding sections about correcting erroneous tweets and deleting tweets. The guidelines, which have been updated three times in the past year, say that when correcting erroneous tweets, AP staffers should tweet that they made a mistake and explain what was wrong. The guidelines also advise staffers to seek advice before deleting tweets that may have been retweeted or posted elsewhere.

Research shows Americans still prefer print and paper
If you prefer to read from paper instead of an electronic screen, you’re not alone.  According to a recent survey commissioned by Two Sides, the fast-growing non-profit organization created to promote the responsible production, use and sustainability of print and paper, 70% of Americans, including 69% of 18- to 24-year-olds, say they prefer to read print and paper communications than reading off a screen.  Most of those surveyed also believe that paper records are more sustainable than electronic record storage (68%) and that paper is more pleasant to handle and touch than other media (67%).  But survey results also show that many Americans still have misconceptions about the environmental impacts of print and paper.

How false reports of Joe Paterno's death were spread and debunked
News spread quickly Saturday evening that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had died. Except, he hadn't. Here is an account of how the misinformation spread.

Five ways journalists can use Pinterest
Does Pinterest, the year old digital pinboard site, have value as a tool for journalists? The site's gained a lot of traction in the social media world recently. It cracked the top 10 most trafficked social network sites. The site's main users tend to be brides-to-be, people interested in home decor and lifestyle magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens. Generally speaking, it just doesn't seem like a lot of journalists and news organizations are in any hurry to use Pinterest for the news. With a bit of creativity and imagination, however, Pinterest could prove very useful for all areas of a news organization. If you are thinking about using Pinterest, you still need to have a friend invite you or you also can request and wait to receive an invitation to create a Pinterest account, which takes e a few days. If you'd like an invite to be able to immediately access Pinterest, let Jen know.

A fascinating look behind the scenes of a newspaper in 1970
For millennials who don't remember typewriters, this rundown of the analog processes and early IBM computers used to design and print the San Jose Mercury News in 1970 will be mind-boggling. This fifteen-minute documentary was produced by Carroll Films and is courtesy of the Internet Archive. 

Garcia: Don't scrimp on tablet development
After 40 years in the print newspaper design business, Mario Garcia has transformed himself from one of the most sought-after print newspaper designers in the industry to become a highly sought-after tablet designer. Indeed, he says more than half of the work he is doing is in tablet design. With an arsenal of experience, publishers listen when he talks. And he's got some strong advice for newspapers as they make the shift to tablet distribution. "The tablet is a very unique medium, and you simply do not dump content from the newspaper into it," he told News & Tech. "Print is designed for the brain and the eye - the tablet is designed for the brain, eye and finger." To get it right, he said, newspapers must devote the proper manpower to tablet development, including a content editor, photo editor and videographer.


Pardon furor shows importance
of public notice

JACKSON, Miss. -- Call former Gov. Haley Barbour's pardons of over 200 convicted felons what you want -- egregious, nonsensical or -- if you're so inclined -- justified. More worrisome, though, may be the volume of instances where pardons were issued but public notice requirements about them were not fulfilled. It's a bizarre turn of events that has led to a court order to halt the release of some prisoners, the potential rounding up of others and wiping the slate clean for scores of people long out of jail. The pardoning power of governors and presidents is a well-known and important part of executive privileges. It's there for deserving individuals who have simply exhausted all other avenues of possible reprieve. read

The role that community newspapers play
In Pickens County, the local "Meals on Wheels" program announced in early January that it's teaming up with another organization to prepare emergency food packages for homebound people in case inclement weather creates hazardous driving conditions which prevent Meals on Wheels volunteers from being able to deliver food, according to the Pickens Sentinel. In Hartsville, a group that promotes economic development in the city's downtown area has been gearing up for a chili cook-off as a way to showcase all that the area has to offer, according to the Hartsville Messenger. In the Lancaster News, the leader of a recent "Angel Tree" charity drive wrote a thoughtful Letter to the Editor thanking the community for its support in helping to provide Christmas gifts for underprivileged children in Lancaster County.read


Jan. 27: Webinar: Don't sell, ask questions! Constructing and Delivering Valuable Presentations

Feb. 1: News Contest winners announced no later than 5 p.m. at scpress.org

Feb. 10: Contest corrections due

Feb. 10: Webinar: Managing Your Changing Workload

Feb. 16: Webinar: Extending Advertising Campaigns … Looking Past “Now”

Feb. 17: Winning contest PDFs due

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

March 1: Webinar: MAXimize Your Postage Savings and Delivery

March 2: Deadline to register for the Annual Meeting

March 11-17: Sunshine Week

March 16-17: Annual Meeting & Awards Presentation