Bill would give grounds to shield cop reports
A bill that would give S.C. police agencies grounds to withhold all incident reports was introduced Tuesday in the S.C. House.
The bill, H. 4740, would insert language into the FOIA that would allow police to withhold “Information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action or criminal prosecution.”
“This is a carte blanche to withhold every police report,” said Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association.
The current law allows only the withholding of information that, if released prematurely, would harm the agency in a prosecution. This provision is reinforced by the recent ruling against the Dept. of Public Safety for routinely failing to release video tapes and reports in Greenwood and around the state. The current language would be struck in the proposed bill.
The bill also would allow police to withhold information that would harm a victim or witness. “I believe this provision would also be widely abused,” Rogers said.
The bill would also allow correspondence to be withheld that “undermines the open communication among victims, law enforcement and prosecutors.”
Rogers said that sounds good in theory but is so nebulous that it would cause many problems.
He said SCPA will be working to get the bill changed. The primary sponsor is a Summerville attorney, Rep. Chris Murphy. He has 31 co-sponsors, including the Speaker of the House and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Annual Meeting registration, sponsorship and hotel info now available
In a little more than a month, we'll gather together to celebrate your News Contest wins at the SCPA Annual Meeting & Awards Presentation... Bill and I could not be more excited!
We've got a great meeting planned! Of course the highlights will be the Daily Awards Dinner and Weekly and Associate Member Luncheon and Hall of Fame presentations, where we'll hand out nearly 800 awards!
We'll get things rolling on Friday night at the Opening Reception, where SCPA's Executive Committee and staff will welcome you to the Edge of America with light hors d'oeuvres and drinks overlooking the beach. We hope you'll grab some old or new friends after the reception and head out to dinner on Folly or in downtown Charleston. But don't stay out too late...
You'll need to wake up early to stroll the beach, because we've got some interesting educational sessions that you don't want to miss! Mark Mulholland, VP of Marketing for Evening Post Publishing, will share his insights and observations about what newspapers need to do to ensure ongoing success in the current challenging environment. We're sure that Mark will be a hard act to follow, so we're bringing in the big guns -- SCPA Attorney Jay Bender -- who is always a hit with the members! Because we'll also be celebrating Sunshine Week at the Annual Meeting, Jay, along with a panel of weekly and daily editors, will talk about current FOI challenges in the Palmetto State. In the afternoon, John Bussian, N.C. Press Association's attorney, will give a regional perspective on preserving public notice advertising. He'll be followed by design guru Ed Henninger, who will present bold ideas on how to better package your public notice ads for better readership.
Though the meeting officially wraps-up after Saturday's dinner, we hope you'll stick around for drinks at the beachfront bar or take a short walk to one one of the many restaurants and bars.
On Sunday, Bill has arranged a golf outing at the Country Club of Charleston for anyone that's interested. If golf isn't your thing, we hope you'll hang around and check out Folly -- whether its browsing the cute beach shops on Center Street, watching the surfers at the Washout or taking a long walk to see the Morris Island Lighthouse.
We hope you'll bring your family -- even your dog -- and make a mini-vacay out of our meeting. You've certainly earned it and in mid-March, the weather will surely be suitable for long walks on the beach (before or after our educational sessions, of course) or sitting by the Tides' pool with a Saint Patty's Day beverage of choice in hand (green beer... yes, please!) Or, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and shops located a hop, skip and jump away from the Tides' front door.
Don't delay on getting your room at the Tides... Feb. 23 is last day to ensure our highly-discounted rate of $159 per night. And if you want to make our meeting a mini-vacation for you and your family, the Tides will honor our group rate for the days around our meeting.
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Important Annual Meeting notes:
Don't forget that tomorrow, Feb. 10, is the deadline to submit corrections to your newspaper's winners. Please check the spelling of your staffers' names carefully. Email me and I'll make the corrections in our database and online.
Next Friday, Feb. 17, is the deadline to submit PDFs of your winning entries for use in the tabloid, presentations and in the winners' display exhibit. We already have your photo and online winners, so there's no need to re-submit those. For sections and multiple page entries, please submit only the cover or first page of the article. Earlier in the week I emailed every editor with a unique link where your PDFs can be dropped. If you need me to send it again, just say the word.
If you're planning on ordering duplicate engraved plaques, we can have them ready for pick-up at the Annual Meeting if you place your order by next Wednesday, Feb. 15. If you place your order after next Wednesday, your engraved plaques will be available in April. You can also use the link above to order 2nd and 3rd place plaque bases and duplicate certificates.
|Panel approves bill to make it cheaper, faster to get public records
A bill sponsored by Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, to make it cheaper and faster for citizens to get copies of public documents using the state Freedom of Information Act passed out of a house subcommittee Wednesday morning.
The bill would prevent a public body from charging more than the prevailing commercial rate for the making of copies, and would not allow them to charge for staff time associated with the gathering or reproducing of public records.
“My goal is to balance power... maybe give the advantage to the real citizens who pay for all this,” Rep. Taylor testified about the bill. He said his bill will make it not quite so difficult for citizens to get records and keep agencies from “giving citizens the stiff arm.”
The bill also would require agencies to actually produce requested documents in no less than 30 days. The current law is open-ended on when a document must be turned over to a citizen requesting it. The bill allows more time to produce documents more than two years old.
Taylor’s bill would not allow copy charges for documents stored or transmitted in electronic format.
It also specifies a deposit not to exceed 25% of the reproduction costs may be required by an agency prior to the making of copies.
In an effort to prevent public agencies from refusing to release copies of budgets under discussion, Taylor’s bill would require all documents produced by an agency and distributed or reviewed at a public meeting to be available for viewing and copying without a written request.
The bill will now go on to the full Judiciary Committee for consideration.
President and Publisher of The Herald (Rock Hill), The Enquirer-Herald (York), Fort Mill Times and the Lake Wylie Pilot
What do you like best about your job?
I am proud of the role we play in the community in praising its accomplishments and shining light on where we can improve. The guarantee of a "free press" in our Constitution seems like a basic but how many countries do not allow it? I love being a part of an institution that makes a difference every single day.
What would you say is your proudest moment from your career in the newspaper industry?
I can't pin it down to one. With the extreme business challenges we've faced the past several years, I have a proud moment every time my colleagues and I find a new solution, have a laugh, and move forward energetically and optimistically.
How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
We are certainly capable of delivering the news in whatever format people want it. The internet needn't scare us; it's only an opportunity. What we do need to be careful about is making sure people understand the value of a free and responsible press. When a rumor on an entertainment website is deemed as worthy as -- and even preferable to -- substantiated news content (Michael Jackson's death), we start to lose our franchise. We need to continue doing outstanding work that makes a difference in our readers' lives and not be shy about pointing out what we've done.
What's your favorite SCPA member service?
SCPA has provided particularly excellent guidance around FOIA issues.
Any big plans coming up?
Our daughter is applying to colleges and will be gone from home in a year. It is a bittersweet phase in our lives. Around the same time she leaves, we will be finished building a mountain house, great weekend relaxation for now and a retirement home eventually.
Fort Mill Police Department reviews public information policies
According to the Fort Mill Times, the Fort Mill Police Department has reviewed its public information policies after a January incident left the public without access to police files.
On Jan. 22, a reporter requested to view police incident reports for the month of January but the police present at the time told the reporter that only documents dated Jan. 15 and 16 -- just six documents -- were available. No other reports from the month were released. When questioned, police personnel on duty said other reports had not been reviewed by supervisors and could not be given to the public.
SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers said police departments in South Carolina are required by law to make incident reports available to the public as soon as they’re prepared by officers.
“It’s a matter of public safety,” he said. “If there has been a string of break-ins, for example, the public needs to know and have timely access.”
Rogers called Fort Mill’s delay in releasing the reports “ridiculous.”
AP welcomes weeklies as subscribers
Ever wish you could bring additional statewide and national news to your readers, especially during the Legislative session, or during major news events such as the 2012 election season or natural disasters?
Now you can with AP News Choice, a service tailored to weekly newspapers and their websites. The content comes from The Associated Press, a trusted source of critical news coverage since 1846.
For the first time, weekly newspapers can subscribe to home state news produced by AP writers, top national and international news, or "channels" of news concentrated on particular topics, such as military, agriculture, energy, education or health. AP's speed on breaking news will keep websites humming 24/7, and AP's broad coverage of important topics will help newsrooms stay on top of developments and localize stories for their markets readers.
To find out more about AP News Choice, contact Bureau Chief Michelle Williams at email@example.com.
Why investors bought 71 U.S. newspapers last year
Seventy-one of the country's daily newspapers changed hands last year in deals totalling just under $800 million. Why? A New York Times article concedes that answering that question is difficult. Both advertising and circulation revenues "have come under tremendous pressure in the last few years." But, among the possibilities, is the belief by some investors that they can turn a quick profit by exploiting under-performing assets. Others may view owning a paper as "a civic duty." ... Real estate assets may also play a part in decisions to buy. [Industry analyst Ken] Doctor said: "Newspapers have big buildings... usually in a somewhat valuable location." Then there is the potential for building a viable online audience -- and consequent digital advertising revenue -- through exploiting the newspaper brand. Douglas Arthur, a media analyst at banking advisory firm Evercore Partners, said: "There is the beginning of a slow paradigm shift on the web, where suppliers of content and consumers of content are beginning to realise that they need to pay for content... The free lunch will not go on forever."
Revenue 2012: The newspaper as entrepreneur
It was just a short while ago that print publications were writing their own obituaries, seemingly giving up the fight for audiences and advertisers in the onset of the digital age. That is no longer the case.
In 2012, print organizations are finding new ways to retain and grow audiences and advertising. By thinking creatively, print organizations are finding ways to take on digital media and level the playing field. Now, companies like The New York Times and Los Angeles Times are offering classes and lectures for the public. The Los Angeles paper has a huge book fair and gives out annual book awards. They and many other newspapers create and sponsor events and merchandise. The New York Times, for example, has for many years sold photos and front-page reprints. They have a wine club (nytwineclub.com), as does The Wall Street Journal (wsjwine.com), through which individuals can buy wines at different price points. Newspaper groups are joining together in advertising ventures (quadrantone.com) and in any other way that will help in this changing environment.
In short, in the quest to survive and thrive, newspapers are turning very entrepreneurial.
Newspapers' online appeal growing
Newspaper websites averaged more than 111 million monthly unique visitors in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the Newspaper Association of America, representing an increase of more than 6 million compared to the year-ago period. NAA's analysis is based on data from comScore, which also indicates continuing strong performance in other key engagement and demographic metrics important to advertisers, with 63 percent of all adult Internet users visiting newspaper websites, NAA said.
"The comScore data for 2011 demonstrate the growing appeal of newspapers' online content - particularly for engaged, informed and affluent users whom advertisers, especially those buying political advertising in an election year, seek to reach," said NAA President and CEO Caroline Little, in a statement. "In fact, 70 percent of Internet users with household income above $60,000 are reached by newspaper websites, reach that climbs to 75 percent when looking at household incomes above $100,000."
Inland compensation survey offers newspapers a tool to make smarter decisions
Inland Press Association's Newspaper Industry Compensation Survey (NICS) supplies crucial information about pay levels in the newspaper industry. Individual newspapers can use this information to quickly determine where their compensation packages stand in relation to the industry.
Inland has been conducting salary research for 96 years with an unblemished record for handling confidential financial information. The survey compiles data from approximately 500 newspapers including roughly 75 percent of the top 100 dailies in the nation.
All data are reported by circulation and revenue categories so users can compare their pay levels to similar organizations. In addition to salaries, the survey also contains data on employee benefits and incentive compensation programs.
To make the most informed decisions, newspapers need the highest quality and most relevant data. The NICS provides this. If you or your newspaper need a cost-effective tool that makes decision-making easier, call Karla Zander at 847-795-0380 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Governors’ biographer, insider, journalist Grose dies at 73
Philip Gibbs Grose, whose life balanced the dual roles of trusted South Carolina political insider and journalist-author, died Jan. 3, of leukemia. He was 73.
Born in Greenville, Grose began his journalism career covering sports for The Charlotte Observer -- then a newspaper with major circulation in both Carolinas -- as a junior high school student. After graduating from Washington and Lee in 1960, Grose joined The Observer as a full-time sports and general news reporter.
A few years later, he moved to Columbia, where he joined The State and covered sports before becoming business and then governmental affairs editor.
After retiring from state government, Grose became a senior fellow at the University of South Carolina’s Institute for Southern Studies, where he completed his books on the two governors: “South Carolina at the Brink: Robert McNair and the Politics of Civil Rights,” and “Looking for Utopia: The Life and Times of John C. West.”
At the time of his death, Grose was working on a memoir in collaboration with U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C. Grose had started research on a history of Francis Marion University.
Don't accept 'no' when seeking information
A public safety director is quietly reprimanded after taking a pleasure ride on the city's water patrol boat while on duty. A superintendent refuses to acknowledge the recommendation to close a school building until formal school board action. A police chief withholds information from a crime scene in deference to the individuals involved. In each case, reporters press -- and are rejected -- in their follow-up requests for the facts. The stories are incomplete, and readers are subsequently left in the dark. It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, in most instances, it shouldn't be that way. The lesson for editors and reporters: If access to information is denied, don't simply accept "no" for an answer. Here are some tips to guide newsrooms to advance their cases. Some are grounded in law; others are simply ways of getting information that may not be readily accessible.
What do customers want?
We all know that sales people should sell benefits. We know that advertising should emphasize benefits. And we know that people buy benefits. What kinds of benefits do customers want? According to Don, who has been in the advertising business for many years, "It all comes down to: more, better, faster or cheaper. You can talk about other things, but if you don't show them how your product or service offers at least one of these four, they're not going to buy." Let's take a look: 1. More: When you're preparing for a sales presentation, ask yourself if your publication has more coverage than in previous years. Can you offer advertisers more ads for the same dollars? Do you offer extra marketing or analytical services that may appeal to certain businesses? "When you're thinking of ad ideas in this category," Don said, "the most obvious example is a two-for-the-price-of-one offer -- or buy-one-get one free. This tactic has been around for a long time, because it works so well."