FOI bill amended, but passes on to House floor
An FOIA bill that would prohibit agencies charging for document research, set the copying costs at the prevailing commercial rate and specify that documents must be actually produced within 30 days of an FOI request passed out of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

But SCPA’s executive director worries that an amendment offered by Rep. Rick Quinn of Lexington to remove the FOI exemption for legislators will hamper the bills chance of passage.
“We are trying to come up with an anecdote amendment to counter this poison pill,” said Bill Rogers.
The committee debated the Quinn amendment and concern was expressed that constituent correspondence is often highly personal and that these people has some expectation that they can contact their Legislator in confidence.
“I would like to see if we can find wording that would protect constituents but still do away with the broader exemption now in the law,” he said.
The FOIA currently exempts “Memoranda, correspondence and working papers in the possession of individual members of the General Assembly or their immediate staffs; however nothing herein may be construed as limiting or restriction public access to source documents or records, factual data or summaries of actual data, papers, minutes or reports otherwise considered to be public information under the provisions of this chapter and not specifically exempted by other provisions of this chapter.”
The Legislature committees and subcommittees are currently required to give notice of all meetings.  The Legislature must follow the state Constitution and house concerning closed sessions.
“The addition of the Quinn amendment, sought by Gov. Nikki Halley, unfortunately adds a political element to a bill seeking simply to improve public access to public documents.  I fear this is a red herring to divert attention from the real value of the bill.”
The bill, H. 3235, will now go to the full House for consideration, probably next week.
In debate about keeping agencies from charging for researching and compiling requested documents, subcommittee chairman Derham Cole of Spartanburg said that he recognized concerns not being able to recoup research costs, but this concern was outweighed by “the public’s right to access documents.”

Annual Meeting hotel sells out; other options available
SCPA member editors and publishers got word earlier this week that the Annual Meeting hotel had sold out completely for the weekend of March 16-18.
"It's rare that we sell out an entire hotel," said Executive Director Bill Rogers."We have a great meeting planned and the location was a big draw. There are other places to stay fairly near. We hope this won't prevent you from coming to honor your winners, network and learn from our programs."
If you have not yet made your reservation, there are other room options to consider:

  • If you are looking for a Friday night only room, please call SCPA immediately. We have a VERY limited number of rooms available on Folly Beach for Friday night.
  • A few superior beachfront-patio rooms are currently available at the Tides. These rooms are going for $269 on Friday night and $309 on Saturday night.  If you would like one of these rooms, please call Kathryn Hartle immediately at (843) 588-6463. These may not be available for much longer.
  • If your staff is willing to share a condo, we have secured a great deal on a few 4-bedroom condos that are located right next door to the Tides hotel. You must rent both Friday and Saturday nights. The weekend rate for each condo is less than $800. When broken down, this cost comes to less than $100 per night, per bedroom. These newly-renovated condos have direct oceanfront views. If you can fill all four bedrooms, staying two nights at the condo will be cheaper than staying Saturday night only at one of the hotels below, and you'll be within walking distance of the meeting. Call SCPA if you are interested.
  • For folks looking to stay Saturday night only, the closest hotels are located about 10 miles away on the Ashley River. Options include: SpringHill Suites, LaQuinta Inn or the Marriott Residence Inn. There are limited rooms available now at these hotels so act promptly if you want to stay at one of these properties. As of now, the rates at these properties are between $179 and $209 for Saturday night. If enough members choose to stay at these hotels, we will try to work out transportation to and from the Tides.

Editor, The News & Reporter, Chester

What do you like best about your job?
A lot of things. I appreciate the fact that people trust us to tell them what is going on in Chester County. I like meeting people and having the opportunity to share their stories with our readers and I love being around my co-workers. They are focused, talented, amazing at what they do and are fun to be around...particularly at the end of an especially long press day when I start acting silly.

What would you say is your proudest moment from your career in the newspaper industry?
I don't' know if I could name one definitive moment. Anytime someone tells you that you wrote something special to them, that it made them laugh or cry, it means an awful lot. I wrote a goofy column a few weeks ago about the song that was number one on the charts the day I was born. I was at a basketball game a few days later and a guy hollered "Peggy Sue" at me. I asked him what he was talking about and he said "Peggy Sue" by Buddy Holly was number one the day he was born. I thought, wow, somebody not only read that, they went and looked up their own.

How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
I'm pretty optimistic actually. I think if we pour ourselves into covering and reflecting our communities and give readers the information they want and need to know, there will always be a place for newspapers in some form or another.

What’s your favorite SCPA member service?
Bill and Jay have been an invaluable resource for us anytime we have FOI questions or concerns.

Any big plans coming up?
Yes, a fifth wedding anniversary trip this summer. We're aiming for somewhere hot and near an ocean hopefully.

CSPAN's On the Road with Book TV recently interviewed Pat McNeely about a book she co-wrote, Knights of the Quill: Confederate Correspondents and Their Civil War Reporting. Pat's book, which was co-authored by SCPA member Hank Schulte and Debbie van Tulle, was published in December 2010. Knights of the Quill offers a unique assessment of war correspondence in Southern newspapers during the American Civil War. The men and women who covered the battles and political developments for Southern newspapers were of a different breed than those who reported the war for the North. They were doctors, lawyers, teachers, editors, and businessmen, nearly all of them with college and professional degrees. Sleeping on beds of snow, dining on raw corn and burned bread, they exhibited a dedication that laid the groundwork for news gathering in the twenty-first century. Objectivity and accuracy became important news values, as Knights of the Quill shows that Southern war correspondence easily equaled in quality the work produced by reporters for Northern newspapers.
Pat taught writing and reporting at the University of South Carolina for more than 30 years. She was chair of the Print Sequence in the journalism school for 25 years and associate dean for four years. Before joining the USC faculty, she was a reporter and editor for The Greenville News, The Columbia Record, and The State. She worked several summers for The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Charlotte Observer and the Charleston Post and Courier, and she was a writing coach for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She has taught in media workshops all over the country for Reader’s Digest, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security, U.S. Customs and others. She is also the author of the S.C. Press Association's history book, The Palmetto Press: The History of South Carolina's Newspapers and the Press Association, as well as Fighting Words: A Media History of South Carolina.

Newspaper readers vote, and voters read newspapers
A new survey of U.S. voters’ media use demonstrates the advantages newspaper media hold in connecting political advertisers -- election campaigns and issues advocates -- with registered American voters, the group most likely to vote. The American Voters Media Use Study, conducted by Moore Information, shows that 86% of registered voters read newspapers in print or online. Ninety-one percent of voters who contributed money to a campaign read online or print newspapers.
“Cutting across party affiliations and age groups, it’s clear that newspapers and their digital platforms provide a superior medium for advertising that supports election campaigns and drives awareness of the issues,” said Caroline Little, NAA president and CEO. “Whether measuring perceptions of trust and reliability or use of the medium’s digital and mobile platforms, newspapers have a clear advantage in reaching and motivating those highly likely to vote. Campaigns and advocates seeking effective advertising to reach their target audiences need look no further than the local newspaper.”

Gannett building paywalls around all its papers except USA Today
Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, is planning to switch over all of its 80 community newspapers to a paid model by the end of the year, it announced Wednesday.
“We will begin to restrict some access to non-subscribers,” said Bob Dickey, president of community publishing. The model is similar to the metered system adopted by The New York Times a year ago, in which online readers are able to view a limited number of pages for free each month. That quota will be between five and 15 articles, depending on the paper, said Dickey. Six Gannett papers already have a digital pay regimen in place.
There is one Gannett title, however, that will remain free, at least for the foreseeable future: USA Today.


Joanne Thrift, longtime Independent Mail employee, dies
Grace Joanne Culpepper Thrift, 84, of Anderson, died Feb. 18.
Thrift enjoyed a long and successful career in journalism, breaking glass ceilings and garnering recognition along the way. She was the first woman managing editor of a daily newspaper in South Carolina – the Anderson Daily Mail – and was named the S.C. Newspaper Woman of the Year in 1975 by the S.C. Press Association.
In her 40-year career with the Independent-Mail and other local newspapers, she interviewed politicians, movie stars, a U.S. President, and thousands of ordinary citizens with interesting and important stories to tell. She was the founding editor of the Anderson Independent’s Hometowner section and helped launch the annual Brighter Christmas Fund, contributing the heartwarming daily narratives of real people in need that made it one of the area’s most successful fund-raising programs.
Here is a great column from the Independent Mail about Joanne.


Selling is a business of words
Ad agency legend David Ogilvy once wrote, "Advertising is a business of words." The same can be said for selling. The right word can make a sale, and the wrong word can lose a sale. Sharp sales people are aware that certain words call for special handling. Generally speaking, these are common expressions that seem harmless at first glance – but can communicate the wrong message or the wrong tone. Let's take a look at a few examples: read

Are there successful papers out there?
You bet!

I've had an interesting couple of weeks. For the fi rst time, I was invited to speak at the Michigan Press Association's convention in Grand Rapids. I never know what to expect when I'm with a new group. Will the group be somber and quiet or will the attendees be lively and responsive? My worries were relieved after just a few minutes. Publishers who arrived early waited to tell me how excited they were to hear what I had to say about our industry's future. read