Lancaster publisher elected to lead press association
Susan Rowell, publisher of The Lancaster News, was elected president of the S.C. Press Association at the group's annual meeting Saturday at the The Tides hotel in Folly Beach.

Other officers elected were: Jack Osteen, publisher of The Item in Sumter, and Morrey Thomas, publisher of The News and Press in Darlington, as vice presidents; and Judith Mundy Burns, publisher of the Index-Journal in Greenwood, as treasurer.

Elected to two-year terms on the SCPA Executive Committee were: Debbie Abels, publisher of The Herald in Rock Hill, Tom Clifford, executive news director of The Post and Courier in Charleston, and Mike Smith, executive editor of the Herald-Journal in Spartanburg.

Re-elected for continuing terms on the SCPA executive committee were: Mike Maddock, editor and general manager of The Columbia Star; Ellen Priest, president and publisher of The Summerville Journal Scene, The Berkeley Independent in Moncks Corner and The Gazette in Goose Creek; and Michael Smith, editor of Carolina Forest Chronicle in Myrtle Beach.

Rowell succeeds William E.N. Hawkins, editor and publisher of The Post and Courier in Charleston.

Rowell began her career at The Lancaster News in 1985 in advertising and was promoted to advertising manager in 1993. Graduating from the Landmark Newspaper Management program in 1996, she continued her newspaper management training as she was named strategic development director for the newspaper in 1998 and then circulation manager in 1999.

Rowell was named publisher in 2002. She is also publisher of Carolina Gateway, a free weekly newspaper. In her role as regional manager for Landmark of South Carolina, Rowell provides management oversight for the Chester News & Reporter and the Pageland Progressive Journal. She is very active in her community and is the current chair of the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce. She has served on the board of the South Carolina Press Association since 2004.

"It is my privilege to work with such a prestigious board and dedicated, professional staff as we represent South Carolina newspapers by promoting our time-honored profession," Rowell said.

The election came as part of a two-day meeting attended by more than 300 newspaper journalists from across the state.

The press association is 160 years old and includes the state's 17 daily newspapers and more than 100 of its weekly newspapers.

325 attend meeting at Folly Beach
Thanks to all who attended the Winter Meeting in Folly Beach.  Actually, it should have been called the Early Summer meeting... temperatures were in the 80s and the beach was very enticing.
We had more that 325 folks there to be recognized, to attend the sessions and to network. 
The program, presentations and winners tabloid are on our website, so check it out if you weren’t there.  Photos will be posted on Facebook tomorrow.
Assistant Director Jen Madden will be sending out evaluations tomorrow, so please give us your comments and suggestions.
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A good chuckle was had in journalism circles when the Sumter coroner claimed he was a health care provider and didn’t have to release an autopsy report because he was covered by HIPPA. (He is being sued by The Item and the case has been delayed until April.)
Well, maybe we are just missing a new trend... health care by coroners.
I had to pull off the road last week and take a picture of a Lexington County coroner candidate’s election sign:  “Barron for Coroner... Saving lives.”
I am not sure how this man would save lives as a coroner.  He was formerly Richland County coroner, noted for refusing to speak to reporters from The State newspaper for about a year.  He also tried to charge The State $11,000 for access to his office telephone records.
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Sometimes discretion is the better course.
That was the case in Aiken recently when a hearing was held concerning the release of a video of a police officer’s murder by a suspect she had stopped.
Several media outlets have filed FOI requests to see the video.
Not a single one sent an attorney to argue for their release and the hearing was over in three minutes.
My thought is that the system worked.
If the Aiken Standard had felt the video had information it needed, I feel sure they would have stepped up to the plate.  They didn’t.
The release of the tape would not have helped the case for openness in our state.  It’s broadcast could have brought a hue and cry for a change in the current law.
The current law is clear... videos must be released.  But the ability of an agency to withhold a tape or document, and then defend it before a judge if challenged, seems to be working.

Three newspapers take top honors for FOI efforts
One of the Press Association's most coveted awards is the Reid Montgomery Freedom of Information Award.
It recognizes reporting that furthers the cause of open government and freedom of information in South Carolina.  It goes to the heart of what newspapers are about  -- their watchdog role as the fourth estate.
The award is named for Reid Montgomery, former executive secretary of the Press Association and one of the fathers of the FOIA in South Carolina.
This award is only given if, in the opinion of the judges, a meritorious entry has been submitted. 
Judges chose three winners for outstanding FOI work in 2011. The awards were presented at the group's Annual Meeting on March 17 in Folly Beach.
In the daily newspaper division, SCPA awarded a first place Montgomery FOI Award to The Post and Courier. Judges said the paper stood out in what was one of the strongest pool of entries ever entered. The Charleston daily was unanimously chosen because of its long battle all the way to the S.C. Supreme Court to keep a Lowcountry school board from evading the FOIA by having their lawyer handle a superintendent evaluation
and then refusing to release the results claiming attorney-client privilege. This case had enormous statewide
ramifications and the newspaper stepped up to the challenge to force public accountability. Their courtroom
efforts bolstered their outstanding coverage of the case.
The newspaper also used the FOI successfully in stories about financial issues at S.C. State University, and in other accountability stories involving the office of the governor, SLED, The Citadel and the town of Summerville.
Reporter Diane Knich did an outstanding job in the S.C. State story, which ended with state legislators calling for an investigation. Her work was also supplemented with editorials hammering away for reform.
The Item in Sumter was recognized as second place winner for its outstanding job reporting on an officer-related shooting, where police secrecy kept the public in the dark about the details, and even who was involved, in the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old man. It started as police blocked off a large section of the road where the shooting happened to keep the public and press at a distance. They then withheld the names of the officers, citing an unspecified threat. The abuse of the FOIA continued for months as police refused to say how many times the man was shot and where he was struck. Names were omitted from incident reports. To top it off, the coroner refused to release the autopsy report, claiming it was a health care record. The Item has filed suit in the case.
In the weekly newspaper division, Jill Cincotta of The Herald Independent in Winnsboro, won the Montgomery FOI Award for her dogged reporting. She used smart tactics and persistence to overcome stonewalling and tell readers what they needed to know about this public bodies' efforts to circumvent the FOIA. Cincotta worked tirelessly, and in the face of tremendous resistance, to provide the public with valuable insight into the day-to-day operations of the Jenkinsville Water Company and its board. She undertook extensive research into the company's origins, obtaining records from various state agencies showing that the board is a public body. Nevertheless, the Board maintains its position that it is not a public body so the newspaper has filed criminal charges against the board members. The board has requested a jury trial and the date of trial is still pending. The Herald-Independent hopes to set a precedent in South Carolina and send a message to those who seek to circumnavigate the law and conduct public business in secret -- the message is simple: The public is watching, and the public will not tolerate backroom politics.

SCPA names weekly and daily journalists of the year at Annual Meeting
Corey Hutchins of the Free Times in Columbia and Renee Dudley of The Post and Courier in Charleston were honored as South Carolina's top journalists at the Press Association Annual Meeting in Folly Beach on March 17.In the Weekly Division, Hutchins was named Journalist of the Year. He is a staff writer at the Columbia Free Times covering South Carolina politics and was a 2008 recipient of the S.C. Press Association's award for in-depth reporting.
His work in 2011 appeared on the cover of The Nation, in The Huffington Post, The Daily Caller and in The Texas Observer. Hutchins helped cover the 2012 GOP presidential primary in South Carolina as part of the CBS News National Decision Desk. He is the Palmetto State's lead researcher on the State Integrity Investigation at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. His graphic novel about Alvin Greene, The Accidental
Candidate, comes out this spring.
Hutchins earned a journalism degree in 2002 from the State University of New York at Morrisville and a degree in literature in 2006 from the University of South Carolina.
Judges' said of Hutchins' work: The breadth, depth, and remarkable impact statewide of Corey Hutchins investigative journalism makes him the compelling choice for this honor. His investigative reporting on Lt. Gov. Ken Ard broke the story of improper campaign spending, leading to a criminal investigation. He also was the first to break the story of the firing of University of South Carolina board member Darla Moore. He has been a bulldog reporter whose work has had an impact. As a weekly journalist, he excelled in covering both state and local issues. His work is something to emulate.
Hutchins is the son of Steve and Anne Hutchins of Pennellville, NY.

In the Daily Division, Renee Dudley was named Journalist of the Year. She joined The Post and Courier in 2010 as a health reporter. Before that, she was a reporter for The Boston Herald and The (Hilton Head) Island Packet.
Dudley has won honors from the New England and South Carolina Press Associations for public service and in-depth, enterprise, health and government reporting. In 2010, she received the Eugene S. Pulliam Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her work defending the First Amendment.
She graduated from Boston University, where she studied international relations, journalism and French.
The judges said this of Dudley's work: " Renee Dudley's reporting exposes wrongdoing, challenges powerful people and changes lives. She took on the governor, a large insurance company and the area's largest hospitals.
The results of her work led to investigations, changed policies, better care of taxpayer money and better care for
ill patients. By any standard, she had an extraordinary year as a journalist. And all South Carolinians benefitted from her work.

SCPA welcomes new members
The following organizations were accepted as members of the Press Association on March 16:

  • Newspaper Member: Chesterfield County News & Shopper, Don Swartz
  • Associate Member: S.C. Business Publications (SCBIZ), Grady Johnson
  • Individual Member: Tom O'Dare, Myrtle Beach
The Citizen News to conclude publication on April 18
The Citizen News will print its final edition on April 18. Profitability at the newspaper has waned in the past few years and not rebounded as the economy slowly begins to show signs of recovery, making it necessary to close the doors to avoid further losses. The newspaper has been a part of the Barnwell Newspaper Group.
“This closure is not a failure of the people working at the newspaper who have given their all to this venture and the community here in Edgefield County,” said Laura McKenzie, Barnwell Group Publisher. “It is the culmination of market conditions facing a small newspaper in a two-product market.”
The Citizen News began its service to Edgefield County’s Ridge section when it was created in 1982 with the merger of other local newspapers. The award-winning newspaper has covered news features, local heroes and local issues.
Obviously, there are never good days to make an announcement of this magnitude or tenor, but the staff here at the newspaper and I have given our all each day to make this publication the absolute best product that it could be. We will continue that effort until the final edition is published on April 18,” said Mike Rosier, Publisher and Editor of The Citizen News. “As everyone knows, these are difficult times and no one is immune from that difficulty. But in the midst of this announcement, there is also a spirit of gratitude which cannot be denied. We wish to thank the greater Edgefield County community for letting us tell so many of their stories. They have allowed us to share so many wonderful memories with them through the years. We will leave this portion of our story with grace, having been humbled and honored in the telling.”

AP reporter honored by Statehouse
Associated Press Statehouse Reporter Jim Davenport got a well-deserved honor earlier this month -- a resolution from the S.C. Senate. Davenport has been struggling with cancer but is still pressing ahead with his job of keeping the folks under the dome in Columbia honest.

Osteen and Sossamon honored by S.C. Press Association
Two longtime newspaper executives were awarded the S.C. Press Association Distinguished Service Award at the group's annual meeting March 17.  They are Hubert Duvall Osteen Jr., editor of The Item in Sumter, and Louis Sossamon, former publisher and editor of The Gaffney Ledger.
The awards  -- presented by SCPA President William E.N. Hawkins -- are for people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to the S.C. Press Association and the newspaper industry.
Hubert D. Osteen Jr. has served in a full-time capacity with The Item newspaper for 49 years as reporter, photographer, sports writer, city editor, news editor, managing editor, editor and publisher. He is the fourth generation of Osteens to be involved in newspapering in Sumter during a span of over 150 years.
A native of Sumter, he is a graduate of  Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, the University of  Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism degree and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in New York City with a Master of Science degree. He served three years in the U.S. Air Force with assignments in California, Korea and South Vietnam prior to joining The Item in 1963. He began working summers at the newspaper at the age of 13 and continued throughout high school and college.
He is a former president of the S.C. Press Association (1977-78) and served for more than 20 years as member and chairman of the S.C. Press Association Foundation. He is a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
On the local level he has been involved in various local civic activities and organizations, including member and chairman of the Housing Authority of Sumter. In 1994 he was named Business Person of the Year by the Sumter Chamber of Commerce and in 1995 was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year by the Sumter YMCA. On the state level he served for nine years as member and vice chairman of the S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism Commission.
He's a former Deacon and Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Sumter, and recently celebrated 52 years of marriage to the former Jacqueline Flowers Brown of Greenville.
They have three sons - Graham, Kyle and Jack - who are all involved with Osteen Publishing Co.; three lovely daughters-in-law and six grandchildren ranging in age from 7 to 27. These are: Julie (mother of Duvall and Hugh); Susan (mother of Wells and Brown); and Susan (mother of Elise and John).
Lou Sossamon was president of the Press Association in 1968 and is the earliest surviving SCPA president. He worked tirelessly during and after his term to help win passage of South Carolina's Freedom of Information Act in 1976. Even after his retirement, Sossamon single-handedly stepped forward to lead the fund drive to establish the Reid Montgomery Freedom of Information Chair at the University of South Carolina's Journalism School.  He is a proud USC alum, having been a star football player for the Gamecocks.  His son, Cody, followed in his footsteps as publisher in Gaffney in 1969.  Sossamon was the third generation of his family at the newspaper.

SNPA recently held a "Best Ideas from the Small Daily and Weekly Newspaper Roundtable" at its Key Executives Mega-Conference. SNPA posted a list of revenue-producing, quality improvement and cost-cutting ideas shared by conference participants.

The typeface-as-atlas web font is the latest open-source release from the nonprofit news outlet, ProPublica, which has been building out key parts of the journalist-coder's toolkit. Earlier this month, ProPublica shared a tool for easy state maps. ProPublica just released StateFace, a web font that, in place of standard letters, contains maps of the 50 states. State Face is purpose-driven, marrying typographic technology with editorial needs.

The NCAA must grant approval before the use of any NCAA trademark or logo. March Madness and Final Four are obviously trademarked, but so are more than 80 other words.

Robert Nettles, former chief photographer at The Post and Courier passes away
Robert Aldine Nettles, a retired chief photographer with The Post and Courier, died March 14. He was 84.
A graduate of the High School of Charleston, Nettles was employed by Lanneau's Art Store and Howard Jacobs Co. before entering the Army in 1945.
While in the Army he served as a photographer in the Signal Corps and served in northern Italy as sergeant in charge of a photographic unit on detached service with the 88th Infantry Division.
He was discharged in 1947 and enrolled at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he studied advertising and illustrative photography.
He graduated from the school in 1949 and worked as a free-lance photographer until July 1956, when he joined The Post and Courier staff.
He became chief photographer in 1963.
"Nettles oversaw the evolution of photojournalism during his 30 years as chief photographer," said Tom Spain, Post and Courier photo editor.
Slimp answers tough tech problems
I haven't pulled out the mail bag in a while. Let's see what readers have on their minds these days: Let's start with a text from Tammy in Minnesota:
Kevin, we need your help! We just received 20 files saved in the PDF/A standard. Our preflight won't even work with them. Can we trust a PDF/A file?
I haven't been to Minnesota in a long time, so I went the extra mile for Tammy. I asked her to email the two files to me, so I could look at them. At first glance everything seemed OK with the files. Having been around this block a few times, I knew better than to trust a first glance. You see, the PDF/A standard is meant for files that are going to be archived, not printed. So there's a pretty good chance that the files will cause a problem when placed on a newspaper page.
It's all in your head
Headlines are one of the tools we use to tell readers what's important on a page. Sometimes a lead visual will take them to the more important package, but often it's the lead headline that does that job. Given that, it's surprising how many newspapers lead their front page with headlines that whisper to their readers instead of using a bold, large headline that jumps off the page. And too many newspapers follow that small, weak lead headline with other headlines that are tiny. I suppose they do that because they are trying to follow one of the principles of headline hierarchy: Give the largest headline to your most important story. But... headline hierarchy fails when we start with a head that's just too small. And... there are factors other than size alone which contribute to proper headline hierarchy. Some points to consider:read

March 28: Webinar: Mobilize your Automotive ROP to Regain Dealer Revenue

March 29: SCPA Foundation Board Meeting, SCPA Offices, Columbia

March 29: Webinar: Taking Social Media Reporting to the Next Level

April 6: PALMY Advertising Contest Entry Deadline

April 11: Webinar: Blogging 101

April 13: Collegiate Meeting and Awards Presentation, SCPA Offices, Columbia, More details coming soon!

April 19: Ad Basics
SCPA Offices, Columbia

April 26: Webinar: Online Sales: We’ve Got the Butter!

April 26: Webinar: Growing an online community

May 11:Webinar: Don’t Sell, Ask Questions!