Upstate artist named Foundation's Mundy scholar
A local artist who has penned many cartoons for nearly 40 S.C. newspapers has been named the 2012 Mundy Scholar by the SCPA Foundation.
Mike Beckom, of Greenwood, is a graphic design major and computer animation minor at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
This premier scholarship, for $3,000, is named for the Foundation's first president, the late Frank R. Mundy of the Greenwood Index-Journal -- Beckom's hometown newspaper of which he contributes regularly.
Beckom graduated from Greenwood High School 30-plus years ago with the intention of obtaining a degree from Lander University. He attended Lander for one year and quit after he lost interest. For three decades, Beckom has worked in manufacturing. When he lost his job in 2009, he returned to school at Piedmont Technical College. At Piedmont, Beckom made straight A's and graduated first in his class with an Associate's Degree in Applied Technology with a concentration on commercial art. Beckom said that after careful consideration and much prayer, he made the decision to go back and get the degree that has eluded him for so long.
"The costs of a four-year degree today are astronomical and astounding. You kind folks have given me that added incentive to be able to once again reach for my dream," Beckom said in a letter to Foundation board members.
Beckom has a diverse background in commercial art, having created editorial cartoons and advertising illustrations for numerous newspapers, blogs and magazines across South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia for the past eight years. He has won numerous awards for his cartoons, including multiple first, second and third place awards from SCPA and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Most recently, Beckom's cartoon on open government ran more than 50 newspapers across the Palmetto State during Sunshine Week.
Beckom is married to Angie (Crowe) Beckom. They have two sons and three daughters.
"I love being a cartoonist," Beckom said. "Nothing is ever as bad or good as it seems in the news. A lot of people have become apathetic to the news because of the constant bombardment of bad news. My job as an editorial cartoonist is to shake them awake and make them really SEE the news stories, to promote thought and discussion, and to try to do it in a funny or entertaining way.
"My ultimate goal is to continue creating my editorial cartoons and to one day be syndicated so that I can do this job that I love and reach more people on a larger scale," Beckom said.
Scholarships and internships are provided from contributions from S.C. newspapers and interested individuals.
If you would like to make a gift to the Foundation, contact Jen.
Update on sales tax and FOI bills
The state House of Representatives adjourned debate Wednesday on the bill (H. 4995) removing sales tax exemptions. The bill, amended to restore the newspaper exemptions,
may come up Thursday for second reading, and could still make it across to the Senate prior to the May 1 deadline for crossover.
The FOIA bill (H. 3235) by Rep. Bill Taylor of Aiken, came up on the floor Tuesday, but also remains in adjourn debate status until Thursday.
SCPA to host Ethics Hour 'Call-inar'
Reporters, photographers and editors are invited to participate in an Ethics Hour discussion on Thursday, May 24, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
This telephone session – a “call-inar” -- will be led by Winthrop associate professor Guy Reel. Reel is co-editor of “Media Ethics at Work: True Stories from Young Professionals,” which will come out this summer. Reel also has newsroom experience, working for 17-years with the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Reel will lead the discussion of the ethical problems you have and are facing, so be prepared to participate.
There is no charge to participate, but you do need to let us know that you'd like to participate so we can email you the call-in instructions.
SCNN distributes nearly $70,000 to member newspapers
SCNN, the sales arm or your press association, mailed out checks this week totaling $68,416 to participants in three of its ad networks.
The largest check came from our newest network, the QuarterPage+ network. That payout totaled $31,582 for the quarter January through March. Last year’s QP payout for the quarter was $6,630.
Checks totaling $27,982 were mailed to participants in the 2x2 network. This compares to $25,050 for the same quarter last year.
The Online Network had a payout of $8,852. Last year we had no online network ads during the same quarter.
“We appreciate the participation of our member papers and we are glad to be able to send them these checks,” said Randall Savely, Director of Operations. He noted that S.C. pays network members one of the highest percentages of any press association.
Statewide Classified Network payouts are made annually in January.
Photographer, Independent Mail, Anderson
Daily Photojournalist of the Year
What do you like best about your job?
I really enjoy all the different types of people I get to meet and the places I get to go because I have a couple of cameras around my shoulder and a press pass around my neck. Its has been a real privilege to be allowed into the life's of the members of our community. I also enjoy the fact that I get to share how I see the world with our viewers on a daily basis. Everyday is different for the most part. I don't get stuck behind a desk and I usually don't get bored. When its raining, I get to go take pictures in the rain. When politicians drop by, I get to go rub shoulders with them. When tragedy hits our community, I get to document its impact. I don't know of many other jobs where I would get that opportunity.
What would you say is your proudest moment from your career in the newspaper industry?
Well it would be hard not to say being named South Carolina Press Association's 2011 Photojournalist of the Year. However that moment was a result of not only my hard work, but the hard work of my fellow photographers as well as our reporting and editing staff at the Anderson Independent Mail. If I succeed, its because of the great work that everyone at our newspaper does. I do get a particular joy out of knowing that I took a photo of Newt Gingrich quickly grabbing the nose of an elderly woman during a campaign visit in January. The photo was put on the AP wire and went almost viral after it reached the wire. It went as far as Europe and was even featured in a Rachel Maddow segment on MSNBC. I don't know if that was my "proudest moment" but it certainly does make me chuckle a bit.
How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
I think that the future of the newspaper industry can be bright, as long as we don't shoot ourselves in the foot as we adjust to new technologies. We've already seen the industry start to move to different formats such as tablets and smart phones and I don't see a reason that would change. My father seems to think that the physical newspaper will see a retro comeback like vinyl records have but I don't see that really happening. I think there will always some demand for the print product but it hurts me to say that I think that demand will exponentially decrease. And that decreasing demand doesn't interest advertisers. As our industry moves to the internet, we need to be smarter, quicker, more efficient and more willing to adapt than we have in the past. If we do that and keep serving our readers with the best stories in our communities, we should be fine. I hope.
What's your favorite SCPA member service?
I would say the legal services the SCPA offers. As a photojournalist, I don't run into many situations where I need to file an FOI request or seek a lawyer. But we have some strong reporters that won't take no for an answer when trying to get all the possible information in a story. I'm sure they have taken advantage of the legal services offered. Its good to know that SCPA has our back in these matters.
Any big plans coming up?
I can't think of any big plans coming up. I am working on a couple stories that I am excited about. One of which is a story about mill villages and how they have been affected by the closing of textile mills in our area. After talking to several people that live in these neighborhoods, it is amazing to see how connected people are to the history of these mills. So far this has been one of the most rewarding years of my young, professional career and personal life. I plan on enjoying what the rest of the year has to offer.
Richland County police withhold incident report
Citing investigatory reasons, Richland County investigators have only released one page of the multiple-page incident report taken after the fatal shooting of a man and woman in Irmo, WIS-TV reports.
“It is unclear what the rest of the report reveals, “ according to their web page.
Media attorney Jay Bender said there is no “investigatory reasons” exemption from the mandatory disclosure requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. “This seems to be another example of a law enforcement agency attempting to create its own exemption from the law to justify unlawful behavior on the part of the agency. They would have to show that the release of the information would harm the department.
“If there is material in the report that must be disclosed and material that may be withheld lawfully, then the department may redact the portions of the report that may be withheld, but it still has an obligation to disclosed the remainder of the record,” Bender said.
WIS reported “The Richland County Sheriff's Department has not said much for days and won't do so until they believe investigators have been able to complete an accurate timeline of the events and determine the facts of the case.”
A sheriff's department spokesperson – who also works for another local TV station as a morning anchor -- initially told WIS that the incident was a robbery gone wrong, but retracted that information calling it "preliminary."
Calhoun Falls Town Council illegally suspended officer
The Index-Journal in Greenwood recently reported that the Calhoun Falls Town Council conducted an illegal move in executive session during a March meeting, according to a town councilman.
Town Councilman Charlie Tillman revealed that the council conducted an illegal vote during the closed-door meeting. When Tillman attempted to discuss the action further, the Calhoun Falls mayor interrupted him and the issue passed. The vote -- taken March 26 -- suspended a Calhoun Falls Police Department officer for two weeks. On April 9, Town Council nullified the suspension, essentially erasing the previous move made in executive session.
SCPA Attorney Jay Bender said whether it was an official vote or not, the council broke state law.
“I think that counts as a vote,” Bender said. “They’ve committed themselves to a course of action, and that’s what the law forbids. That’s illegal.”
Bender did say Council’s nullification of the suspension was legal. He said there’s a South Carolina Court of Appeals decision that “seems to suggest that if you have a do-over, it excuses the violation of the law.”
But Bender said that move still doesn’t excuse Council.
“They broke the law, and then they tried to recover by following the law,” Bender said. “It would have been better had the law been followed in the first instance.”
“The clear thing is, the law was broken. The (town) got caught at it. They said, ‘Oops, we’ll have a do-over.’ It’s like taking a mulligan off the first tee. It’s not legal under the rules of golf, but it’s very often done.”
“I guess it’s like if one of your children breaks a glass, and you ask, ‘Who did that?’ The answer is always, ‘Not me,’” Bender said. “It’s just an immature reaction to being caught not following the rules.”
Berkeley School Board violated FOIA by voting in executive session
The Post and Courier reported this month that Berkeley County School board members violated the FOIA when they decided in a closed-door meeting that their superintendent's job performance exceeded expectations.
The law allows public bodies to discuss personnel matters in executive session, but prohibits them from making decisions.
“It sounds like they came to some consensus in the executive session that is improper,” said SCPA attorney Jay Bender. “That clearly seems to be a vote.”
Bender said the board would have stayed within the law if it had voted on “exceeds expectations” in open session. “To reach that decision in executive session is inappropriate and illegal,” he said.
SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers and Post and Courier attorney John Kerr agreed.
“I would think they must have come up with a consensus via polling, which is not allowed in executive session,” Rogers said.
Brother and sister retire from Tribune-Times
More than 300 Upstate residents, business owners, local officials and coworkers attended a surprise retirement party in Simpsonville to celebrate the work of long-time Tribune-Times employees and siblings Sudie Gambrell and Gwinn Davis.
Gambrell, who has been general manager of the Tribune-Times for more than 25 years, and Davis, who has been a photographer for the Tribune-Times for nearly 30 years, retired earlier this month.
Gambrell has nearly 30 years of experience in the publications business and was also general manager of the Tribune-Times newspaper in the Golden Strip and held various management positions with The Greenville News.
She was also the general manager of Upstate Parent magazine. During her 12 year tenure, she oversaw the magazine's growth from a small, 24-page monthly serving Greenville to a 80-plus page publication with a distribution of nearly 50,000 copies in Greenville, Spartanburg and Pickens counties.
Davis, spent 32 years as an award-winning staff photographer for the paper. He estimates that he had never taken a sick day in all that time. He looked for opportunities to take photos of the people in the community he loved, and he volunteered to accept assignments at every opportunity, including on holidays.
Gwinn started with the Tribune-Times in February 1980 and in that time developed a reputation as a tireless chronicler of people and events in the Golden Strip. He approached his job with sensitivity and compassion and it showed.
He has won so many state and national awards for his work that it defies counting. Many newspapers have tried to lure him from his beloved Golden Strip, but he remained loyal to his home community and hometown newspaper.
Sudie and Gwinn are the siblings of Ben Davis, who purchased the Tribune-Times in 1979 and operated it as a family business until Multimedia, publisher of The Greenville News, purchased the newspaper in 1987. Gannett purchased Multimedia in 1996.
Reporter named Beaufort County magistrate
Reporter Richard Brooks will turn in his press badge and don a judge's robe after being appointed to the Beaufort County Magistrate Court bench.
Brooks -- a former reporter, news and sports editor for The Beaufort Gazette and subsequently for Bluffton Today -- has spent about 30 years in journalism. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Clemson University and graduated from the USC School of Law in 1986.
At first, his duties as a magistrate will be limited to setting bonds and signing search and arrest warrants, Brooks said. He will be trained starting in August to preside over misdemeanor criminal cases and civil cases involving less than $7,500.Brooks said he hasn't been told yet when he'll be sworn in.
"I have met a ton of people that have always been generous, forthcoming and easy to get along with," he said of his newspaper career. "I'll miss seeing that cross section of Beaufort County that I'm used to seeing."
Ending overnight mail harms newspaper readers; NNA suggests actions to ameliorate damage
The National Newspaper Association recently filed testimony with the Postal Regulatory Commission urging the commission not to recommend an end of overnight mail delivery and to instead recommend numerous changes in mailing rules and practices for newspapers faced with closing mail processing facilities.
NNA Postal Committee Chair Max Heath provided testimony on the needs of readers who depend upon newspapers in the mail.
Media General receives "numerous inquiries" for its newspapers
Media General Inc. has received "numerous inquiries" from potential buyers of its newspaper properties, executives with the Richmond-based company said earlier this week.
The parent company of the Morning News in Florence and its sister weeklies said it had an operating profit in the quarter largely because of improved results at its television stations.
Media General said in late February it was exploring the possible sale of all or some of its newspapers as the company looks to reduce a $658 million debt load.
"Since then, we have received numerous inquiries from interested parties with respect to the entire business, certain regional clusters and individual newspapers," Chief Financial Officer James F. Woodward said on a conference call with analysts.
The company owns 23 daily newspapers, as well as weekly and community newspapers and other niche publications in the Southeast.
Seven strategies for reaching elusive young readers
Mainstream news organizations are not doing so well with young audiences. Only 30 percent of people 18 to 34 read a newspaper in print or digitally on an average day, according to the Newspaper Association of America. That's down from 35 percent in 2009.
But there's no reason to give up hope on reaching the digital and even print audiences of the future. Based on research and the advice of news outlets that do reach young people, here are some of the important steps you can take:
- Create a separate product
- Hire young people
- Focus on relevance
- Include more context
- Don't dumb it down
- Be conversational
- Use bite-sized facts
- Ease off on those paywalls
Lee, NYT, Media General report results
The New York Times Co. and Media General Inc. both posted profits but Lee Enterprises Inc. didn't fare as well as more newspaper publishers filed quarterly results.
The Times' profit, some $42 million for the first quarter, was largely a result of its December 2011 sale of its regional newspaper group to Halifax Media Holdings LLC. Sales totaled $499.4 million.
Media General, meantime, said political advertising sales at its TV stations fueled an operating profit of $3.2 million. Sales totaled $149.5 million. The company is exploring the sale of its newspaper operations and said it’s been contacted by interested buyers.
Finally, Lee, which exited its packaged bankruptcy in January after renegotiating its debt, lost $26.6 million for its second fiscal quarter, on revenues of $172 million.
A majority of the loss was due to refinancing and reorganization costs. Excluding those areas, Lee posted a loss of only $1.3 million for the period.
Lee also said it will add metered digital subscriber plans to 10 additional papers this summer as it attempts to increase the amount of money it collects from digital operations.
Newspaper Industry Compensation Survey deadline is today
Inland Press Association's annual Newspaper Industry Compensation Survey (NICS) reports all data by circulation and revenue categories so users can compare their pay levels to similar organizations. In addition to salaries, the survey contains data on employee benefits and incentive compensation programs. The results are published the end of May. The cost to participate is based on circulation size. The deadline is today. Click here for more information.
The basics of Pinterest and what it can do for your paper
Pinterest is hot. The photo-sharing social network grew by leaps and bounds through the end of 2011 and gained even more momentum during the first quarter of 2012. As you might expect, the explosive growth has prompted newsroom personnel to start asking, "How can we use this in our reporting?" Before we get to that, let's back up just a bit and talk about what Pinterest is and how people are using it. Pinterest is the digital version of corkboards you might see at a supermarket or community center. They provide an empty slate for people to post (or "pin") images or messages -- and others to see and interact
with. Pin? That's right, Pinterest
has another term to file away with the rest of the social-media vocabulary -- like tweet, check in and
Like -- you've acquired in the past few years. Pinning is the act of
creating or curating content on
Study: J-school grads' unemployment rate better than average
Recent college graduates with an undergraduate degree in journalism have a 7.7% unemployment rate, a new Georgetown University study says. Experienced grads have a 6% rate, and people with graduate degrees in journalism have only a 3.8% unemployment rate. Median earnings, according to the study: $32,000 annually for recent grads; $58,000 for experienced college grads; $66,000 for people with graduate degrees. Those unemployment rate figures compare well to the national unemployment rate (8.2%) and to the unemployment rate for 20-24-year-olds (13.2%).
This is welcome news to anyone who’s followed a string of recent morale-plunging speeches given to aspiring journalists: Roger Ailes told journalism students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, “I think you ought to change your major”; Malcolm Gladwell told Yale students “Newspapers are kind of dreary, depressed places“; and The Daily Caller’s editor, Tucker Carlson, told a luncheon attended by writer hopefuls that “Most people's voices are not worth being heard.”
Rent v. buy: Adobe Creative Suite 6 goes cloud-based
Adobe Systems recently unveiled its Adobe Creative Suite 6 product line along with its Adobe Creative Cloud, a cloud-based subscription service for creative professionals. CS6 and the cloud will provide users with the ability to download and install every Adobe CS6 application. Adobe will let you subscribe to individual programs like Photoshop for a monthly price. But is it cheaper than just buying the program flat out? Here's how the math adds up.
According to the LifeHacker website, the whole thing is a little convoluted, so they pored over the Adobe store to find retail and subscription prices for both Photoshop and the Master Collection to see whether this Creative Cloud service is worth it in the long run -- the long run being two years, since that's about how often Adobe updates its software. Subscription prices are calculated using the annual subscription prices, not the more expensive month-to-month prices. Here's what the numbers looks like:
Photoshop CS6 Retail: $700
Photoshop CS6 Upgrade: $200
Photoshop CS6 Subscription: $20 a month ($480 over two years)
The Master Collection follows a similar pattern:
Master Collection CS6 Retail: $2600
Master Collection CS6 Upgrade: $525
Master Collection CS6 Subscription: $50 a month ($1200 over two years)
So, it breaks down to this: If you're upgrading from a previous version of the program, it's quite a bit cheaper to just grab the upgrade from Adobe instead of subscribing.
Newspapers should record, not rewrite, history
An individual is convicted of failure to comply with a police order; he pays his $100 fine plus $65 in court costs. The misdemeanor is reported in the newspaper's police blotter, and, in most cases, that would be the end of the story. Not in this instance. He appealed to the courts to have his record expunged. The judge obliged-sealed the records so, in the eyes of the court, the person's misconduct never occurred. The individual subsequently demanded the newspaper remove any reference to the conviction from its electronic archives. Newspapers increasingly field requests to destroy all reference to expunged data, especially in the age of electronic records.
Who's your competition
How much thought have you given to:
1. Your client turnover?
Is it higher than 20% a year? 15% move, die or switch to a competitor.
Is your turnover higher than this? Start looking for what's driving them away. Or . . . worse . . . who's luring them away.
2. Your client retention strategies? Do you have a retention plan? Do your colleagues know what it is? Do you discuss it briefly at staff meetings?
Many businesses fail for one simple reason: They don't see through skeptical client eyes. They are too close to their businesses.