News Exchange adds aging issues column
SCPA has added an exciting new column on aging to the News Exchange content sharing site. 
The column, titled “Aging Matters,”  is written by the state Office of Aging and Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell. It will discuss senior issues, followed by a Q&A and profile of services for seniors.
With our growing senior population – many of which are core newspaper readers – we think this will be a good reader service piece. Here is a link to the first column.
The column will be provided in two formats. The first is a 2-col by roughly 13” PDF that you can simply place in a box (thumbnail seen at right).  We will also provide the text and a photo you can place as you see fit in your paper.
These columns will be posted every other week on Fridays. Future "Aging Matters" topics include:

  • Checklist for Turning 65
  • Understanding Medicare
  • What is the Doughnut Hole?
  • Legal Services
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Insurance / Long Term

The News Exchange also hosts weekly columns on NASCAR, trees, Homestyle Healthy cooking and politics, as well as an editorial cartoon, and other content shared by fellow SCPA members. In the fall, the News Exchange will have Carolina and Clemson football photos.

SCPA recently surveyed all member editors about the News Exchange and found a few interesting results:

  • 95% of respondents said a weekly budget of available shared content would be helpful. Starting in July, SCPA will email a budget of available content every Monday.
  • Half of all respondents said they visit the site at least once a week to look for content to fill holes.
  • When asked,"Would you share some of your paper's content of statewide interest (editorials, columns, sports features, etc.) to the News Exchange if the process was easier (no log-in needed, just email to SCPA and it's posted)?," 92% of respondents said they would share or would probably share their paper's content.
  • Editors said other helpful content would include: out of area high school sports and state playoffs coverage, athletic reports from smaller colleges and universities, state agency news, agriculture/farm news, entertainment/features, more diverse columnists, legislative news and financial/business news.

"We're continually improving the News Exchange so we can make it a more useful service for our members,"
said SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers. "We value your input and are looking at ways to incorporate your suggestions from the survey."

Click here to sign up for an RSS feed to be notified of all postings.

Practice safe sex during election season
Actually this column doesn't have anything to do with sex, but since pandering seems to be a successful campaign strategy, I resorted to it in my headline. On the other hand, this column is about safety. Specifically, this column is a reminder of techniques you can use to minimize your exposure to liability for publishing news reports, editorials or advertising that might contain libelous statements.
A definition: libel is the publication of a false statement of fact of and concerning another that is injurious to that person's reputation by holding the person up to scorn, ridicule or abuse.
You have heard, maybe even in one of my seminars, that public officials and public figures have a more difficult burden to meet in order to recover for libel. While that is true, that won't make you bullet-proof. The municipal judge for the Town of Hilton Head Island was recently awarded more than $6 million in damages in a libel claim after the jury concluded that she had proven actual malice against the defendants, none of which was a newspaper.
A former member of the General Assembly, and now a lobbyist, has filed a libel suit against The Sun News based on news reports and an editorial concerning campaign contributions in the last election cycle. A former solicitor sued the Aiken Standard in connection with a news report of the former solicitor's brother, a former Family Court judge, pleading guilty to federal criminal charges. Even if you are careful you might get sued, but the exercise of caution reduces the risk of unintentionally wounding someone's reputation. Here is my technique for reducing exposure. Perform an audit using "Who, What and How." Audit the story by reading it carefully, whether you are the reporter or the editor, and answering those questions. read
Ad sales basics training set July 19
SCPA's popular quarterly ad sales training event is coming up on Thursday, July 19. Register your newer sales people to attend this great session from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., at SCPA Offices in Columbia. This workshop is designed for newspaper ad sales employees with less than a year's experience. We'll cover the basics in advertising sales and get your revenue-producing staff off to a great start. Alanna Ritchie, ad director for the S.C. Newspaper Network and a veteran of weekly and daily newspaper sales, will help attendees understand the basics of sales, including selling against competition, dealing with objections, closing skills and consultative selling. Sign up today... space is limited to the first 18 people.

Publisher-Owner, Editor
The Travelers Rest Monitor

What do you like best about your job?

With a staff of one, I am trying to handle about twelve newspaper jobs from publishing to reporting to photography to layouts and designs to circulation to distribution to as well as answering the phones and sweeping the floors. Since becoming the owner and publisher of The Travelers Rest Monitor, I love each and every job associated with the paper. But narrowing everything down to one answer, I suppose I like helping people more than anything. I am "old school" and I feel it is a newspaper's obligation to help those that can't help themselves -- by telling the stories of folks that have been "wronged" by governmental corruption to the family that lost everything in a structure fire. I get pleasure when someone stops me on the street or drops by the office and says, "Hey, that was a great story you did about so and so."

What would you say is your proudest moment from your career in the newspaper industry?
Actually there are several but I'll narrow it down to two. In 2003, the Society of Professional Journalists presented me with a national Sunshine Award for my lengthy battle for public records with law enforcement in Travelers Rest.  The presentation was held during the SPJ's national convention in Tampa, Fla. Every major newspaper in the country from Washington, New York, Chicago had representatives at that convention presentation and then there was little ol' me from Travelers Rest, South Carolina.  The standing ovation and comments from fellow journalists are some of my fondest memories. Since that day I've been blessed by a few awards from SCPA and those recognitions always stir the fire within me to hit the streets and find more stories. The other proudest moment came earlier this year when I became owner and publisher of The Monitor.  I started out many years ago here as a volunteer reporter covering the stock car races at the local dirt track. Through the years I worked my way up to Sports Editor and then Managing Editor. So I've gone the full range I suppose.

How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
I think newspapers have a fantastic future. I know there had been plenty of doom and gloom in the business forecasts but I truly believe the need for local news will always be in demand. Everyone loves to see their name in print, they want to see how the local high school football team did on Friday night or who won at the dirt track race. The need to know on the local front has never dimmed and it never will. We do have to adjust with technology but then again we always have from paste up sheets to Justowriters to computers and beyond. The print media may change but it will never die completely.

What is your favorite SCPA member service?
I am impressed by the total support from the SCPA staff. Anytime I have a problem with legal issues concerning the City Council or County Council, I can pick up the phone and talk about it with Bill Rogers. I also find the SC News Exchange service very helpful. I appreciate everything about the SCPA.

Any big plans coming up?
My plan to to hold the course and hope for the best. In January after taking over The Monitor I changed the paper's format from a 12-page broadsheet size with 4 pages of color to 16-page large tabloid size with 8 pages of color.  I was nervous about the public reaction to that change. When the first edition came out the readers loved the new format and I am still getting great reviews from my readers. So, my big plan is to stick with my original goal of publishing the best newspaper I can possibly publish and that challenge is renewed from week to week.

people and papers

Kelly-Gilbert named publisher/chief revenue officer of Independent Mail
With more than three decades of experience in advertising and sales and management, Susan Kelly-Gilbert has been named publisher and chief revenue officer of the Independent Mail in Anderson. Kelly-Gilbert will direct all the Independent Mail’s sales efforts across multiple platforms, including print, online and mobile. Her appointment is effective immediately.
She most recently was senior director of sales and product support for all 13 Scripps newspapers, including the Independent Mail. In that role, she led strategic planning, support and execution associated with corporate partnerships, vendors and products focused on display ads and key classified categories.
Before joining Scripps in 2010, Kelly-Gilbert spent two years as a director of multimedia sales for the 54 newspapers operated by MediaNews Group. She previously was the vice president of sales for the mountain region of Denver-based Digital Media Communications, and the vice president of sales and marketing for the Colorado Springs Gazette. She also has held sales leadership positions for newspapers in Georgia, Virginia and Florida.
Kelly-Gilbert will begin her duties full time in July. She and her husband, Bob, will be moving to the area in coming weeks. They have a 20-year-old son, Harry.

foi briefs

Some Charleston County School Board members leave “illegal” meeting, prevent district from hiring five principals
The Post and Courier in Charleston reported this week that five Charleston County schools will have to wait at least another week to find out who their principals will be this fall after the school board failed to hire anyone for the vacant positions. Three county school board members refused to participate in the board’s open session meeting because they said it was being held illegally. Their absence prevented the board from having a quorum and hiring the new principals.
Some board members considered the open session meeting to hire the principals an illegal meeting because of an agenda posted last week. That agenda showed the board discussing five principal hires in closed-door executive session. But the agenda did not say the board would have an open session, or a public meeting following the executive session to take action on those items.
The FOIA requires public bodies to notify the public about the time, date and place of its meetings, as well as the agenda. Some board members contended that the open session meeting would be illegal because it wasn’t on the agenda.
The district has a separate document that is posted on its website and distributed to media that lists its public meetings for the week. On that, officials said the board would meet on Monday in executive session followed by open session.

Opinion: The secret election decision
By Cindi Ross Scoppe, The State
On Thursday, the State Election Commission will try to convince a judge that it was following state law when it threw away 2,300 votes and declared an obscure college professor the winner of the Democratic Party nomination for the new 7th Congressional District, rebuffing the come-back hopes of the obscure darling of the party elite.
It could be an uphill battle, because there is no law that clearly addresses the legal point in question — and the commission finds itself in the rare and awkward position of having to be represented by outside counsel because it rejected the advice it had requested from the attorney general.
Why did the commission get itself into this predicament? We may never know, because its only discussion of the matter came during a 90-minute closed-door meeting.
Worse, there’s nothing illegal about governmental entities discussing such matters in secret.
There’s not even anything unusual about it.
And that’s what transforms the 7th District contest from what would be for most South Carolinians just the latest twist in a soap-opera-style election into a dramatic example of the absurdity of the over-broad “legal advice” exemption in our open-meetings law.
In South Carolina, secrecy is the default position for government whenever there are lawsuits or rumors of lawsuits. The Freedom of Information Act allows public bodies to kick the public out of their meetings for “the receipt of legal advice where the legal advice relates to a pending, threatened, or potential claim or other matters covered by the attorney-client privilege, settlement of legal claims, or other positions of the public agency in other adversary situations involving the assertion against the agency of a claim.” read

industry news

UNC journalism school issues recommendations to help meet info needs
The UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication has released a report that recommends multiple new ways to help meet the information needs of communities. The report comes after the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy convened 50 media scholars, professionals, attorneys and community leaders for a Jan. 20 workshop that examined how Internet, cable television, satellite television and mobile broadband service providers could help promote local accountability journalism in North Carolina and the nation. Download the report.
Roundtable discussions at the workshop identified the gaps in accountability journalism in North Carolina, the causes of the gaps and the opportunities they present. Participants discussed whether and how service providers or others could help to fill those gaps. One consensus item documented in the report is need for a statewide, online C-SPAN in North Carolina. ... The workshop came in response to the 2011 Federal Communications Commission "Information Needs of Communities" report that identified the loss of newsroom positions in recent years as a threat to the quality of civic information available in communities around the nation. Steve Waldman, who authored the FCC report, participated in the workshop.
The FCC report documents the effects of the digital revolution on local, professional, accountability reporting. One effect has been the loss of 13,400 newspaper newsroom positions in four years. The report argues that the loss of those workers is likely to result in government waste, more local corruption, less effective schools and other serious community problems.
The workshop was one of 11 conducted at leading universities, in an effort to increase the impact of the FCC's report, the most comprehensive look at media policy in a generation. The Knight Foundation and Carnegie Corp. of New York are dedicating more than $800,000 to help implement the report's recommendations.
Download .mp3 files of all workshop sessions.

25 content ideas that will increase revenue
By Peter Wagner, Community Newspaper Trainer
Why all the emphasis on selling ads on a newspaper's website? There are dozens of local firms and individuals already attempting to dominate the Internet in your community. They're creating a presence with a variety of websites, personal opinion blogs, blast emails and mobile messages. But almost all lack the credibility, respect and ability to create the ready response your community newspaper offers. It takes continuous training, years of experience, a dedicated staff and an investment far beyond a laptop computer to produce a community newspaper. My Iowa publishing company just introduced a website -- nwestiowa.com -- this year. It's bringing in a few unique dollars each month but it's still our newspapers, the regional N'West Iowa REVIEW and the local Sheldon Mail-Sun that bring in 99 percent of our monthly revenue. But doing that isn't easy. It takes serious selling, well-planned promotions and a commitment to local content that the community will be willing to pay good money to read. Time, not the Internet, is our industry's problem. There is a huge demand for our reader's time today. We must produce an interesting, exciting, well-designed and readable publication if we expect to remain the news and advertising leader in our established market. Here are 25 special content sections and/or pages that have worked here: read
  Community papers have the chance to thrive for many decades to come
By Dolph Tillotson, executive vice president of Southern Newspapers Inc.
Texas reporter Paul Bryant, from The Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches, was working on a story about community newspapers. He sent questions to Dolph Tillotson, the executive vice president of Southern Newspapers, the Houston-based group of 15 community newspapers that owns The Daily Sentinel. In an email to Tillotson, Bryant asked: "So, what must we do? And how? Help me tell our readers why newspapers like The Daily Sentinel are successful while the bigger publications are failing. What makes us different than the others? And, finally, how can we successfully integrate our online products with the print edition? It seems that the industry has struggled to answer that question." Tillotson's eloquent reply is the story that community newspaper executives everywhere should convey to their staffs, their readers and their advertisers:
I think we should shut our ears to the buzz of distraction and focus on what we do best -- tell stories, engage readers, help to build communities. Smaller newspapers like their big-city brothers are struggling with change.