July 14

NAA opposes moving public notices
out of local newspapers

Last week, the Newspaper Association of America joined the National Newspaper Association and the American Court and Commercial Newspapers in submitting comments to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice opposing proposed changes to their public notice rules. Both agencies would allow for the publication of public notices, related to changes in Medicaid benefits and to forfeitures by law enforcement agencies, only on government websites.

The newspaper groups argued that changing public notice rules to allow for publication only on government websites would limit government transparency and public knowledge. Government websites do not have the same audience reach as local newspapers (and their websites), and many segments of the population such as the poor, minorities and senior citizens do not have access to the Internet.

The comments also argued that publishing public notices only on government websites would pose significant due process problems. Public notices published by newspapers can be authenticated by an independent third party (the newspaper) and are easily archived and accessible after publication. It is not in the public interest to have the government agencies that issue public notices also verify that the law was followed and that the text was not altered after publication.

The comments made clear that the newspaper groups do not oppose Internet notice per se. Many people have access to the Internet and visit government websites. However, it is inappropriate to move public notices entirely out of printed newspapers as this would diminish the public's right to know about important government actions.

NAA will continue to work with other newspaper groups to monitor similar public notice proposals.

Sumter coroner still refuses to release autopsy reports
The Item reported earlier this month that Sumter County Coroner Harvin Bullock, responding to a lawsuit filed by Osteen Publishing Co. and Item Senior Staff Writer Joe Perry, has refused to release autopsy reports requested in the suit.

The suit, filed May 23, seeks the release of an autopsy report for a 25-year-old man that was killed in an officer-involved shooting last September.

Bullock in his response says he is a health care provider and releasing that information violates HIPPA, which protects patient privacy, and could result in a $50,000 fine from the Department of Justice.

SCPA Attorney Jay Bender contends Bullock is a "public body" under the FOIA, and therefore the documents are not exempt from release.

In his response, submitted by his attorneys, Bullock says that while he is "the duly elected Coroner for Sumter County and ... is subject to the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act," he denies autopsy reports are "public records." Bullock also contends the records are not subject to mandatory disclosure.

"The disclosure of records related to the autopsy of Aaron Lee Jacobs are subject to (HIPAA)," the response reads. "To the extent the (FOIA) or any other state law requires a coroner to disclose autopsy records without compliance with the authorized and consent provisions of HIPAA, those state laws are subject to federal preemption ... ."

Bender said the idea that Bullock considers himself a health care provider is "almost laughable."

"The response more or less repeats the positions that we had thought were so absurd initially," said Bender. "If the coroner provides medical service, people are dying to get in there."

The autopsy report was included in a recent packet of information Perry received through a FOIA request to SLED. That doesn't mean Bullock is off the hook, said Bender.

"Just because the documents were in that packet doesn't mean the case can't be prosecuted. What it does do is make it harder for (Bullock) to claim confidentiality," he said.

Bender said he hopes to move for a summary judgment, which would forego the cost and time of a full trial. That would require Bullock to justify the exemptions he claims in the response.


Publisher of The Summerville Journal Scene, The Goose Creek Gazette and The Berkeley Independent in Monck's Corner

SCPA Executive Committee Member

What do you like best about your job?

I love the people that I work with. They are committed to covering our community's news better than any other medium, in all 3 of our newspapers. I love meeting people in the community and hearing their feedback on what we are doing well, or how we can improve. It warms my heart when they tell me of something we have done particularly well, how we've helped their business grow through advertising with us, or how we've touched their lives.

What is your biggest challenge and how are you facing it?
The economy and its failure to improve as we all thought it would this year has been a particular challenge. We have continued to give local, local, local coverage better than anyone else, despite having a smaller staff to produce our 4 editions every week. We have continued to produce innovative marketing solutions for our customers. One of our ads has won Best of Show in our division the past 2 years in the SCPA PALMY Awards as we create creative solutions for our advertisers.

What's the best part of working in the newspaper industry?
Despite all the gloom and doom reports you hear, the newspaper industry is full of resilient people who are fully committed to their jobs. They are smart, innovative, multi-tasking masters who are embracing new technology, and they love doing what they do every day.

What's your favorite SCPA member service?
The legal know-how we have available to us on a moment's notice.

Any big plans for the summer?
My family took a short camping trip a couple of weeks ago. We try to do a really good family vacation every 4 years or so but we have to wait until my son graduates college (USC, of course!) for the next one! At the paper we've already done a lot of exciting projects. The Summerville mayor of 40 years retired, and we did a great special section honoring him in June. Goose Creek celebrates its 50th year anniversary this year and we did a special section on that in June.

industry news

NAA has a great online toolkit that pitches newspapers as the multi-medium. Why newspaper media? Because in a world where consumers are tuning out advertising right and left, independent research shows that newspapers are a destination -- not a distraction -- for advertising content. The site has pitch ideas for your print and digital products, as well as tools on how to write and design effective ads. NAA also has a wealth of data from research studies, trend data, readership, demographic profiles, revenue data, buying behavior and preferences all aimed at fulfilling the need to make the appropriate media choices. The transparency of this data should really make the case for advertising in newspaper media. Check it out!

News organizations that break big stories will soon get a little more credit -- and maybe even a little traffic -- from The Associated Press. Beginning Aug. 1, whenever the AP picks up a local story from a member for rewriting and distribution, the text of AP's story will include a link back to the original report. For example: When the Boston Globe reported that TV producers had doctored the CBS broadcast of the July 4th fireworks show, the AP picked it up and the story went national. The Globe got credit on the hundreds of news sites that carried the story -- but no link back to the original story. That'll change. "The days are long past that you're writing a story and you're only thinking aboutÂ…rewriting it so that you can put it into the paper," said Martin Kaiser, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who brought the idea to the AP. "Why spend the time rewriting? Why not link back?" The change will be most noticeable on state wires, where pickups are common.

Aiken TV reporter pushed at Bachmann campaign event
The Associated Press reported this week that an ABC News reporter trying to question GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was pushed and shoved by members of her camp after a campaign event in Aiken. Network news senior vice president Jeffrey Schneider said reporter Brian Ross was shoved Tuesday as security tried to block him from the Minnesota congresswoman while he asked whether she had to miss votes because of migraines. Schneider said Ross has been a victim of worse violence but added no reporter should be roughed up pursuing a story.


One of my newly graduated students who already has some solid experience reminded me recently that being a journalist probably isn’t the hardest thing one can do. If you can talk to people and write coherently, you’ve got most of it down, he said. And almost four decades have made me inclined to agree that “this isn’t rocket science.” But after helping to write a second edition of a convergence journalism textbook, I’m not so sure anymore. Less than five years since the first edition, the changes continue to be swift and amazing. The first edition tried to help journalists get over the reluctance, almost fear, some had of dealing with the changes roiling the business. We talked a lot about how to repurpose content, handle quick audio and still photos with digital recorders and cameras, and blog. Now, blogging is so 2007. In most newsrooms, it's routine for many beat reporters. The journalist without a digital camera and recorder, even if both are just part of a smartphone, is becoming as rare as the snail darter. read

For the past few months, I've been offering a new presentation: "A License to Print Money -- 10 Design Ideas to Generate Revenue at Your Newspaper...Now!"
Yeah, it's a long title. But there's a reason for it: I'm proving to publishers that design isn't an expense -- it can add to the bottom line. When I offered the presentation to publishers at the Kentucky Press Assn. convention, they agreed to a person that what they had learned would add $5,000 to $6,000 to their revenue -- in 2011 alone. Not bad for a couple of hours, eh? At other subsequent workshops, publishers and ad directors agree that the information is a valuable money-making resource. And some have asked me to offer some highlights in my column. So...highlights follow. read


July 21: Ad Basics
SCPA Offices, Columbia

July 28: Ad Task Force Meeting
SCPA Offices, Columbia

July 28: Webinar: Boost Local Ad Dollars With a Sales Agency Approach

August 5: Webinar: Perfecting InDesign's Secret Weapon to Saving You Time: Tables

August 12: Webinar: Selling to Main Street - Growing more local ad revenue

Sept. 1: PhotoShop Seminar
SCPA Offices, Columbia
More details soon!

If you'd like to advertise in the eBulletin, contact Jen. Our reach is wide and our rates are very affordable!