Industry promotion needs to remain SCPA priority
I just returned from the national meeting of press association managers, a gathering I haven't attended in a number of years.
The main idea I came back with is the need for SCPA to take the forefront in promoting our industry to readers, non-readers and advertisers: our industry is not moribund.
We had a very good promotional ad program last year thanks to the help of Bill Hawkins and the Post and Courier.
But once is not enough.
We need to continue the effort this year. If you have ideas or want to volunteer to help, let me know.
One thing we do not do that many press associations do is to have an aggregated web page for legal ads. Illinois even has a law that newspapers have to upload their legals to the press association website. Our lobbyist, Cathy Dreher, and I both think this isn't a good idea in our state and that it would undermine our efforts to keep public notice in print. It hurts your argument against web postings if you turn around and say it is okay to post on the web if it is our site. We do have a page that links to legal ads across the state: http://www.sclegalnotice.com/
A national survey of newspaper executives was also presented at the meeting. It dealt with opinions on where newspapers were and what press associations need to be doing.
Selling ads and growing circulation were the top newspaper concerns – no surprise there.
About 15% of the executive said the public perception of newspapers was their top concern.
Industry leaders were optimistic about revenue: 48% expected revenue to grow during the next 12 months, while 38% thought it would remain flat. Only 7% predicted a decline in revenue.
As to what the respondents wanted from their press associations, promotion/advocacy was the number one suggestion.
Number two on the list of what newspaper leaders want was training and education. That was a surprise to me, since we have a hard time getting folks to come to the training sessions we have. For instance, of the 25 folks coming to our PhotoShop Workshop next week, only one is from a member newspaper.
Our last survey of our SCPA membership ranked the top three services as display ad sales, network ad sales and lobbying. Workshops and the legal hotline were also high.
We'd love to hear from you. Give me a call or email me to let me know what we can do to better serve you.
Public bodies must give notice when amending agenda
The FOIA requires public bodies to give advance notice of their meetings as soon as practicable, but not less than 24 hours in advance of a meeting. "Agenda, if any, for regularly scheduled meetings must be posted" at least 24 hours in advance of a meeting. For special meetings, called meetings or rescheduled meetings the notice must be posted not less than 24 hours in advance, and must include an agenda.
Persons who request notice of meetings, local news media, or other news media requesting notice must be given notice of the times, dates, places and agenda of all meetings.
In light of these requirements, does a public body have the power to amend an agenda during a public meeting?
I have joked for years that the pre-meeting agenda posted for a Charleston City Council meeting would contain only innocuous and non-controversial matters, and then at the meeting a motion would be passed to amend the agenda to discuss annexation of Savannah.
Many public bodies routinely amend meeting agenda after notice of the meeting has been given to add items that have not been disclosed in the published agenda. It can no longer be argued that such practice is lawful under the FOIA.
Bees, gators and BBQ: Foundation intern Cassie Cope had a lively summer
USC rising senior Cassie Cope has just wrapped up her SCPA Foundation summer internship at the Index-Journal in Greenwood.
Right out of the gate she had a front page story localizing national real estate trends.
During her 10-week paid internship, she covered
everything from election news and cops to festivals, a drowning and a host of other news, governmental meetings and feature stories.
I-J editor Richard Whiting said that Cope, who is from Lugoff, "is by far one of the best interns we have had here."
"I believe this experience was valuable in that it took her out of the classroom setting and into the real world of community newspapering," he said. "It's not all glamour, but she adjusted fine and handled the pressure well. It seems she truly enjoyed the experience, the ability to put her skills and education to the test. And she passed."
True to the enthusiasm and ambition that she displayed during her internship, Cope asked SCPA to run the following letter of gratitude for members to read:
"First, throw out the stereotypes, generalizations and expectations,” as my associate editor Scott Bryan would say in his now infamous job ad.
The Index-Journal is not a normal newspaper, Bryan argued correctly.
It was not a typical internship, either.
I never made copies or got coffee.
Instead, I held an alligator and learned how to pronounce “topiary.” I conquered my fear of bees, ate a lot of barbecue and figured out millage, mostly. I interviewed the president of Fujifilm North America and covered a local hot dog eating contest.
I wrote a story about out-of-state fireworks customers and also saw the best fireworks display in Greenwood at Senior Writer Chris Trainor’s house on the Fourth of July.
And I did it all in a newsroom where I knew my coworkers had my back.
The cops/education/everything reporter, Michelle Laxer, showed me how to pick up police reports and gave me contact information for emergency services leaders. She also didn’t mind taking extra time on her day off to go with me to see Magic Mike.
The staff photographer, Matt Walsh, doubled as my Battle Buddy in the trenches of summer festivals and spot news.
Trainor, a seasoned reporter who knows more about Greenwood than possibly anyone, answered my never-ending list of questions.
Both Bryan and Executive Editor Richard Whiting left their doors open so I could pop in at any time for advice and updates.
When I was awarded the SCPA internship, I did not know what to expect and had preconceived notions about being an intern.
But after 10 weeks at the Index-Journal, I’ve discovered what it means to be a reporter in an extraordinary newsroom.
“The internship at the Index-Journal reaffirmed my decision to major in print journalism and become a newspaper reporter," Cope said. "The Index-Journal reminded me why I’m passionate about journalism and showed me that talented reporters are as necessary as ever.”
This week Cassie headed back to Carolina, where she will serve as a resident mentor at the environmentally-friendly residence hall on campus.
She'll also work with Sustainable Carolina to host programs about green values and environmentally friendly concepts.
The SCPA Foundation internship program depends on gifts from our newspapers and individual members. If you want to support the education of our future newspaper journalists in South Carolina, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Foundation. No gift is too small. Contact Jen to find out how you can help.
Next week, we'll introduce you to Austin Price, a USC student who interned at the Free Times in Columbia.
Columnist, The Sun News
What do you like best about your job?
I like being able to help people and knowing that what I do can make a difference. My work has helped to change some state laws, procedures at the Department of Social Services, helped a man get his daughter out of a New York foster care after a two-year-fight that almost put him into bankruptcy, and helped a woman get a $10,000 start-up grant to fulfill her dream of becoming a business owner. There are other fun things as well, including holding an elected official's feet to the fire, but impacting the lives of real people, that's the best.
What would you say is your proudest moment from your career in the newspaper industry?
A reader, who was clearly not a fan, called just to say that even as she struggled to never consider one of the points-of-view I was putting forward, that she couldn't help herself and had to reconsider some things she had long believed.
How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
Terrifyingly compelling, if there is such a term. Clearly, there is a ton of uncertainty in the air -- and the business model - but in 20 years or so we'll look back at this period as one of the most important in our industry's history. The entire thing would have been made new, again. I suspect the little boy on his bike earning spending money on a paper route will no longer be with us, but the important work we do will. It will be rocky as we get through the transition, but I fully expect us to get through. I believe the Founding Fathers were right, that this democracy of ours wouldn't survive if we weren't around, so we have to make it -- and will.
What's your favorite SCPA member service?
The FOIA help and advice provided by SCPA attorneys and online are invaluable.
Any big plans coming up?
I'm starting on a second book (and newspaper series) based on some events in this area that I long wanted to dig into. It's the type of potentially impactful work that makes this job like none other.
|District concealed email critical of superintendent
The Beaufort Gazette reported earlier this week that a hard copy of an email in which Hilton Head Island High School's former athletics director sharply criticizes Beaufort County School District superintendent Valerie Truesdale has been reported stolen from the school's files.
Principal Amanda O'Nan, the recipient of the email from Mark Karen, said the only known hard copy of the email was discovered missing Tuesday.
O'Nan received the email from the school's athletics director shortly after midnight May 11 and had it printed out by her assistant, who placed it in her desk drawer, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office incident report. On Tuesday, she looked for the copy -- described as containing "confidential personnel information" -- but it was missing, the report said. Numerous staff and students had access to the office, O'Nan said in the report.
In an interview Thursday, O'Nan said she never actually saw a hard copy of the email because her secretary printed it out. O'Nan said she thinks only one copy was made and no one would have been authorized to remove it from the building.
She added that she's not sure who took the document or why, but she's concerned about the security of sensitive documents.
Karen's email, in which he accuses superintendent Truesdale of dishonesty and interfering in school-level decisions, was withheld by the district from a public-records request by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. The newspapers obtained copies from two other sources.
|Website with links to infringing videos does not violate copyright laws, court rules
A social media website on which users have provided links to copyrighted videos from third-party servers has not itself violated copyright laws, a federal court ruled Aug. 2.
Although the case involves copyright claims for adult entertainment videos originally made by Flava Works, a gay pornography production company, the court’s ruling could also affect online news publishers that embed or link to other kinds of copied content.
Flava sued myVidster.com, a “social bookmarking” site, in 2010, claiming that it violated copyright laws by enabling its users to share illegally copied videos with one another, bypassing the production company’s pay wall. Videos accessed through myVidster, including those copied and uploaded from Flava Works, are viewed through a frame the site builds that hosts its advertisements. However, the videos themselves are actually streamed from a third-party server and never hosted directly by myVidster.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago (7th Cir.) found that the infringer is not myVidster or those who view the videos on its site, but rather the paying Flava customer who copied the production company’s copyrighted video by uploading it to the Web.
“The infringers are the uploaders of copyrighted work,” wrote Judge Richard A. Posner in the court’s opinion. “There is no evidence that myVidster is encouraging them, which would make it a contributory infringer,” or in other words, “ an infringer’s accomplice.”
Journalist ends up in handcuffs after photographing arrest in New York
A freelance photographer for The New York Times found himself under arrest on the evening of Aug. 4, after shooting the arrest of a teenager in the Bronx. According to New York magazine, photojournalist Robert Stolarik was taking pictures of a street fight when he started photographing a teenage girl being arrested. When police told Stolarik to stop taking pictures, he showed his press credentials and continued photographing the scene. Later, a second police officer “slammed” the journalist's camera into his face, reported the Guardian. Stolarik told the Times that when he asked for the officers’ badge numbers, they took his cameras and dragged him to the floor, where he alleged the officers kicked him in the back and resulted in “scrapes and bruises” to his arms.
Police responded that Stolarik ignored officers’ orders to move back when his camera “inadvertently” hit an officer in the face. Stolarik then allegedly “violently resisted being handcuffed,” the Times said. Police charged and arrested Stolarik with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest, according to the Huffington Post. The National Press Photographers Association’s (NPPA in English) General Counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher wrote a letter to the New York Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, objecting to the photojournalist's arrest. Osterreicher noted that the department’s Commissioner Kelly issued a statement “to remind members of the service of their obligations to cooperate with media representatives acting in a news-gathering capacity at the scene of police incidents.” The NPPA demanded the immediate return of Stolarik’s cameras and press credentials, and called for an investigation into police conduct.
Jackie Broach leaves Coastal Observer, Jason Lesley joins staff
Coastal Observer reporter Jackie Broach has left the paper to become Georgetown County's first public information officer. Broach has covered county government for the Pawleys Island weekly since 2006. While at the paper, Broach won numerous SCPA awards. She started working at her hometown newspaper in Lake City as a high school student and worked at the Index-Journal in Greenwood before joining the Coastal Observer.
Jason Lesley will take Broach's place at the Coastal Observer. Lesley has served as editor and publisher of The Manning Times since 2010.
He was editor of the Georgetown Times from 2007 to 2009 and had worked in a variety of newsroom positions at the Times since 2000.
Lesley, a native of Salisbury, N.C., started his career at the Salisbury Post in 1967, when he was a senior in high school. Lesley's replacement at the Manning Times has not been announced.
RCFP names executive director
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has selected Bruce D. Brown, a former journalist and most recently a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Baker & Hostetler, as the organization's new executive director.
Brown, who begins his tenure Sept. 10, was nominated by a search committee of journalists, media lawyers, foundation officials and educators from more than 50 candidates who applied or were nominated for the job. He succeeds Lucy A. Dalglish, who left the Reporters Committee after 12 years as executive director to become dean of the Philip Merrill School of Journalism at the University of Maryland.
Brown's practice areas include libel and invasion of privacy, copyright, newsgathering, and pre-publication review. He is a lecturer at the University of Virginia Law School, co-directing its First Amendment Clinic, and he is an adjunct faculty member in Georgetown University's master's program in professional studies in journalism. Brown will remain of counsel at Baker & Hostetler.
Former newspaper executive Ollie Moye pens novel
Former SCPA President Ollie Moye of Newberry has a novel coming out in mid-September.
The book, “North to Prosperity,” tells of a real estate agent who falls in love with a ravishing beauty and married housewife seeking a prospective family home in an upscale development on Lake Murray’s shoreline. As passion between them heats up to the boiling point, a bizarre and hideous turn of events start the slow unstoppable spiral into tension, violence, and tautly-drawn drama.
Moye began his career as a writer while an 11th grader in Anderson. He has covered sports and written as a feature/editorial writer for The Newberry Observer. When the newspaper was bought in1979 by the former State-Record Corp. of Columbia, he was named vice president, editor and operational officer. When it was bought in 1986 by Knight-Ridder, Moye remained in his position until his retirement in 1996. Following his retirement, he worked 10 years out of his house as a feature writer for the Lake Murray News, a weekly that circulates around the 650-mile shoreline of the lake. Moye has authored one other book, "Daddy, Tell Them We Don’t Shoot Bambi," a hunter’s story. He and his wife Alicia have two sons and two grandsons.
Review of proposed Valassis deal continues; House postal bill is on hold
NAA reported this week that the Postal Regulatory Commission is still reviewing the U.S. Postal Service's proposed special-rate deal for Valassis Direct Mail. After two rounds of public comment, the commission staff reported at a July 10 public meeting that a "great deal of comment and concern has been expressed by mailers and other parties" about this negotiated service agreement. A decision may not come until mid- to late August, or even later. Meanwhile, news reports have focused on the Postal Service's failure to make payment on a $5.5 billion bill due Aug. 1 for pre-funding future retiree health benefits. Congress imposed this pre-funding mandate back in 2006. The Postal Service had hoped Congress would enact comprehensive reform legislation that would stretch out the amortization schedule for these payments, providing the agency with financial breathing room. While the Senate has passed postal legislation (S. 1789), the House of Representatives — taking a different approach to postal reform — was unable to bring its bill (H.R. 2039) forward for a vote before the August congressional recess. The Postal Service has said that it will not make these payments to pre-fund future retiree benefits so that it can use the funds for ongoing mail operations.
Newhouse: Move to digital necessary
In an opinion piece and follow-up interview with Poynter, Advance.net Chairman Steve Newhouse last week said transforming The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune and other properties to a digital-centric operation is necessary for the company’s survival and that he understands why people are questioning the strategy.
“There’s every reason to be upset and angry,” Newhouse told Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon. But he said the erosion of the newspaper industry’s traditional economic model left Advance with no choice.
“We really feel the most important element for our journalistic future is our quality. Not how many days we publish but how well we cover the community,” Newhouse said.
Advance in May said The Times-Picayune and three Alabama dailies — the Huntsville Times, Birmingham News and Press-Register in Mobile — would move to three-day-a-week publication this fall.
Newhouse also said he’s unfazed by competitors’ plans to fill the void left by The Times-Picayune only appearing three days a week.
“I say bring them on. Competition is great. We’re not afraid at all.” He also stressed that Advance has no plans to sell The Times-Picayune or any of its other papers.
Newspapers should charge premium prices to fund digital side, study recommends
Information should be free, but newspapers should charge more for it.
One of the great disruptions seen in the Internet era has been the massive proliferation of free information sources, something that has hit hard at the fortunes of the newspaper industry. However, the best approach for newspapers may be to charge more for their content, versus going the other direction.
Simon-Kucher & Partners, a marketing and strategy consulting firm that specializes in pricing, just issued the results of a study which finds that consumers aren’t sensitive to price increases in newspapers, and the struggling industry would be better off attempting to increase its margins.
In fact, documented price increases have grown circulation revenue for print newspapers, according to Simon-Kucher. In their words, “consumers are very unlikely to react to print newspaper price increases, putting them in the same category as lifestyle drugs and albums from cult rock bands.”
While raising print prices may shrink an already anemic readership base, it may “also be their best hope of staying afloat,” the study urges. One factor is that it’s likely the remaining customers have a high degree of loyalty. Plus, Simon-Kucher adds, “print advertising is becoming a smaller and smaller piece of newspapers’ revenue puzzle.” The New York Times Company, for instance, now generates more revenue from circulation than from advertising — the New York Times Company Q2 2012 results show circulation revenue of $233 million and advertising revenue of $220 million.
America's Editors: Story still rules but social, audience, and revenue loom
Don't believe the outcry you're hearing from American newsrooms that posting to Facebook has replaced creating the story that's being posted in the first place. Assigning and crafting articles still takes up the bulk of editors' time in the news media, according to a poll conducted last week by Editor & Publisher and Ebyline. In fact, editors ranked planning, assigning and line editing stories as the tasks they spend the most time on, followed by copy editing and coordinating with others in the newsroom. Still, that's likely to change, editors believe: newsroom personnel are already spending more and more time monitoring the competition and the group ranks social media, online traffic, and revenue as the three responsibilities most likely to increase.
The results of the survey reflect the tug of war many editors are experiencing between newer responsibilities online and the core duties of directing news coverage, said Arnie Robbins, executive director of the American Society of NewsEditors and former editor of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “A lot of editors I talk to still try to carve [out] that time to do those kinds of things, but I think that’s more challenging now. Most organizations are now on four platforms: print, tablets, phones and desktops, and laptops.”
Social media also took a backseat in editors' determination of what makes an article successful. Survey respondents ranked old-school values such as original reporting, subject expertise, and exclusivity as the top three factors in the creation of great content, placing social shareability near the bottom and search engine optimization dead last.
Branding: From consumer insight to implementation
The Readership Institute at Northwestern University has published a study that shows a newspaper's brand can be a key driver of readership. The Readership Institute has done follow-up work to help understand how newspapers can create a brand that has particular relevance for a desired group of readers, and how to promote that brand.
This work focuses on younger (age 20-45), lighter readers -- an essential group for newspapers' future. They represent a large portion of newspapers' markets and they have a tenuous connection to the newspaper as it is now. They have some familiarity with the newspaper, but read it infrequently, spend little time with it, or don't read much of it.
'Quote approval' turns press from watchdog to lapdog
Big-time news outlets are reported to have caved into pressure both from the White House and the Mitt Romney campaign, agreeing to get approval of quotes from the candidates — and sometimes even the spokesmen for the candidates – before publishing interview articles. The New York Times reported a few days ago on the practice, even noting that it was one of the news outlets participating in the process of "quote approval."
"It was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to [it], albeit reluctantly," the Times article by Jeremy W. Peters said. "Organizations like Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times have all consented to interviews under such terms."
Dean Baquet, New York Times managing editor for news, was quoted as saying, "We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately this practice is becoming increasingly common, and maybe we have to push back harder."
JCPenney & Newhouse have a lot in common
I realize that I'm dating myself, but here goes.
When I was a little boy, drug stores used to have these bins that held bags filled with multiple "secret" items. They were often called "grab bags" and you never knew what would be in them. As an adult, you realize this was older stock that the store had trouble selling, but as a kid it was exciting to get a bag filled with "valuable" items for a quarter.
That's what I felt like when I looked at my calendar for the next few weeks. There's a publishers' summit, an advertising conference, a keynote at a state newspaper association event, along with a couple of training sessions.
When I look at these from a distance, I see a bunch of scattered events in different areas of the country with unrelated topics. And as I try to decide what to say to these very different groups, the task can seem overwhelming.
I see the topics they've requested and they vary from "How to Increase Revenue on Newspaper Websites" to "Finding Ways to Adapt to a New Marketplace" to "The Present and Future Relationship Between Print and Mobile Journalism," with a few other topics thrown in, just to keep me on my toes.
Aug. 16: PhotoShop Training, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Aug. 17: Collegiate Committee Meeting, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Aug. 23: Contest Committee Meeting, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Aug. 29: Webinar: The Art of Selling Deals: Strategies for Securing the Best Offers
Aug. 30: Webinar: Online Promotions: Tapping Into a New Revenue Source
Sept. 3: Happy Labor Day! SCPA Offices closed in observance.
Sept. 13: Webinar: How to pursue an investigative project while juggling other stories
Sept. 14: Webinar: Digital Monetization
Sept. 20: Executive Committee Meeting, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Sept. 28: FOI Committee Meeting, SCPA Offices Columbia
Oct. 3-7: NNA Annual Convention and Trade Show, Charleston
Oct. 18: Ad Basics, SCPA Offices, Columbia
March 22-24, 2013: SCPA Annual Meeting and Awards Presentation, The Westin Poinsett Hotel, Greenville