|The school board and the tape recorder
This is a story demonstrating how one member of a board or council — armed with a tape recorder — can make government more open. Several years ago the Lexington-Richland School District 5 sued Kim Murphy to enjoin her from recording the public meetings of a committee of which she was a member. A circuit judge granted the injunction which was quickly vacated by the S.C. Court of Appeals because the FOIA provides that any meeting of a public body may be recorded by any person in attendance.
Some lessons are never learned.
Recently the same school board, this time with Kim Murphy as a member, went into executive session in a conference room adjacent to the auditorium where the public portion of the board meeting had been conducted. Nearly 100 persons remained in the auditorium awaiting the board's return.
At the conclusion of the executive session, one board member indicated that he wanted to talk about a situation that had received some local notoriety, the denial of permission for a home-schooled student to participate in the Junior ROTC program.
The issue wasn't on the board agenda.
The board chair, Robert Gantt, announced that the executive session was over, and directed that the conference room door be opened so the discussion regarding the home-schooled student could be held "in public."
Kim Murphy's tape recorder made an appearance. The board chair said the discussion could not be recorded, but Ms. Murphy, having prevailed previously in the face of school board ignorance was not deterred. When Ms. Murphy remained steadfast in her insistence that the discussion would be recorded, the board chair adjourned the illegal meeting.
|S.C. Attorney General wants reporter’s subpoena canceled
By Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has asked a lawyer representing his office to cancel a subpoena against a freelance reporter who is covering the office’s handling of the late soul singer James Brown’s estate.
Sue Summer was served in August with the legal document requiring her to turn over her notes, emails, audio recordings and any other information relating to more than a dozen people involved in the will for Brown, who died in December 2006. The subpoena was issued by Mark Gende, a private attorney who is doing legal work for Wilson’s office.
Summer had been planning to fight the subpoena under South Carolina’s Shield Law, which is meant to protect reporters and their sources from being revealed in court and to prevent reporters from having to turn over unpublished information.
A spokesman for Wilson said he made his decision Tuesday after questions from The Associated Press.
“The attorney general fully supports the shield law, therefore we disagree with the subpoena being issued and strongly suggested it be rescinded,” said Bryan Stirling, a spokesman for Wilson.
Wilson’s office made the request to Gende after the close of regular business hours Tuesday. Gende did not immediately respond to a telephone message left at his law firm.
Summer has suggested the subpoena came in retaliation because of her fight with Wilson’s office over documents she requested through the Freedom of Information Act. She also suggested South Carolina’s previous attorney general, Henry McMaster, overreached his authority when he brokered a deal over the estate.
Stirling said his office wouldn’t talk any further about pending litigation. The deal over Brown’s estate is currently before the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Summer said Tuesday she would have called Wilson’s office and thanked the attorneys herself if they were still taking her calls.
“I am grateful that the attorney general thinks the Shield Law is important in South Carolina,” Summer said.
Celebrate National Newspaper Week
National Newspaper Week is set for Oct. 7-13, and SCPA encourages you to join in this celebration to promote the important role newspapers play in their communities.
SCPA's NNW promo kit will be live on SCPA's website next week. It will feature:
- a great promotional quarter page house ad (in color and black-and-white)
- an Op Ed by Charles Bierbauer, Dean of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at USC
- other Op Eds
- an editorial cartoon
SCPA will also have a link to the Newspaper Managers Association NNW site, which will have national editorials, a crossword puzzle, artwork and more.
NNW is the only industry observance of newspapers during the year and deserves our support, especially in these difficult times for all our members.
We encourage you to use the materials provided or write your own positive stories and editorials about our business.
“Newspapers play a very important role in life in South Carolina,” said SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers. “They are the watchdog, the glue that builds community and help the economy by helping merchants market their goods. Newspapers are not dying in South Carolina, we have more now than 10 years ago.”
If you have any questions about the promotional materials, please contact Jen at email@example.com.
Last chance to sign up for SCPA's Intro to Dreamweaver class
SCPA is hosting an Adobe Dreamweaver workshop next Thursday, Sept. 27. The session will run from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., at SCPA Offices in Columbia. Lunch will be on your own.
Adobe expert Michelle Kerscher will train attendees on the basics of Adobe Dreamweaver. In addition to working as a trainer for SCPA, Michelle has mastered design and use of Adobe products as a newspaper designer, Web designer and commercial press designer. She has a real knack for explaining high-tech topics in plain-language. This training will be easy to understand for all levels of Adobe users. Though Michelle will touch on some of the latest features of CS6, her classes are designed for users of all versions of the software in Mac or PC platforms.
To view the topics that will be covered during this session and to register, click here. We have about 10 seats left for this event, so if you are interested in attending, please sign up soon.
SCPA will also host an Advanced Dreamweaver session on Nov. 1. Click here to find more details on the advanced session.
Charleston City Paper
What do you like best about your job?
My job as editor of the City Paper is varied and never boring. As an alt weekly paper, we have such freedom. One week we can do a serious examination of an issue that effects the city of Charleston and the next we can put out an irreverent guide to summertime fun. Our readers expect us to push buttons and have a sense of humor in addition to being fair and smart. Their belief in us makes this job so incredibly gratifying.
What would you say is your proudest moment from your career in the newspaper industry?
I'm proud of so many aspects of what I've accomplished here at the City Paper, from founding the paper back in 1997 as a very green editor to helping it evolve into something that many consider an essential part of the fabric of Charleston. We are truly invested in our community and do our best to challenge sacred cows, inspire creativity, and celebrate the people who take huge risks in order to improve people's lives.
How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
That's a tough one. We are living through a time of such fundamental change. It's fascinating, exhilarating, and terrifying all at the same time. Some days I see a very clear path through the forest and other days I get distracted by the trees in my way. Ultimately, I think survival for each media entity depends on its relevance to readers and advertisers. And staying relevant is a very tricky thing in today's media landscape. New ways of communicating, new places for getting information, new opportunities for sharing are cropping up all the time. Still, people tend to appreciate the places they can trust, and we've spent 15 years instilling the City Paper with credibility and integrity.
What's your favorite SCPA member service?
Jay Bender! His advice is always appreciated and his advocacy and help with FOIA issues has been a big help to us over the years.
Any big plans coming up?
We are in the midst of redesigning both our website and our newspaper in an attempt to streamline our coverage and help our writers produce even more content. Over the last three to five years, we have really embraced the web because it gives a weekly paper such a great opportunity to break news and report on situations that in the past we would have left to the daily paper. We hope to increase our coverage and compete even more on that level.
|Oconee councilman rebukes FOI pledge
The Journal in Seneca reported that
Oconee County Council member Reg Dexter rebuked The Journal at a recent council meeting for requesting his personal emails and demanding that he sign a transparency pledge.
"The Freedom of Information Act pertains to government bodies,” Dexter said, in reference to The Journal’s repeated attempts to obtain his personal emails and those of other council members as part of its investigation of the Jennings-McMahan zoning case. “I’m insulted that The Journal thinks I’m a government body…when this group meets as a whole, then we are a government body.”
As for the transparency pledge, which Journal Editor John Hackworth has sought from candidates in this November’s county elections, Dexter said he swore on a Bible four years ago to uphold the laws of Oconee County, South Carolina and the United States, which he said require transparency from public officials. He pointed out that, as council president in 2010, he oversaw the selection of Scott Moulder as county administrator. He said that process included considerable public involvement and transparency.
“I’m quite happy with the result,” Dexter said.
The buildup to Dexter’s comments was not nearly as intense. Council members took a half-dozen questions from moderator Riley Johnson, followed by a few from the audience.
USC journalism students attend the Democratic National Convention
During the week of the Democratic National Convention, 19 USC journalism students covered the event as part of an internship program through the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The students had a variety of responsibilities, from gathering information for the Associated Press and other news organizations to assisting the CNN live production team to reporting on audience members reactions to speeches to shooting and editing video. The students also took to different social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to give constant updates about the events that were unfolding.
Post and Courier carrier escapes bullets while delivering papers
A carrier for The Post and Courier quit his job last week after he was confronted with gunfire while delivering newspapers on North Charleston’s streets for the second time in two years.
The 36-year-old carrier told police he was driving in North Charleston when he heard a gunshot and saw a muzzle flash.
A bullet narrowly missed the man as it shattered his driver’s side window.
The man said he couldn’t think of any reason why someone would target him in either shooting.
He said the decision to resign wasn’t a hard one to make when considering the value of his life.
The carrier was ready to walk away from his delivery job after the first shooting, according to the newspaper’s independent distribution manager Larry Bouronich, but he returned after a month of leave having been promised a safer route closer to Park Circle.
Bouronich said he was upset to see his employee leave after about seven years of service, but that the man’s decision was understandable given the situation.
“He said the next strike might be the last one, and you can’t really blame him for that,” Bouronich said.
Sell more print and online advertising
One of the first questions new coaching clients ask me is how can my people sell more advertising? This is a common problem for all of us in newspaper advertising sales. Our friend Scott Channell has the answer: Ask better questions. Through the questions we ask, Scott says, we uncover: • True buying motives and how prospects actually make buying decisions. • The specific conditions that we must meet for them to buy from us. When interviewing a prospect or upselling a current advertisers, remember that: 1. People will tell us how to sell them -- if we let them. They love to talk about themselves and their businesses, goals and challenges. Let them. Steer them. Listen for information you can use to close.
Adobe CS6: My favorite features
It's that time of year again. Fall means lots of road trips to conventions and training events. One of the things I really enjoy when speaking at a conference is the chance to lead a workshop or two while there. This fall, I took it upon myself to create all new material for my workshops. While time consuming for me, it gives people who have heard me multiple times something new to go home with. And for me, it makes teaching that much more interesting. One thing that I always keep in mind is that most of us can't keep the latest version of software on our computers all the time. It can get expensive to try to stay up to date with the latest and greatest. But every now and then, it becomes necessary to upgrade. My rule of thumb is to stay within two versions of the latest software. That means if I'm a QuarkXPress user, I'm using version 8 or 9. For InDesign users, that would be CS5 or 6. No, I didn't forget 5.5, but let's stick with whole numbers.
Sept. 27: Intro to Adobe Dreamweaver (Part One of Two), SCPA Offices, Columbia
Oct. 3-7: NNA Annual Convention and Trade Show, Charleston
Oct. 7-13: National Newspaper Week
Oct. 11: Advanced InDesign and PDF Training, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Oct. 18: Ad Basics, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Oct. 25: Ad Design That Sells, SCPA Offices
Nov. 1: Advanced Adobe Dreamweaver (Part Two of Two), SCPA Offices, Columbia
Nov. 15: Weekly Publisher's Roundtable, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Dec. 6: Daily Publisher's Roundtable, SCPA Offices, Columbia
March 22-24, 2013: SCPA Annual Meeting and Awards Presentation, The Westin Poinsett Hotel, Greenville