Circuit judge rules state's FOIA unconstitutional
A South Carolina Circuit Court Judge has ruled the S.C. Freedom of Information Act unconstitutional as applied to the S.C. Association of School Administrators.

The ruling holds that the association is a public body under the FOIA, but that the law's requirements that public bodies conduct public meetings and provide public access to records unconstitutionally burdens the association's right to advocate on political issues.

The suit was brought by Charleston radio personality Rocky Disabato, who performs under the name "Rocky D." Disabato had requested access to records relating to the association's efforts with the State Department of Education and others "regarding the debate about the federal stimulus funds in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."

In ruling on the association's motion to dismiss, the court assumed that the association was a public body as it was supported in whole or in part by public funds. In dismissing the case the court ruled that requiring an "advocacy organization" like the association to comply with the open meetings and open records provision of the FOIA would impose an unconstitutional burden on the association's free speech rights.

Disabato has appealed the ruling.

Sharpen your pencils
Need crosswords or puzzles at a reasonable price?  We recently polled editors about their suggestions.  Here are their responses:

Advertising Director, Aiken Standard

What do you like best about your job?
Working with business owners and managers on ad campaigns and seeing positive results by using Aiken Standard products through print, online and video. I also love to see growth in account executives each day.

What is your biggest challenge and how are you facing it?
Overcoming the decrease in major advertising revenue. We are digging deeper into our local accounts, using market data to show them the fantastic opportunity we offer through our loyal and affluent subscriber/viewer base. Unfortunately, it just takes a lot of small accounts to overcome just one major advertiser. We are also remaining positive -- we know we are the best vehicle in our area for advertising and we provide good ROI for our advertisers.

What's the best part of working in the newspaper industry?
The people -- from account decision makers, to our dedicated staff members. I feel blessed to work for the Aiken Standard and Evening Post Publishing now for 16 years.

What's your favorite SCPA member service?

AdMall is a great resource. The staff at SCPA is always quick to respond when I have any question -- and that is appreciated. I often use the John Foust column as a training tool with the ad staff.

Any big plans coming up?
Big professional plans include finding a local alternative to daily deal platforms that will work in local advertisers' best interest. Personally, my precious daughters' many activities (16 year-old Anna is Aiken High FFA president and 11 year-old Jordan is an aspiring softball pitcher) keep me on the road.

Federal Shield Law introduced in House once more
In the latest step in a seven-year effort to pass a federal shield law, Republican Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana has re-introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would provide protections for journalists in federal courts.
Pence announced that he filed the Free Flow of Information Act of 2011, which is the same legislation he co-sponsored in 2005, 2007 and 2009. The proposed legislation passed in the house but died on the Senate floor the two most recent times. The proposed bill will provide a qualified privilege for journalists with exceptions for national security, the prevention of death or bodily harm, or information that is deemed essential in a criminal case or critical in a civil suit. The bill defines a journalist as someone who regularly reports and writes for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or for substantial financial gain. The Pence announcement came a day after the Obama administration trumpeted its commitment to open government. In 2009, Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to have his administration publicly support a shield law.

Federal court holds filming police in public is protected by the First Amendment
The right to film police in the performance of their public duties in a public space is a “basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment,” a federal appellate court held earlier this month, marking a major victory in a time when arrests for such activities have been on the rise.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston ruled that three police officers are not immune from liability for arresting a man who, believing the officers were using excessive force to arrest a young man, recorded the Oct. 2007 scene on his cell phone. The officers arrested the spectator, confiscated his cell phone and a computer flash drive and charged him with violation of the Massachusetts wiretap statute, which requires the consent of all parties to record a conversation. The state Supreme Court has interpreted the statute to criminalize only secret recordings made without such consent. Most Americans’ ability to effortlessly capture and distribute digital images, including in increasing numbers the activities of on-duty police officers without their consent, has spawned an increase in the number of arrests for violation of local and state wiretapping and eavesdropping laws and other offenses, such as disturbing the peace, media advocates say.

Donna Tracy has been hired as editor of the Lake City News & Post. Tracy, who originally hails from London, England, has made the United States her home for 20 years. An Air Force veteran, Tracy says she looks forward to working with the community on a daily basis.

After two years as a staffer and editor at The Post and Courier’s weekly publication, Charleston Scene, Marcus Amaker has announced his resignation. A longtime poet and spoken-word artist, Amaker worked as graphic designer for the newspaper's entertainment section before landing the job as editor in late 2008. Amaker will start working as an editor and graphic designer with The Local Palate, a new glossy food magazine based in Charleston. He will continue to write and recite poetry and create visual art.

The New Braunfels (Texas) Herald-Zeitung has named Shawn Lewis to be its next managing editor. He joined the Herald-Zeitung staff in May 2010 as assistant managing editor. Prior to joining the staff, he served as the managing editor of the Index-Journal in Greenwood and editor of the Richmond County Daily Journal in Rockingham, N.C.

industry news

50 states, 50 papers: small papers faring better than metros
Husband and wife Paul Steinle and Sara Brown presented the findings from their 50-state tour of newspapers, which gauges the state of the U.S. newspaper industry in the midst of digital transition.
“Smaller and mid-sized papers are simply doing much better than the metro papers,” Brown said, noting that such papers are often deeply embedded in their communities and not saddled with the same debt as the larger city dailies.
She said that among the more successful smaller papers, the couple found several key characteristics that included a strong emphasis on local news, an ongoing commitment to watchdog reporting, fostering community dialogue and being a good organizational citizen through public service initiatives.
Takeaways from the findings: Market size matters. Local news and watchdog reporting are indispensable assets. There’s no holy grail for digital revenue models. And the 21st century journalist better get used to working in a “Swiss army knife” mode of adaptability if he or she wants to get and keep a job, and that includes being well-versed on the business side of the newspaper industry.
Last summer the pair began interviewing publishers, editors and digital managers at 50 different newspapers across the country. The papers ranged from circulations under 20,000 to those topping 100,000; the study sample included dailies and weeklies. In South Carolina, The Post and Courier was interviewed. Here's the team's report on The P&C. The complete report, including video interviews and links to sample enterprise reporting from each paper, can be found here.

Pew: How people learn about their local community
Americans turn to a wide range of platforms to get local news and information, and where they turn varies considerably depending on the subject matter and their age, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, produced in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Most Americans, including more tech-savvy adults under age 40, also use a blend of both new and traditional sources to get their information.
Overall, the picture revealed by the data is that of a richer and more nuanced ecosystem of community news and information than researchers have previously identified.
Most Americans (69%) say that if their local newspaper no longer existed, it would not have a major impact on their ability to keep up with information and news about their community.
Yet the data show that newspapers play a much bigger role in people's lives than many may realize. Newspapers (both the print and online versions, though primarily print) rank first or tie for first as the source people rely on most for 11 of the 16 different kinds of local information asked about -- more topics than any other media source. But most of these topics -- many of which relate to civic affairs such as government -- taxes, etc., are ones followed by fewer Americans on a regular basis.

ABC, NAA release comprehensive guide to digital editions
In the past year, there have been a number of U.S. newspaper rules changes, and on Oct. 1, another set of new rules for digital editions will take effect. To help explain the changes, the NAA/ABC Circulation Subcommittee is creating a series of all-compassing guides about digital editions, branded editions and verified circulation.
“NAA/ABC Circulation Subcommittee’s Guide to U.S. Newspaper Digital Editions,” the first guide, is available today on ABC’s website.

Publisher Confidence Survey results less optimistic
The Fall 2011 Cribb, Greene Publisher Confidence Survey results show that newspaper owners and executives are more pessimistic than a year ago about near-term performance, but are surprisingly positive in a few areas.  The survey polled 165 newspaper owners, publishers and executives to find out how they feel about their markets and profit/revenue performance this year and in 2012, and other topics.  Forty-seven percent of respondents operate daily newspapers or daily/weekly clusters and 53% operate primarily weekly publications. Most respondents think their local market economies are performing about the same as last year (60%) but the number who think performance is improving dropped from 37% in 2010 to 14% this year.  Twenty-six percent say their market is declining.

Community key to local papers' future
Generations before “hyperlocal” was coined, community newspapers were doing it. But in the digital media age, many such papers have found that Main Street online can be a much harder and unfamiliar place to navigate than its real world pavement. ... In an interview with NetNewsCheck, [a longtime community newspaper publisher] discussed the need to hold hands with mom-and-pop businesses as they move online, why he's not worried about Patch and how deeply-forged community relationships and unique hyperlocal content will buy community papers a little more time to catch up to the digital learning curve.

Publishers slow to take advantage of mobile sites
More than two in five mobile users will go online from their phones each month, eMarketer estimates, but many websites have been slow to make their content available in mobile-optimized formats. Research from mobile site detection API provider Company Data Trees found that in January 2011, 14.32% of the top 10,000 sites on Alexa had a mobile version, and 14.67% of publishers (defined as websites with advertising) had one. The percentages have grown since then, to around 24% and 26%, respectively, as of September. That growth represents a 75% increase in mobile adoption among publishers and 66% among all websites over the course of approximately nine months.

Newspaper magazines are seen as one key to boosting print
Two Belgian newspapers introduced weekly magazines despite persistent gloom over the print industry. The strategic reasoning draws on a recent conclusion that flagging print circulation has little to do with the advent of digital news and might be reversed by putting out a better print product. Newspaper magazines, in particular, are seen as a way of providing journalism with a different perspective and drawing in advertisers with the format's greater appeal to women.


Netiquette for Sales Media Professionals:
Six Rules for Social Media Communication

As the selling profession transitions from traditional to digital methods of initiating relationships, it is important to remember that there are significant differences between traditional and digital methods of communicating. Below are six “rules of the road” for building online relationships with business contacts: Be Yourself. Write to others as you talk to others. Show your personality. Be real. People who don't know you at first will warm up to you quickly by getting to know you in this way. read

Why Netflix is a cautionary tale for newspapers
When Netflix first announced earlier this year that it was changing its pricing plans for its legacy DVD-by-mail service as a way of promoting its digital streaming business, we wrote about how this was very similar to what newspapers have been trying to do -- that is, moving people from the high-cost legacy side of the business (i.e., print) to the lower-cost digital side (i.e., streaming). So what kinds of lessons can we draw from the furor over Netflix’s pricing change and the impact it has been having on the company’s revenues? Here’s a hint: they’re not good. read


Sept. 30: Webinar: Online Sales:  We've Got the Butter!  

Oct. 1: Deadline for paid newspapers to submit USPS ownership statements

Oct. 2-8: National Newspaper Week

Oct. 7: News Contest Rules Available

Oct. 7: Webinar: Understanding The NEW Local Online Competitors

Oct. 20: Ad Basics
SCPA Offices, Columbia

Oct. 27: Design That Sells
SCPA Offices, Columbia

Nov. 3: SCPA Government Affairs Committee
SCPA Offices, Columbia

Nov. 4: Media & Military Workshop
Ft. Jackson, Columbia

Nov. 9: Save your organization time and money by utilizing InDesign's lesser known features
SCPA Offices, Columbia

Nov. 11: Webinar: Anatomy of a Sales Call

Dec. 2: News Contest Deadline

Dec. 9: Hall of Fame Nomination Deadline

Jan. 20, 2012: Scholarship & Internship Deadline