2012 News Contest Rules now available
SCPA's news contest rules for newspaper members and SCPA's associate and individual member contest rules, entry forms and tags are now available for download at scpress.org.

New contests include:

  • 2012 Election/Political Coverage (a special contest for the 2012 News Contest only) - This award is for the best election and political coverage for local, state and national races. This contest
    is for the body of the work and will be awarded to the newspaper, not an individual staffer. One or more topic, including ballot issues, may be included in the entry. Criteria include original reporting, editorials, election pages, columns and commentary, endorsements, presentation of election materials and
    supporting materials that demonstrate how the newspaper exercised unusual diligence and/or courage in informing readers. Election special sections may be included.
  • Investigative Reporting - This contest recognizes an investigative story or series by a reporter or team of reporters on a single topic. Entries may include a single investigative story, one-day package, formal series or continuing stories over a period of time.
    Entries should display original reporting revealing information otherwise not generally known that individuals,
    governmental agencies, businesses, elected officials or organizations do not want under public scrutiny. Judging
    criteria include depth of research, initiative, obstacles overcome, use of databases and public records, analysis of documents and records, use of multiple sources and impact on public policy. Entries must include a brief description of the actual or potential impact of the report.
  • Jay Bender Award for Assertive Journalism - This award recognizes the individual journalist or newspaper who stands up to authority in the public's interest. Endowed by SCPA Attorney Jay Bender, the first place winner in the daily and weekly divisions will be awarded a $250 cash prize. This award will recognize an act or actions taken in the news contest period demonstrating assertiveness in the gathering and disseminating news in the face of opposition by those in positions of authority. The guiding principle will be that journalists with boldness to do the things to get the news that others are reluctant to do.
  • Sports Specialty Publication or Sports Magazine
  • Feature Specialty Publication of Magazine
  • Government Beat Reporting
  • In addition to the design portfolio contests, we now have contests for Single Page One Design, Single Sports Page Design and Single Feature Page Design.

Also new this year, all online and photo contests should be submitted digitally through SCPA's ShareFile account. Over the next week, SCPA staffers will be sending out your newspaper's specific URL to upload your photo and online entries. If you do not receive your URL by Oct. 26, contact Jen.

If you have a question about the contest, please email Bill or Jen or call SCPA at (803) 750-9561. Jen will post FAQs to Twitter and Facebook.

The entry deadline of Dec. 7 will be here before you know it so get an early start!

Few spots available for next week's ad design workshop
Do your newer ad sales reps and production employees need help creating ads that work for your customers? Sign them up for Design that Sells.
SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers will lead this workshop from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Oct. 25, at SCPA Offices in Columbia.
Your staff will learn ways of bringing readers into an ad through the use of effective type and art work. Basic design principles will also be covered including: headlines, color choices, white space usage, font choices, borders, line art vs. photos, contrast, giving ads stopping power and turning readers into buyers. The cost is $45.

Opinion: Abbeville County should amend its ordinance
Perhaps the last time folks in Abbeville County showed such blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution, secession was launched Nov. 22, 1860.
Hyperbole? Not so much.
Last week, Abbeville County Council - unanimously, surprisingly, inexplicably - passed an ordinance that disregards portions of the U.S. Constitution while ignoring the Freedom of Information Act.
Confederate president Jefferson Davis and the boys were just as bold - then again, after a stop at Abbeville's Burt-Stark Mansion, they did flee to avoid capture by Union soldiers. County Council would be wise to also retreat.
On Oct. 8, Council passed "an ordinance to prohibit activities which interfere with emergency management services or public safety in Abbeville County."
While much of the ordinance is well-intended, it skirts legal compliance numerous ways.
One section of the ordinance states, "It shall be unlawful for any person to respond to any emergency scene unless dispatched or respond without being certified/trained to the required level for the emergency situation. ..."
According to Jay Bender, the South Carolina Press Association's attorney and an expert on FOIA, that portion of the ordinance ignores the First and 14th amendments.
"That portion of the ordinance, if it were to stop news organizations from gathering information and news, would be unconstitutional," Bender said.
But let's take the next step. While the media implications are vital to a free press, this portion of the ordinance is far more restricting to individuals.
According to this ordinance, it is "unlawful" for "any person" to "respond" to any emergency scene unless dispatched or fully trained. read

NAA convinces USPS to create rate category that could benefit TMCs
From NAA
It has been a long time since we received good news from the U.S. Postal Service. That came on this week, when the USPS filed its annual rate changes with the Postal Regulatory Commission. The filing contains a new rate category, high density plus, for standard mail flats such as newspapers’ total market coverage products.
For the last three years, NAA has met with USPS management to discuss the rate disparity between standard high density enhanced carrier route mail (used for newspapers’ TMC products) and standard saturation enhanced carrier route mail (used by our direct-mail competitors and some newspapers in areas where circulation is low). NAA recommended a new rate category to the Postal Service between high density and saturation, recognizing that newspapers mail TMC pieces at volumes well above the high-density threshold (150 pieces per carrier route) but below the saturation threshold (90 percent of residential households). Under current rules, newspapers are mailing more pieces but can’t qualify for deeper discounts.
The Postal Service listened to NAA and developed the new high density plus category for mailings of at least 300 pieces per carrier route. Newspapers’ TMC mail qualifying for the new category will receive no rate increase in 2013, compared to today’s high-density rates. We believe many newspapers will benefit from this development, although it may not be enough to keep a newspaper TMC product in the mail, in light of the Valassis negotiated services agreement and other rate advantages given to saturation mail since 2009.
High-density mailings not meeting the new “plus” threshold will be subject to rate increases that vary based on packaged weight. High-density flats under 3.3 ounces will be increased by 2.3 percent. The per-piece increase for items weighing more than 3.3 ounces will range from 2.2 percent to 4 percent. However, after factoring in the pound rate, net increases will be 2.33 percent or less. Saturation mailers will see increases slightly higher than those for high-density rates.
The overall increase for periodical rates is the maximum permissible – 2.56 percent. The within-county rate will rise 2.91 percent; for outside-county, it will go to 2.546 percent. Periodical rates do not cover costs, so the Postal Service will impose the maximum increase for the overall class under the statutory price cap established by the 2006 postal reform law.
Finally, the Postal Service will eliminate the surcharge for repositionable notes, which often are found on mailed newspapers and TMC packages.
New rates will take effect Jan. 27. View a chart outlining standard mail and periodical rates.

Vertis Holdings files for bankruptcy reorganization, agrees to sell firm
By Lorraine Mirabella and Eileen Ambrose, The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore-based Vertis Holdings Inc., at one time the largest U.S. producer of advertising inserts in newspapers, plans to sell itself to a Wisconsin printing company for $258.5 million through an auction in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Vertis filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware last week. It also sought court approval to sell its assets to Quad/Graphics, which produces retail advertising inserts and direct marketing and in-store marketing campaigns.
It is the third bankruptcy-law filing in five years for Vertis, which also sought the court's protection to reorganize its finances in 2008 and 2010. In a joint statement, the companies said the sale should benefit clients and the 5,000 employees of Vertis, which has $1.1 billion in estimated fiscal 2012 revenues.

Paywalls giving newspapers chance at a comeback
By Keach Hagey, Wall Street Journal
The newspaper industry's turn toward "paywalls," that is, charging for online access, has been a hit with at least one important constituency: investors.
Newspaper stocks are up 50% to 80% in the past year, despite uncertainty about the long-term financial impact of digital subscription policies.
Some of that uncertainty should start to lift in coming weeks, as newspaper publishers, starting with Gannett Co. GCI +0.16% on Monday, report third-quarter earnings. The results will give the clearest idea to date of how the paywalls are working.
There is no question the fundamentals of the industry remain challenged. Newspaper print advertising, which has fallen by half since 2005, is expected to be down again in the third quarter. But paywalls have begun to give newspapers a way to slow, and in some cases reverse, circulation declines, raise prices and open up a new source of revenue.
More broadly, charging for digital access also allows newspapers to reduce their reliance on volatile advertising toward more stable circulation revenue—a story that investors like to hear, analysts say. read

The average office worker spends 28% of the workday on email
By Laura Vanderkam, Fortune
According to a July 2012 McKinsey Global Institute report on “the social economy,” the average knowledge worker now spends 28% of her work time managing email. If you work 50 hours per week, that’s 14 hours stuck in the inbox. McKinsey’s report suggested that workers could improve their email productivity by 25-30% through better use of social collaboration platforms, buying back 7-8.5% of their workweek. But even if your company isn’t investing in such platforms, here’s some low-hanging fruit for getting your head out of your inbox for a few of those 14 hours:
1. Unsubscribe.
2. Don’t use folders.
3. Send email at the right time.
4. Don’t check email so often.

We are indeed less willing to agree on what constitutes truth
Here's what the "post-fact" literature has right: the Internet allows us to see what other people actually think. This has turned out to be a huge disappointment. When anyone can say anything they like, we can't even pretend most of us agree on the truth of most assertions any more. The post-fact literature is built in part on nostalgia for the world before people like Bigfoot showed up in the public sphere, for the days when Newsweek reflected moderately liberal consensus without also providing a platform for orthographically-challenged wingnuts to rant about the President. People who want those days back tell themselves (and anyone else who will listen) that they don't want to impose their views on anybody. They just want agreement on the facts.
  Taking the pulse of your readers
Want to create more reader interest in your web site…and your print edition? Then consider doing a reader poll. Reader polls are reader grabbers, if they 1) focus on an issue readers care about, and 2) are reported in a form that's interesting and easy for readers to follow. And the beauty of reader polls is that they're a great tool to get your readers to go from your print edition to your web site and then back to the print edition. Here's how that works:
• Ask your question in the print edition.
• Have readers go to the web site to get more information and to vote.
• Report the full results in your print edition. Other tips:

DON'T ASK "yes" or "no" questions. Give your readers some options like: "Yes, but not this year," or "No, I'd never vote for gay marriage," or "The entire issue is too complex," or "It's a stupid question!"

Oct. 25: Ad Design That Sells, SCPA Offices

Nov. 1: Advanced Adobe Dreamweaver (Part Two of Two), 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