School kids and privacy: avoiding pitfalls
An editor called last week to ask if a paper could publish the names and photos of high school students who had been interviewed off campus in connection with a "tweeting" controversy at their school. The controversy involved a teacher being disciplined for "inappropriate" tweets with students.
The question was a good one, and asking it in advance of publication demonstrated an awareness of potential pitfalls connected to increasing concerns over personal privacy.
Since the students were high school students and were being asked about events at their school rather than personal questions, and since the photographs were taken in a public place, I saw no invasion of privacy.
On the other hand, a few tweaks in the scenario would produce privacy concerns. For example, if the questions had concerned intimate matters such as "birds and bees" conversations with parents about sexual activity or about the student's own sexual activity, the publication of information from students under the age of 18 could give rise to invasion of privacy claims under what is known as the "private facts" branch of invasion of privacy. The initial problem is that a person who consents to reveal intimate, personal information has no invasion of privacy claim, but in South Carolina a person under the age of 18 lacks the capacity to give such consent.
Even if interviews regarding intimate matters had been arranged by the school, consent may not exist as the school probably lacks the authority to give consent for the revelation of private information. The key consideration here is the subject matter of the interview—the school could give consent for an interview about school activities, but not about intimate, personal matters.
S.C. Bar hosts free Law School for Journalists on Dec. 12
The S.C. Bar Association invites SCPA member journalists to its 2012 Law School for Journalists. The half-day event will be held Wednesday, Dec. 12, at the S.C. Bar Conference Center in Columbia.
This program is designed to foster greater understanding and communication between the media and members of the legal community.
There is no charge to attend, but you must register by Dec. 3.
Here's the agenda:
8:45 to 9 a.m. — Welcome, S.C. Bar President Angus H. Macaulay, Nexsen Pruet, Columbia
9 to 9:30 a.m. — Criminal Law (Plaintiff and Defense),
Daniel E. Johnson, Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit,
D. Ashley Pennington, Public Defender, Ninth Judicial Circuit
9:30 to 10 a.m. — Civil Law (Plaintiff and Defense),
Joseph Preston Strom, Managing Partner, Strom Law Firm, Columbia,
A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., Partner, Nelson Mullins, Greenville
10 to 10:15 a.m. — Break
10:15 to 10:45 a.m. — Freedom of Information Act,
Jay Bender, Attorney, Baker Ravenel & Bender, Columbia; Instructor, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications and USC School of Law
10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. — Ethics Panel Discussion,
Hon. James R. Barber III, At-Large, S.C. Circuit Court,
Charles J. Boykin, Partner, Boykin & Davis, Columbia,
Lee Coggiola, Disciplinary Counsel, S.C. Supreme Court,
Gedney Howe, Member, Gedney M. Howe III, PA, Charleston,* Moderated by David Stanton, S.C. Court Administration
12 to 1 p.m. — Lunch,
Remarks by S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal
For more information, email Leigh Thomas, Communications Director, at email@example.com.
S.C. Journalism Hall of Fame calls for nominations
SCPA's Journalism Hall of Fame is seeking nominations and the deadline to nominate someone is Dec. 7.
The S.C. Journalism Hall of Fame was established in 1973 to recognize and honor men and women who have excelled in their craft and made significant contributions to journalism and their communities. Only about 65 newspaper journalists – from Colonial and Civil War days to the present – have been chosen by their peers for recognition.
The requirements for nomination state that the nominee must have made his or her journalistic reputation in South Carolina. If the reputation includes achievements outside of the state, then the nominee must be a native of South Carolina. The nominees must have been deceased for four or more years.
Last year's inductees included Peter Manigault, Bob Perry and Benjamin F. Perry.
For more information on the nominations,click here.
New S.C. immigration unit keeping lid on arrest details
The Post and Courier reported recently that a new state immigration unit is working largely in secret, avoiding public oversight and refusing to release information about the work it does.
The S.C. Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Immigration Enforcement Unit, will not reveal any details on cases the unit has handled in its first few months of operation.
Public Safety spokeswoman Sherri Iacobelli said in a statement last week that “Like any investigative unit, when we give specifics of these cases, we potentially compromise our ability to get to the root of some of these larger, underlying issues.”
SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers said the Public Safety Department cannot use a blanket exemption citing ongoing investigations to withhold all arrest details.
“I would think an arrest record, unless it’s sealed by a judge, would be open,” Rogers said. “How can there be any public oversight of their work if we can’t see their work?”
Iacobelli did not respond to a question asking whether a judge had sealed the record, or if she knew of any state law that allowed arrest records to be withheld. She said that the agency will be happy to answer questions about the unit in a future interview.
Officials said this week that the S.C. Immigration Enforcement Unit’s cases are prosecuted by local officials in the jurisdictions where the alleged crimes were committed. In her statement, Iacobelli said the unit is unlike any of the state’s other law enforcement divisions.
Since July, when it began working cases, the unit has about 40 arrests or active warrants for arrests, and has a number of ongoing investigations.
The Post and Courier filed an S.C. Freedom of Information Act request Thursday with DPS seeking immigration unit records.
AP vet Davenport receives Order of the Palmetto
Last week Gov. Nikki Haley presented Associated Press reporter Jim Davenport with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian honor.
During a private ceremony, Haley said Davenport, who has cancer and is on leave from the AP, had exhibited fairness through his reporting and helped change her view of the media.
Davenport, 54, has reported on politics for AP for more than a dozen years. During that time, he has focused on accountability issues, seeking to inform people in South Carolina about what their governors, lawmakers and other powerful officials are doing with the public's money.
The presentation came as a surprise to Davenport, who said he was rendered somewhat speechless for a rare time in his career.
Even though he has often asked them tough questions, Davenport has won the respect of lawmakers inside both chambers. In March, after honoring him with a resolution, every member of the South Carolina Senate came by to shake Davenport's hand. Six weeks later, the House honored him in a similar way.
Davenport has also been a tireless advocate for the state's Freedom of Information Act, coordinating the first audit that showed how little public bodies and law enforcement agencies understood about the public's right to know.
Davenport also previously covered business news for The State in Columbia.
The Manning Times names new publisher
Leigh Ann Maynard has been named publisher of The Manning Times. She will fill the position recently held by Jason Lesley.
Maynard began her career at The Times two and a half years ago as an ad sales representative. Since that time, she has held the positions of advertising manager and general manager before her recent promotion.
Haley blames S.C. media for clogging phone lines in hacking
When the state announced last Friday the massive hacking breach of Department of Revenue records and urged callers to sign up for monitoring, the call center line was busy and the wait time exceeded an hour for those who could get through.
This week, Gov. Nikki Haley blamed that delay on the media calling the number to see it if worked, clogging phone lines.
SCPA Executive Director
Bill Rogers said he found Haley’s statement hard to believe. “That is an ingenious way to blame the media,” he said. “I can’t imagine there are enough reporters in South Carolina to clog that line.”
The Post and Courier reported that dozens of people called the newspaper on Friday to complain about their inability to get through to the call center, which officials said was staffed by 300 call-takers. Reporters then called the number but just got a busy signal.
“There are 16 daily newspapers in South Carolina,” Rogers said. “If that is enough to clog up their phone lines, then they have got problems.”
The governor also didn't mention that most of these reporters are also state taxpayers and, therefore, fellow victims of the security breach whom she had urged to register for monitoring.
Journalism vs. commerce: When is the news important enough to drop a paywall?
The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal lowered their paywalls in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, and a discussion about their motivation for doing so highlights the tension between the newspaper as a vehicle for public information and as a commercial entity.
Latest ABC numbers reflect digital growth
Daily circulation for the 613 newspapers reporting to the Audit Bureau of Circulations for its latest six-month report ending Sept. 30, 2012, fell a slight 0.2 percent over the previous year period, according to ABC.
Sunday circulation, meantime, rose 0.6 percent for the 528 papers reporting comparable results.
Digital-only subscriptions, meantime, are on the rise and ABC reported that digital circulation accounts for 15.3 percent of newspapers' total circulation. That's a jump of 9.8 percent over September 2011 digital subscription figures.
The report measures print, digital and branded editions, reflecting expanded circulation parameters set forth by ABC in 2010. More in-depth information, including digital distribution platforms, will be available as individual newspapers release their publisher's statements.
The top 5 papers, according to the latest report, are The Wall Street Journal, reporting 2,293,798 in total circulation — a 9.4 percent increase over last year; USA Today, with 1,713,833; The New York Times, which jumped 40.3 percent over last year to 1,613,865; the Los Angeles Times, which increased its circulation 11.9 percent to 641,369; and the (New York) Daily News, which showed an 11.5 percent decline over last year, to 535,875.
For more on the report, including a complete list of the top 25 newspapers, click here.
Nov. 22-23: Happy Thanksgiving! SCPA/SCNN Offices Closed
Dec. 6: Daily Publishers' Roundtable, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Dec. 7: News Contest Deadline; Rules, tags and forms available here
Jan. 3, 2013: Legislative Workshop for the Media, More details coming soon!
Jan. 11: Weekly Publishers' Roundtable, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Jan. 18: SCPA Foundation Internship and Scholarship application deadline
March 22-24, 2013: SCPA Annual Meeting and Awards Presentation, The Westin Poinsett Hotel, Greenville