Column Archive

Can anti-trust law save newspapers?

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | Federal and state anti-trust laws date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, way before the emergence of the modern internet-fueled economy. But increasingly these old laws and concepts are being seen as the means of limiting...

Things designers don’t want to hear

By Ed Henninger, Newspaper Design Consultant | IT HAPPENS all the time at newspapers: Things we don’t want to hear: “We just lost the Hamilton account.” “Now Adobe wants us to pay a monthly subscription price for the software.” “Bob just fell off a step on the press and broke...

A little more, a little less for sales meetings

By John Foust, Advertising Trainer | Kristen told me how she handles one of the biggest challenges of managing her newspaper’s sales department. “Sales meetings – like a lot of other things – fall into predictable patterns,” she said. “The boss talks, the staff members listen, and more often than...

Legal Q&A: Advertising CBD oil

Q: Can I publish advertising for CBD oil? The sort answer is yes. The longer answer is that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that advertising for lawful products may be published without restriction where the advertising is neither false nor misleading. CBD oil may be sold lawfully in South...

Behaving badly in Mount Pleasant

By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender | I don’t live in Mount Pleasant, but if I were a newspaper columnist writing regularly about the shenanigans of local officials, I’d want to live there. I would never run out of material. Not so long ago the Office of the Attorney General of...

FOIA suit against S.C. House Republican Caucus

By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender | News organizations and associations, The State Media Company, The Post and Courier, Inc., Gannett GP Media, Inc., South Carolina Press Association, South Carolina Broadcasters Association, and the Associated Press, were rejected in their suit to have the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) applied to...

Freelancing FOIA

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | South Carolina’s Freedom of Information law provides that “[a]ll materials, regardless of form, gathered by a public body during a search to fill an employment position, except that materials relating to not fewer than the final three applicants...

First Amendment protects free distribution pubs too; new Horry litter ordinance could bring test

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | As newspapers have faced economic challenges, many have developed slimmed down versions that feature a few stories and both display and insert advertising. These new publications are offered for free, and are often delivered to individual homes without...

Frustrating FOIA

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | Through South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, diligent journalists and others have discovered much revealing information about the actions of state and local government in our state. Things recently revealed through FOIA requests have included Anderson County’s failure...

Amending the agenda

By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender | I was in Mount Pleasant recently. It had been years since I had driven north of Shem Creek on Coleman Boulevard. My drive north in search of lunch put into context the Save Shem Creek movement and the desire of many residents to slow...

When perceived libel gets deadly

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | There is obviously no justification for the shootings at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., which killed five of the newspaper’s staff and injured two. But in the aftermath of the incident many have looked for causes, including...

Source secrecy in the modern era

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | The Justice Department’s accessing of reporter Ali Watkins’s email and phone records as part of a leak investigation is just one of several recent incidents in which the federal government has obtained the digital and other information about...

Money laundering made easier

By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender | Money laundering had its origins with crime syndicates. Former SLED chief Robert Stewart said that one of the dangers of South Carolina’s legalization of video poker was that it provided a state-wide network of money laundromats.

Facebook, privacy and you

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg are being criticized far and wide for the company’s lax privacy practices after it was revealed that the political data firm Cambridge Analytica had used a seemingly innocuous personality test to...

Legal Q&A: Right to inspect

Q: Do you have to be a member of the press to inspect incident reports, the minutes from a public meeting, booking/detention information, or all documents that were distributed to or reviewed by a public official during a public meeting?

Legal Q&A: Recording public officials

Legal Q&A: Recording public officials Q: Can you record public officials on public property? By SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith A: Yes. The rights under the First Amendment are not absolute but assuming the act of recording does not substantially interfere with the public official’s performance of his or her duties and/or...

What Trump can do to thwart the press

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump notoriously promised that he would “open up our libel laws so when they [the media] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."...

Donald Trump and Libel

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | Whatever you think of Donald Trump, it is clear that he does have much regard for the media. In addition to threatening to sue news outlets that published stories about his comments and behavior – despite his poor...