Sun News declines to turn over documents in campaign donation investigation;
protecting independence of coverage, source protection sited
By David Wren, The Sun News
An Internal Revenue Service agent has confirmed that a federal criminal investigation into political donations linked to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is continuing.
Ellen Burrows, with the IRS' criminal investigations division, told The Sun News last week that her agency is investigating donations made in 2009 to state and local politicians by a group of limited liability corporations with ties to the chamber. This is the first time that a person directly involved in the investigation has confirmed its existence. The joint investigation with the FBI is now in its third year.
Burrows contacted The Sun News last week seeking documents the newspaper obtained regarding the political donations. The Sun News has declined to provide investigators with copies of the documents to protect the newspaper's sources and maintain its independence from the investigation.
"This is an important issue concerning the Shield Law and The Sun News has handled it well," said Bill Rogers, SCPA Executive Director.
Longtime SCPA member, Twin-City News editor and publisher Sara Bruner dies
Sara Ferguson Bruner, editor and publisher of The Twin-City News in Batesburg-Leesville passed away Aug. 27, at Generations of Batesburg.
Born in Allendale County, March 6, 1920, she lived a rich and full life working as editor and publisher of The Twin-City News for more than 70 years along with her late husband. Sara was a familiar sight on the streets of this area, selling advertisements and gathering information for her weekly column, "About the Twins," which began in 1949. Sara never met a stranger, always greeting new people that moved into the area with her vivacious personality and infectious smile.
Sara was an active member of SCPA, serving as president of the Women's Division in 1955. She also served on the Board of Directors and was a member of the Hall of Fame Scholarship Fund Committee.
Sara was voted Outstanding Newspaper Woman of the Year in 1953 by SCPA's Women's Division.
“Sara was one of a kind…a Southern lady who cared about her community and her family newspaper.
Her awards spanned decades, including S.C. Newspaper Woman of the Year in 1953 and was president of the SCPA Woman’s Division in 1955,” said Bill Rogers, SCPA Executive Director. “I will always think of her as the First Lady of Community Journalism.”
Gov. Carroll Campbell awarded the state's highest civilian honor,
The Order of the Palmetto, to Sara in 1990.
Surviving are her son, Douglas N. Bruner, Jr. (Betty Jean) of Batesburg-Leesville, Robert Lawrence Gall (Penny) of Greenville, and daughter, Maner Bruner Thompson of Marietta Ga., son-in-law, C. H. "Buddy" Clark of Leesville, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the S.C. Press Association Scholarship Fund, St. John's United Methodist Church Renovation Fund or the Alzheimer's Association.
Click here to read Sara's full obituary.
John Pittman, longtime editor of Greenville News retires after 37 years
John Pittman retired Aug. 22, as editor and senior vice president of The Greenville News, ending a 37-year career at the newspaper he led through landmark public service reporting and into the digital age.
Pittman came to Greenville in 1976 as city editor, and he quickly rose during two years to managing editor and then to executive editor at the age of 29. At the time of his appointment as editor, he oversaw the operations of two daily newspapers – The News and the Greenville Piedmont, the city's afternoon daily.
During his leadership, the newspaper was recognized nationally for its public service reporting in news and sports.
Pittman, 64, said, “I was very fortunate to be able to newspaper for 37 years here in Greenville. It has given me a unique understanding of the expectations of our readers.”
Steve Brandt, publisher of The News, said, “John was a superb editor. He cared deeply about our community and our state. For 37 years his passion was serving them with great journalism. He was a fierce advocate for the highest ethical standards in journalism.
SCPA Attorney Jay Bender said, “If you believe in open government, John Pittman was on your side. Under John’s leadership, the paper fought for access to courts and the records of public bodies. John’s position was that if you were going to be funded with public money or spend public money, the paper was going to be looking at your books and over your shoulder to make sure you did it honestly.”
York Murder defendant strikes at Herald reporter as she arrives at trial
On her way into the courthouse Aug. 28, murder defendant Julia Phillips swung her purse at Herald reporter Jonathan McFadden as he was shooting video of her on the public sidewalk. Her purse did not make contact. She also threatened to sue McFadden and Herald photographer Andy Burriss. Click here to watch the video McFadden shot.
Prosecutor: ‘Greed, desperation’ drove Phillips to kill former York mayor
By Jonathan McFadden,
YORK — Julia Phillips had planned to celebrate her 67th birthday with Mike’s Hard Lemonade and a pink pair of silk thong underwear her longtime boyfriend had bought, her defense attorney told jurors during her murder trial Tuesday morning.
Instead, two men ambushed her from behind, wrapped her wrists, head and ankles in duct tape and dragged her 60 feet behind a brick retaining wall, where Phillips feared she would be raped, attorney Bobby Frederick said.
Minutes later, Phillips heard a gunshot and wept when she learned former York Mayor Melvin Roberts – whom she sometimes referred to as her “husband” – had been killed.
But prosecutors said a lethal combination of greed and desperation drove the 117-pound Phillips to conspire with an unidentified accomplice to have Roberts killed when she realized their relationship was coming to an end. Click here to read the rest of McFadden's story.
The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette
What do you like best about your job?
The creative outlet it provides. I've been fortunate to work at the Packet and the Gazette -- newspapers managed by people who indulge my ideas, even some of the half-baked ones. If I'm excited about an idea for a new blog or want to kick the tires on a piece of technology, I don't get shot down with a hundred reasons why it won't work. I certainly don't have carte blanche -- and God knows I should not, even though I try to exercise good judgment -- but if I can give rational underpinning to an idea, I usually get permission to try. And permission often comes with enthusiastic support, too. The most satisfying thing to me is to see an idea come off, and as I mature as a manager, the more joy I take in watching and helping others derive that same sense of satisfaction from their work.
What is your proudest moment from your career in the newspaper industry?
Frankly, I'm proud to still be in the industry, given the economy and tectonic shifts of recent years. A lot of talented people have either left of their own volition or have had no choice in the matter. But if I had to identify a specific moment, I'd have to say it was the Packet's coverage of the Heritage in my last two years as sports editor. That was before the housing meltdown and before the industry underwent massive cutbacks. We threw a lot of resources at both print and online coverage. What really made it excellent, though, was the commitment of a phenomenal staff that ached as much as I did to drop jaws with our coverage of South Carolina's only PGA Tour event. We strove every day to be a small-circulation sports section that looked like a big-circulation section. I'm immensely proud of the ideas and sections they produced.
How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
Well, anyone who wants to keep doing this for a while and doesn't admit to being a little nervous is either dishonest or naive. There will always be a market for information and stories well-told; that doesn't mean newspaper companies will forever be the ones delivering them. That's not an appeal to pessimism, however. To the contrary, there's not much glory in the performance when the outcome is already determined -- so although this is a time of peril, it also is a time of opportunity. We have a lot of things to figure out in this business, and I' excited to have a chance to contribute my itty, bitty part.
What's your favorite SCPA member service?
I pick up a lot of useful ideas from the newsletters and website, but I think as a practical matter, the quick access to SLED background checks have been exceedingly handy. We appreciate the quick responses those receive.
Any big plans coming up?
Professionally, we're actually emerging from a period of big plans. We underwent a major overhaul of our website back in early March -- our McClatchy colleagues at The State and The Sun News did, as well -- and in the past two weeks, we've launched new apps for iPad and Windows 8 tablets. We're also making plans to produce more and better video, and that should be fully implemented by year's end. Personally, I'm working on a family cookbook. There will be little fancy fare -- my people are Appalachian-foothill farm stock, and we have a tradition of eating whatever we can grow and whatever crawls around in the woods. But I do intend to teach myself to use Tumult Hype software by creating an online version of the cookbook, in case I'm too cheap to actually have it printed up for my family.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?
Unquestionably, our executive editor, Fitz McAden. He's always had a knack for giving me both latitude and sage advice. I'll never forget two things that happened on the day he interviewed me for the Packet's sports editor job back in 2000. The second of the two came over lunch, when he told me he didn't know all that much about sports, but he wanted to have a great sports section. I knew then I'd have a happy home if I could convince him to hire me. But the first came before he had even asked me a question. The start of the interview was delayed because he took a phone call -- with me sitting in his office -- from a former employee seeking career advice. Fitz was patient and thoughtful in his reply, even though it was delaying his busy schedule. I was struck about the genuine regard he had for a former employee and that a former employee would seek his counsel.
What are some area attractions/restaurants in your community visitors shouldn't miss?
The beach at Hunting Island State Park is a must-see -- maritime forest creeps right to the ocean's edge, and the island drips with flora and fauna. There is no shortage of great restaurants here, from the humble Shrimp Shack on St. Helena Island to the posh Saltus in downtown Beaufort. But one of the things I love about the place I live is that if you can cast a line, throw a net or shuck an oyster, you can feed yourself.
What is something most people don't know about you?
As a kid, I could do the Russian dance -- and I mean full-squat, heels-touching-tooshie Russian dancing. In fact, I used to accept milk money to perform it. I have no idea if I can still pull it off. I'm in decent shape, but my guess is that my knees would not hold up.
If you could change one thing about the newspaper industry, what would it be?
The toll it takes on your family to be good at your job. Odd hours, weekends, holidays, late-night interruptions -- your family goes through that right along with you. They put up with a lot.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Music, paddling, history. I also love photography, particularly landscape and nature photography. I want to get better at portrait and environmental photography, but I have to get over the feeling that I'm being conspicuous and intrusive when I point a lens at someone. I marvel at the work of our photojournalists; I don't think I'd be very good at it.
Critics question timeliness of Hanahan police shooting report
By Glenn Smith and Prentiss Findlay, The Post and Courier
Details of a deadly shooting involving Hanahan police have slowly filtered out in the days since a suspect was killed in an exchange of gunfire with officers. But nearly a week after the incident, there is still no official police report detailing what happened.
[Hanahan Police Chief Mike] Cochran said it was his understanding that the state Freedom of Information Act gave police 10 days to produce the report.
But SCPA attorney Jay Bender said the FOIA has no such timetable. In fact, the law requires that all police reports for the previous 14 days must be made available to the public upon request, without a waiting period, he said,“I don’t know where he got this notion of 10 days. He’s making that up,” Bender said. “I do know that in the case of police-involved shooting, the longer this goes on, the less credibility any document produced by the department will have.”
Bender, who also represents The Post and Courier, said he had never heard of the research suggesting police benefit from giving officers two sleep cycles before taking a statement on shootings. “It sounds to me like it would be more detailed because they are giving them time to go behind the horse shed and get their stories straight,” he said.
SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers said in cases of officer-involved shootings it “is more important than ever to make that report available as rapidly as possible. Otherwise, there is an appearance of a cover-up.”
Related Editorial: Police practice hurts credibility
Morning News hires new publisher, regional editor
The Morning News of Florence is under the leadership of a new publisher and a new regional editor.
Publisher Stephen Wade and regional editor Don Kausler Jr. started Aug. 26, in their new positions.
Wade comes to Florence from Independence, Mo., where he has worked since Jan. 2012 as a senior group publisher for Gatehouse Media. He replaces Mark Blum, who recently was named the publisher of The Press in Atlantic City, N.J.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, Wade served three years as a picture editor and photographer for Allsport USA in Santa Monica, Calif., then was the director of operations for 10 years at The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal.
Wade later worked nine years as a group publisher for Gatehouse. He was stationed in Pittsburg, Kan., at The Morning Sun.
In addition to pursuing an MBA with an emphasis on accounting, Wade serves on the board of the William Allen White School of Journalism at Kansas. In 2003, he received “20 under 40” recognition from Presstime Magazine.
Kausler is a former editor of the Anderson Independent-Mail who has had a diverse and distinguished career in journalism since graduating from the University of Missouri.
Kausler's roots are in sports journalism, and he returned to those roots four years ago to cover the Alabama Crimson Tide for The Birmingham (Ala.) News, the Press-Register in Mobile, Ala., and The Huntsville (Ala.) Times in addition to AL.com.
He also has worked at The Milwaukee Sentinel, where he covered the Milwaukee Brewers for two seasons; the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune, his hometown paper where he started working in high school; the Birmingham Post-Herald, where he was the sports editor and an assistant managing editor for 15 years; and the Independent-Mail, where he was managing editor for five years before becoming the editor in 2005.
He replaces Tucker Mitchell, who left earlier this year to take a position at Francis Marion University.
The Post and Courier hires new advertising director
Alisha Owens has been named advertising director of The Post and Courier. She will begin her new role in Charleston in early September.
Owens has been director of advertising for The Press of Atlantic City, N.J. since Feb. 2010. Owens joined the The Press of Atlantic City Media Group in 2002 and has held numerous leadership roles at the company since 2005, including online general manager. As director of advertising, she has led the convergence strategy of new digital media with traditional print media.
Owens has a bachelor's degree in business from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
“We conducted a nationwide search and had a lot of interest,” said P.J. Browning, publisher of The Post and Courier. “I couldn’t be more pleased that we found someone the caliber of Alisha to lead The Post and Courier’s advertising department. I am excited about her passion for our industry and look forward to the great things to come.”
Newspapers aren't dying and Jeff Bezos isn't crazy
By Caroline Little, NAA
Jeff Bezos, John Henry, and Warren Buffett are not investing in dying businesses. They don't do that. They are investing in assets poised for a rebound. Despite the recent spate of media last week about the spiraling of newspapers, there are a few facts for industry pundits to consider.
Newspaper media comprised a $38.6 billion industry in 2012. While those revenues saw a 2% decline compared to 2011 revenues ($39.5 billion), we're also starting to see promising shifts in the newspaper business model: growing revenue streams across several categories -- some of which have only emerged in recent years.
Just this past year, circulation revenue rose by 5% -- from $10 billion to $10.5 billion -- as digital subscriptions grew dramatically, marking the first gain in this category for the newspaper industry since 2003.
When you combine revenue streams from all essential facets of the newspaper media advertising business model, including print, digital, niche, and preprints, it's hard to ignore the evidence that newspapers are still ticking strong.
A “foodie” analogy for newspapers: We are still a staple in the information diet
Gannett cuts jobs at some local papers
By Bob Provost, IMNA.org
News publishers need to find a way to make their digital editions as savory as their print products so readers will linger over them like a five-star meal.
Marketing newspapers — and particularly newspaper advertising — is challenging today. Our brand has been damaged in perception far greater than in reality. But then again perception is reality for most individuals.
Reality is, according to the latest research (at least in the United States), the print audience on a typical Sunday is still equivalent in size to the much ballyhooed, once-a-year, Super Bowl Sunday TV broadcast.
In fact, twice as many (and then some) adults report reading the weekday print edition of a daily newspaper as report watching the ABC/NBC/CBS evening news combined.
How the news got less mean
By Eliana Dockterman, Time Magazine
The recipe for attracting visitors to stories online is changing. Bloggers have traditionally turned to sarcasm and snark to draw attention. But the success of sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy, whose philosophies embrace the viral nature of upbeat stories, hints that the Web craves positivity.
The reason: social media. Researchers are discovering that people want to create positive images of themselves online by sharing upbeat stories. And with more people turning to Facebook and Twitter to find out what's happening in the world, news stories may need to cheer up in order to court an audience. If social is the future of media, then optimistic stories might be media's future.
Gannett, owner of 82 daily newspapers and 23 television stations, confirmed Aug. 27, that some of its local papers have cut staff over the last several weeks.
"Some of our community publishing sites are making cuts to align their business plans with local market conditions," company spokesman Jeremy Gaines said in a statement.
The layoffs, totaling about a couple of hundred jobs, were revealed at many of the company's local newspapers over the last 30 days. Jobs were cut both in newsrooms and business operations. Gannett did not provide totals for the cutbacks at individual properties.
Sept.13: Daily Publishers' Roundtable, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Sept. 13: Webinar: Digital Subscriptions: Highlights, Trends and Potential
Sept. 19: Advanced InDesign and PDF Workshop, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Sept. 20: Webinar: Collaborating for Success: Competitive Business Models
Sept. 20: SCPA Collegiate Leadership Summit, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Sept. 26: SCPA Executive Committee Meeting, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Oct. 3: Webinar: The Five Most Important Questions In Sales
Oct. 6-12: National Newspaper Week
Oct. 10: You Call the Shots: create your own design workshop with Ed Henninger, SCPA Offices, Columbia
Oct. 10: Webinar: How Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Can Benefit Your Advertisers
Oct. 24: Ad Basics, SCPA Offices, Columbia