We need your help on sales tax exemption bill
Bills that would remove the newspaper sales tax exemptions are set to be taken up next week in a House subcommittee.

The bills are to go before the Sales and Income Tax subcommittee chaired by Rep. Rita Allison, likely on Tuesday.  No time has been set yet.
           
Other members of the committee are Gary Simrill, Murrell Smith, Lonnie Hosey and Garry Smith.
           
"Tuesday is the worst possible time to get weekly publishers here to testify," said Bill Rogers, SCPA executive director. "But we will have some here and will do our best to persuade them to leave our exemption alone." 

Rogers said results from the recent sales tax survey of newspapers will be presented.

If the bill passes out of subcommittee, it will go to the full Ways and Means Committee, likely this week or next.
           
"If your representative is on the subcommittee or committee, now is the time to contact him or her," Rogers said. "The subcommittee hearing is the only time we will be allowed to speak on the bills, H. 4994 and 4995 (they are identical as it relates to newspapers).

Click here for a copy of the talking points.
Governor sets bad media example
Gov. Nikki Haley went on national TV last week and told all she didn't read newspapers or watch TV news.

What a terrible message that sends to the young people of our state: live in a vacuum and take no interest in public events in your state and community. Only know what your handlers tell you. Keep a closed mind as to other opinions. Maybe she needs a new, longer slogan: "It's a wonderful day in South Carolina if you don't know what is going on."   Maybe she wants to bring back a new, modified "Know Nothing" party.

Yesterday I received an email from Nikki that ended with these words: "Thank you for standing behind me and understanding we can not allow media to distract us from what is important."
           
Maybe she is just playing a national GOP media-bashing game.  Just a few weeks ago, Rick Santorum said you weren't a real Republican if you don't cuss at the media. Luckily in South Carolina, we have GOP and Democrat Legislators who read and respect their hometown newspapers.

It isn't just local officials and Republicans bashing the media. SCPA President Susan Rowell was at a S.C. Chamber of Commerce Washington Night event last week in Columbia. When asked what was wrong in Washington several congressmen commented that it was the media's fault -- that the media misrepresents what is really going on in Washington. And S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais jumped on the media bashing saying he was misquoted in a recent newspaper article stating he turned down $500 million dollars from the Federal government and not the $12.5 million he actually turned away.

Speaking of reading newspapers, The State incorrectly reported that the S.C. Press Association was opposed to the sales tax bill proposed in the house.  As I told The State, we are not an opponent of the bill and are not trying to kill the entire bill, just amend it to leave our newspaper exemption in law.  That is an important difference and I wanted to set the record straight.  They did so by running my letter to the editor.

Circulation managers to meet in New Bern, N.C., May 6-8
The Mid Atlantic Circulation Managers Association will hold its 93rd annual conference May 6-8 in New Bern. The conference program includes sessions on new legal issues for circulators, social media, building loyalty on a dime, new home delivery and single copy growth strategies, coupon madness, partnership success, how to operate with a lean staff and how to increase revenue and cut expenses. There will also be idea-sharing sessions, a golf outing and networking events.
To view information about the conference and register, click here. Late registration fees have been waived.

General Manager, Tribune-Times

What do you like best about your job?
I love having had the opportunity for many years to work with our employees - coaching, training and developing them to grow and succeed! I have enjoyed daily interaction with the public, including our audiences (readers), community and civic leaders, and business owners/managers. The relationships formed will be lasting ones. I have had amazing mentors (role models), especially my brother, Ben Davis (now President of Connie Maxwell Children's Home) and Steve Brandt (Publisher of The Greenville News). I have learned so much from them over the years and I am very appreciative of their coaching and support.

What would you say is your proudest moment from your career in the newspaper industry?
I have so many great memories, but I was certainly proud and honored to serve as President of the South Carolina Press Association and in 2010 President of an international trade organization (Parenting Media Association). I also burst with pride every year when my brother Gwinn Davis wins numerous awards for his expertise, talent and skills as a photojournalist. He is amazing and inspiring!

How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
I believe there will always be a demand for print, although the demand may be more focused or targeted in the future. In my opinion, newspapers that also embrace other forms of content delivery, such as the internet, smart phones, tablets, e-newsletters, e-marketing, etc. will be best positioned for success in the future.

What's your favorite SCPA member service?
All of them! SCPA provides a great forum for networking and idea sharing with other members, which benefits all of us. Training, conferences and the awards programs are learning experiences and are fun as well. The display and classified sales are great -- I love getting those checks in the mail!

Any big plans coming up?
I have chosen to retire early (April 13) after 26 years in this wonderful, crazy, stressful, amazing industry! Already I have been contacted by a few colleagues who have inquired about possible consulting work, so maybe I won't retire completely! If I prick my finger, I am sure I will find newspaper ink still flowing! My husband and I do plan to travel some and we will take some interesting classes offered by local universities.

Arguments heard in Sumter coroner FOI suit
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman heard arguments on April 2 in Sumter on motions in a suit by The Item and its reporter Joe Perry for access to reports on the autopsy of Arron Jacobs who was shot and killed by Sumter police officers. 
Defendant Sumter County Coroner Harvin Bullock had denied the request for access to the report on grounds that it was a medical record and as such not within the definition of public records in the FOIA.  Bullock had moved to dismiss the case and for summary judgment in his favor.  Bullock's attorney argued that in addition to the autopsy report being a medical record, it was exempt under the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).
Harvin's attorney also argued that the suit by the paper was moot because Perry had obtained a copy of the autopsy report from SLED and the paper had published news reports with details of the shooting. 
The newspaper and Perry argued that the case would be made moot only if the coroner provided the records they had requested.
If the motions are denied the case will be scheduled for a trial, but with each party moving for summary judgment, it is probable that the case will be decided without a trial.

Doubts arise about Gov. Haley’s records retention policy
State government watchdogs and the state’s leading media attorney harbor serious concerns about a new records retention policy announced by Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration last month, saying the new agreement gives the governor’s office too much discretion to delete certain email exchanges and could easily lead to abuse, according to The Post and Courier.
The watchdogs said the new agreement represents a missed opportunity.
“Too much of our state is the fox guarding the henhouse when it comes to accountability, and this is no different,” said Ashley Landess, president of the libertarian-leaning S.C. Policy Council.
The policy calls for the governor’s office to save and eventually turn over to the Archives a range of records.
But it also defines certain records that the governor’s office can destroy.
They include:
- Temporary records created for internal purposes, including “preliminary drafts of letters, memoranda, or reports, and other informal materials that do not record decisions”
- Documents that are “superseded or outdated”
- Information in a form used in casual conversation
SCPA Attorney Jay Bender said he’s concerned about the new policy.
“It’s troublesome if you have a penchant for covering your tracks, which seems to be the case with this administration,” he said.
Archives Director Eric Emerson responded to questions about the new policy by saying that it doesn’t make sense for the governor’s office to turn over all of its records.
That’s because the Archives Department has a staff of 26 people and doesn’t have the ability to “clean out all the spam and junk email and try to determine what is and is not worth saving,” he said.
Emerson noted that the goal of the Archives doesn’t necessarily mesh with the issues of transparency and responsiveness to the Freedom of Information Act.
“We’re looking for stuff that’s going to be of long-term value. Media may be looking for issues that are just pertinent to a current issue,” he said.

Haley’s efforts in freedom of information bill criticized
Last week, The Post and Courier reported that Gov. Haley wants lawmakers to lift the exemption in state law that allows them to shield their emails and other internal communication from public view.
SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers said he thinks Haley’s approach could kill a bill that would benefit residents and the media. But the governor’s office says an amendment to the state’s FOIA is just “window dressing” unless it includes language to lift lawmakers’ exemption.
Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, added an amendment to pull lawmakers’ FOIA shield before the measure passed. Quinn, who occupies Pitts’ former House seat, said he didn’t coordinate with Haley’s office and wasn’t aware of its position until after the vote.
A spokesman for the governor said Pitts didn’t threaten a veto of the original bill. “We don’t threaten vetoes, we work with legislators to prevent them from being necessary,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said in a statement.
Full House debate on the bill has been pushed back several times since the amendment was introduced.
Press Association Executive Director Bill Rogers fears the amendment is a “poison pill” to kill Taylor’s bill “sought by the Haley administration.”
“It interjected politics into a pretty straightforward bill that would benefit the public,” he said. “It has certainly slowed (the bill) up and we may run out of time.”
Rogers said the Press Association does not oppose making lawmakers’ emails and communications public. “I just didn’t want to see it complicate a simple bill,” he said.

Former Charleston ad director named Hearst exec
Times-Union (Fla.) Publisher Lucy Talley is leaving the newspaper after three years at the helm to take a position with Hearst Newspapers. Talley was formerly ad director of The Post and Courier in Charleston.
She said she is leaving “with a really heavy heart because of all that has been accomplished here, not because of me but because everybody is transforming this company into a new media company.
Morris Communications, parent company of the Times-Union, will begin a search for Talley’s replacement.
At Hearst, Talley will be group publisher over seven community daily newspapers in Michigan, Illinois and Texas. Hearst is seeking to move those newspapers faster into the digital age, said Mark Aldam, president of the newspaper division for Hearst.

Lee Newspapers roll out updated smartphone apps
Lee Enterprises, Inc. has deployed a major upgrade of its applications for iPhone and Android smartphones in all 52 of its newspaper markets, improving mobile delivery of local news, information and advertising throughout the day.
Detailed weather forecasts, classified advertising and obituaries will be included on the new apps.
The apps will also enable users to sign up for breaking news alerts and notices about daily deals on their smartphones.

Prospects brighten, but concerns remain
As the industry's print-to-digital migration gains steam, newspapers say they're ready to stop allowing nonsubscribers to read their online content for free. They are also saying that print remains important, and that mobile, and by extension, revenue-generating distribution of content, will be a critical issue in 2012 and 2013.
These are just some of the responses News & Tech received from its 2012 Tech Trends survey, which asked readers to rank the technological investments deemed most critical at their newspapers. Another nugget: Newspaper production and operations managers by a much larger margin than in 2011 say they believe their operations' financial fortunes have stabilized enough to permit them to invest in new technologies over the next 18 months. What those technologies will enable span a broad gamut, from monetizing their websites to retooling their presses, respondents said.

Newspapers dominate local Web
Newspapers continue to dominate the local online media scene, making up 16 of the top 25 local online properties, according to The Media Audit's annual local multimedia report. But television stations are gaining ground, the study found. Three of the top five properties and five of the top 10 were TV sites.

Embracing the future
Is the newspaper industry dying or is it “managing through a transition of consumer habits” en route to a successful new business model? Over 13 months in 2010 and 2011, Paul Steinle and Sara Browne visited 50 newspapers across the United States -- one in each state -- to discover firsthand how newspapers are doing.
With the assistance of state press associations, the pair selected a cross section of leading daily and weekly newspapers. They discovered a rapidly evolving industry that is troubled but not dying. The newspaper business’ core financial challenges have not yet been solved, but many initiatives are producing new, digitally enabled products to support news operations. Despite the challenges, there is optimism the new revenue centers will grow, and confidence newsprint- generated revenue will be sufficient to finance professional news operations during this transition. Read the findings here.

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Ready your readers for a redesign
You're all ready to launch your redesign. You've been working on it for months, you've checked and double-checked all the items, everything is in place and your launch is set for next week. Perhaps it's time you tell your readers. After all, it is their newspaper, and they will want to know what you are doing to it. Many readers are negative toward change in their paper, but most will give you the benefit of the doubt if you tell them you're redesigning -- and why. Here are some suggestions:read

Be Aggressive - and responsible - in pursuit of news
Nothing is more important to establishing a community newspaper as the premier source for local information than being the first with the news. Hand in hand, however, is being responsible in your coverage. Social media allows newspapers to deliver information 24/7. The landscape allows nondaily newspapers to level the playing field with their daily counterparts. At the same time, Twitter and Facebook and other tools demand constant oversight of editors. Consider this incident by Bob Salladay, a senior editor at California Watch and the Center for Investigative Reporting. read
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April 13: Collegiate Meeting and Awards Presentation, SCPA Offices, Columbia

April 19: Ad Basics
SCPA Offices, Columbia

April 26: Webinar: Online Sales: We've Got the Butter!

April 26: Webinar: Growing an online community

May 6-8: MACMA Circulation Conference, New Bern, N.C.

May 11: Webinar: Don't Sell, Ask Questions!

May 31: Weekly Circulation Roundtable, SCPA Offices, Columbia

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