Friday, July 11, 2014

Good news about newspapers, and some useful inspiration and advice, from Mississippi

The summer edition of the Fourth Estate, the quarterly newsletter of the Mississippi Press Association, has a pair of great columns, one about the responsibility of those called to serve as reporters, the other saying the newspaper industry is alive and well has a bright future, despite the naysayers who believe print is a dying instrument. To see the current edition of click here.

Outgoing MPA President Jim Prince, editor and publisher of The Neshoba Democrat, writes: "Outside of the ministry or medicine, journalism is one of the most highly rewarding and satisfying careers there is. Good reporting still matters. We are called to speak truth to power. So, if you are ever inclined to doubt your calling, remember that we have a Constitutional responsibility. We are the Fourth Estate, the watchdog of government. We are free from any prior restraint or approval of the government. This is an enormous responsibility, a burden even. We are charged with telling the truth, without fear or favor."

Price adds, "The Founders carved out this special privilege no one anywhere else in the world has. Use that privilege to do good, to do the right thing. If you don’t, you are failing yourself, your community and our profession. Some of you are in far outposts. You are the only one; you are the voice. Your community depends on you. Keep the faith. A free press is part of the very fabric of our Republic. Your newspaper is necessary. What you say matters."

Layne Bruce, executive director of MPA and Mississippi Press Services, writes, "My favorite statistic to share with folks these days when I speak about the industry is that there are more print newspapers in this state today than there were five or six years. Truth is, a number of newspapers have opened their doors in just the past few years."

The list includes a pair of young owners, Clay Mansell, who runs a bi-weekly in Clinton and new publications in Pelahatchie and Wesson, and Jace Ponder, fresh out of college, runs The Gazebo Gazette, Bruce writes. "It is particularly gratifying to see a talented young man graduate and, not only go to work for a small town paper, but buy one. Then there’s our newest mogul, Mr. Mansell. He’s started three papers in just three years. It makes me smile about the future."

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