2011 roast sets a record

The Celebrity Roast of Mississippi State University President Dr. Mark Keenum was a record-breaking fundraiser for the MPA Education Foundation. The Jan. 20 event raised over $40,000 in sponsorships and ticket sales, surpassing the previous record set by the roast of Mississippi Economic Council President Blake Wilson in 2010.

About 350 people attended the dinner and program at the Jackson Marriott. Roasters included Congressman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), state Sen. Doug Davis (R-Hernando), Entergy Mississippi CEO Haley Fisackerly, Clarion-Ledger editorial cartoonist Marshall Ramsey, Ole Miss Chancellor Dr. Dan Jones and MSU First Lady Rhonda Keenum.

The first roast was held in 1990 and honored veteran newspaperman W.C. "Dub" Shoemaker. Others roasted through the years include the late Jerry Clower, Gov. Haley Barbour and perennial "toastmaster" Sid Salter, Perspective Editor of The Clarion-Ledger.

The proceeds from the event are used to fund MPAEF's scholarship and internship programs.

Title sponsors for the evening included Cadence Bank and Entergy Mississippi with additional support from Nissan North America, the Mississippi Economic Council, BancorpSouth, Mississippi Power Co. and CellularSouth.

Restored King Edward hosts Mid-Winter Conference

The annual MPA Mid-Winter Conference returned to downtown Jackson this month and was for the first time held at the restored King Edward Hilton Garden Inn. Over 100 newspaper professionals attended the two-day event, which included presentations on competitive sales approaches, modular sales and pricing, software and technology and more. As usual, the conference wrapped with the presentation of the Better Newspaper Contest Advertising Awards. The next Mid-Winter Conference will return to the Jackson Hilton on County Line Road, Jan. 27-28, 2012.

Photo: MPA President Wyatt Emmerich presents the Advertising Excellence Award for Mid-Size Dailies to the staff of The Enterprise-Journal.

Editorial contest deadlines March 1

Entries in the Better Newspaper Contest Editorial Division are due to MPA no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 1. Criteria for the 2010 contest may be downloaded here.

The contest will be judged this spring by members of the Alabama Press Association. Winners will be announced June 25 during the 145th Annual Convention at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi.

Volunteers are needed for the reciprocal judging of the Alabama Press Association contest in April. About 40 judges will be needed for categories in editorial and advertising. Judging will take place in Jackson and lunch will be provided. To volunteer, contact MPA Member Services Coordinator Monica Gilmer.

Sunshine bills work way through Legislature

A bill that would increase the fine for violating the state's open meetings law will be taken up tomorrow before the House Judiciary A Committee.

HB 314 would increase the fine for violating the open meetings law to up to $1000 and make officials personally responsible for the costs. Current law only allows a $100 fine and assesses the charge to the government body or agency.

An earlier Senate version of the bill passed the floor of that chamber on a 31-15 vote Jan 20.

Another bill that would set a limit on fees that can be charged for access to public records has also been referred to House Judiciary A Committee. HB 704 states "the actual cost (of access to records) may not include any amount paid to a person who is not an employee of the public body. Any staff time included in the actual cost shall be at the pay scale of the lowest-level employee competent to assemble the response to the request."

A third bill, HB 702, would modify the Open Meetings and Public Records acts to include the activities of rural water associations. The bill passed the House on Jan. 26 and has been referred to Senate Judiciary B.

Advertising webinars scheduled

The Online Media Campus will host advertising webinars on the topics of Direct Response Ads and the Qualities of the Best Sales People over the next several weeks.

"Creating Direct Response Ads" will be held Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. CST and moderated by David Fowler, a leading expert in print and online advertising strategies. "Qualities of the Best Sales People" is set for 1 p.m. March 11 and will be presented by nationally-known trainer and motivator Mike Blinder. For more information on the sessions, or to register, click here.

Webinars through the Online Media Campus are sponsored by the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and Iowa Newspaper Foundation in conjunction wth the MPA Education Foundation.


News Corp's 'The Daily' launches Wednesday

From the The Los Angeles Times | Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has sent out invitations to the Wednesday launch of the Daily, its highly anticipated iPad-only newspaper.

Director: NYT film nets positive response

From Poynter  | Some critics at Sundance complained about “Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times” lacking focus, but director Andrew Rossi tells Romenesko that others have raved about his documentary. “The movie now has an ‘A-’ average rating based on Indiewire’s roundup of about a dozen reviews — making it one of the highest rated docs at the festival.”

Newspaper sites reach average of 105 million

From Newspaper Association of America | Newspaper websites drew an average monthly audience of 105 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. The analysis, performed by comScore for the Newspaper Association of America, also indicates that newspaper websites continue to attract key demographics, reaching 58 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds and 73 percent of individuals in households earning more than $100,000 a year on average throughout the quarter.