MPA to mark sesquicentennial in 2016

The Mississippi Press Association will turn 150 in 2016 and a year-long commemoration will include special events and a publication to chronicle the history of member newspapers.

An Anniversary Committee chaired by past president Lisa McNeece of The Calhoun County Journal will convene in August to begin planning for observances that will take place during the Mid-Winter Conference in January and the 150th Annual Convention in June. A special publication to coincide with the convention will profile the history of the Association and member newspapers.

“The committee will decide on the exact format and content of the publication, but it will likely emulate a product published in 1991 that marked the 125th anniversary of MPA,” said Executive Director Layne Bruce. “That special section was very popular among members and still comes in useful around our office for the wealth of history it provides on our members and the organization itself.”

Bruce said discussions will also take place about an oral history project that will commit some interviews and remembrances of members to video.

MPA is the sixth oldest association of its kind operating in the United States. The Wisconsin Newspaper Association, established in 1853, is recognized as the first association founded to represent newspapers of a particular state.

The first recorded meeting of editors who eventually formed MPA was held at the state Capitol in June 1866. The association was operated by its own membership until the 1930s when MPA partnered with the Godwin Advertising Agency of Jackson. Agency principal George Godwin appointed his longtime associate George Lemon Sugg, a former managing editor of the Jackson Daily News, to the head of MPA, a position he held for nearly 40 years.

The association truly branched out with its own staff and first full-time manager in the late 1970s. Mississippi Press Services, its advertising services unit, was founded in 1978. The MPA Education foundation followed in 1983.

Headquartered in Jackson, MPA now represents the business and professional interests of 110 member newspapers in 81 counties.

New postal hubs intended to spur better delivery

Community newspapers using the mail received the second good-news announcement of July recently when the Postal Service announced it expected to have 187 service hubs open by fall to provide direct transportation for newspaper mail in locations where mail processing plants have closed.

The announcement followed passage of a bill in a key Senate committee last week calling for a study of timely rural mail delivery.  

David E. Williams, chief operating officer of the Postal Service, credited the National Newspaper Association with working to establish the hubs. NNA requested study of the hub operation in testimony to the Postal Regulatory Commission in 2012, and has met with USPS continuously since then on the opening of the hubs as mail plants have closed.

A service hub permits publishers to prepare mail destined for nearby post offices in "Direct" containers that can be handed off directly at a hub to ride postal transportation to the destination post office, so that 5-digit, Carrier-Route-or mixed 5 digit containers combining both-can be dock-transferred between one post office and another in the Hub territory, usually that of the old Sectional Center Facility.  


MPA uses blog, social media to promote member content

MPA has launched an enhanced effort to promote member content through social media channels.

The project is a stated goal of MPA President Joel McNeece, publisher of The Calhoun County Journal. Efforts to catalog member newspaper social media accounts were headed by David Gustafson, publisher of The Lamar Times and The Petal News in Hattiesburg.

Newspapers’ Facebook and Twitter feed links have now been posted on the daily and non-daily member directory pages at

Additionally, MPA recently relaunched the blog Inkblots, dormant since 2012, as a method of promoting member newspapers’ content. The blog posts are linked to the Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts of MPA.

“This is a small effort MPA can make to better promote the original content of our members,” said MPA Executive Director Layne Bruce.

While the blog is updated as needed, a regular weekly feature is the “Sunday Reader,” a collection of news stories appearing in Mississippi daily and weekly newspapers.

“Sometimes the Sunday Reader lead is a human interest subject such as the Neshoba County Fair, or it can be the hot topic of the day and week such as the state flag controversy,” Bruce said.

The blog can be accessed at

MPA’s Twitter handle is @MPAnewspapers.

The social media effort is a digital component of communications at MPA, which also includes the quarterly Fourth Estate and monthly eBulletin.

Scholarship offered for Leadership Mississippi program

The Mississippi Economic Council and Leadership Mississippi will award an outstanding member of the media the Bob W. Pittman Leadership Mississippi Media Scholarship, a full-tuition membership to the Leadership Mississippi Class of 2016.

This scholarship grants one member of the media the opportunity to travel the state with the Leadership Mississippi Class of 2016 on a full scholarship. This will allow the recipient to see the strengths of each region of our state and give them a holistic view of everything Mississippi has to offer.

This scholarship is only available to members of the media.

"Leadership Mississippi believes in the pivotal role of news in a democratic society," said Cathy Northington, MEC vice president for programs and administration. "We are looking for the next generation of media leaders who will shape the industry in innovative ways."

This scholarship was created in 2012 to honor former MEC President Bob W. Pittman, who served MEC from 1968-1998.  As President, Pittman organized the J.C. and Annie Redd Leadership Mississippi program, the second-oldest statewide leadership program in the nation.  

To apply for this scholarship, please visit the Leadership Mississippi website on August 3rd to access the application.

Save the date for ArkLaMiss Conference, Nov. 5-6

Save the date for the annual ArkLaMiss Circulation and Marketing Conference, Nov. 5-6. The event will again be held this year at the Ameristar Hotel and Casino on the banks of the Mississippi River in Vicksburg.

The annual conference brings together members of the Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana press associations to discuss circulation and audience development ideas, as well as postal matters and other issues relevant to newspapers large and small. A Hot Ideas breakfast exchange will be held the morning of Nov. 6, providing most members ample opportunity to take home leads that pay for their trip.

As in recent years, the conference will be preceded by a Manager’s Roundtable the morning of Thursday, Nov. 5. It brings together publishers, editors and managers to discuss of wealth of issues related to newspaper management and circulation and audience growth.

Details on the event will be in the mail soon to members. Information and registration options will also be available soon at

Using WordPress? RJI needs your help

Large media organizations have teams and tools to help with daily tasks, from finding images to fact-checking. During my nine-month RJI Fellowship at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, I’ll adapt some of these tools for use by smaller newsrooms and freelancers.

As both a public radio producer and a Web developer, I’ve seen how a little programming can automate chores such as adding pull-quotes or interacting with editors. This RJI Fellows project will create a suite of WordPress plugins — I call them Storytelling Tools — designed for journalists.

Rather than guess what people want, I’ll ask them. In August I’ll be surveying journalists, journo-coders, broadcasters, podcasters, freelancers and student media staff. The goal is to better understand writers’ digital workflows, gathering insights such as:

Do writers compose in Microsoft Word or input text directly into their content management systems (CMS)?
Do editors run all articles through a fact-checking process?

How do designers, developers and authors collaborate on long-form multimedia work?

I’ll suggest potential tools and invite suggestions for others. If you’d like to take the survey, please send me an email or watch the RJI site for more information.


Read the summer edition of Fourth Estate
The summer edition of the Fourth Estate, MPA's quarterly newspaper, is now available online. Printed copies are also mailed to all members. If you or your staff have news to share through the monthly eBulletin or Fourth Estate, let us know.


Don Whitten, longtime editor and sports editor for The Oxford Eagle retired last month. He is succeeded by Stephanie Rebman, most recently night copy desk editor for the Daily Journal in Tupelo… Jeremy Pittari has been named publisher of the Picayune Item. He succeeds Linda Gilmore. At the time of his promotion, Pittari was serving as managing editor of the Pearl River Daily… J.E. Strange, longtime ad executive for The Meridian Star and publisher of The Newton Record, recently passed away at age 91.


Aug. 13         Webinar – How to Craft and Engaging Lede
Aug. 20         Webinar – Using Social Media to Grow Your Audience Online.
Aug.  31        BNC Advertising Division contest criteria released
Sept. 24        MPA-MPS Board Meeting, White House Hotel, Biloxi
Oct. 1-3         National Newspaper Association Convention, St. Charles, MO
Oct. 4-10       National Newspaper Week
Oct. 6            BNC Advertising Division entry deadline

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