Headlines from the Mississippi Press Association
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July 2016 » Volume 11 » Number 7
Don Norman (left) accepts the MPA President's gavel from Joel McNeece Friday, June 24, at the 150th Annual Convention in Biloxi.

Starkville publisher elected MPA President

BILOXI — The publisher of the Starkville Daily News was elected president of the state newspaper association during its 150th annual convention June 24 in Biloxi.

Don Norman, 69, who has served as publisher of the newspaper since 2000, is a native of Natchez and longtime newspaperman. After beginning his career in advertising at The Natchez Democrat, he later served as general manager and vice president of Natchez Newspapers before being named publisher of The Atmore (Ala.) Advance.

He joined The Auburn Bulletin as marketing director in 1987, later becoming special project coordinator Thomson Newspapers’ Alabama division. Under his leadership, the Daily News has come major commercial printing hub, handling jobs for 23 daily and weekly newspapers. He currently also serves as publisher of the Daily Times Leader in West Point.

Norman will also a serve concurrently as president of Mississippi Press Services, an affiliated advertising and marketing unit of MPA.


Hazlehurst publisher joins MPA-MPS board

The publisher of the Copiah County Journal has joined the MPA-MPS Board of Directors to serve a three-year term.

Joe Coates was elected by fellow members during the 150th Annual Convention last week in Biloxi. He began his newspaper career in 1996 when he was hired as advertising director by Jim Lambert, former owner of the Courier. Lambert also employed Coates as a ‘stuffer’ and a school news writer while he attended school at Copiah Academy.

Coates was promoted to Publisher in 2002 when Henry and John Carney purchased the newspaper.  He still serves as advertising director for the Courier, and has taken over that role at the Meteor in Crystal Springs.

He is a 1993 graduate of Mississippi State University, earning a B.A. in General Business. He attended Management of the Weekly Newspaper Seminar conducted by the American Press Institute in 2004.  He has also been a staunch supporter of MPA seminars and conventions over his nearly 20 years in the business.

MPA Photo of the Year by Tim Isbell/Sun Herald

Newspapers honored for editorial excellence

BILOXI — Newspapers in Biloxi, Natchez, Oxford, Hattiesburg, Ridgeland and Charleston were singled out for excellence in their audience classes in awards handed out at the 150th Annual Convention of the Mississippi Press Association Saturday, June 25, on the Gulf Coast.

The Sun Herald of Biloxi, The Natchez Democrat, The Oxford Eagle, The Lamar Times in Hattiesburg, The Madison County Journal in Ridgeland and The Sun-Sentinel in Charleston won top honors for General Excellence in the annual Better Newspaper Contest Editorial Division.

Sam R. Hall, Executive Editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, received the J. Oliver Emmerich Award for Editorial Excellence, the highest prize presented annually by the Association. Hall is a first-time winner of the award, named for the late Enterprise-Journal publisher J.O. Emmerich, considered the dean of Mississippi opinion writing. A graduate of Millsaps College and native of Tupelo, Hall is a longtime newspaperman who was named executive editor of the state’s largest newsroom in 2015.

Hall’s winning entry was an editorial that took to task the Jackson Public School District for hosting committee meetings in private, blocking access to the public and press.

Winners of the Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism for Daily Newspapers are members of the Hattiesburg American newsroom for an editorial project examining the battle over incorporating the Bellevue community in Lamar County. The newsroom staff of The Lamar Times, also in Hattiesburg, was awarded the Minor Prize for Weekly Newspapers for in-depth reporting on the death police officers Liquori Tate and Benjamin Deen in the line of duty.

Zack Plair of The Commercial Dispatch was the winner of the Bill Minor Prize for General News Reporting for a story about municipal judges and city officials at odds over the role bond amounts should play in efforts to deter crime.

The investigative and general news prizes come with generous cash awards. Established in 1983, the Bill Minor Prizes are funded through an anonymous donation to the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson in honor of Minor’s long career as a reporter and columnist.

Tim Isbell of the Sun Herald in Biloxi won the Photo of the Year Award for work entitled “Field of Sparks,” taken during a fireworks display prior to a University of Southern Mississippi home football game.

“We’re very proud of all winners in the 2015 contest,” said Layne Bruce, MPA executive director. “These award winners underscore the hard work men and women are doing every day at their newspapers, which are still the number one source for news and information in every county of the state.”

The 2015 Better Newspaper Contest was judged by volunteers from the Tennessee Press Association. Eighteen daily newspapers submitted 1,044 entries in the contest; 54 non-daily newspapers submitted 1,510 entries. Awards for advertising excellence will be handed out in January during MPA’s Mid-Winter Conference.

Founded in 1866 and celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2016, MPA is trade association representing Mississippi newspaper media.


Changing of the guard comes with the territory

In the latest edition of MPA’s newsletter, Fourth Estate, is a column by MPA President Joel McNeece describing some of the lasting relationships his association with this Association has afforded him.

I can relate.

Joel and I first met at a Mid-Winter Conference nearly 20 years ago after he’d gone to work for Wyatt Emmerich at The Winona Times. Joel and I shared a connection through Tim James, the publisher in Winona at the time who had also once employed me in Eupora at the Webster Progress-Times.

I learned sitting across the table from him that night at the conference that Joel’s a man of measured words and temperament. I typically run somewhat counter to that, often at my own peril. I often keep talking long after I should have shut up. In fact, first encounters between me and anyone who’s parsimonious with speech usually ends with me having talked way too long and soaked in my own flop sweat.

Oxford native David Magee has been named publisher of The Oxford Eagle. He succeeds Tim Phillips, whose family sold the newspaper to Boone Newspapers and its affiliate Oxford NewsMedia in 2014… Josh Presley has been promoted to managing editor of the Daily Times Leader in West Point… Jim Laird, a former editor of the Mississippi Business Journal, has taken on an expanded role in communications at Mississippi State University… Veteran journalist Dave Bohrer has been named editor of The Meridian Star.
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