MPA will be closed Friday, July 3, for the Independence Day holiday.

Newspapers feted for editorial excellence

Newspapers in Jackson, Meridian, Natchez, Hattiesburg, and Columbia were recognized as Best in Show in awards handed out June 20 at the annual Mississippi Press Association convention.

The Clarion-Ledger, The Natchez Democrat, The Meridian Star, The Lamar Times, The Columbian-Progress, and the Mississippi Business Journal won top honors for General Excellence in their audience classes during the Better Newspaper Contest Editorial Division Awards Luncheon held at Loews New Orleans Hotel during the 2015 Joint LPA-MPA Convention.

Kevin Cooper, publisher of The Natchez Democrat, received the J. Oliver Emmerich Award for Editorial Excellence, the highest prize presented annually by the Association. Cooper, who was also singled out for excellence in column writing, is a first-time winner of the award, named for the longtime Enterprise-Journal publisher Oliver Emmerich. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cooper has been publisher of the Adams County daily since 2006.

Cooper’s winning editorial focused on a local legislator and her record of absenteeism in the Mississippi Legislature. The piece took Sen. Melanie Sojourner (R-Natchez) to task for missing votes and her time spent on running the U.S. Senate campaign of fellow state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville).

Winners of the Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism for Daily Newspapers were Jerry Mitchell, Kate Royals and Emily Le Coz of The Clarion-Ledger. The trio was singled out for a long series of articles into Mississippi’s corrections system. Michael Simmons, associate editor and publisher of the Madison County Journal, won the prize for non-daily newspapers for a series of articles on planning and proposals for a new local airport.

Jesse Wright, editor of the Clarksdale Press Register, was the recipient of the Bill Minor Prize for General News Reporting. He was recognized for an article on the sentencing of a man convicted in the home invasion and assault of a local nun in 2012.

Established in 2003, the Bill Minor Prizes are funded through an anonymous donation via the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson in honor of Minor’s career as a reporter and columnist.

Joel McNeece, publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce, was presented the Photo of the Year Award for coverage of a house fire in Calhoun City.

"There is an outstanding assortment of entries and winners in this year's contest," said  executive director of the press association. "In a time when audience attention is fragmented among print, digital and broadcast, community newspapers continue to provide the best source of local news and information for a over a million readers in Mississippi."

The 2014 Better Newspaper Contest was judged this spring by volunteers from the North Carolina Press Association. Fourteen daily newspapers and 43 non-daily newspapers submitted 2,704 entries in this year’s judging. Awards for excellence in advertising will be handed out in January during MPA’s Mid-Winter Conference, Jan. 30, at the Hilton Jackson.

2014 Photo of the Year by Joel McNeece, The Calhoun County Journal

McNeece re-elected; Reeves, Turner join Board

Joel McNeece of Bruce will serve another one-year term as president of the state newspaper association.

The publisher of The Calhoun County Journal was re-elected president of the Mississippi Press Association during the trade group’s annual meeting in June 19.

McNeece, 45, will serve as president of MPA and Mississippi Press Services, Inc., an affiliated advertising and marketing service.

Two other state newspapermen have been elected to fill vacant board positions.

Tim Reeves, publisher of The Vicksburg Post and president of Vicksburg NewsMedia, will serve a two-year term. He came to Mississippi in 2014 after serving several years as editor of the Selma Times-Journal in Alabama. Prior to his time in Selma, Reeves served as publisher of The Outlook, a daily newspaper in Alexander City, Ala., and the daily Suffolk (Va.) News-Herald. All papers are affiliated with Boone Newspapers, Inc., of Tuscaloosa.

George “Russell” Turner, editor of the Greene County Herald in Leakesville, will also serve a two year term. He started his career at his family-owned paper in Leakesville before working as a reporter for the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork and The Leland Progress and as advertising manager for The Commercial Dispatch in Columbus.

Also re-elected to leadership positions were First Vice President Don Norman, publisher of the Starkville Daily News; Second Vice President Paul Keane, publisher of The Wayne County News in Waynesboro; and Treasurer James Arrington Goff, executive editor of The News-Commercial in Collins.

Jim Prince, publisher of The Neshoba Democrat and president of Prince Newspaper Holdings, Inc., continues as Immediate Past President and Chairman of the MPA Education Foundation.

Board members re-elected to three year terms are Pat Brown, publisher of The Magee Courier; Kevin Cooper, publisher of The Natchez Democrat; Ray Mosby, editor and publisher of The Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork; and Jack Ryan, editor and publisher of the McComb Enterprise-Journal.

Continuing on the board are Stephanie Patton, editor and publisher of The Leland Progress and Clay Foster, publisher of the Daily Journal in Tupelo and CEO of Journal, Inc.

MPA blog keeps track of major stories

An MPA blog that was discontinued in 2012 has been restarted to monitor in-state coverage of major news stories.

MPA Executive Director Layne Bruce says the blog, Inkblots, received fresh posts last week during the developing state flag debate story. Following quickly on the heels of that story was the Supreme Court decision on marriage rights for gay Americans.

“These are stories that have major impact in Mississippi and we think it’s both interesting and important to note how Mississippi newspapers and their websites are covering them,” he said.

The blog’s resurrection is part of a larger effort to monitor and promote Mississippi newspaper content as a medium of first choice for news and information. While the blog originally focused on news about state newspapers and their staff members, it was dropped in 2012 in favor of using social media accounts. Now, Bruce said, the blog will be periodically updated to gauge how big stories are played on front pages and home pages across the state.

The blog can be accessed here. MPA also routinely updates items of interest through its social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, among others.

Happy Fourth of July

The MPA office will be closed Friday, July 3, for the Independence Day holiday. We will resume normal hours Monday, July 6. We wish all our members, clients and associates a very  happy and safe Fourth of July.

No defamation claims on fair reporting of written statements

A federal district judge in Mississippi recently reaffirmed that the media's publication of official written statements from the Office of the State Attorney General or other public law enforcement officials about court proceedings cannot be the basis for a defamation claim in Mississippi. See King v. State et al., No. 3:14-cv-157-CWR-FKB (S.D. Miss. Jan. 28, 2015).

In April 2012, Patrick King was arrested for selling bootleg CDs and DVDs at his place of business, “The Ice House,” in Copiah County.  The arrest was part of the Mississippi Attorney General’s initiative “Operation Knock Out Knock-Offs,” a multi-phase project funded in part by a federal grant and aimed at creating public awareness about intellectual property theft and the sale of counterfeit goods.  Following King’s arrest and the separate arrest of another Hazlehurst man, the Attorney General issued a press release which various media outlets reported on, either quoting directly from the press release or airing clips of the press conference itself.  


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


Rod Guajardo has been named editor of the Daily Journal. He had been serving as a government reporter for the Tupelo newspaper and previously worked for The Natchez Democrat. He succeeds longtime editor Lloyd Gray who is moving to Meridian as executive director of The Phil Hardin Foundation… After just eight month’s in the captain’s chair, Clarion-Ledger publisher Jason Taylor is out the door to Vegas… More changes are afoot for Advance Publications in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, including The Mississippi Press in Pascagoula. Ricky Mathews, who at one time led the Sun Herald in Biloxi as publisher, will now oversee all operations across the three states.

July 3            Independence Day holiday. MPA office closed.
July 23          Webinar – Community Faces Photography
July 30          Webinar – How to Easily & Quickly Organize, Sort & Process Your Photos
July 31          Webinar – Increase Your ROI on Sales Calls
Aug.  31        BNC Advertising Division contest criteria released
  • Why does local still matter? Let’s ask our audience –
  • What do successful people read in the morning? – Inc. Magazine
  • The next version of the iPhone will let users block advertising – Nieman Lab
  • Google: 56 percent of ads served are never seen – Advertising Age
  • Gannett looks to new life with an eye toward acquisitions –
  • Philadelphia newspapers, union reach tentative 2-year deal – Associated Press
  • Whither objectivity? Online news orgs show support for Supreme decision – Politico
  • A look at how the Supreme Court decision on marriage played coast to coast – The Washington Post
  • Southern front pages reflect shifting politics in flag debate – The New York Times