There’s so much happening at the Mississippi Free Press I hardly know where to start. Our first donor event is Tuesday, March 25, at 6 p.m. I’ll sit down with editor Donna Ladd and reporter Ashton Pittman to talk about their nationally recognized University of Mississippi email series to go deeper into the conversation they started at the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism ceremony. (Watch them here at 40:00.) It’s a terrific opportunity to learn how deep investigative reporting works and ask questions about the tough decisions involved.
I’m not a journalist, though I’ve long been a news and history buff. The process of profound public-interest reporting is fascinating. I have the pleasure of working with and supporting two of the best in the business.
The saying goes that we repeat what we don’t acknowledge. Mississippi is fraught with backroom deals and hidden agendas that don’t serve most Mississippians. Year after year, Mississippi continues to rank at the bottom on every national ranking that matters, and you have to ask yourself why. You already know the answer. The status quo serves the powerful.
The University of Mississippi email series (see detailed timeline here) shines a bright light on a tiny sliver of the kind of thinking that can ensure that our state remains at the bottom with solutions outside our reach. It’s a tale of donor influence, the othering of Black folks and gay folks and just about any folks who aren’t white and male. As long as this behavior is tolerated, encouraged, hidden and dismissed in the halls of power, Mississippi will continue to rank at the bottom. We’ll continue to attract basic industrial assembly plants (at best), while tech companies and other investments skip over us in favor of states that believe a good education is a human right, not a privilege reserved for the few.
History tells us that good journalism has saved a troubled state more than once. The people of Mississippi aren’t failing, but our state too frequently fails our people. I’ve lots of questions to ask these two, and I’d love for you to join us, so if you haven’t donated, do so quickly so we can get your invite. Even a $5 donation at mfp.ms/donate gets you the Zoom invitation, and while you’re there, why not pledge your gift monthly or quarterly as part of our Truth-to-Power spring campaign to become an official MFP member?
We’re about 70% of the way to our July 1 goal of $100,000 to grow the kind of solutions reporting the people of our state deserve. Right now, other MFP team members and I are matching your gifts up to $1,500 because we so believe in this work.
Meantime, donors and members (those who set up recurring donations), watch your email for your invitation to Tuesday’s event. Bring your ideas for solutions reporting in Mississippi, which you can share after my talk with Ashton and Donna. We want to hear from you, too. We need your ideas. Mississippi needs your ideas.
See you Tuesday night!
This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an essay for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and factcheck information [email protected] We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.