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Pictured right to left are Medical Director Crystal S. Cook, LPN Nekita Ellis and mobile unit driver Lorraine Ware
Jefferson Comprehensive Health Center’s mobile unit has been part of a strategy of rural vaccinations that has made Jefferson County the most vaccinated county in Mississippi. Pictured right to left are Medical Director Crystal S. Cook, mobile unit driver Lorraine Ware, and LPN Nekita Ellis. Photo by Nick Judin

Building the Baseboards of Life-Altering Journalism in Mississippi

I prefer to be blunt when I come asking for help, so here goes: The Mississippi Free Press needs your help. Donors, subscribers and supporters like you are building up the baseboards of the journalistic enterprise that we’re all committed to for my home state.

I’m committed to the Mississippi Free Press because this is an outlet trying to do it all. We strive for deep, timely reporting from well-supported journalists with a real dedication to Mississippi, and we are doing it without paywalls. It’s not an easy path. There aren’t any shortcuts. And most of us are too stubborn to take them anyway.

Over the course of a single year, I’ve reported on the Jackson water crisis, the delta and now omicron surge, mass evictions in Starkville, the vaccination program in Jefferson County and dozens of other significant stories. To the best of my ability I have covered the life-altering challenges the world has thrown our way, to report on crisis after crisis with a respect for the living subjects, historical context and root causes that are the focus of all meaningful journalism.  

At every step of this long year I have had the support of the entire Mississippi Free Press team in everything I do. You see the journalism that is the result, but what’s sometimes hidden from view is the incredible effort of the entire team: the publisher, editors, coordinators, assistants—workers who make our accomplishments and our accolades possible in the first place. When you support us, you’re not just lifting up a reporter. You’re helping build a sustainable effort by a wonderful group of people who believe in Mississippi’s potential and work hard to make it happen.

When our editor, Donna Ladd, asked me to join the Mississippi Free Press, the goal she had in mind was a newsroom that could challenge outdated ideas of local journalism. The work of the Mississippi Free Press is to tell stories from the ground up: credible community-oriented writing that has an equally powerful national presence. We never intended to pick one or the other.

What’s exciting about the future is that this project is only just getting started. We want to bring in more writers from more communities across Mississippi to add to our team across the state. We want to tell more richly reported stories about the causes of—and the solutions to—dysfunction and corruption in the state of Mississippi. We want to pursue more powerful initiatives like the Black Women and COVID Project. And we need another editor to help Donna, Azia and Nate help us produce top-level journalism daily.

But no matter how ambitious our goals are, we won’t compromise our core principles to accomplish them from the community level up. That’s why we need your support. During this end-of-year campaign, help us build an even greater Mississippi Free Press in 2022 at A group of journalism superstars and the Democracy Fund are tripling your gifts right now because they also believe in our work and principles, and a match by a large group of Mississippi writers will close out our NewsMatch campaign this week.

Join us.

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

The Mississippi Free Press is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) focused on telling stories that center all Mississippians.

With your gift, we can do even more important stories like this one.