FOCUS: Voting & Precinct Maps2022 Elections • Housing & Evictions • #MSWelfare Scandal • Jackson WaterAbortion •  Race & Racism • PolicingIncarceration
Office filled with two long walls of awards top to bottom
The combined awards for Mississippi Free Press and Jackson Free Press journalism now line three full walls in the MFP offices in downtown Jackson, Miss. Photo by Donna Ladd

A Truly Free Press in Mississippi Is Vital to American Democracy

I’ll get straight to the point. We have eight weeks left in 2022, and I’m reflecting on our deep, inclusive stories that repeatedly impact our state and nation and support democracy through a truly locally founded and run free press.

It’s challenging to narrow it down to one story or series. Nick Judin’s canonical reporting on the Jackson water crisis—he was the first to zero in on state leaders’ dismissal of Black leaders back in 2021, now a central theme in national reporting and the EPA investigation—and Kayode Crown’s criminal justice work come to mind, not to mention Aliyah Veal’s culture reporting that consistently looks at the good things Mississippi produces as well as difficult cultural history of those long under-represented in the state’s media.

Then there’s Ashton Pittman and his husband Liam Pittman’s astounding explanatory deep dives and infographics revealing so much about both Mississippi’s TANF/welfare scandal and, since 2020, the perpetual systemic inaccuracies in lists of polling places across the state leading into our elections that led directly to a national push for change here.

These are a few examples of the work you expect from us. Our reporting is nonpartisan and independent. We challenge power structures that hurt our state and keep Mississippi 50th on just about every list. Our team isn’t interested in horse-race reporting. Instead, we serve our state and democracy with projects like the Trusted Elections series that continued on Election Day with readers reporting unannounced poll changes to us (with the Legal Defense Fund quickly stepping in after our reports to text new poll locations to voters) or when the state’s site goes down due to a cyberattack as it did this week.  

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“Right now, NewsMatch is matching every donation dollar for dollar,” Donna Ladd writes. Click on the image to donate!

Good reporting projects cost thousands of dollars and countless hours to produce and legally vet. That’s where you come in. We don’t have paywalls on our site like many newsrooms across the state and country. This newsletter is free. Your gift in any amount helps support this work that, frankly, we could easily charge for but don’t because we believe every Mississippian deserves access to a free and fair press regardless of their economic circumstance. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?

Right now, NewsMatch is matching every donation dollar for dollar. That means when you donate $30, it’s as if you gave $60. This opportunity doesn’t happen often. Every gift, no matter the size, is matched. And if you’re able to offer a challenge match pledge to double or triple others’ gifts, please let me know. NewsMatch goes through Dec. 31.

Your generous donations will help sustain and grow our nonprofit journalism and our team through 2023 and beyond. If you aren’t able to give right now, we certainly understand. We appreciate your support in whatever form—including subscribing to our newsletter, following us on social media, sharing our award-winning stories or telling your network about us.

This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an opinion essay for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and factcheck information to [email protected] We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.

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