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President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin speak from matching podiums labeled "Helsinki 2018." Behind them are a line of US and Russian flags.
The Mississippi Free Press reported on Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s Feb. 10, 2024, declaration that he would encourage Russia to attack American allies that he claims do not contribute enough to NATO’s defense budget. Trump is seen here with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint press conference on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland. Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

Editor’s Note | Why We Reported on Trump’s NATO Remarks

When Mississippi Free Press Editor and CEO Donna Ladd texted me Saturday saying we should report on Donald Trump saying he would encourage Russia to attack certain American allies, I knew she was right.

Several major national media outlets were fumbling the ball and either ignoring those remarks or giving them less weight than they deserve. Donna said we should set an example for how national media ought to cover such extreme policy declarations, and I agreed. So we did.

I can’t express how gratifying it has been to see people around the country, frustrated with many national publications’ treatment of stories like this, embracing our decision in the last 24 hours. After all, we are a Mississippi publication; local reporting in the Magnolia State is and always will be our primary focus.

But we do believe there is value in ensuring we’re telling readers about important national stories, too—and drawing attention to news that we believe deserve more attention. National stories affect Mississippi, too. As Donna tweeted this morning, “Hell, if a paper called NEW YORK Times can report urgent national news, then a site called MISSISSIPPI Free Press can too.”

We’ll be sharing more about our plans to report more stories of national and state interest in the future, which may even involve a Washington, D.C.-based reporter or collaboration to help us better cover Mississippi’s congressional delegation and the policy decisions that affect Mississippians—a reporter Donna has wanted since before we launched.

As a publication that launched the month the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve always had to be nimble and respond to a fast-changing industry and news environment. It isn’t always easy; shifts in social media ownership or changes in algorithms can force us to reassess how we reach readers overnight.

As I told Washington Post technology and online culture reporter Taylor Lorenz over the weekend when she called to ask my opinion on Meta’s decision to limit “political” content on the social-media site Threads, “If social-media corporations are hiding local political news from you, you’re going to be less informed, and the place you live in is going to be worse off.”

Social-media upheavals, a continually changing internet, corporate buyouts and the decline of traditional news outlets have all placed enormous strain on newsrooms across the world. But the Free Press team is no stranger to the need to adapt and rethink old ways to bring necessary journalism to our readers. And no matter what comes next, we’ll keep doing it. Democracy depends on this work.

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