MFP Impact, Awards and Media Coverage – 2023
(See 2020, 2021 and 2022 Impact) Since the Mississippi Free Press launched on March 15, 2020, just as COVID-19 was hitting the state, the team’s journalism has had a significant impact, as well as drawn consistent attention from other media. Following is a reverse timeline of impact, media collaborations, and international, national, and state media mentions and pickups.
November 19, 2023
November 9, 2023
November 8, 2023
NewsOne referenced MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman and William Pittman’s investigation into precinct voting location changes in their story about reports of voter suppression in the gubernatorial election.
October 26, 2023
NewsOnyx and Atlanta Black Star used reporting by MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman in their stories about a Jackson mother who searched for her missing son for months only to find that he had been killed and buried by Jackson police.
October 17, 2023
October 11, 2023
Yardbarker cited the extensive timeline of the Mississippi Welfare Fraud Scandal constructed by MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman and contributor William Pittman in their piece on the continued involvement of Hall of Fame Quarterback Bret Favre in the story.
October 5, 2023
The Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) highlighted a six-part series cooperative journalism series from the Rural News Network, a project of INN with support from the Walton Family Foundation. The series looks at the unique challenges facing communities of color around the United States. MFP, as one of six participating newsrooms from around the country, contributed an in-depth piece by Christian Middleton detailing the struggles of a Black family seeking justice for their murdered relative.
October 3, 2023
September 25, 2023
September 22, 2023
September 12, 2023
The Magnolia Tribune posted a story, which was then reprinted in the Kosciusko Star-Herald, about MFP’s appeal of a ruling late last year of the Mississippi Ethics Commission which stated that a meeting of the state legislature’s House Republican Caucus is not a “public body” and therefore is not in violation of the Open Meetings Act when it meets behind closed doors.
September 10, 2023
September 2, 2023
The Tennessee Tribute reprinted MFP Reporter Heather Harrison’s story about the struggle of a Mississippi hospital to remain open. Delta News TV also referenced Heather’s story in their piece on the status of the hospital.
August 31, 2023
August 30, 2023
The Poynter Institute, a world leader in providing training for and fostering diversity in journalism, has selected MFP Deputy Editor for Voices and Systemic Reporting, Azia Wiggins, to be a member of the cohort for their upcoming Leadership Academy for Women in Media. Congratulations, Azia!
August 22, 2023
Outlets such as LGBTQNation, Metro Weekly and the Miami Herald have referenced MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s reporting in their stories about the restriction of the “Heartstopper” young adult graphic novels to the adult section of the Marion County Public Library. The books were temporarily removed from circulation following a complaint about the presence of the books, which feature a romance between two teenage boys. Upon review by the library’s board, the decision was made to shelve the books in the adult section, where minors can access them only with parental permission.
August 21, 2023
The North Mississippi Daily Journal and the Starkville Daily News republished MFP reporter Heather Harrison’s piece about the work that a team of cultural anthropology researchers from Mississippi State University is doing on an historic Black cemetery in Starkville.
August 17, 2023
The Washington Post and BET both relied on reporting by MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman in their stories covering a mistrial declared in the case of a white father and son accused of shooting at a Black FedEx driver as he attempted to make deliveries.
August 16, 2023
The Daily Yonder published a version of MFP Reporter Heather Harrison’s in-depth story on the aftermath of the tornado that hit the city of Rolling Fork in March of this year.
August 14, 2023
The Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) published an in-depth story about the MFP. The piece is a case study of the development of the organization from its earlier-than-planned pandemic launch into the nationally recognized newsroom that it is today.
August 11, 2023
The Meridian Star reprinted MFP Education Reporter Torsheta Jackson’s story describing new rules that Mississippi Schools are putting in place to protect student athletes from the dangers of extreme heat.
August 4, 2023
July 31, 2023
Wonkette featured MFP Reporter Heather Harrison’s story covering Miss. Governor Tate Reeves’ Neshoba County Fair speech, in which he advised Mississippians who wanted health care to get better jobs, in their Morning News Roundup. They continued their coverage the next day with an original story on the topic of healthcare in Mississippi that references Heather’s story.
July 26, 2023
Milwaukee Community Journal referenced reporting by MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman in their story about a federal court’s blocking Mississippi’s recently passed law, SB 2558, that makes voting more difficult for citizens with disabilities.
July 20, 2023
MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s story about a Mississippi state senator who was accused of being a “groomer” because of photos of him wearing a pink tutu to raise funds for breast cancer research was referenced in stories by outlets across the nation including Newsweek, Raw Story and LGBTQ Nation.
July 18, 2023
MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s story revealing the existence of a letter signed by the attorneys general of 19 states to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra calling on him to drop a proposed rule change that would prevent states from obtaining private health information from persons who travel across state lines to access reproductive health care drew the attention of numerous outlets such as the Magnolia Reporter, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Wonkette and Cobalt Advocates.
July 13, 2023
Daily Kos featured MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s story about the complaint filed by the Department of Justice against Mississippi House Bill 1020 in its “Abbreviated Daily Pundit.” H.B. 1020 gives the chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court the power to appoint unelected judges to serve in majority-Black Hinds County.
July 8, 2023
July 7, 2023
Nossaman LLC, included in their “Compliance Notes” a story by MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman revealing that the Mississippi Democratic Party could receive ethics penalties due to their failure to report campaign spending.
July 6, 2023
July 7, 2023
The Arkansas Leader profiled MFP Reporter Nick Judin, the winner of the Garrick Feldman Award for Community Coverage awarded by the Society of Professional Journalists, Arkansas Professional Chapter. The community journalism award fas established in memory of Feldman, the founding editor and publisher of The Leader.
June 29, 2023
Black Enterprise referenced the work of MFP Reporter Heather Harrison in their story about five Rankin County Deputies who were fired after being accused of assaulting two Black men and shooting one of them.
June 27, 2023
The American Journalism Online Awards, presented by New York University’s American Journalism Online Master’s Program of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, gave MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman the award for Best News-Based Twitter Thread for his thread explaining the timeline of the Bret Favre/Mississippi Welfare Scandal. LION Publishers recognized the award and congratulated Ashton in their newsletter.
June 25, 2023
The North Mississippi Daily Journal reprinted MFP reporter Heather Harrison’s story about the closure of St. Dominic Hospital ‘s mental health unit.
June 22, 2023
MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s story about a Mississippi State Senator’s call for the return of the old state flag has been reprinted and referenced in numerous articles from both in-state and national outlets. Reprints were published in Mississippi outlets NEMiss.news, New Albany Gazette and the Daily Journal. Raw Story, Daily Kos, Independent, BET, BoingBoing and Mississippi Today are among the outlets referencing Ashton’s work.
June 19, 2023
MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s story reporting on Mississippi’s observance of Confederate Memorial Day while declining to observe Juneteenth was referenced by author Annette Gordon-Reed in an interview on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.
June 14, 2023
June 13, 2023
June 8, 2023
The International Ombuds Association republished MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s story about the University of Mississippi Ombuds who fought to Protect Employees’ Confidentiality After UM Emails Series.
May 26, 2023
May 23, 2023
The Columbus, Miss. Commercial Dispatch reprinted MFP reporter Heather Harrison’s story about a Mississippi man convicted for his role in the January 6 insurrection.
May 19, 2023
Reuters, California Examiner, Inside Edition, FBC News, Ruetir, Comic Sands and Economic Times are among the outlets that have referenced or reprinted MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s stories about a Mississippi trans girl who missed her high school graduation after her school district insisted that she dress as a male.
May 18, 2023
The Mississippi Free Press hosted nearly 30 journalists and publishers from across the Deep South when they gathered in Jackson, Miss. for the LION Publishers’ Deep South News Sustainability Meetup on May 18. Attendees from Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas and Tennessee met to discuss issues related to community-centered independent news organizations.
Delta News relied on reporting by MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman for their story, “TANF for TANF,” describing the use of the welfare funds to pay attorneys tasked with recovering welfare funds misspent in the recent Mississippi Welfare Scandal.
May 14, 2023
The Chattanooga Times Free Press, in their story about Tennessee’s license plates, referenced MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s story about the absence of the motto “In God We Trust” on Mississippi’s new version.
May 10, 2023
May 5, 2023
Following the release of Bryant’s texts, outlets such as Total Pro Sports, Sportskeeda, Yardbarker, The Spun and BroBible published stories referencing MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s reporting of a new twist in the already twisted welfare scandal saga. Text messages included among those Bryant released revealed that Brett Favre, along with a partner, had sought help from then-President Donald Trump to acquire funding to launch a new concussion drug.
May 4, 2023
In response to a court filing by MFP, along with Mississippi Today and the Daily Journal, former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant released hundreds of text messages and other documents related to the welfare scandal that came to light last year. Included among the documents released were text messages exchanged with former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, indicted nonprofit operator Nancy New and others. News outlets such as the Daily Journal, the Scott County Times, and the Associated Press reported on the story.
May 1, 2023
Diane Ravitch’s Blog reprinted Donna Ladd’s editorial introducing MFP ‘s new Report for America Corps reporter, Torsheta Jackson.
Apr. 27, 2023
The Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College formally presented the 15th Annual Izzy Awards at a virtual ceremony. The Mississippi Free Press was one of four recipients–two news organizations and two individual journalists–to be honored with the national award for outstanding achievement in independent media named for pioneering journalist I.F. Stone.
Apr. 26, 2023
As we announced here last December, Report for America named Mississippi Free Press as one of its partner newsrooms for 2023-24. Today we are thrilled that we can officially announce that our RFA Corps member is Torsheta Jackson! Torsheta will join our reporting staff in July as our new education reporter. Welcome, Torsheta, we’re so happy to have you on the team!
Apr. 19, 2023
People’s Tribune reprinted MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s story “What Happens in Mississippi Never Stops in Mississippi.”
Apr. 17, 2023
Apr. 11, 2023
The People’s Dispatch article “‘Plantation Politics’ to Blame for Jackson, Mississippi Water Crisis” drew from MFP stories by reporter Nick Judin, as well as MFP Voices contributor Jason Coker. This piece was reprinted in Consortium News.
Apr. 7, 2023
Apr. 6, 2023
Diane Ravitch featured MFP Editor and CEO Donna Ladd’s piece on the Noxubee County, Miss. schools on her education blog.
The authors of the scholarly article “Boil water alerts and their impact on the unexcused absence rate in public schools in Jackson, Mississippi,” published in the journal Nature Water, referenced work by MFP deputy editor Azia Wiggins and freelance writer Malcolm Morrow.
Apr. 5, 2023
MFP News Editor Ashton Pittman’s story “Gov. Reeves Declares Confederated Heritage Month, A 30-Year-Old Mississippi Tradition” has been quoted, highlighted and reprinted in outlets such as Who What Why, Wonkette, Fark, Daily Kos, and Lipstick Alley.
The Institute for Nonprofit News used an example from the MFP’s fundraising campaign in their report on the success of their 2022 NewsMatch campaign. The example featured MFP donor organization The James and Madeleine McMullan Foundation and their reasons for supporting MFP.
Mar. 30, 2023
The Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College has chosen the Mississippi Free Press as one of four 2023 recipient of the Izzy Award for outstanding achievement in independent media for exposing corruption and giving voice to marginalized communities. The Izzy is named for dissident journalist I.F. Stone, known for questioning McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, racial injustice, and government deceit. The Izzy Awards will be presented at a ceremony on April 27, at 6:30 p.m., EDT on Zoom. Democracy Now reported on the awards.
Mar. 28, 2023
PRX, a public media company specializing in audio journalism and storytelling, has chosen a team from the Mississippi Free Press to participate as part of its central region cohort in the PRX Journalism Podcast Accelerator. The 12-week podcast training and development program is conducted by PRX and is sponsored by the John S. and James L Knight Foundation.
Feb. 27, 2023
The Daily Yonder republished Ashton Pittman’s story reporting on the current number of rural hospitals at risk of closure in Mississippi.
Feb. 23, 2023
Mother Jones referenced a report from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation published by MFP in their story “A Mississippi Police Officer Who Shot a Black 15-Year-Old in the Head Won’t Face Criminal Charges.“
Feb. 22, 2023
SCOTUS Blog featured Ashton Pittman’s story about the high court’s dismissal of Buck v. Reeves, a case alleging racially-motivated gerrymandering of the states congressional districts in its Morning Read. Election Law Blog also highlighted the story.
Feb. 21, 2023
The New Republic and Jezebel both featured stories that drew from MFP reporter Kayode Crown’s reporting on the passage of the REAP Act, legislation designed to prevent access to gender-affirming care for Mississippians under the age of 18, by the state senate.
Feb. 20, 2023
The People’s Tribune reprinted MFP reporter Kayode Crown’s story reporting the abuse of two Black men by deputies from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department.
Feb. 17, 2023
It’s a big day for awards at MFP! Two of our own have been chosen for highly prestigious honors, and we couldn’t be prouder of them!
And our Co-founder, Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer Kimberly Griffin was selected as one of the Mississippi Business Journal’s 50 Distinguished Leading Business Women. She was further honored today at the annual luncheon when she was chosen as one of the top ten finalists to Business Woman of the Year!
Congratulations Ashton and Kimberly!
Feb. 16, 2023
Shine My Crown, a digital platform representing the Black and Brown experience, drew from MFP contributor Leo Carney’s reporting in their story about the death of a Black trans woman in a Mississippi jail.
Feb. 15, 2023
Feb. 3, 2023
MFP Reporter Nick Judin’s first story as a ProPublica local journalist dug into proposed legislation that many fear will divert funds approved by Congress for repair of Jackson’s water system. The in-depth piece was a co-publication of ProPublica and the Mississippi Free Press. The story was then republished by national outlets such as Raw Story, Talking Points Memo, Popular Resistance, Portside, and Newsbreak.
Jan. 27, 2023
The impact of the MFP and reporter Nick Judin’s legal complaint accusing the Mississippi House of Representatives of failing to abide by the Mississippi Open Meetings Act, and the subsequent rejection by the Mississippi Ethics Commission of a recommendation affirming the House as a “public body” and therefore subject to the act, continues to make headlines, as seen in these stories published by the Associated Press, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and the Kosciusko Star-Herald. (See the 2022 Impact page for more.)
Jan. 25, 2023
Jan. 24, 2023
Jan. 20, 2023
MLK50 republished Donna Ladd’s editorial “White theft: The audacity of co-opting Dr. King.”
Jan. 19, 2023
Nonprofit public policy organization The Brookings Institute referenced two MFP stories about Jackson’s water crisis, and another written by our reporter Kayode Crown for the Jackson Free Press, in their essay “Why state and local relationships matter to national prosperity: A case for economic collaboration.”
Jan. 10, 2023
History News Network republished freelance writer Zach Borenstein’s story detailing his reasons for vandalizing a confederate statue on the campus of the University of Mississippi. Borenstein’s piece was originally published as an MFP Voices story.