MFP Impact, Awards and Media Coverage – 2022
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.
June 28, 2022
Slate’s What Next podcast featured reporter Ashton Pittman discussing the long-time history of national organizations working with and inside Mississippi to become the state that overturned Roe v. Wade. Ashton, who has covered the abortion issue for 12 years in Mississippi, was previously part of an evangelical group and protested outside the state’s only abortion clinic as a teenager. He also address efforts to roll back LGBTQ+ rights, including from his perspective as a married, gay man in Mississippi. Read a transcript of the podcast here.
June 24, 2022
U.S. Supreme Court Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan cited and quoted reporter Ashton Pittman’s 2019 story in the Jackson Free Press on Mississippi leaders’ anti-abortion strategy on page 205 in their dissent to the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health organization, overturning Roe v. Wade. Also, Ashton’s 2021 Mississippi story on anti-abortion strategy appeared on the Authorities list in an amicus brief to the Dobbs case that 236 members of Congress submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. See pages V and 13.
Editor Donna Ladd is a contributor to the book, “Necessary Conversations: Understanding Racism as a Barrier to Achieving Health Equity” (Oxford University Press), which published today. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation produced the book, edited by Dr. Alonzo L. Plough.
June 21, 2022
Media Matters cited reporter Ashton Pittman’s reporting on former Mississippi legislator Robert Foster’s remarks about committing violence against trans people in a story about extremist calls for vigilantism against LGBTQ+ people.
May 28, 2022
The Meridian Star republished culture reporter Aliyah Veal’s feature about young people leading a dance festival to celebrate the Choctaw homeland near Philadelphia, Miss.
May 17, 2022
May 16, 2022
The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, RevLab at The Texas Tribune and Spotlight PA announced that the Mississippi Free Press is one of 24 newsrooms across the U.S. in the pilot launch of the Statewide News Collective, a new community for news organizations serving statewide audiences. Read about the Statewide News Collective here
May 15, 2022
May 13, 2022
May 12, 2022
Editor & Publisher magazine named Editor Donna Ladd one of its 2022 E&P Editors Extraordinaire.
May 5, 2022
Kayode Crown’s reporting on the fight of immigration advocates to free Lladi Ambrocio-Garcia, a former chicken plant worker who was deported after the August 2019 ICE raid on Koch Foods in Morton, Miss. has been reprinted in ChronLaw, and cited by Daily Kos and French-language outlet What’s Now News.
May 4, 2022
April 30, 2022
Editor Donna Ladd physically received her pandemic-delayed Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Alumni Award at the school’s Alumni Weekend on campus in New York City.
April 29, 2022
April 19, 2022
The Society of Professional Journalists’ Diamond Awards announced that 14 Mississippi Free Press team members as well as Jackson Advocate collaborate DeAnna Tisdale Johnson are finalists for work produced in 2021. (Creative Director Kristin Brenemen is also included but not yet added to the finalist list on the site.) The Diamond Awards are for journalism produced in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi.
April 12, 2022
April 11, 2022
The Washington Post followed up and cited reporter Ashton Pittman’s reporting on Black women in Mississippi warning that Mississippi’s new Equal Pay Law could prove worse for women than not having one at all.
Ashton broke the news that Gov. Tate Reeves had again declared Confederate Heritage Month after a Jackson reader, JAllen, discovered it posted again on a neo-Confederate Facebook page in Reeves’ home county. MFP Editor Donna Ladd found it on the same page last year, breaking the news of the 2021 proclamation, which Mississippi governors never publicize themselves. The news again drew much regional and national media coverage including the Associated Press, ABC News, Business Insider, HipHop Wired, The Root, Newsweek, Business Insider Africa, The Independent (U.K.), Blavity, Essence, Above the Law, The Mind Shield, Columbus (Miss.) Dispatch, WLOX TV, Magnolia State Live, Mankota (Calif.) Free Press, NewsBreak, ABC24 (LocalMemphis.com), Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader, The Tribune (Calif.), Salon, U.S. News & World Report, MSN, Yahoo News, AOL.com, AM870 The Answer (Glendale, Calif.), Star Herald (Scotts Bluff, Neb.), Globe Gazette (Mason City, Iowa), Alternet, The Public’s Radio (Providence, R.I.), The American Independent, Second Nexus, and KTVH (Helena, Mon.).
April 7, 2022
The Lenfest Institute did an in-depth interview with Jackson Advocate Publisher DeAnna Tisdale, who collaborates with the MFP on the “(In)Equity and Resilience: Black Women, COVID-19 and Systemic Barriers” project. DeAnna talked about owning a newspaper, the trajectory of her career, and the relationship between the Advocate and the MFP and how the collaboration is helping as her as a young woman publisher.
April 4, 2022
Agence France-Presse, a Paris-based international news agency, published an in-depth piece on Jackson’s water crisis, both citing reporter Nick Judin’s multi-part 2021 Jackson water/infrastructure investigation and interviewing him, including distributing a Getty Images photo of Nick taken in Jackson. Many news outlets in multiple countries ran the piece including Radio France Internationale, Le Courrier Cauchois (Normandy), Inquirer.net (Phillipines), RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg (Luxembourg), France24.com, La Nouvelle République (Tours, Centre-Val de Loire), Arte TV (Strasbourg), Swiss Info (Switzerland), Breitbart News (U.S.), plus others.
April 3, 2022
The Daily Journal (Tupelo) and The Meridian Star reprinted digital editor Dustin Cardon’s feature, “From Depots to Cities: Train Enthusiasts Share Mississippi’s Deep-Rooted Railroad History.”
March 31, 2022
March 30, 2022
The Starkville Dispatch republished reporter Kayode’s Crown’s news feature about Blair Edwards, a Black coffee-shop owner in Starkville who received funding to build out his business.
March 26, 2022
Mississippi Free Press co-founder and editor Donna Ladd was one of eight women to receive the 2022 Legends award at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The event annually honors women of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and women who are making an impact in Mississippi communities. Other honorees were Funmi Franklin, Dr. Lucille Green, Eva Jones, Willie Jones, Pauline Rogers, Kolean Sanders and Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright. Read about all the honorees in a special edition of Woman to Woman Magazine.
March 25, 2022
After reporter Ashton Pittman reported that former GOP legislator and gubernatorial candidate Robert Foster had called on Twitteer for supporters of trans rights to put before firing squads, his story went viral receiving wide media attention, including Vice, Newsweek, Los Angeles Blade, Washington Blade, Advocate, New Civil Rights Movement, Greeley (Colo.) Tribune, OnlySky, BoingBoing, Raw Story, The Present Age, Reddit, JoeMyGod, Lipstick Alley, planet trans, Democratic Underground, Political Wire.
Robert Foster’s Twitter account was deactivated within days of Ashton’s article.
March 24, 2022
The Local Media Association published a case study on the rapid success of the Mississippi Free Press’ revenue growth and donor base in just two years since launching on a shoestring budget in March 2020.
March 15, 2022
Yahoo Sports and later KPVI-TV in Pocatello, Idaho, picked up on Ashton Pittman’s report on Gov. Tate Reeves signing a bill claiming to stop CRT in Mississippi schools.
March 9, 2022
MLK 50 Justice Through Journalism in Memphis republished reporter Ashton Pittman’s contextual report on the passage of federal antilynching legislation 100 years to the day after a white terrorist mob lynched 18-year-old Willie Baker in Monroe County, Miss.
MFP Editor Donna Ladd joined Dr. Otis Sanford, the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis, on The Markup by Mediaverse Memphis podcast to talk about journalism and democracy, including corporate media abdicating responsibility to cover the truth, the ethical challenges and donor/board influences nonprofit media face, fake both-sides-ism, the broken media advertising model and the reader inequity of paywalls.
Feb. 28, 2022
Reporter Nick Judin covered the Friends of the Ridgeland Library’s presentation of a check from half the $110,000 raised worldwide for funds the local mayor threatened to withhold due to LGBTQ+ books on display. Nick broke the original story, which was used to promote the fund to replace the money in limbo, and wrote several equally impactful followups that brought massive attention to the story.
February 2022, various dates
Reporter Ashton Pittman’s completed three-part series on Christian dominionism and the fight against abortion was discussed widely, including in Church and State, History News Network, Daily Kos and more.
Feb. 4, 2022 – Feb. 12, 2022
Reporter Ashton Pittman’s Feb. 4 interview with FedEx driver D’Monterrio Gibson about his report that two white men in Brookhaven had shot at him multiple times and chased him had dramatic impact, going viral on a Friday night, then leading to many national and regional media outlets picking up Ashton’s reporting. The resulting public response, and outcry against FedEx for wanting Gibson to return to the same route and initially not paying him to take leave, had led to a reversal of FedEx’s decisions within a week, which the MFP’s Kayode Crown reported on Feb. 11. Lawanda Dickens, a Black woman from Brookhaven, was inspired by our overage to submit an MFP Voices column criticizing the Black police chief in Brookhaven. Here are many of media outlets following up and crediting Mississippi Free Press coverage of the FedEx shooting since Feb. 4: The Washington Post, The Guardian, USA Today, NBC News, Yahoo News, Black America Web, The Root, Black Enterprise, The Independent (U.K.), BET, Business Insider, Insider.com, Black Christian News, Atlanta Black Star, Face2Face Africa, HuffPost, Law and Crime Blog, Daily Kos, Daily Advent, News Onyx, Raw Story, Lipstick Alley, Yahoo! Movies, Yahoo! Life, Memeorandom, Reddit, Darik News, HowAfrica.com, Democratic Underground, SeckuryKid.com, 24ssports.com, Indisputable with Dr. Rashad Richey (YouTube), New York Post. NowThisNews ran the full Feb. 10, 2020, press conference of Gibson and his attorneys, crediting the Mississippi Free Press for coverage.
Feb. 3, 2022
Right Wing Watch recommended reporter Ashton Pittman’s “To Rule History With God’: The Christian Dominionist War On Abortion, Part I.”
Jan. 30, 2022
The Tennessee Tribune, an African American newspaper in Middle Tennessee, asked to republish contributing reporter Grace Marion’s third piece in a series about Muslim residents of Horn Lake, Miss., working with Christian supporters in their successful fight to build the county’s first mosque.
Jan. 28, 2022
Reporter Ashton Pittman broke the story that U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi had told a local conservative Mississippi talk-show host that whomever President Biden picks as the first Black woman U.S. Supreme Court justice would be a “beneficiary” of “affirmative action.” The story, which Ashton broke on a Friday night went viral nationally overnight with the White House sending the MFP a response by the next morning. Many outlets and commentators picked up on Ashton’s story with most, if not all, ethically crediting him for first doing the story. They include: The Washington Post, Mother Jones, Bloomberg, Rolling Stone, Hiphop Wired, Fox News, Political Wire, Daily Beast, Seattle Times, Insider.com, The Mary Sue, Emporia Gazette, Good Word News, Sports Grind Entertainment, Crooks and Liars, Press Informant, Knowledia, LeeDaily.com.
Ashton’s breaking story led to Wicker’s comments being a major topic in Washington and on the Sunday news shows. Here he responds to an AP reporter that he had no further comment. Also Paul Gallo, the talk-show host who seemed to agree with Wicker’s comments to him about Black women on the Supreme Court, was grumpy about the reaction to Ashton’s story on Twitter but Wicker’s comments drew a wide variety of condemnation as well, including from conservative Bill Kristol. Among the national and local outlets who ran with or commented on a story they would not have known about without Ashton’s Jan. 28 report, but without crediting him, were CNN New Republic and Mississippi Today including a cartoon and many others.
Jan. 25, 2022
Reporter Nick Judin broke the news that the Ridgeland, Miss., mayor told the local public library that he planned to withhold funds due to complaints about LGBTQ+ books. The story rapidly went viral drawing state and national outrage, inspired a public donation effort that has so far raised more than $100,000 (pushed by MFP Advisory Board member and author Angie Thomas as well as a Furries campaign, as BoingBoing reported here), and inspired a law student and former police officer from Ridgeland to submit a column to the MFP about books in the library saving her life as a young lesbian growing up there. Media coverage and pick-ups included: Business Insider, Yahoo News, Daily Mail, Newsweek, The Advocate, People Magazine, Vice, South Florida Gay News, Mic, The Hill, LGBTQ Nation, The Clarion-Ledger, Salon, Pink News, Magnolia State Live, New Civil Rights Movement, Daily Kos, Metro Weekly (Washington, D.C.), Truth Out, Alternet, Only Sky Media, Raw Story, JoeMyGod, Democratic Underground, Christianity Daily. The Los Angeles Blade asked to republish Nick’s story.
Jan. 24, 2022
The Meridian Star republished reporter Nick Judin’s follow-up story about suspected links between COVID-19 and pediatric diabetes after a new CDC study confirmed the possible link in January. Nick first wrote in September 2021 about Mississippi doctors warning about these concerns.
Jan. 21, 2022
The Meridian (Miss.) Star republished reporter Kayode Crown’s story, “Thousands Languish in Mississippi Jails Without Lawyers.”
Jan. 21, 2022
Jan. 10, 2022
The Jackson Free Press republished Culture reporter Aliyah Veal’s in-depth feature, “‘No, I Can’t Lose,’ Mississippi Rappers Pass Mic, Change Narrative at Jackson Indie Music Week.” Then Biloxi News Events blurbed the story, linking to the JFP pickup.
Jan. 3, 2022
Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) published a blurb with a link to Kayode Crown’s story “Seeking Solutions to Protect Mississippi Children from Lead Poisoning.”