Awards, Web Sites and Special Pubs | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Awards, Web Sites and Special Pubs

Every so often I've just got to catch y'all up on what's going on with the Jackson Free Press—it seems like June is often one of those months.

First of all, though, a little back-patting is in order. At the annual convention of the Association of Alternative Newsweekies this month in Philadelphia, Pa., the JFP learned that of its three award nominations, two of them were first-place awards—one for Feature Writing and one for a new (and arguably very significant) category, Community Service.

The Feature Writing award went to editor Donna Ladd for her story "We Are Family: A Klan Child Fans A Different Flame," a narrative piece that delves deep into the life and faith of Shirley Seale Beach, cousin of convicted Klansman James Ford Seale. Beach went from a racist upbringing on to co-pastor a multiracial church in Natchez.

This award marked the third first place win in Feature Writing for the Jackson Free Press in the past four years. (In 2006, we got third place. Not a bad showing in a tough category.)

Donna was also part of the team, which included Kate Medley and Matt Saldaña, that was awarded top honors for their Public Service package entitled "Road to Meadville," which covered the re-opening of 1960s Klan killing of Henry Dee and Charles Moore, from the discovery through the trial of conspirator James Ford Seale, who had been reported dead by The Clarion-Ledger and other media. The package included amazing storytelling by Donna, extraordinary photography by Kate and dogged on-the-ground reporting—and blogging—by Matt. The ultimate result—a life sentence for Seale.

Also up for an award was Adam Lynch's "The State of the JFP," which received an honorable mention in the News writing category. As testimony to his prowess, this is the third award Adam has received for news reporting in his tenure with the JFP.

Two other fun factoids: In five years of eligibility, the editorial staff of the Jackson Free Press has brought home 17 AAN editorial awards. But it's this other factoid I'm particularly proud of—by my unofficial tally, Donna Ladd has now received more nods from AAN than any other staff member in the country. Yowza., which I announced last month, is going strong with more than 500 members as of this writing. Dubbed "Jackson's local social network," takes some of the best features of MySpace or FaceBook—member pages, photos, videos, blogs, event listings and forums—and offers them in an exclusively local package.

If you haven't taken a look at yet, please check it out—we've gone public with the front page of the site and encourage you to become a member and play with all the features.

I'm particularly excited to offer this "Web 2.0" solution for encouraging Jackson-area residents to share their own events locally and drive people to your artistic or cultural undertaking. It doesn't cost anything to promote your event and talk about whatever you're doing that you want to share—and this is a good crowd to let in on your plans. They show up for stuff. If you need to build buzz for whatever you're doing, try

One feature has taken off as a bit of a surprise—the Groups feature. If you've got a passion, hobby or existing real-life group that needs to build membership, awareness or word-of-mouth, get it on You can use our built-in tools for group communications, event planning, RSVPs and even private discussions. is an exciting resource for expanding your options for meeting new people and participating in local events. (Plus, we've been giving away some cool stuff on the site recently. Hint, hint!)

BOOM Jackson, the JFP's new annual magazine covering Jackson's renaissance, is taking shape (and stealing sleep) from a number of us. I've got to hand it to BOOM editor Ronni Mott, who with writer Kristin Phillips and a slew of freelancers, has caused this phoenix to rise in a matter of months. I've been a spectator on the editorial front , but it's been interesting to watch these stories come together—and to realize exactly how much is really going on in Jackson.

Certainly it helps to drive by Fondren Place every day and watch the progress, or to slip your car between the cranes downtown and watch the finishing work on the glass in the Convention Center. But wait until you see the pictures of the people involved in these projects—from the architects and developers to the artists and administrators—and I can almost guarantee you'll swell with the same sense of surprise and pride when you get your hands on a copy of BOOM … in mere weeks!

(We'll be announcing some events to celebrate BOOM, Jackpedia '08 and other upcoming special events from the JFP, so join or subscribe to our e-mail newsletter at, since that's where some of the exclusive invitation lists are built.)

Planning continues for the 2008 Chick Ball—again, I'm a spectator—scheduled for July 19. Bands are confirmed, and tons of donations are arriving. As always, the beneficiary is the Center for Violence Prevention, a shelter for battered families in Pearl. This year, the Center is looking to fund what is being called the "Freedom Van"--a van that can help battered women and children get away from a bad situation. If you're a corporate donor (or if you've got a reliable van, and you want to donate it), contact Sage Carter-Hooey at 601-362-6121 ext. 2. Sponsorships are available in levels from $500 to $2,500.

Finally, we've got some big issues for you readers to look out for (and, yes, you advertisers as well.) Just in time for July 4th is our Summer Fun/Fly issue, including great ideas for road trips, vacationing locally or having the coolest holiday barbecue you can imagine. Then, in August comes Jackpedia 2008—the user-generated guide to Jackson, arriving alongside thousands of college students.

So your call to action is this—head to and start editing, adding and sprucing up whatever it is that you're interested in (yes, even about yourself). We've got a month to put that one together, and we'd love your help!


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