If there's one JFP-related question I've heard more than any other from folks around Jackson in the past few weeks and months, it's been this one: "Are y'all going weekly?"
My favorite response (which is admittedly self-promotional at the same time): "Well, we are Mississippi's only member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies." That and an enigmatic smile usually has been enough to move the conversation to another topic.
But now the cat is out of the frying pan. If you noticed a little something different about the dates on the front cover of this publication, then pat yourself on the back—you've read it right. The Jackson Free Press is now a weekly publication. A true newsweekly.
The staff is very proud of this issue—it's a goal we've worked toward for the year and a half we've been publishing and for the months before while we were planning this publication. Indeed, weekly has always been our goal, ever since we started the JFP almost literally on our kitchen table—and quite literally on our credit cards and with the support of a handful of "Founder" advertisers. (And it seems appropriate that it's the Mother's Day issue; we published the very first preview issue on Sept. 22, 2002—in tribute to editor Donna Ladd's very special mama.)
We've always known that a weekly publication was the best way to serve both our readers and the Jackson small business community. Now, thanks to the support of those same small businesses—there are more than 75 different advertisers represented in this issue alone—we're ready to make a weekly publication happen. And we're excited and thankful to the advertisers, supporters and readers who have made the Jackson Free Press a continued success and allowed us to grow at such a rapid pace.
Aside from the frequency of the publication, you'll notice that a lot has stayed the same—after all, we've been gearing up to "go weekly" for a few months now in earnest. But you'll see some changes and improvements, too. On page 26 of this issue, for instance, check out Eight Days a Week, our new editorial section opening the Lounge List. In "Eight Days" you'll find our recommendations for unique and exciting things to do in and around Jackson each week. Our music and events listings now a comprehensive look at what's going on over the upcoming week, and you can look ahead to later weeks and months via our Web site (and new event planning calendar) at jacksonfreepress.com. Thanks to Herman Snell for managing the most extensive calendars in Jackson, Lynette Hanson for writing copy for "Eight Days," and to Jimmy Mumford and Stephen Barnette for the design.
In addition to weekly news and culture, we'll have special issues upcoming that continue to preview a season's worth of entertainment at once—our June 3 issue, for instance, will feature the Summer Preview, just as this issue celebrates Mother's Day and spring fashion—done JFP style, of course.
Speaking of fashion and Stephen Barnette, you'll find his handiwork in this issue's Hip Mom Fashions guide, starting on page 18. While Stephen is the proud designer of a majority of the ads and many of the covers that have graced the Jackson Free Press since it got its start, this is his first fashion spread. Give him props when you see him on the street—but not just for that. Stephen, who is a co-founder of the JFP, becomes our Advertising Director this issue in recognition of the hard work that he's put into making the JFP a business success.
Advertisers will notice (please!) that our deadlines are getting a bit stricter with the move to weekly. They have to. Our cover date remains Thursdays (and we'll usually be lucky enough to have most or all of the papers on the streets by Wednesday evening). That means we're forced to stick to the deadline to reserve ad space for the next issue as every Wednesday at 5 p.m., and the art deadline—completed proofs and changes—is Friday afternoon.
One of the enforcers of those ad deadlines is a new face at the JFP—Cordie Aziz. Cordie is the new account manager for classifieds and Marketplace—if you have a small business or offer a professional service, you may be hearing from Cordie soon. (Or you can call her at 362.6121 ext. 1). The Marketplace has been one of our most successful innovations over the past year, and one of my favorite advertising options because I think it's an asset to small business and self-employed professionals.
Those of you who know and work with JFP account manager Alisa Price will be glad to hear that she's had a healthy baby boy—Gabriel, who weighed in at 8 lbs, 12 ounces. Baby and mother and daddy and big sis are doing well. We're expecting Alisa back in early June, so if you're used to her sunny smile on a regular basis, you only have to put up with the rest of us for a few more weeks.
Another question we get asked is whether we'll be able to handle the schedule of weekly publication and maintain the same level of quality. We'll let you judge that, ultimately, but we're confident that the JFP will only continue improving, just as our team of talent keeps growing. Since we started the paper in October 2002, we've been thrilled and amazed by the talent and dedication of the folks who've joined our staff—both volunteer and on the payroll—and all of the people who have believed in us and helped the publication to grow.
These days we've got a core team that includes Lynette Hanson, Carole Cannon, Ayana Taylor, Herman Snell, Ken Patterson, Casey Parks, Natalie Irby, Susan Margaret Barrett, Jaro Vacek, Stephen Barnette, Cordie Aziz, Alisa Price, Jessica Mizell, Montroe Headd, Jason Sickle, Ugene Small, Maxx Renfroe, Sylvester McLaurin, Kristen Anderson, Karen Smith, JoAnne Prichard Morris and Donna Ladd—and those are just the folks who show up to the office every issue to help us out. There are, of course, many other freelancers, volunteers and syndicated contributors who help to make the JFP all that it is—and will be—and we thank those folks as well.
If you've got ideas for us as we go weekly, please don't hesitate to let me know—[email protected]—and don't forget that we're also a daily publication on our Web site: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com We have some surprises coming on that front as well, so keep an eye out.