Hail To The Staff | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Hail To The Staff

July 6, 2005

This is the 101st issue of the Jackson Free Press. We set out three years ago to bring independent journalism (and the best entertainment coverage) to Jackson, Miss., based on the "alt-weekly" model that is successful in other markets from the Village Voice to the Chicago Reader to the Nashville Scene, Memphis Flyer and many of the top 120 or so media markets. We had a kitchen table, some know-how, and the rich tapestry of Jackson and Mississippi to work with. The three-year trip we've made to become Jackson's news and entertainment weekly has been both grueling and gratifying.

We were thrilled when, in our first year, we were voted into the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, a competitive organization for whom we became the first Mississippi member ever. Merely six months into publication (and still, then, a fledgling bi-weekly) our premier industry group had seen fit to offer us membership and the support that comes along with joining such a professional organization.

That relationship bore fruit in the spring of 2004, when Ayana Taylor received one of two AAN Diversity Internship grants, and then went on to receive a coveted appointment to the Alternative Journalism program at the Medill School of Journalism at Chicago's Northwestern University. Late that same spring, we won our first two writing awards from AAN, both by Donna Ladd for music writing and her Editor's Note column.

Fast forward to 2005, and the JFP topped last year by picking up three writing awards—First Place in short-form news writing for Ayana Taylor, first place for Feature Writing by Donna Ladd and second place for Food Writing by Jesse Yancy. That's five awards in two years; this year, only the L.A. Weekly took home more first-place awards than the Jackson Free Press!

Making those accolades more impressive was the list of judges that was posted to the AAN Web site this year, which are all drawn from outside the alt-weekly world. For Food Writing, for instance, Jesse was given the award by judges from the Chicago Tribune, Elle magazine, the Daily Gullet, Atlantic Monthly and the editor of the New York Times Magazine. These are not just his peers in alt-weekly circles—they're his peers in American food writing in general. Donna was judged by journalists from Time, NPR, Editor & Publisher, Wired, AP, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star; Ayana was honored by judges from Forbes, the Washington Post, the Industry Standard and Columbia Journalism Review, among others.

We fully expect accolades in the next year for yet another round of our staffers, including full-timers Casey Parks and Adam Lynch, as well as 2005 AAN Diversity Internship grant recipient Thabi Moyo. They are doing exceptional work that not only makes the JFP better with each issue, but also frees up Donna to put together teams such as the one that covered the Edgar Ray Killen trial—photographer Kate Medley, blogger and researcher Natalie Irby, along with Donna and Thabi—the result of which is both on-the-spot Web coverage and the in-depth Killen cover story and photo essay about which we've received a ton of response. Check out the amazing gallery of Kate's images of the trial at http://www.jacskonfreepress.com/jfpgallery/

Here's a more home-grown accolade that makes us very proud—last month Donna Ladd was named one of Mississippi's 50 Leading Business Women in 2005 by the Mississippi Business Journal. We thank those judges and congratulate Donna on the well-deserved recognition. The JFP is more than a newspaper, it's a business. Donna knows the business well and has put theory and experience to work in both producing and marketing the JFP to its wide-reaching, diverse audience of readers that represent motivated people from the Jackson Metro who "get it" about small business, free enterprise, open and accountable government, and making progress the major goal both in the city and state.

Another thing that Donna insists on are events and community outreach such as the 2005 Chick Ball, organized by Swetha Regunathan and Casey Parks. The event raised awareness for female artists in the Jackson Metro along with over $3,200 for the Center for Violence Prevention, which has been helped tremendously by those donations. They still need more help—stop by 407 Roberts St. in Pearl to write a check or shop their thrift store to help them help abused women. We really thank Swetha for all the time and effort she puts into these events, and we salute the sponsors for donating generously. And we assure you that more such events are planned in 2005 and beyond—it's just too much fun to listen to music, shop art and give money to important causes all at the same time.

I won't get too mushy about how happy I am to be starting our "second hundred" issues of the JFP, although I will say it's been rewarding to serve Jackson as its news and entertainment weekly, and I look forward to my "Note" in Issue 200.

In the meantime, let me thank also Stephen Barnette and Jimmy Mumford—our two other founding partners who continue to make the JFP what it is today. They, along with Lynette Hanson, Herman Snell, Montroe Headd and Jakob Clark make up the team of regulars who make the JFP possible—that's not even counting the freelancers and interns who are also a huge part of our success.

Of course, just because we have 100 issues under our belt doesn't mean we don't have some growth to attend to. You may have already seen our army of tall distribution racks popping up in new locations around town—we're aiming for 400 distribution spots within the next few weeks as we fill in our distribution, with emphasis on some of the areas of town that have been running out of issues, such as parts of Madison and Flowood. If you have a suggestion for a distribution spot, write me at [e-mail missing]

Ultimately, of course, it's you who makes all the difference. Thanks for making our first 100 issues possible. Keep reading and letting us know what you think!

Previous Comments

ID
171156
Comment

Congratulations on 100 issues and the accolades! Keep up the good work.

Author
L.W.
Date
2005-07-06T18:01:52-06:00
ID
171157
Comment

Cool! Keep it up!

Author
tortoise
Date
2005-07-07T07:36:27-06:00
ID
171158
Comment

What a great publication for Jackson. (I hope to see a Delta version some day, too.) Congratulations! Susan Orr-Klopfer

Author
Susan Klopfer
Date
2005-07-08T00:34:55-06:00
ID
171159
Comment

Congrats, y'all. The JFP is a top-notch publication, even in its relative infancy. Jackson is lucky to have it.

Author
millhouse
Date
2005-07-08T09:28:17-06:00
ID
171160
Comment

kudos, guys. there are many other cities around the SE (and the country, for that matter) with weeklies that don't come close to the greatness of the JFP. here's to many many more issues...

Author
Jay
Date
2005-07-08T11:57:48-06:00
ID
171161
Comment

Congratulations and many thousands more. Stan

Author
butterat
Date
2005-07-16T15:00:18-06:00

Thanks to all our new JFP VIPs!

COVID-19 has closed down the main sources of the JFP's revenue -- concerts, festivals, fundraisers, restaurants and bars. If everyone reading this article gives $5 or more, we should be able to continue publishing through the crisis. Please pay what you can to keep us reporting and publishing.

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