This issue appears on the streets during a significant change for our nation—our publication date is Inauguration Day for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Jan. 20, 2021, ushers in not just a historic new chapter in our country, but, I hope, a return to some of our oldest and most cherished values when it comes to the dignity and sense of purpose we expect of our leaders. We have a lot of healing to do, both among ourselves and with our allies worldwide.
Along with changes on the national level, I've got several changes to report on the local JFP front, effective with this issue.
First, this issue marks our first issue in over a year that didn't feature Nick Judin on the masthead as a reporter (although he, of course, still has a byline in this issue). In a short amount of time, Nick put together a body of fantastic work, especially on COVID-19 and how it has affected the lives of Mississippi's people. We're incredibly proud of this young man and Jackson native who interned for us years ago and returned to the Jackson Free Press family in 2019.
This month, the statewide nonprofit Mississippi Free Press added Nick to its masthead, where he will be the new state reporter for that growing nonprofit publication. In his stead, Julian Mills joins us as a reporting fellow, where he'll focus on COVID-19, state news and other topics of interest to our metro Jackson readership.
Second, this marks the first issue in 18 years that doesn't have Donna Ladd as the Editor-in-Chief on that same masthead. As the Mississippi Free Press draws more of her attention, she's moving into a slightly new role at the JFP: Founding Editor. While she'll still have her hand on the content of the JFP—especially on the deep-dive journalism that's defined our publication for nearly two decades—she is getting more help and a little less responsibility in the day-to-day operations.
Third, as a corollary to that, we're promoting Nate Schumann to Managing Editor of the Jackson Free Press. Nate is a fantastic editor and writer, an organized (and extremely kind) manager ... and the person we trust to pull together the Best of Jackson issue. When we trust you with that mammoth task—it's promotion time!
Fourth, we've got changes for the Jackson Free Press' print publication schedule. This past year we've come to recognize two unavoidable truths—COVID-19 is continuing to affect our print advertisers, and the effects of COVID (and other factors) have considerably boosted our online readership. That's led to this decision—starting with the Best of Jackson 2021 edition on Feb. 3, 2021, we will come out in print once a month instead of biweekly.
We have thought about "monthly" a great deal this past year, and we feel that our readers are best served by breaking news and events content on the Web (and via the JFPDaily.com email newsletter), with longer-form, magazine-style entertainment features and investigative news in print. We also hope this move will benefit our advertisers, too, as a single ad in print will reach 45,000 or more people each month.
Fifth, with the change to monthly, we've moved the Best of Jackson issue (and the announcement of the winners) to Feb. 3, so that it can be out for a full month. On the same day, we'll launch our brand new BestofJackson.com city guide and portal—a fully search-optimized and graphically enhanced results website that will celebrate our winners all year long.
Sixth, we're announcing a virtual Best of Jackson award ceremony on Feb. 15, where we hope you'll join us to celebrate the finalists and winners of this year's reader poll. We're planning a few surprises that we hope will make for an entertaining few hours of Facebook Live streaming—you can sign up for the JFPDaily.com newsletter for reminders and more information.
This past year has been a tough one for the Jackson Free Press' advertisers, and for the JFP as a result, because we do rely on advertisers to make it work. As you can imagine, most of those ads are about going outside your house and socializing—things that have been highly limited for nearly 10 months now.
We certainly hope to get back to big events soon, and in the meantime, I'd like to encourage anyone who would like to get the word out about their business, nonprofit, clinic, service, virtual event and so on to get in touch with me ([email protected]) or Kimberly Griffin ([email protected]) to take advantage of some fantastic "launch" packages we have for monthly print and Web advertising with extraordinary local reach.
It's also been a very productive reporting year for the JFP, with an over-50% increase in web traffic (more than 3 million visitors and 4.4 million pageviews) in 2020 compared to 2019. Noting that trend, we're encouraging our local businesses and nonprofits to consider more digital advertising options, both on our site and in the JFP Daily email newsletter.
Finally, we have to THANK OUR READERS for making it possible for us to stick it out during the pandemic! More than 600 people have become JFP VIPs supporting this publication and our staff; readers helped cover roughly 25% of our entire budget last year. We're working on more special programming and perks for JFP VIPs, especially as we come out of the pandemic. This direct financial support from readers helps us continue to be an independent voice that holds the powerful to account.
Thanks for being a reader—if you'd like to become a JFP Daily subscriber, you can do so at jfpdaily.com and if you'd like to become a JFP VIP supporter, you can do so at JFP.ms/vip/. We look forward to serving you in 2021.
Reach me at [email protected] and pitch ideas to Nate at