Is anyone still reading?

April 1, 2012

And so it has come to this…

We’re discontinuing posts to the MPA “Inkblots” blog which launched in 2006. Follow MPA on Twitter @MPANewspapers or on Facebook. Coming soon, no doubt, to Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and on and on and on…

But, please, keep reading!

Bylines: Vicksburg, Ridgeland, Biloxi

February 23, 2012

Steven G. Watson, a 15-year journalist at papers in Houston, Winona, and Boerne, TX, among others, has been named news editor of The Vicksburg Post. He most recently was associate editor of the Madison County Journal in Ridgeland… At the Journal, Watson is succeeded by Michael Simmons, who joins the Ridgeland weekly after serving as the first editor of The Cleveland Current weekly in Bolivar County… Jim McCloskey is leaving his editorial cartoonist and advertising sales position at Gannett’s Staunton, Va. News Leader to accept a similar position at The Sun Herald.

Tolley named editor of C-L

February 19, 2012

After a vacancy of over six months, The Clarion-Ledger has named a Lafayette, La. newspaper journalist as its new executive editor.

Brian Tolley, currently executive editor of The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La., will become executive editor/director of audience engagement & growth for The Clarion-Ledger Media Group.

Tannehill sells Union paper to Emmerich

January 23, 2012

Jack Tannehill, a longtime editor and owner of the Newton County Appeal, sold his paper to Jackson-based publisher Wyatt Emmerich. Both Emmerich and Tannehill are former presidents of the Mississippi Press Association. In fact, both are fathers were, too.

The sale of the paper comes three years after Tannehill expanded the scope of the former Union Appeal upon the closure of the Newton Record, which Montgomery-Ala.-based CNHI shuttered during the depths of the economic recession.

Tannehill is a well-known member of the Association. And one we will certainly miss.

What they’re writing about Barbour, part II

January 15, 2012

What a difference a week makes. Our last post, entered one week a ago, was a roundup of editorial voices from across Mississippi. A choir of near universal appreciation for the ex-governor on the eve of his departure from office, as it were. Seven days later, nearly a foot of fallen rain and one inauguration later, all anyone is still talking about is Haley Barbour. The mass pardoning has caused not only an uproar at home, it has been grist for the mill nationwide. And, once again, not the kind of attention Mississippi wants or needs.

For round two, here is input from…

  • Sid Salter, syndicated columnist and author: This isn’t a public reaction born out of numbers. It’s a reaction born out of anger and, for many, a sense of betrayal. Newspapers which two days earlier had written glowing farewell editorials about Barbour were questioning his reasoning and his competence in the execution of the pardons. Angry families of the victims were questioning his sanity, his compassion, and his sense of decency.
  • Jack Ryan, editor of the McComb Enterprise-Journal: No matter what you think of the former governor’s politics, it is difficult to argue that he’s a fool. But if the talk among people in McComb is accurate, the question everyone would like to ask him is, “What were you thinking?”
  • Lloyd Gray, editor of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: Phil Bryant was inaugurated as Barbour’s successor Tuesday, but the overshadowing story of the week was the outgoing governor’s pardon barrage. It was truly one of the most perplexing political developments in Mississippi in years, and it almost immediately turned into a national story.
  • David Hampton, Clarion-Ledger editorial director: How Barbour went about his pardoning was a huge mistake that caused public outrage. Families of victims are naturally upset, but even longtime Barbour supporters felt angry and betrayed. It made national news. Political opponents had a field day.Although Barbour says 189 of the 200-plus were already out of jail and had gone through a careful review process, it is simply hard to understand and/or justify some
  • One from Yours Truly on the overlooked public notice aspect: This isn’t about whether any one of the individuals Barbour pardoned was worthy or not. That’s another debate and one that’s usually rendered moot by the chief executive’s right to release convicts and restore their civil rights. Rather, this is about transparency and the public’s right to know.
  • The Commercial Dispatch in an editorial as the pardon scandal was first breaking: Trials can be painful, and jurors struggle internally to make the right decision. All for naught. These lame-duck pardons have become a part of the fabric of Mississippi. It’s a piece we’d like to see torn out.
  • Kevin Cooper, publisher of The Natchez Democrat: Of the 215 criminals involved, approximately 189 were already released from prison; meaning Barbour’s paperwork was mostly meaningless to the average citizen. Fears that hundreds of murderers were being freed were overblown. Logically, however, Mississippians feel wronged by the realization that even one murderer is being set free “just because he served as a servant in the governor’s mansion.”
  • A Daily Leader editorial: Political ramifications aside, the especially troubling aspect of this pardon episode is the fact that laws requiring public notices were blatantly not followed. The Mississippi Constitution – the document that gives governors the right to grant pardons – also states that no pardon can be granted unless notice of the impending reprieve is made public for 30 days prior to the issuance of the pardon. The notice must be published in a newspaper located in the county where the conviction occurred.

— Editorial cartoon by Marshall Ramsey, The Clarion-Ledger, 01-12-12

What they’re writing about Barbour

January 8, 2012

Haley Barbour leaves office this week after eight years as Mississippi’s Governor. He was resolute and obstinate, charming and stern, conciliatory and confounding. At least in the judgment of many of the state’s noted opinion writers and editorial boards. Here’s a roundup of what they’re saying as Mississippians look back over eight years of Barbour leadership:

  • David Hampton, editorial director of The Clarion-Ledger: Gov. Haley Barbour returns to private life this week, leaving a legacy of one of Mississippi’s strongest governors during one of Mississippi’s most difficult times.
  • Jack Tannehill, editor and publisher of The Newton County Appeal: He has been unwavering in his attempts and his success to keep a blanket over everything that revealed anything personal. But, for me, the most seminal moment of the Barbour years was a brief lifting of that veil that I think reveled more about Barbour, the person, than any other event during his time in office.
  • Charlie Mitchell, syndicated columnist: Barbour showed no mercy in blaming Musgrove for the state’s money mess eight years ago, but has artfully dodged any responsibility for job losses, tax shortfalls and reduced funding for education and other state responsibilities since 2008. And while so doing he has prevailed on legislators to go slow in allocating bailout funds and draining the state’s reserve, which was replenished starting in his first budget year.
  • Lloyd Gray, editor of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: He was a Washington powerhouse before he returned to Mississippi to serve two historically significant terms as governor, and he brought Washington here with him. He brought all the contacts he had developed in his years as a White House aide, Republican national chairman, lobbyist and political strategist, which has benefited the state. He also brought Washington-style partisan politics, which changed the dynamics in state government and ultimately its control.
  • Sid Salter, syndicated columnist: The majority of Mississippi — a majority that twice elected Barbour governor — will remember him much as the rest of the country remembers him. They will recall his strong, decisive leadership in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters, and they will remember him for leaving the state’s Republican Party not merely competitive in the two-party system, but dominant.
  • The Sun Herald editorial board: Barbour’s singular role in helping South Mississippi cope with, and recover from, Hurricane Katrina will long remain the stuff of gubernatorial legend.

— Editorial cartoon by Marshall Ramsey, The Clarion-Ledger, 01-08-12

Bylines: News editor named in Greenville

December 29, 2011

We’re behind on this one: Laura Smith, former editor of the West Memphis Times, was named news editor of the Delta Democrat Times in October. Meanwhile, publisher Matt Guthrie added duties of editor to his title. The two are picking up responsibilities of former editor Dominick Cross who departed last summer.

Former Hattiesburg editor resigns Illinois post

December 22, 2011

The executive editor of The State Journal-Register Jon K. Broadbooks resigned Wednesday to take a job with the Illinois Association of Realtors. In Mississippi, Broadbooks worked as editor at the Hattiesburg American and on the business desk for The Clarion-Ledger.

Facebook enlisted to keep C-L comments civil

December 12, 2011

Writes David Hampton in Sunday’s Clarion-Ledger: “The web is the most amazing instrument we have ever had to advance and enrich the marketplace of ideas. It allows readers of this newspaper and other media to immediately comment and interact with writers or other readers. That’s a valuable way to advance ideas. Unfortunately, it also can also be easily abused by some who use personal attacks and offensive comments while hiding behind a wall of anonymity. It can quickly turn into a free-for-all of incivility.”

The newspaper will now use Facebook as a de facto moderator for online comments; if you don’t have a Facebook account, you won’t be able to post on the Ledger’s website.

Gannett to build paywall at more papers

December 8, 2011

Gannett is set to join the parade of newspaper publishers rolling out paywalls in an effort to monetize their online properties. CEO Gracia Martore yesterday told Wall Street analysts at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference that Gannett plans to launch paywalls across more newspapers in 2012 in an effort to “capture added revenue and profitability” from those properties.


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