Twitter versus Trump versus the First Amendment

Layne Bruce

By Layne Bruce

In any other context, the President of the United States indulging in conspiracy theories about the explained accidental death of a young political intern in Florida two decades ago — and casting serious aspersions about who may have been involved — would be a non-stop story on cable television, in newspapers, and on the internet the world over.

But, this being 2020, it has been drowned out by the fight the President is now picking with his own gigantic soapbox — the social media platform Twitter — over it labeling as misleading two more mundane tweets of his about the validity of voting by mail.

This is significant for more than one reason. First, it signals Twitter is willing to play a more active role as gatekeeper to all of the tweets sent daily by its more than 320 million active users. Second, it calls into question the role of the First Amendment and whether social media platforms are responsible for the content shared on them.

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COVID-19 Resources & Tip Sheet 3/20

18425255-0b23-4291-a413-9f48862eb60bTalk with Local Authorities Re: “Essential Service”
We have received a number of inquiries regarding newspapers as “essential services” at times of national emergency. These come at a time when some states are issuing “shelter in place” orders seeking to keep the maximum number of citizens at home during the peak of this public health crisis.

While MPA is in touch with state authorities and staff for Gov. Tate Reeves, we recommend our members be in touch with their local authorities, including county and city governments, to discuss being recognized as such in case such a determination on sheltering is eventually deemed necessary in Mississippi.

We will keep everyone posted as we learn more about this vital topic.

Learn more in this video podcast from Editor and Publisher featuring David Chavern, CEO of the News Media Alliance, and Mike Blinder, E&P’s publisher.

Tax Filing Deadline Extended Till July
From Bloomberg News — Tax forms and payments won’t be due to the Internal Revenue Service until July 15 this year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a tweet, as the government looks for ways to respond to the coronavirus.

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Metro Creative Has Coronavirus Package
H/T Local Media Association — A variety of graphics including COVID-19 infographics, CDC guidelines, health and safety ad layouts, directories and more are currently available to subscribers at

Access all the content with keyword: coronavirus.

Restaurants: To Close or Not to Close?
From the Mississippi Business JournalRestaurants across Mississippi are either running abbreviated service to try to avoid closing because of the coronavirus pandemic – or have already closed.

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What Local Advertisers Need Now… And How to Help Them

From America’s Newspapers — Local businesses have specific marketing needs in times of crisis. History shows that some excel when they employ the right marketing tactics during a downturn. Join us for a 45-minute webinar on how your newspaper can help local advertisers as they struggle with declining sales and customer distractions. With the help of our presenters,  we’ll identify which businesses might actually thrive with the right marketing and how you can help them gain a voice, how the “at home” community is causing a big uptick in media usage — and what businesses who are suffering the most will need when the recovery begins.

Presented by: Gordon Borrell, CEO; Jim Brown, President and Corey Elliott, Executive VP Market Intelligence, Borrell Associates and Matt Coen, Co-Founder and President, Second Street.

MPA members can register here for free

Keep public notices in local newspapers

As has been the case in recent years, bills have once again ben introduced in the Miss. Legislature that would give local governments the option of no longer posting public notices in their local newspapers, but rather relegating them to their own somewhat ill-defined government websites. That has always been a terrible idea and it still is.

Surveys consistently show that fully 70 percent of Mississippians faithfully read their local newspapers (some of them specifically for the public notices that affect their lives and businesses) and exactly 12 percent of folks have expressed any interest whatsoever in changing that local established tradition in favor of trying to find them on some quite possibly obscure public Internet site.

While we here are blessed with largely honest public officials with good intentions, not everyone is so fortunate, and there are some public officeholders of our acquaintance that would like nothing better than making it easier to keep the public in the dark about what they are up to.

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Is this the golden age of ignorance?

By Al Cross

Al Cross

Does the reportedly mixed reaction to the death of a small weekly newspaper on the Lake of the Woods show we have entered “the golden age of ignorance,” as Minnesota Public Radio blogger Bob Collins declared?

Perhaps, if newspapers can’t convince communities that they are an essential civic asset.

Collins’ declaration came in a follow-up to MPR reporter John Engler’s report on the May 7 demise of the Warroad Pioneer, one of three weeklies in Roseau County, on Minnesota’s northern border. Engler paraphrased New York Times reporter Richard Fausset: “He said he spent a week in Warroad, talking to locals about the paper closing. He admitted that most folks, outside of the Pioneer staff and their husbands, didn’t seem too broken up about it.”

Fausset disputed that, in an interview with me: “I talked to a lot of people who were very worried the newspaper was going to quit. What MPR reported does not accurately reflect what I found in the town. There are a number of people concerned about what happens next.”

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Tragedy cast a long shadow but did not define Miss Nancy

By Layne Bruce

Layne Bruce

KOSCIUSKO — The morning of March 4, 2002 was innocuous enough. Those of us at The Star-Herald were going through motions not unlike what would happen on any given Monday at any other given weekly newspaper.

That meant attending meetings — the Board of Supervisors in my case, closing out the classified pages, and updating renewals for the week to ensure subscribers received the newspaper.

I was editor and publisher of the paper, nearing four years there over two different tours of duty.

Nancy Green, then 66, would have been working on her weekly “People & Events” feature that Monday morning. Nancy had been on the job for nearly 50 years. She started just out of school as a typesetter, but she spent the majority of her career as the lifestyles — or society — editor, chronicling the births, engagements, and everyday lives of Attala County residents.

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To say it’s been an interesting 27 months is an understatement

By Paul Keane

Keane, Paul
Paul Keane

WAYNESBORO — Man, 27 months can go by quickly, with plenty of things changing in the process.

Twenty-seven months ago, I wasn’t a grandfather. This past Mother’s Day weekend, our grandson turned 2.

Twenty-seven months ago, I was still in my rookie year of full-fledged newspaper ownership. Now, I have enough battle scars, bumps and bruises to take on the appearance of a life-long owner.

Twenty-seven months ago, I received the call from MPA Executive Director Layne Bruce that then-current MPA President Don Norman had announced his retirement from the newspaper business. That meant I was being elevated to MPA President roughly 15 months earlier than we had expected. To say it’s been an interesting 27 months would be a gross understatement.

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Four words for ad professionals: ‘Oh, yeah? Prove it’

By John Foust

John Foust

I once encountered a car dealer who took advertising puffery to new levels. They publicized themselves as being number one in every conceivable category. Their general advertising theme was, “We’re number one.” Their new car slogan was, “We’re number one in new cars.” Their used car slogan was, “We’re number one in used cars.” Their service department’s slogan was, “We’re number one in service.” And of course, their logo featured their name inside a number one.

That approach must have simplified their advertising strategy meetings: “Let’s just tell everybody we’re number one in everything.”

I’m no legal expert, but I suspect that they could not have been prevented from using that exaggeration, because saying “we’re number one” is like saying “we’re the best.” It’s just too common to be taken as a serious deception.
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Gov. Bryant can stop ‘dark money’

From The Greenwood Commonwealth

Unless Gov. Phil Bryant exercises his veto power, Mississippi is about to take a huge step backward in letting voters know who is bankrolling whom in elections.

The Legislature has passed a measure, House Bill 1205, that will open the door to political payoffs that will be impossible to ferret out.

To understand the mischief of HB 1205, which the Republican majorities in both chambers pushed through the Legislature, one needs to understand how the current campaign finance laws in Mississippi work.

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Newspapers should connect with their communities, make them better

By Alexander Gould

Alexander Gould

As I sat down, I was not sure what ideas and thoughts were going to be presented to me from the Ole Miss students who earlier in the semester as part of their campaigns class were challenged with an objective of improving how area businesses perceive us.

While each group approached the issue differently, it became very clear all had a common theme: We must improve our connection with our community.

Read that again — we must improve our connection with our community. I asked you to read it again so it really sinks in, because, like me, it was not what you expected to hear from this group of college age students, was it? I was waiting for someone to tell me, “you should be all digital,” “you need to invent a new app,” or “create more video,” but none of that was ever said.

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Is denying a defamatory accusation actionable as libel?

By John C. Henegan Sr.

Just another day at the office

2016 henegan, john
John C. Henegan Sr.

A reporter brings you a story about a matter of interest to the entire community. The story tells how local law enforcement personnel responded to a mass shooting at a local school that took place a week earlier, and the accusations of distraught parents. The parents claim that a deputy sheriff stated that some of the school children were wounded by friendly fire from an unidentified local police officer.

The reporter has asked the sheriff to respond. The sheriff, who led a coordinated attack against the shooter from a command vehicle with audio-contact with his deputies and local police, says that the parents are deeply upset, which is understandable, but they are wrong. Due to their emotional state at the time, they must have misunderstood the deputy.

Your paper has published similar stories from around the country. The adequacy of training received by first responders is a recurring issue. Are you going to run the story as is, and if not, what do you plan to do?

Continue reading “Is denying a defamatory accusation actionable as libel?”