Time to stand up for a free press: We’re not the enemy

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

Enough already.

The last couple of years have been an unending barrage against the freedom of the press and the practitioners of this noble trade.

From being called “liars,” “fake,” and “sick” by irate politicians to enduring capricious and punitive tariffs that are an existential threat to newspapers, the landscape for journalists today may be as inhospitable as it has ever been in the 242-year history of this great union of ours.

All this while the public at large seems unable to break free of the social media echo chamber. We retreat there to endlessly bicker with those who don’t agree, or to bolster the confidence of our own positions by seeking solace from those who do.

We’ve devolved into a nation of people who simply don’t want to hear it.

And that’s incredibly dangerous. Continue reading “Time to stand up for a free press: We’re not the enemy”

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This and that on tariffs, summits, and transitions

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

July 17 was a very long day for us in this business and not just because it was a Tuesday, which are replete with production deadlines for most newspapers.

No, this particular Tuesday was the day the marshaled forces representing newspapers across North America appeared before the International Trade Commission to make the case for it to abandon imposed anti-dumping duties and tariffs on Canadian-imported newsprint.

For all of our members, it is the existential crisis of the moment. And it’s a very dangerous one. The tariffs — still considered preliminary until the ITC rules late this summer — are causing newsprint prices to soar and availability to be sharply curbed.

The hearings before the ITC included a parade of dozens of members of Congress from both parties. These people know how important community newspapers are to the towns and counties they represent. And despite all the howls of “fake news” this and “fake news” that, these people know the threat such tariffs could have on principles as basic as those prescribed in the First Amendment.

Continue reading “This and that on tariffs, summits, and transitions”

Reunion, ‘Post’ remind of newspapers’ purpose

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

OLIVE BRANCH – This town used to be known only to me as the “last pit stop before Memphis.”

In the 70s, Olive Branch seemed little more than a couple of gas stations at an exit on U.S. 78 just before you reached the Tennessee line. It wasn’t until much later – until I actually lived in the city from 2004-2006 – that I learned of its charming downtown and tight-knit community.

Like much of suburbia, the city exploded in growth in the 80s and 90s as city dwellers moved outward. Likely sensing what was coming, Doug Jones opened the DeSoto County Tribune in Olive Branch in 1972 on the cusp of a period of rapid growth. Population in the small town exploded from 1,500 in 1970 to upward of 20,000 just 30 years later. It’s estimated 35,000 call Olive Branch home today.

Continue reading “Reunion, ‘Post’ remind of newspapers’ purpose”

Digitized newspaper archives are an engrossing record of history

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

This is probably a surprise to no one, but I’ve been a newspaper junkie since I was a kid. Even as a teen working at a my hometown paper, there was nothing I enjoyed quite like flipping through archived copies in the morgue.

My preference was to look through bound editions from the years after my birth (naturally) and read about and see pictures from important news stories that took place in our town.

As time marched on and I began to move to other communities and other newspapers, I’ve grown to enjoy looking through bound copies of papers for which I once worked. Rarely a visit to the Times Leader in West Point or The Star-Herald in Kosciusko would pass without me ending up with my nose in the archives.

Continue reading “Digitized newspaper archives are an engrossing record of history”

Court to public officials who would meet in private: Don’t

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

It was a long, rainy summer across much of the state.

But September brought with it cooler temperatures and lots of sunshine – both literally and metaphorically.

Just as we in Jackson started to enjoy one of the longest sustained periods of mild, sunny weather in months came news the State Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the Columbus City Council violated the Mississippi Open Meetings Act.

It was a unanimous 9-0 vote, no less. Talk about a win for sunshine laws.

Continue reading “Court to public officials who would meet in private: Don’t”

Newspapers can learn from fate closing in on retail giants

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

Retail disruption is the preoccupation du jour for financial analysts, business reporters and a large slice of the public at large that suddenly finds itself increasingly relying on Alexa to handle shopping for paper towels and underwear.

Kmart’s been struggling for a long time now. Stock prices for Kroger took a beating last week on news Amazon was buying Whole Foods. But perhaps no giant of retail better exemplifies the struggles of adaption than Sears.

From its beginnings in the 19th Century, Sears Roebuck and Co. was a precursor of sorts to e-commerce. Its massive catalogs were the stuff of which dreams were made – from the latest in fashion, to a desperately needed set of tires, to all those Star Wars action figures that were at the top of so many Christmas lists.

At one point in its history, Sears even sold prefabricated houses. Order the one you wanted, and a team soon arrived on your property to set up shop – I mean house.

Continue reading “Newspapers can learn from fate closing in on retail giants”

Halberstam’s memory of Mississippi persevered

This column was originally written April 24, 2007.

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

We are what we remember. More to the point, the memories we collect through our lifetimes are really what define us as individuals.

David Halberstam knew this.

When he was interviewed by correspondent Russ Mitchell for the CBS News program “Sunday Morning” in January, Halberstam, the Pulitzer-prize winning author and journalist, reminisced about the early days of his career. He was joined in the exercise by friends and fellow writers Gay Talese and A.E. Hotchner at one of the trio’s favorite restaurants in New York City.

Continue reading “Halberstam’s memory of Mississippi persevered”