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.
BRUCE, Miss. — It was mentioned a good bit over the last few days how she truly did have the ability to light up every room she entered. And, with an individual like Lisa McNeece, that didn’t always mean the same thing. With someone like Lisa, you’re never left wondering how she feels.
Mostly, though, when she entered the room, you could not mistake her warmth and effervescence nor her good humor. Lisa was engaging and funny, feisty and protective, vivacious and nurturing. She was genuine. What you saw was what you got.
The two of us shared a similar sense of humor, and often that meant we were poking fun at the absurd moments of life. She also had an admirable knack for making light of awkward moments — those times when most of us would not exactly know what to say.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.