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.
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?
The biggest problem publishing newspapers today is public perception. Every newspaper, from the largest metro to the smallest family-owned community weekly, is judged by the actions of all the others.
If a large chain decides to reduce the number of day they publish or the size of their news room both broadcast and social media report it as a sure sign “print is dead.”
But print isn’t dead. Newspapers are simply facing the same challenges impacting most traditional retailers in this time of increased on-line marketing. Both newspaper and shopper publishers are often told they are the buggy-whip manufacturers of the modern age. But those who say such don’t consider that, although the buggy-whip business is long gone, the importance, status and value of a fine horse remains.
For a decade or more, community newspapers, mostly in rural areas, have been the strongest part of the traditional news business. That’s because they are usually the only reliable source of news about their communities. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t suffered as audiences move from print to digital and from news media to social media (or even strategic media, some masquerading as news media). Now community publishers are having to deal with perhaps the greatest collective threat they have ever faced, a newsprint tariff that has raised their printing costs by about 20 percent.
There are efforts in Congress to suspend the tariff on Canadian newsprint and get the International Trade Commission to overturn it. The outcome is unclear. But what has become clear is that there is more worry among rural newspapers than ever before about their future. I’ve heard it in talks with editors, publishers and executives, and have seen it in the papers themselves, as well as other news media. The latest examples I’ve seen are in The Canadian Record, a superb weekly in the Texas Panhandle, and a story in MinnPost, a nonprofit news site based in Minneapolis.
Last month I shared the story of a community newspaper editor who showed an effective way to respond to concerns of readers, often not politely expressed, that his newspaper was liberally biased. Brian Hunt of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin is an experienced editor, but an intern at a Kentucky weekly newspaper took a very similar approach in a manner that was just as professional. Here’s an adapted version of our report on The Rural Blog:
Josh Qualls was having difficulty finding a source to help him explain how the House health-insurance bill might affect seniors on Medicaid in Lincoln County, Kentucky, where he recently completed a summer internship with The Interior Journal in Stanford. So he went to the Boone Newspapers weekly’s Facebook page.
“The very first response echoed some of the most disheartening, gut-wrenching rhetoric we’ve seen directed toward journalists in recent months. Its author offered a scathing indictment of the news media and accused us of being liberally biased,” Qualls wrote in his intern report to the Kentucky Press Association, relying on memory because the poster had deleted the post. “She talked about how much ‘Obamacare’ didn’t help her health-hindered family, so I saw a way to connect with her.”
The New York Times executive editor said during a visit to Harvard in September that he would risk jail to publish Donald Trump’s tax returns. He made good on his word Saturday night when the Times published Trump tax documents from 1995, which show the Republican presidential nominee claimed losses of $916 million that year — enough to avoid paying federal income taxes for as many as 18 years afterward.
What I remember most about that night is hitting the mailbox. Oh, and the guy sitting next to me getting carsick from the volatility of my admittedly awful driving.
It was the middle of the evening in the middle of nowhere in Barren County, Ky.
Joel and I had been on the road for several hours trying to deliver that day’s paper. Due to a somewhat historic drought of carriers in the circulation department at the time, he and I had been drafted to get a couple of the afternoon newspaper’s daily routes delivered. It took two of us because I wasn’t even from Barren County and had no idea where I was going.