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Editor’s Note | MFP Team Hits the New Year Running

Mississippi elections end, national elections begin. We’re used to the endless and exhausting campaign seasons here in Mississippi, and 2024 will be no different. As always, we’ll be keeping an eye out for our democracy and factual campaign messaging and reporting just as we did in 2023.

For Mississippi, the new year also brings with it a new term for statewide officeholders (including Gov. Tate Reeves), a new legislative session with a new set of bills and a new House speaker. For us, it’s a new year with new challenges for covering a state whose public officials aren’t always interested in candidness and transparency.

Our excellent team of reporters has already hit the ground running.

Capital City Reporter Shaunicy Muhammad began the year reporting on the latest developments in the fight over state-imposed courts in Jackson through H.B. 1020; Democrat Ty Pinkins’ decision to renew his campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker; and on Gov. Tate Reeves’ inaugural speech that, at times, sounded strangely similar to one an aspiring U.S. senator from Illinois gave 20 years ago.

Reporter Heather Harrison dove right into covering the new legislative session, reporting on the election of Jason White as the new House speaker and the bomb threats that caused evacuations at the Mississippi Capitol Building on the second day of the legislative session. And she’s continued reporting on medical marijuana in Mississippi as the largest of the two cannabis testing labs in the state had its license suspended and advocates urged officials to make medical cannabis more accessible—particularly for people with disabilities.

Educator Reporter Torsheta Jackson was among the first to report on plans to rename Mississippi University For Women to “Brightwell University”—an announcement that has stoked controversy. As is the Mississippi Free Press way, Torsheta’s report told the whole story in context, starting with the founding of the W as a school the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls. Yes, its name has changed several times before.

And just on Thursday evening, we were delighted to publish the first report from Nick Judin in about

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