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Editor’s Note | Symbiosis With One’s Job Is a Rare Blessing

“I do not want to enter news.” During high school, I had this precise thought when considering my options for a future career. I knew I wanted to work with the written word in some way, either as a writer or editor or as both, but to me, news was the thing my dad watched while sitting on the living-room couch at 11 p.m. every night—his eyes steadily drooping until he nodded off to sleep, even though he would claim otherwise if you tried to turn off the TV. I did not understand how current events could directly affect me or the levels of society I lived within.

As a 20-something college student at the University of Southern Mississippi, I took on a second major called journalism-public relations. Public relations felt like a field that suited many of my natural proclivities, but because PR was attached to USM’s School of Mass Communication and Journalism, I had to take a reporting class.

Here’s the thing: I liked it.

Learning the rules of a new system of writing felt like a game of sorts, so I studied my 2016 edition of The Associated Press Stylebook with regularity. Before the semester had ended, I joined The Student Printz, USM’s student-led newspaper. I remained on staff until graduation as features editor, news editor and then copyeditor. Searching for an editorial job in Mississippi, I discovered the Jackson Free Press, and Donna Ladd hired me as an editorial assistant in January 2019. Primarily, I managed JFP’s events calendar, but I became deputy editor by September of that year.

In December 2019, Donna and Kimberly held a staff retreat, where they announced plans for the nonprofit that would ultimately become the Mississippi Journalism and Education Group and the new incarnation of the Mississippi Free Press they would be leading. Upon learning of the MFP’s scope and mission, I recall having another distinctive thought: “This is important. I get to be a part of this,” and I found myself tearing up on the spot (I promise that isn’t an exaggeration for effect).

Over the years that followed,

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