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MFP Journalism Had Immense Impact in 2023. Here’s Our Most-Read Stories, Staff Picks.

The Mississippi Free Press has enjoyed accolades almost from the day editor Donna Ladd and then-senior reporter Ashton Pittman decided to start reporting about the pandemic as it started in March 2020 even though MFP didn’t even have a website ready to go. They dug in, posting on a temporary site, and in less than a month the New Yorker magazine was citing and drawing from Ashton’s COVID-19 and Tate Reeves reporting.

From there, we’ve enjoyed immense growth in readers, journalistic reputation, impact and team size, even as we’ve had no staff turnover since March 2020 launch (and many of us worked together for years before that, which explains our amazing dedicated team and camaraderie). We’ve won 46 awards and honors so far for our journalism over two years for our first two years of work. And, yes, our work has made a difference in myriad ways. Impact is kind of our middle name.

In 2023 alone, we made a difference—and raised awareness about where a difference should be made. We went beyond complaining and challenged closed government decision-making, and our ongoing Trusted Elections voting-precinct investigation and mapping gave national civil-rights organizations evidence to challenge the State of Mississippi, and county precincts, to do a far better job. We exposed horrific living conditions in apartments in the Mississippi Delta that the media there were largely ignoring. A federal judge cited our Hinds County jail coverage repeatedly on the road to finally demanding improvement in the conditions of detention centers.

Of course, our Jackson water coverage continued to set the journalistic standard for the types of questions that must be asked of local, state and federal governments. And our explanatory, truly non-partisan coverage of the Welfare scandal in Mississippi put the scandal in a fuller context that helped people across the country understand the actual timeline in a way that no other news outlet has done to date.

Stories with Direct Impact in 2023

In December, the Mississippi Ethics Commission debated whether the Mississippi Legislature is a public body under the Open Meetings Act, in debating a complaint by the Mississippi Free

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