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Publisher’s Note | Journalism Awards Pile Up for Whole Team When Newsroom Reflects Community 

I was about to start this publisher’s note saying that it’s awards season for the journalism world, but frankly, it’s always awards season these days with various industry organizations announcing winners just as another association opens up its entries. The first part of the year was full of wonderful surprises from national journalism organizations. As you probably know, we won the Poynter Institute’s inaugural McGruder Diversity Leadership Award, which was very cool for a newsroom with our dedication to cultivating a staff that looks like Mississippi.

This week we were thrilled to learn that Torsheta Jackson won first place in Solutions-Based reporting in Report for America’s Local News Awards. Her piece “Alternate-Route Education Programs Target Mississippi’s Teacher Shortage” looks at solving our teacher shortages by giving Mississippians alternative paths to teacher certification. It’s a fit subject matter for Torsheta, who transitioned from her career as a veteran teacher to become one of the country’s emerging superstar journalists. I hate that Mississippi lost such a fantastic teacher, but I’m thrilled that stories like this might help us gain a few more in her place.

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Last week, we learned we’re finalists for four national AAN journalism awards. We’ve actually been part of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia on and off for years, and it feels good to be on the slate again. AAN was named during a time when ‘“alternative” meant going against norms and halls of power. The Jackson Free Press, the newsroom we came from, started in that tradition in 2002, reporting truth to power from day one.

The alt-weeklies that survived the journalism upheaval are mostly in decent shape and have often transitioned to the paper of record in their cities as big media abdicated their responsibility. I’m currently on the AAN board, but I should point out that neither I nor now-Executive Director Todd Stauffer, the co-founder of the Jackson Free Press, judge entries. I didn’t even know which ones we submitted until the finalists came out.

As with most

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