EDITOR’S NOTE: Meet the Mississippi Free Press

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Media and journalism should provide a moral and cultural compass in Mississippi for all residents of various ages, backgrounds, races and ethnicities, but it too often fails us. Journalism leadership in Mississippi and the U.S. overall is too white and too male, and too often slanted toward their needs and implicit or explicit biases.

A huge challenge is an obsession with partisanship and, especially, not appearing too "blue" or too liberal when issues that affect women, children and people of color are not "blue" or "red." Elections are covered like horse races with headlines about who is "more conservative," whatever that means in the moment. Too many voices go unheard. Media don't ask real people what they think. They're afraid of embedding real history and the dialogues that result such as the fact that Cindy Hyde-Smith attended a segregation academy, and sent her daughter to one, or that Jim Hood's and Tate Reeves' fraternity brothers appeared in blackface—and why it's important for the candidates to address their histories.

Most vitally, Mississippi media tend to ignore systemic causes of today's problems and fail to do the hard work of vetting and reporting solutions. When they do interact with the public, they hold panel discussions to talk at people rather than with them, preaching more than listening. And routinely, they ignore concerns and ideas about women, seldom even promoting them to top positions in their newsrooms.

Still, they love to talk about "brain drain" and "diversity." But you don't keep people here by pandering to racism and sexism. Quite the opposite, in fact. You do it by digging for real information, telling true stories in compelling ways, offering a wide variety of voices and by vetting solutions, not just telling hero stories.

Media can help solve problems and change things for the better by engaging the

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