Inside The Mississippi Link newspaper

By Christopher Young,

Contributing Writer,

Hampton

The masthead of The Mississippi Link newspaper reads: “Keepers of the knowledge for people who speak the truth since 1993.” For twenty-nine years, this African-American and now female-owned newspaper has been continuously published in traditional print, on a weekly basis.

When the Internet became broadly available in August of 1991, creating an E-edition was a natural progression of the times. Yet maintaining the print addition in the United States is much less so. Twenty-two years ago, at the International Newsroom Summit in London, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., then editor of The New York Times said, “We will stop printing the New York Times sometime in the future, date TBD (to be determined).” Several sources report that just in that last fifteen years, over 2,000 newspapers have closed, and that the number of journalists has declined by 50%.

A year ago, Forbes.com reported, “There are now 7,000+ newspapers still publishing, a large majority (over 80%) being weeklies that are located primarily in small and rural areas with a circulation under 15,000.” The Mississippi Link is one that has persevered, along with the 230+ other papers that are members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, more commonly known as The Black Press.

A week inside The Mississippi Link, every single week of every single year, is something to behold. For the last nine months I have been privileged to have an office co-located with them in The Garrett Office Complex at 2659 Livingston Road, Jackson, MS 39213, and wanted to share with readers what goes on behind the scenes.

Johnson

Marcus Johnson is a graphic designer/artist who has been here for ten years. He takes ownership of every page as its own entity. His skilled mind and hands touch every morsel of the paper. He works with every photo and every advertisement to ensure it is of the highest quality for print and display online. He does the layout for the paper. He receives content from the editor and the copy editor and makes it all fit in a cohesive attractive manner.

There is some consistency from week to week, but there are always differences in every paper. Advertisers adjust their ads to appeal to potential customers, or decide to highlight a certain campaign, or introduce a new special or sale – Johnson ensures that their needs are met. He is the master of flexibility, making everything that is fed to him sharp, concise and quality rich.

Garrett

Minnie Garrett is the copy editor and has been here since Day 1. She is all about accuracy. No word, sentence, or paragraph escapes her trained eye. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are her domain. Nothing textual appears in the paper without passing her tests. She is a judge as well. Beyond the mechanics of proper writing, she must remain mindful of the truth, integrity and reputation of the paper. She works closely with the editor in deciding what is commentary, opinion or perspective, and labels them to ensure the readers grasp the difference. She is an unchallenged expert in the written word and on the various styles of writing as well. The Associated Press or AP Style is her baby, the proverbial middle-woman between receiving the content and enhancing layout and presentation. She maintains the subscribers list, critical to the success of the paper. Additionally, Garrett is the co-owner of the paper.

Jackie Hampton is the publisher/managing editor and co-owner of ‘The Link.’ She is also the chief marketer. Each week she is contracting for runs of various advertising, firming up agreements, and seeking new accounts. Sometimes I refer to Hampton as Jacqueline or Madam Publisher. She is a consummate professional and currently serves as secretary on the Executive Committee of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. The pride in membership in The Black Press escapes description in words. She eats, sleeps and breathes this newspaper, alongside her family and her church – College Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

As managing editor she determines the content of the paper each week. She selects the stories that will be published, with an eye toward meeting the guidelines of the paper, both in content and style. She reviews all writing submissions, and trust me on this, sometimes sends them back for correction and polish – serving as teacher the whole while. She is the spark that directs the coverage, outlook and attitude of the paper.

As publisher she oversees the entire publishing process. She formulates relationships with writers in many disciples, newswire correspondents, columnists advertising networks and official entities that are required by law to publish various legal notices. She hires staff and works closely with the company that is responsible for printing the paper and mailing it to subscribers each week. 

Hampton even hand-delivers papers, along with other staff, to dozens of pick-up locations each week. Her reach and professional reputation are national, yet her heart beats strong and true inside The Mississippi Link. 

The paper is delivered electronically to the printer each Wednesday evening. The goal is always by 7 p.m., some weeks it’s earlier and some weeks a bit later. 

The best time to communicate with staff is any day except Wednesday – press day. Things are tight then, not in a bad way, but in a laser-focused way. The ultimate goal is always achieved by this team. There has never been a week in twenty-nine years when this paper wasn’t available. Wednesday evenings www.themississippilink.com is updated with the full weekly paper. 

Usually by 10 a.m. on Thursday, the printer delivers copies of the print edition to the United States Post Office to be mailed to the subscribers and hundreds more to  the office, for further distribution to the public. 

Keepers of The Knowledge for People Who Speak The Truth Since 1993. Much more than words. That’s what is inside The Mississippi Link newspaper. 

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