Monthly Archives: January 2009

The future of small town newspapers

I love newspapers.  I awaken each morning to two of them in my driveway.  I also love the Internet.  And what I really enjoy is being able to read newspapers from all of the world on my computer.  Consequently, I follow the subject of the future of newspapers – make that print newspapers – with special interest.

I am particularly interested in the future of small town newspapers.  I believe that newspapers are especially important to small towns because they can set and or reflect the character and personality of a small town.  So what is the future of print newspapers in small towns?  A comment on the subject made by Sam Diaz, a blogger caught my attention.  It reads, “It’s an industry-wide dying business model that really doesn’t have much of a future left, thanks largely to the slow reaction of many newspaper executives out there who repeatedly snubbed the idea of news on the Internet.”

I think Sam may be onto something.  Print newspapers, especially those in small towns, must get more Internet savvy.  But that’s not their biggest problem.  Their dilemma is how to make money selling information on the Internet.  Advertisers apparently do not see the Internet newspaper as such a great primary source of business as they did the print newspaper.  So where do small town print newspapers go from here?  Let’s hope that it is not like the The Newton Record, a small town newspaper that just closed its doors after 107 years.

Business Facilities Magazine named Michigan as 2008 State of the Year

Business Facilities Magazine named Michigan as 2008 State of the Year, as measured by total capital investment and by creation of new jobs announced between October 1, 2007 and September 30, 2008. Runner-up was Montana. “Strong entries poured in from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, making a blazing statement that the South always is a contender.”

Source: Business Facilities magazine

Doing Business in the Middle East and North Africa

U.S. Commercial Service to Host Doing Business in the Middle East and North Africa! ; Event Designed to Help Mississippi Companies Expand to Foreign Markets
The U.S. Commercial Service, the trade promotion unit of the International Trade Administration, will host Doing Business in the Middle East and North Africa! on Jan. 27, 2009, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Mississippi World Trade Center, 175 East Capitol Street, Jackson, MS, 39201.

Co-sponsored by MDA, the Mississippi World Trade Center and the District Export Council, the event will feature international trade specialists who will discuss opportunities for trade and investment in the Middle East and North Africa. The seminar will provide attendees with an overview of the Middle Eastern and North African markets, market entry strategies, trade statistics and export trends. It will also provide information regarding the extension of credit to clients to help ensure success, the methods of shipping and the documents related to foreign trade in the Middle East and North Africa. At the conclusion of the seminar, speakers will be available by appointment for one-on-one counseling.  

To learn more, please visit , or register by contacting Carol Moore at (601) 965-4131, or Josh Bower at (601) 359-3792. Due to limited seating, interested parties are encouraged to register early. 

Stennis Institute sponsors D.C. trip for MSU students

Twenty-eight (Mississippi State University) students will attend the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama Tuesday through the Stennis Montgomery Association, a bipartisan political group on campus.

Marianna Prather, SMA vice president for community relations, said students with the most points at the end of the semester get to visit Washington, D.C.

“We get various points throughout the semester for different activities we are involved in through the Stennis Montgomery Association,” Prather said.

The Stennis Institute of Government sponsors SMA, she said…

… Besides attending the inauguration, the group will be involved with other activities to get the full experience of Washington, D.C.

Whitney Holliday, SMA president, said the group will be meeting with prominent Mississippi natives that will help them network for the future.

“We will meet with the Mississippi delegation and Mississippi congressmen, along with MSU lobbyists and military leaders,” Holliday said. “We will also be hosting a reception for MSU alumni, so the students on the trip can meet people in the area and network for the future.”

Click here to read the entire article in The Reflector.

Should CitiGroup be nationalized?

And should the Bank of America be paying “hefty” dividends to its shareholders while getting federal bailout money?

Please read this article in BusinessWeek.  I believe that you will conclude that this bailout mess is way out of control.

Veteran investigative journalist Peg Tyre will be the keynote speaker at the Partners in Education State Seminar

Veteran investigative journalist Peg Tyre will be the keynote speaker at the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education State Seminar, set  for Monday, March 30, 2009 at the Jackson Hilton.  peg-tyre1
Tyre, former senior  writer at Newsweek, is author of The  Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at  School and What Parents and Educators Must Do. In her book,  Tyre takes an in-depth look at the growing mismatch between boys and  school and maps the full extent of boys’ under-achievement. She  explains why it’s happening and we we can do about it. For parents,  teachers, administrators, guidance counselors and social workers, this is  one conference you don’t want to miss. The State Seminar also features Basic Partnership Training, the Governor’s Awards luncheon  honoring exemplary school-community partnerships, and more  exclusive training opportunities.
Click here to register or for more information.

Passing It On in Memphis.

My day started on the right foot today thanks to Memphis television station WREG, which showed its latest PASS IT ON segment on the early morning news.  Reporter Richard Ransom stood on the side of the road with a handmade Volunteer to Pass It On sign.  Within two minutes a lady stopped and told Ransom that she had just left an auto repair shop where a family had their car towed in for repairs and had to leave by foot because they could not pay the bill.  The reporter called the shop manager, who went down the street and brought the father, mother and teenage daughter back to shop.  The reporter took the volunteer back to the shop where she gave the $300 that Ransom had given her to the family to pay their repair bill.  Hugs and tears all around.

A great story and a good lesson for all of us in these times.  Thanks WREG!

Click here for the WREG Pass It On Website, including information about the Pay It Forward Foundation.

Mississippi Municipal Salary Survey

With the qualifying deadline for Mississippi municipal elections approaching, some potential candidates might be interested in knowing what the pay would be to serve in a local government position.  Also, citizens might want to know how much department heads and elected officials in their local government earn. And then there are some people who just want to know the range of salaries for aldermen/city council members in local governments around Mississippi.

These and many more  answers can be found in the 2008 Municipal Salary and Benefits Survey, which is prepared by the John C. Stennis Institute of Government for the Mississippi Municipal League.  Click here for the online report.

Persons interested in running for municipal office will surely want to check out the Municipal Elections 2009 Candidate Qualifying Guide published by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Communication by Public Officials

By nature of my day job and general interest in communication techniques I read a lot of e-mails, press releases and blogs by public officials.  These communiques range from sanitized, politically correct, meaningless press releases that say nothing to freewritten, meaningless greetings that also say nothing.  Somewhere in the middle of the continuum is the personal message from a public official who communicates WHY he or she is doing something, along with some personal information that makes me feel that I know and understand the communicator.

One such person is a state representative from Mississippi named John Mayo.  (Click here for his home page.) There are political positions that he and I probably would not agree on, but his communication style and methods make me feel that he knows his job, he cares about his constituents and he is open about his stands on issues.  Not only does he tell why he introduced a piece of legislation, he mentions things he is concerned about in his community and he even offers up movie reviews.  Public officials who are considering starting a blog would be well-advised to check out his communications.  Now for the warning:  do not attempt to copy Mayo’s style; be yourself.

Smoking Bans in Cities

Smoking bans in public places may be becoming less controversial as the studies about secondhand smoke come in.  CBS News reported today on a study regarding a workplace ban on smoking in Pueblo, Colorado. Reportedly, there was a 41 percent reduction in heart attack hospitalizations three years after a workplace ban went into effect.

I’ve concluded that anyone who smokes is either stupid or addicted to tobacco – and for the record I was stupid for about 15 years of my life.  The reason that I say that is that no (non-stupid) person would choose to smoke given the overwhelming evidence of its harmful effects.  The only other reason for smoking is that the person is addicted.  I know that sounds harsh, but can anyone give a sound reason for smoking?  Having said that, as long as smoking is legal and does not harm others, who can argue with another’s “right” to smoke?  Certainly not me.

Here’s a list of cities in Mississippi and their smoking ban status:

  • Gulfport, May 1, 2008.
  • Grenada, May, 2008.
  • Corinth, November 2007 Board of Aldermen adopted a public smoking ban that encompasses city-owned facilities, enclosed public places, employment places and some outdoor areas.
  • Greenville, banned in all indoor public places, including restaurants and bars
  • Greenwood, August 23, 2007 banned in all workplaces, restaurants, and bars.
  • Hattiesburg, January 1, 2007 banned in all indoor public places, including bars, restaurants, and city buildings.
  • Lucedale, December, 2007, rejected a ban on smoking in all enclosed workplaces
  • Oxford, banned in all indoor public places, including bars, restaurants, and city buildings. Smoking is also prohibited in certain outdoor areas.
  • Ridgeland, July 20, 2007 banned in all workplaces, restaurants, and bars.
  • Starkville, May 20, 2006 banned in all indoor public places, including bars, restaurants, and city buildings. Smoking is also prohibited in certain outdoor areas.
  • Tupelo, October 2006 banned in all indoor public places, including restaurants and bars.

Source:  Wikipedia list of Smoking Bans in United States.