LLOYD GRAY: Time for a little braggin’



The great Dizzy Dean once said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.”

But like many of you, I was raised to believe that calling attention to yourself was unseemly. Self-promotion wasn’t considered a particularly endearing attribute.

At the Daily Journal, we haven’t bragged much on ourselves through the years. So permit me to go against my upbringing this one time to tell you a few things our people have achieved over the last few months. It’ll be braggin’, but like Ole Diz said, we can back it up.

Michaela Morris, our health reporter, is one of five recipients of a national reporting fellowship on health care performance awarded by the Association of Health Care Journalists. She is attending a series of seminars this year on issues she covers and will produce stories later this year on the status of primary health care in Northeast Mississippi.

Law enforcement and courts reporter JB Clark was awarded a national fellowship for reporting on the criminal justice system. His reporting on the sentencing reforms and other changes to Mississippi’s criminal justice system helped him secure the fellowship, and training he gets from it will enhance his future reporting on criminal justice issues.

Local government and politics reporter Robbie Ward recently went to New York to be feted as one of five award recipients from McGraw Hill for database reporting. This resulted from his use of data in reporting on Tupelo city issues.

We just learned last week that Food, Home & Garden editor Ginna Parsons will be recognized as the statewide “Friend of the Master Gardeners” award winner for her good work in reporting on that green-thumbed group.

These are only the most recent significant recognitions for our journalists. Many others have made equally important contributions and, in many cases, gained external recognition for them.

There’s our education reporter, Chris Kieffer, who has led the Journal’s ongoing “State of our Schools” series, the most comprehensive look at Mississippi’s K-12 education system by any state reporter in at least 30 years.

Our business editor, Dennis Seid, recently set a record for views on the Biz Buzz blog he keeps up every day. Our Jackson correspondent, Bobby Harrison, is the senior reporter covering state government on a regular basis with 19 years’ experience at the Capitol. Errol Castens in Oxford and Lena Mitchell in Corinth keep our western and northern flanks covered well.

Sheena Barnett covers entertainment with passion and Scott Morris writes features with a special flair. Riley Manning keeps track of the religion beat and helps with coverage of nonprofits and education. Editorial Page Editor Joe Rutherford is a Journal institution, with 42 years on the staff, and Judy McGhee has been handling obituaries and other critical tasks for over a quarter-century.

Leslie Criss manages the features and special sections staff that includes several folks mentioned above and writes a widely read Sunday column. Stephanie Rebman, our night editor, keeps the copy flowing, the reporters on task and the police scanner covered. Bobby Pepper, a former sports writer and online editor, puts out the Lee County Neighbors section. Online content coordinator Brad Locke continually updates djournal.com and coordinates with reporters who are bringing the latest news to our readers as it happens.

Thomas Wells, a perennial Mississippi Press Association award winner, is our chief photographer, and Lauren Wood and Adam Robison contribute to the visuals in our paper and online and, increasingly, to videos on our website.

Sports editor John Pitts is a savvy veteran of the business and he’s got Gene Phelps, another Journal long-timer, covering high schools with Brandon Speck, while Parrish Alford brings continuity to our Ole Miss beat and Logan Lowery has brought a fresh perspective to our Mississippi State coverage. Jeff Roper and Brett Brown pull it all together in laying out the section.

Design and production on the news and features side falls to the copy desk led by Crissy Bland, with M.B. Humphrey, Steve Johnson, Steven Watson and Justin Whitmore rounding out a team that also produces several of our weekly newspapers. These folks work in anonymity, but the show couldn’t go on without them.

All these people form the best group of journalists, overall, that I’ve worked with in my many years in this business, both at the Journal and elsewhere. They’re committed to this newspaper, community and region.

They’re good folks, too, and I just had to brag on them this once.

Lloyd Gray is executive editor of the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1579 or lloyd.gray@journalinc.com.

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