Text of Prince speech
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 1:00 AM
Following are the prepared remarks of Mississippi Press Association President and Neshoba Democrat Editor and Publisher Jim Prince at the close of his two-year term during the trade association's 148th annual meeting on Saturday, June 21, 2014, in Biloxi.
I'm grateful to the Lord for the many opportunities He has given, but I am particularly thankful for the privilege of serving these last two years as your President. To my family, I could not be more grateful. As y'all know, it's not always easy because you get the calls, e-mails and posts too.
The people of Prince Newspapers are just incredibly talented. And they've all seen to it that I've had the time to serve MPA. There's no more dedicated person in our profession than The Neshoba Democrat's Debbie Myers - and she's home this year battling breast cancer, but like a champ, as you might expect. In Madison, Michael and Catherine have a weeks-old son, Andrew. Some of our contest winners are back in Neshoba covering the 50th Anniversary of the civil rights murders. Fifty years ago tonight, three young men were murdered helping register blacks to vote. Those murders are a scourge, but it's important to remember so that we don't repeat the past.
But I want you to know - and for my staffers to know - how important they are and how much I appreciate their commitment, from the editors to the mailroom, where they take seriously the responsibility of getting the papers out on time.
It's also been a privilege to serve with one of the most accomplished Boards ever. I truly expect great things out of this bunch. There's not an executive director in the country who knows newspapers better than Layne Bruce. We are truly fortunate to have him in our midst. During my two terms, I've had the opportunity of getting to know our capable staff, Monica, Andria, David and Beth, better. Thank y'all for what you do and keeping the trains running on time.
When I was 10, I put out a newspaper on my dad's copier and that's one reason I'm standing up here today. This was of course before the Mac, so I cut letters out of the real newspaper for headlines and typed the copy on a typewriter and used a lot of white-out.
When I was 15, my parents bought me a Pentax K-1000 camera and a darkroom set. Journalism is a good fit for me because I'm naturally curious. I was always asking questions as a kid - constantly asking questions. I took every electronic device in the house apart, even wired our tree house with electricity. I still like asking questions. We get to know a little about a lot.
Growing up going to The Neshoba County Fair instilled an interest in politics. I saw Ronald Reagan there when I was 16. Outside of the ministry or medicine, journalism is one of the most highly rewarding and satisfying careers there is.
Good reporting still matters. We are called to speak truth to power. And if you ever doubt that calling, just remember we're elected by the Constitution. We are the Fourth Estate, the watchdog of government.
The Founders carved out this special privilege no one anywhere else in the world has. Use that privilege to do good, to do the right thing. If you are not that watchdog of government in your community, you are failing.
Some of you are in far outposts. You are the only one, you are the lone voice, like the peach farmers in south Alabama without rain. Your community depends on you. Keep the faith. A free press is part of the very fabric of our Republic. Your newspaper is necessary. What you say matters.
More than 1.5 million Mississippians read their local newspaper regularly. But, you've heard the news. Nobody reads papers anymore. It's a digital word. Now your Board of Directors has some news, the truth about newspapers. Mississippi's newspapers aren't just surviving, they're thriving, with some reporting record growth.
More than seven of 10 adults are active newspaper readers. That's 1.5 million Mississippians. Still, with those kinds of strong numbers, the key to our survival is change. We must start marketing our newspapers like Coca-Cola markets Coke or Budweiser beer. The new animation produced by the GodwinGroup brings our readership survey to life. Download the video at powerinprint.ms and sharing it with your customers.
Those who go into public service or journalism out of a sense of selfishness and vanity often fail because they become miserable. Those who persevere in politics or journalism are usually motivated by a sense of service. Serve! Service above self. He profits most who serves best.
Three quick things in closing: Courage, strength, perseverance.
1. Courage - Courage to do the right thing, even if it's unpopular. Your newspaper - especially the editorial page - is the heart and soul of your community. Speak!
2. Strength - Strength to carry on. Draw your strength from the Lord. Christ alone is sufficient. "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling."
3. Perseverance - Persevere to the end, fight the good fight. Never flinch. Never, ever give up. Without fear or favor, print the truth.
Thank you all very, very much for the incredible privilege of serving as the 141st President of the Mississippi Press Association.