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PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Flatten The Curve, Think Local in Wake of COVID-19

This was going to be the annual issue to celebrate Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade but things have changed quickly. Photo courtesy Kristin Brenemen

This was going to be the annual issue to celebrate Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade but things have changed quickly. Photo courtesy Kristin Brenemen

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Publisher Todd Stauffer

It's hard to believe about 10 days before this writing we were calling this the "St. Paddy's Parade issue." But things turned on a dime, and the Jackson Free Press team has done its damnedest to bring you the latest news on COVID-19 as it breaks here in the Jackson and throughout the state, as well as vital safety information.

Since late last week, our staff has been allowed to work from home; starting on Wednesday, pretty much everyone plans to stay out of the office except for critical drop-ins. We've been implementing remote work in every way we can, and our team has come through well while producing a packed archive of vital COVID-19 coverage at jfp.ms/covid19.

You can still reach us on our office lines and extensions (thanks Fuse.Cloud for forwarding our messages!) and obviously through other digital channels.

Speaking of digital channels, we're updating jacksonfreepress.com multiple times per day and sending the JFP Daily five days per week. If you haven't subscribed, you can do so at https://www.jacksonfreepress.com/subscribe/. We're also sending COVID-19 special alerts when we feel the need, including on weekends.

Our drive to report the news remains the same, albeit by watching a few more streaming press conferences and staying out of the office to keep from spreading infection and to help flatten the curve.

What is different is pretty much everything else—events, music, restaurants, entertainment, gatherings, shopping and so much more. In this past week, we've seen not just a devastated stock market, but the reality has set in that every day people are supposed to stay at home is another day that restaurants aren't making money, servers aren't making money, suppliers aren't making money—even the places where they advertise those services aren't making money.

This can have a devastating effect on the local economy. So what do we do? I encourage you to shop locally as much as you can given the constraints. See jfp.ms/covid19 for web editor Dustin Cardon's growing list of businesses offering delivery or curbside pickup and tip generously. Always choose Mississippi-owned grocery stores and wine shops.

Buy gift cards. We'll be working with local businesses to promote this as much as possible. That revenue tends to go straight into the cash register for local businesses, meaning they can pay the bills and their people.

Like a lot of local businesses, the Jackson Free Press could use your help, too. Canceled or postponed events, in particular, mean less advertising revenue, which is the bulk of the way we finance getting the Jackson Free Press to our readers and paying our staff.

You've got a few options for supporting us and our ongoing coverage.

Buy a "gift" ad. If you'd like to buy an ad for yourself in the future or for a favorite charity, we're offering special discounted one-time quarter-page ads or a week's worth of digital advertising at special pricing. Go to jfp.ms/giftad/ and make that purchase online. We appreciate it, so will the charity of your choice!

Become a JFP VIP. We've had tons of people over the past 18 months become direct supporters of the Jackson Free Press, and their help has been invaluable. Now, more than ever, we could use your direct support. Visit jfp.ms/vip to become a VIP—at certain levels, you can also get a mailed copy of the JFP, which you may enjoy if you're not leaving the house as much these days.

Advertise online. JFP.ms is closing in on 1 million pageviews in the first three months of 2020, so if there is a message that you need to get out, our web advertising or JFP Daily ads is a really good bet to help you right now.

Ask us about JFP Digital Services. If you have a nonprofit, medical practice or other local organization that needs help with your website, digital communications, or even online events and fundraisers, get in touch.

Nonprofits: We can even help run a digital summit, a virtual fundraiser or create an online course if you need it!

Support Mississippi Free Press. It doesn’t have a direct benefit for the Jackson Free Press, but the Mississippi Free Press is the nonprofit startup by Donna Ladd and Kimberly Griffin. MFP started “preview” publishing this week to cover COVID-19 issues around the state, including its first story by Ashton Pittman, who is MFP’s initial state reporter. You'll also see interactive graphs on COVID-19 in Mississippi by Ashton's husband, Liam, while you're there. Support Ashton, Donna, Kimberly, and their startup team by visiting MississippiFreePress.com and donating via the Donate link found there.

COVID-19 Information Mississippians Need

Read breaking coverage of COVID-19 in Mississippi, plus safety tips, cancellations, more in the JFP's archive.

In the meantime, I'd like to offer some shout-outs to some very hard-working people who are also doing their best to stay out of harm's way and keep others healthy, as well as informed.

Dustin Cardon, web editor, has been manning the "cancellations" and COVID-19 safety-tips desk while putting up breaking story after breaking story, always willingly working like crazy to find a photo to go with the words.

The super-organized Kristin Brenemen, creative director, has directed not just "creative," but the whole orchestra, from backing up the server and getting things into the cloud to creating new GroupMe channels and keeping all the remote staffers in the loop.

Zilpha Young, advertising designer, has taken all the changes of the past week in stride, happily designing new ads, new house ads and re-doing the flat plan a few times to accommodate all the changes.

Nate Schumann, deputy editor, is as always prepared to go into editorial battle against anything thrown his way.

Kayode Crown, events editor, gets a special mention because, well, it's been the craziest week of event changes in our 18-year history as a publication.

And, of course, it goes without saying that we wouldn't be doing the work we're doing without Donna Ladd, Nick Judin and Seyma Bayram on point, and the trains wouldn't run without Azia Wiggins Kimberly Griffin and Mary Kozielski doing their thing hour-by-hour.

Stay safe out there. As much as it pains me, I discourage you from doing much shopping, travel or dining out—buy gift cards, order curbside and let's see if we can "flatten the curve" as quickly as possible by doing the right thing.

Here's to your health and the health of our local economy. Slainte!

Send business news related to COVID-19 to [email protected] and [email protected].

COVID-19 has closed down the main sources of the JFP's revenue -- concerts, festivals, fundraisers, restaurants and bars. If everyone reading this article gives $5 or more, we should be able to continue publishing through the crisis. Please pay what you can to keep us reporting and publishing.


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