Helping Mississippi's students share their stories since 1947.

Helping Mississippi's students share their stories since 1947.


Helping Mississippi's students share their stories since 1947.


MSPA Introduces New Learning Opportunities at Fall Convention


The sun rises over the University of Southern Mississippi campus. Signage, tables, and flyers are being set up to house over 400 high school journalists from around the state.


The Mississippi Scholastic Press Association hosted their annual Fall Convention on October 19th and unlike past conferences, director R.J. Morgan had some exciting changes to the program. 


This year, MSPA brought in new opportunities for students to get hands-on experience during their time on the USM campus. 


Before the convention, advisers were able to nominate students from their publication to “cover the convention”. The students worked with a team of trainers from the University to create news packages during the convention. 


To follow the new addition, students were able to take a tour of the USM student media center while learning about Adobe software and the running process of a news studio. 


“Advisers really wanted some more ‘active’ sessions versus having everything sit-and-get,” said Morgan. 


Throughout the years, journalism advisers around the state noticed the need for hands-on learning in the classroom. These advisers brought those talking points to MSPA Director R.J. Morgan during the annual Overby Adviser Institute last summer. 


MSPA also welcomed their new Middle School Competitions this year, allowing younger students to build on their journalistic skills before high school. 


Even though the competition only includes yearbook publications, the organization hopes to broaden as time goes on. 


The new additions brought a breath of fresh air to the convention and an even bigger class of new faces. Students enjoyed the new additions while also learning more from their peers about writing, editing, and solving issues surrounding their community.


Donna Ladd, Hart Jefferson, and Ryan Perry of the Mississippi Free Press held 3 solutions circles throughout the day to give students a needed platform to express their opinions about topics in their schools. 


Ladd gave the Pamela E. Hamilton Memorial Keynote Address after lunch, sharing her journey to co-founding the Jackson Free Press and the Mississippi Free Press. 


“I do journalism because I want things to get better. And I want things to get better in my home state. And I want things to get better for you guys.” Ladd said during the keynote address. 


She shared a plethora of advice to students on how to better their reporting that many were able to enjoy. 


The day closed out with the MSPA Awards Ceremony which awarded Northwest Rankin Middle School with best Middle School Yearbook, Gulfport High School with Best Yearbook, and Oxford High School with best Literary Magazine.


The 2023 Fall Convention can be seen as just another convention to some students, but to Dr. Morgan, the program just keeps growing. 


“I feel really, really good about where we are now versus where we were a decade ago. We’ve streamlined our membership process, moved to digital submissions for a bulk of our awards, added a statewide fall convention that averages just as many attendees as our traditional spring convention, and grown our budget to the point where we can offer every adviser in the state a national JEA membership,”


The awards dont just stop at fall convention, two Mississippi advisers were awarded as a JEA Rising Star and the Broadcast Adviser of the year earlier in the semester. 


“I believe the best days of scholastic journalism in Mississippi are still very much ahead of us.” Morgan said.  


A list of all winners and finalists from fall convention can be found here. MSPA will host their annual spring convention at the University of Mississippi on April 2, 2024. 

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