Magnolia Tribune will formally launch in the coming days, but it will continue to serve, and more importantly expand, the audience Y’all Politics has built.
Eighteen years ago, I started what would become Y’all Politics. The media landscape was at the start of a massive upheaval. The internet had begun eroding the foundations of the traditional print model and simultaneously providing a platform for new voices and outlets.
At the same time, Mississippi was experiencing its own sea change. Governor Haley Barbour was elected to office in the fall of 2003. His tenure would kick off the end of Democratic control of Mississippi’s government; control that stretched back to the era of Reconstruction.
Y’all Politics was there all along the way to inform the public and to add unique insights that often helped shape the debate. Over what is now almost two decades of operation, our role has changed. Our influence has grown. What started as a “one man show” with news aggregation and political commentary grew to a full-fledged media outlet with an editor and two full-time Capitol reporters.
In a world of well-worn bias in the media, our reporters were able to strengthen relationships with leaders simply by offering a place that was willing to tell the full story, instead of weaponizing perspective masquerading as news. Our approach meant that we regularly broke important news that far larger and better funded outlets could not. It also occasionally put us at odds with those outlets.
Despite the success, over the past year, we came to realize that to survive and thrive, Y’all Politics would need to evolve and grow. This would require a brand shift to align our brand with the news outlet we had years ago become. It also required an overdue technology and social media reboot and a wider breadth of coverage to include business news and cultural content on what makes our state unique.
In recent months, we began discussions with a start-up non-profit media outlet, Magnolia Tribune Institute, that came forward with an aligned vision to deliver reliable news, good business and culture coverage, and thoughtful perspective. Those discussions culminated in Jackson New Media, the parent company of Y’all Politics, entering into a charitable contribution agreement to donate all of its assets to the new venture. The donation has now been completed.
Magnolia Tribune will formally launch in the coming days with its own brand, but it will continue to serve, and more importantly expand, the audience Y’all Politics has built. It will be strengthened by what the Y’all Politics team has built, including a massive content library amassed over the years. And it will be aided by the Y’all Politics team, itself, with Frank Corder, Sarah Ulmer, and Anne Summerhays all making the transition as employees of the new organization.
While I will have no ownership, governance or management interest in this new venture, I am excited to watch it take off. I believe it will be positioned and resourced to grow, so that it can compete in a media marketplace that is increasingly one-sided, and which, in my personal view, often operates with an anti-Mississippi agenda. I would not be stepping away if I did not believe the move would ultimately help create a more balanced and fair media landscape and more benefit for Mississippians. As for me, I’ll now be able to pursue business opportunities and things in policy and in the public sphere that weren’t appropriate before, and I’m excited about that. In short, it was time.
Y’all Politics has never been a money thing for me. It always ran the site as a “not profit” and the vision was always to make a difference. The evidence of the work is a living, breathing, and free archive of Mississippi political history for nearly the last two decades. That legacy will continue with archived content available through the new non-profit.
I can’t begin to convey my appreciation for all who helped make Y’all Politics what it was. Readers, employees, media partners, contributors, advertisers, and newsmakers all too numerous to list are all vital parts of the success we had. And future success of the effort will rely on continued support from all of those constituencies. Our coverage of public affairs news, elections, legislation, policy, political scandals (one of which spawned a successful book in 2009), and participation in the founding of the annual Mississippi Top 50 event will all be enduring legacies that I’m honored to have played a part in.