Mississippi Today names editor-in-chief, executive director

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JACKSON – Mississippi Today is pleased to announce two new leaders within the organization, Ryan “R.L.” Nave and Mary Margaret White.

Kayleigh Skinner / Mississippi Today

Mississippi Today Editor-In-Chief R.L. Nave

Nave will serve as editor-in-chief. He is an original member of the Mississippi Today editorial team and has been news editor since August 2016. Nave’s leadership in the newsroom and dedication to aggressive fact finding and reporting will advance the organization’s editorial mission while maintaining the integrity established in its first two years of operation under founding editors, Fred Anklam Jr. and Dennis Moore.

“We have always held in our mind the goal of being a training ground for journalists,” said Mississippi Today founder Andy Lack. “While Ryan came to us with great experience, we have seen him grow into the type of leader required to be a strong, digital-first news force in our region.”

A 15-year veteran of the journalism industry, Nave worked at newspapers in Mississippi, Illinois and his home state of Missouri. Prior to joining Mississippi Today, Nave was news editor at the Jackson Free Press, where he reported on local, state and national issues. He is president of the Jackson chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and is a regular presenter at journalism events around the country.

Nave said he’s grateful for the board’s trust and the support he has received from newsroom colleagues.

“Mississippi’s own Ida B. Wells talked about journalists’ responsibility to use the light of truth. I’m thankful to have a smart, energetic team of reporters who have a strong appetite for doing both daily enterprise, data-driven investigative projects and lively news features in every corner of our state. I’m excited for the opportunity to help guide our important mission,” Nave said.

Kayleigh Skinner / Mississippi Today

Mississippi Today Executive Director Mary Margaret White

In addition to Nave’s appointment as editor-in-chief, Mary Margaret White assumes the role of Executive Director at Mississippi Today after serving as Marketing and Development Director.

“I am proud and thrilled to have Mary Margaret assume leadership with Mississippi Today,” said Donna Barksdale, Mississippi Today chairman. “Young and dynamic with a quality of assurance and calm, she will lead our organization into the future. We are fortunate to have someone of her strength and character in partnership with our team.”

Before joining Mississippi Today, White held leadership roles with the Mississippi Development Authority and Mississippi Arts Commission. She is the host of Next Stop Mississippi on Mississippi Public Broadcasting Radio, and holds a BA in journalism and MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. White serves on the board of the Mississippi Book Festival and advisory committee of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

“I love this state and I have dedicated my professional life to public service. I’m proud to serve in this role and work with a mission-driven newsroom,” said White.

New staff members, new programs

Mississippi Today also welcomes new staff members Bobby Harrison, Erica Hensley, Michelle Liu and Eric Shelton.

Bobby Harrison joins Mississippi Today as lead capitol reporter. He has been covering state government and politics since 1995 – previously for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo. Harrison, a Jones County native, worked in multiple other capacities for the Daily Journal — ranging from sports writer and sports editor to news editor. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Erica Hensley joins Mississippi Today as an investigative and data reporter. Hensley earned a B.A. in print journalism from the University of Southern California and a M.A. in health and medical journalism from the University of Georgia. Her writing has appeared on Rural Health Quarterly, WebMD and Georgia Health News.

Michelle Liu, a 2018 Report for America Corp member, joins Mississippi Today as a general assignment reporter. Liu comes to Mississippi Today from Yale University. She gained experience as a contributing reporter for the New Haven Independent and from internships at the Toledo Blade and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Eric Shelton graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in photo journalism. Prior to coming to Mississippi Today, Shelton worked as photo editor in Killeen, TX for KDH Media Group, which includes the Killeen Daily Herald. Shelton is also a 2018 Report for America Corp member.

In conjunction with these staff announcements, Mississippi Today is launching several new programs:

• The Jungle: Mississippi Today’s Election Podcast: Launching May 30
Host Adam Ganucheau and the Mississippi Today political team explore the 2018 midterm elections in this debut podcast series. We’ll talk to candidates, political observers and campaign officials—giving you intimate access to the voices entrenched in one of the wildest elections in Mississippi history. Subscribe to The Jungle on your favorite podcast app or listen online at MississippiToday.org/TheJungle

• Mississippi Today Events
Our events series offers something for everyone—from taproom conversations to public newsrooms and journalism summits, we have it all listed at MississippiToday.org/Events

• New Look, Same Great Writing: Summer 2018
We are upgrading our brand to match the excellent reporting you’ve come to expect from Mississippi Today.