Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

Mississippi Today wins the Pulitzer Prize.

Six words I have always believed would be spoken. Six words that a betting woman might have laughed off when we were getting started as the state’s first nonprofit, online-only newsroom. Six words made all the sweeter after seven years of indescribably hard work.

When people ask me about my path into nonprofit news, I share this story about my own days as a budding journalist.

I have always been a good writer, but I was a terrible reporter. I never had the guts to ask hard questions. I never had the confidence to walk into a room with powerful people to press them for truth and ask for answers. This is why I love my work. I champion the brave, dedicated journalists who put in long hours to walk into uncomfortable spaces armored with facts and data.

I have a front row seat to the grinding, complicated and nuanced research and reporting that takes place before an interview is scheduled. I am the proverbial fly on the wall to endless spreadsheets, dense public records and inches-thick case files. I have watched reporters like Anna Wolfe spend years, literally, becoming subject matter experts on the issues they cover. Always with curiosity, always with ethics, always at heart those impacted most by the story at hand.

This week’s Pulitzer Prize win speaks volumes to Anna’s dedication to shining light on why outcomes remain so poor for Mississippi’s impoverished when there are dedicated funds to give them a hand up. It also speaks to the power of nonprofit news, which by design, allows reporters to stay with a story, to dig in and continue coverage for as long as needed. Moreover, it puts an exclamation point on the value of local news, the impact it carries and the absolute necessity of a free, independent press.

This work is critical, and it comes with a price tag. Our newsroom has invested thousands of dollars on record requests, attorney fees and travel across the state to report this story.

To the thousands of readers who have supported our mission, thank you. To those of you who haven’t yet joined us in this powerful public service journalism, I invite you to become a part of our community by making a donation today.

Our journalists may be the ones with the grit and determination to see a story through, but without your support, those stories go untold.

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Mary Margaret is the CEO of Mississippi Today. She works closely with the Mississippi Today leadership team to ensure collaboration and mission alignment throughout our nonprofit newsroom. Mary Margaret builds relationships with foundations, grant makers and impact donors to ensure reporters have the financial support they need to do their work.