A Look Back:

Mississippi Today in 2020

The Year in News

This year — more than any other time in our history as a nonprofit digital news outlet — has proven that the work we do to inform Mississippians couldn’t be more crucial. Please take some time to look back with us on an extraordinary year of uncertainty, loss, hope and growth.

Click below to skip forward to the following sections.

Most Read 2020

We closely covered an international pandemic and the government’s response to it, a national reckoning on racism that inspired historic changes in our home state, and arguably the most contentious election year in American history. We uncovered the state’s modern day debtor’s prison, and we shined light on what’s billed as the largest embezzlement scheme in state history.

One of our goals this year was to tell more stories through the eyes of the Mississippians who are affected by the decisions our state’s leaders make. What we saw and heard this year was so many Mississippians suffering trauma and loss. We always take seriously the responsibility of telling those stories, and this year was no different. We also worked hard to seek out the good in Mississippians, often as our reporters faced their own losses and tragedies. We tried our best to tell all those stories respectfully.

Read the full letter from our editors by clicking below.

Most Read Stories

Scroll through the stories, cartoons and coverage below that topped our readers’ most-read list.

Most Read Sports Stories

Most Viewed Cartoons

Our Staff Picks 2020

Our staff selected the stories that meant the most to them.

Here’s what some of them picked and why.

Vickie King, Photojournalist:

Entergy to drain Lake Hico after closing power plant, JPS moving forward with development plans

“I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the community. Many are sad, some angry. All are glad to have their questions answered about the lake’s future.”

Mary Margaret White, CEO:

Mississippi welfare: What we bought versus what we could have bought

“This story tops my favorites list because it boils down the absurdity of the welfare embezzlement case covered so thoughtfully by Anna Wolfe. The graphic element that accompanies this story perfectly illustrates the ludicrous spending in a way that readers of all ages can comprehend.”

Brittany Brown, Emerging Reporters Fellow:

Shalondra Rollins was taking care of her health and climbing out of poverty why did she die of COVID-19?

“The story of Shalondra Rollins and how COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black Mississippians has been stuck in my head since it was published in April. Partly because of how heartbreaking it was to read Shalondra’s family and loved ones’ words about what happened leading up to her death and partly because of how close to home this story hit, I’ve thought about Shalondra and the many other people who have perished in this pandemic. As a reporter, Anna Wolfe put a name, face, and person behind what we see daily as the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 increases.”

Anna Wolfe, Investigative Reporter:

Working Toward Freedom: To pay off fines and other debts, inmates in Mississippi’s little-known restitution centers must work grueling low-wage jobs, pay rent and endure strip searches

“The article itself and the exciting 14 months of reporting — was a wild ride! The tip — that a MDOC prisoner was working in a McDonalds — was one of the more extraordinary I’ve ever received, and when we learned that people are actually imprisoned until they earn enough money to pay off their debts, it felt like we’d stumbled on a once-in-a-lifetime story. I will never get over that the Church’s Chicken where inmates were forced to work was located on ‘Freedom Corner.'”

Adam Ganucheau, Editor-in-Chief:

Inside an at-risk voter’s journey to ensure safe voting conditions in her Delta town

“I think this story, during the peak of election interest, is the perfect example of what Mississippi Today can do. It showed readers how voter suppression and voter access affects everyday people, and it told a harrowing story about how a regular woman did an extraordinary thing to improve the lives of others.”

Aallyah Wright, Education Reporter:

As community demands ‘Black lives do matter,’ a reporter views clash between Clarksdale and its school board

“I have so many favorite stories I have written this year, but I think one that resonated with me the most was the story about how Clarksdale youth protested racism in the Clarksdale Municipal School District earlier this year. It is my favorite for a number of reasons, but more importantly because of courage. The courage the high schools students showed by calling out racist remarks made by school administrators at a school board meeting. And the courage I possessed to not only write such a powerful story, but include the lived experiences of how Black journalists — Black women in particular — feel covering race-related issues this year.”

Staff Playlist

What music has our team been listening to in 2020? Listen to the playlist below.

Looking Ahead

“For the first time since March, we brought our team together, in person, on Friday, December 18. Masked, bundled and socially distanced, the Mississippi Today staff met in our office parking lot for three hours of reflection, planning and strategy.

We have a lot to be thankful for in 2020, namely the increase in readers and in supporters of our mission-driven newsroom. We also have a lot to mourn, as our team, and many of our readers, have suffered immeasurable loss to COVID-19. 

While the pandemic is not yet behind us, Mississippi Today has emerged in 2020 as a sharper, more widely trusted and recognized newsroom. The resilience, stamina and public service ethos of the Mississippi Today team has resonated with our readers and gained attention throughout the news industry. In this month alone, our newsroom has been recognized by The Washington PostThe Los Angeles Times and The New York Times as a shining example for a new era of journalism. And while we relish in this national recognition, what matters most to us all is Mississippi. 

As we move into 2021, Mississippi Today is doubling down on local. Through our reporting, outreach, programs and services, we will start with, and in, the communities we serve. We will look to you, our readers, to help inform the decisions we make about what stories to cover and how best to deliver news to you in a way that is resourceful and accessible. 

One theme that carried us through our retreat on December 18 was our allegiance to our readers: Our deep respect for meeting your information needs and our responsibility to you to get the story right, with facts, data and diverse perspectives.

Thank you, truly, for being with us every step of the way during this historic year. Your feedback through our surveys, involvement in our virtual programs and readership makes the long days and hard work worth the while.”

-Mary Margaret White, CEO