Scenes from a unique
convention

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
July 11, 2004
I've been in Memphis the last few days attending the first-ever tri-state convention of the Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas press associations. I can report that the Peabody Hotel is still elegant, downtown Memphis has come back, the barbecued ribs are as tasty as ever at the Rendezvous and whoever concocted the idea of having cocktails with the pandas at the Memphis Zoo is a genius.
All of these places are fun, obligatory stops for visiting Mississippians, especially those of us from parts of the state that do not adjoin the Memphis metropolitan area. I confess that I have not seen first-hand the incredible growth and many positive changes in Memphis until now.
Morning ritual
I also confess that I have gotten out of the habit of reading one of my all-time favorite newspapers, The Commercial Appeal. As a student at Ole Miss in the 1970s, I found that reading the C-A was an essential part of my morning ritual, right there with the cup of coffee; it was good to rediscover at least one good old habit.
But conventions ultimately aren't about the places they're held, they're about the people who attend and what is learned. As press association conventions go, this one was unique. I think it was a good idea to bring three state press associations together with a variety of experts to talk about our field of work.
Seminars on better news writing and editing, ways to improve customer service and how to find financial success in smaller markets were among the topics, along with tapping new Internet resources.
One of the highlights was hearing the governors of three states talk about issues. Another was listening to Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, a Mississippi native who commanded the Army's 3rd Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 in a session that brought a more personal
perspective to
the war.
Proud moment
But, my proudest moment at this year's convention came as The Meridian Star won four first-place awards for our collective work in 2003 and two of our staff writers Fredie Carmichael and Georgia Frye won first place awards for their individual work. The recognition came through the Better Newspaper Contest in which work at Mississippi newspapers is judged by journalists in another state.
Four more of my colleagues here at The Star also won awards: Austin Bishop, Steve Gillespie, Kyle Carter and Will Bardwell. I even got a little mention, too. I should also point out that your daily newspaper is a collaborative effort by many people whose names don't appear on the plaques and certificates; thanks to all for fine work.
It's always gratifying to win awards, but I look at professional awards as only one indication of whether our readers are being presented with good material on our news and sports pages. Without that reader service angle, we might as well be writing, editing, shooting photos and laying out pages for ourselves.
Today, as I congratulate our staff, I also thank readers and advertisers who see the value of The Meridian Star as their community newspaper. You give us the reason to do what we do every day.
Buddy Bynum is editor of The Meridian Star.
Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3213, or e-mail bbynum@themeridianstar.com.

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