Fielder's Choice

Hurting for The Times

The community newspaper business in Mississippi took a hit last week.

Tunica County is losing its hometown newspaper.

The front page headline of the October 2 edition read, "After 116 years, The Times to cease operations."

Brooks Taylor, longtime owner of The Tunica Times, ranks as one of the best people I've ever met. I know, from our conversations in recent years, that this decision was far, far from easy.

She loves Tunica County, and she loves the newspaper business. She has been extremely dedicated to both, striving to make the community and the newspaper the best they can possibly be. The two go hand in hand.

Brooks called it "an honor" to own The Times for 29 years. And she meant it.

She was an outstanding steward of the community newspaper. There was none better at what she did ­ period.

Catherine Howe, who has been publisher of the weekly newspaper the last two years, said, "My heart is heavy and hurting today for what Tunica Countians are losing in the form of their hometown newspaper."

Fellow newspaper folks are hurting right along with Brooks and Catherine and all of those associated with The Tunica Times. It's a close network. We're all in this thing together. We're family.

I met Brooks through the Mississippi Press Association. She has long been a beacon to all involved in MPA ­ always inspiring and encouraging, and her smiles and laughs contagious.

Thank goodness, she became a very good friend. She has inspired me to always strive to do better ­ as a newspaper publisher and a person.

We served together for many years on the MPA Board of Directors. She was president in 2000-2001.

We went through convention after convention and board meeting after board meeting, meeting the challenges and sharing the successes. She got to know my immediate family and I got to know hers.

To make this particular newspaper closure hit even closer to home, South Reporter staff writer Sue Watson worked for Brooks in Tunica before joining our staff about 17 years ago. Sue has the utmost respect for her former boss.

And every time I've talked to Brooks since hiring Sue, she soon asks, "How's Sue?"

Brooks cares ­ she cares about people; she cares about community. The slogan on the front page of The Tunica Times read, "Always remembering that Tunica means `the people.'"

The Times was locally owned for nearly two-thirds of its 116 years, first by the Paul Phillips family and then by Brooks Taylor and longtime business partner, the late C.P. Owen.

In the last edition, Brooks thanked the many contributors to the newspaper.

"Your work is not and will never be forgotten by me and so many others," she said. "That work lives on in the yearly bound volumes and cherished clippings that many have saved and hold fast."

The Brooks Taylor legacy at The Tunica Times will never be forgotten. It's stored in those bound copies, but more importantly it's visible in her community every day.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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