Yes, she is an innovator. Yes, she created a startup.
However, this isn’t what I was most impressed by during Ladd’s chat with our class this past Wednesday. What I was most impressed by was the fact that Ladd knew how to get things done in the world of startups. She stressed the importance of perseverance, continuity and having thick skin during tough times of trying and failing. But failing or not achieving everything she hoped to in some of her early startup days, made her that much more persistent when she started the Jackson Free Press.
I think my favorite aspect of Ladd’s Skype chat with us, was the fact that she was just talking to us as if the things she has done in her life were tools and goals we could also accomplish during our careers as pioneers in the media.
After Ladd’s talk, I was thinking to myself, “You know what? We can accomplish these amazing feats, too.”
As Ladd has brought prominent public figures to justice, spoken to women about our role in the media landscape and saw the need for a different type of publication in Jackson, Mississippi, we too can accomplish our lofty goals.
As Ken Doctor says in his Nieman Lab article, we must seek truth and report it and be accountable and transparent. This is exactly what Ladd has embodied in her professional journalism career. She didn’t back down on reporting on Frank Melton, the controversial mayor of Jackson, Mississippi because we must hold the powerful accountable. If not us, who will?
Ladd’s work in the past is still relevant in the present and future. There will always be civil justices to seek out, there will always be people that are corrupt and the truth will always come out, if there are people like Ladd who aren’t afraid.
Ladd also talked about creditability and how it does take many years and long hours of hard work to prove to your audience, readers and viewers that your publication is a credible source of information. Ladd said many people realized that the Jackson Free Press was “right” about certain issues that they covered, and this was one way they gained credibility. While I am sure this is true, I think there is so much more to credibility than just being right.
We are always told that we must show not both sides, but all sides of a story to gain credibility and unbiased views. However, this Nieman Report suggests that telling both or all sides of a story isn’t always the best idea. We must go to experts instead of “both sides” to get the facts, the truth and ultimately the data. Other tips are to know your stuff and to wrap your arguments in values.
As journalists, I think it is downright impossible to always be reporting on something we believe in. However, it is still important to make sure the way we are reporting and distributing media can be traced back to our values as people and journalists. Ladd is the perfect example of reporting key arguments, while maintaining personal and professional values.