Why does the media talk down Mississippi?

By Douglas Carswell
December 6, 2022

Mississippi has some excellent local newspapers.  But there also seem to be a number of Mississippi media outlets that love to talk our state down.

Take the recent example of the Jackson water crisis.  What ought to have been a straightforward news story about incompetent city officials failing to provide clean water was twisted by the left-wing media into a narrative about inequality and race. 

National media outlets were always going to want to jump at the chance to misrepresent what was really happening in our state.  They cheerfully ignored the actual causes of Jackson’s water crisis and wrote a narrative that read to me like fiction.  But what I struggle to understand is why Mississippi’s own media outlets would – with a few notable exceptions - rush to join in? 

Armed with their local knowledge, Mississippi’s home-grown media ought to have helped set the record straight, as several writers in this newspaper did.  But many others chose not to.

We need to have a discussion as to why much of Mississippi’s progressive media seems to delight in portraying our state in a negative light.  Perhaps those that fund Mississippi’s anti-Mississippi media don’t understand the damage this does to our state? 

Maybe they don’t care, provided they are able to bolster their progressive credentials?   Part of me suspects that Mississippi’s media and those that fund them feel the need to put Mississippi down as a way of signaling their supposed moral superiority relative to the rest of us. 

A recent arrival from England, I love Mississippi.  I find being upbeat about this state is remarkably easy, and I take every opportunity to explain to outsiders why this is such a wonderful place. 

But don’t just take my word for it.  Look at how folks are voting with their feet; Mississippi’s population had been falling for as long as anyone can remember – until now.  For the first time in decades, Mississippi’s population is starting to grow. 

Part of this is down to the fact that our state leaders have begun to make Mississippi much more business-friendly.  Earlier this year, Mississippi implemented the largest tax cut in the state’s history, reducing the state income tax was cut from an average of 7 percent to a flat 4 percent. 

Mississippi has begun a far-reaching red tape reduction strategy, giving people with professional qualifications issued in other US states a near automatic right to practice in Mississippi. 

Mississippi might have pockets of poverty, but please don’t let any media organizations tell you that this state is poor and backward.  In the past 20 years, our state’s income per person income has more than doubled. 

Growth has been so strong, in fact, that over the next 12 months, the per capita income of Mississippi ($45,881 in 2021) is expected to overtake that of my own country, the United Kingdom ($47,202 in 2021). A generation ago, Britain was roughly twice as wealthy per person as Mississippi.  Never let the left-wing media tell you that tax cuts and deregulation don’t work.

The really interesting news story about our state is that we are on the up.  Mississippi is on a similar trajectory to that taken by other southern states, like Tennessee, Texas and Florida.   Thanks to conservative leadership, those states are thriving, and help explain why the south has become the fastest-growing part of the US.

I cannot imagine why the progressive media don’t want to write about why free markets work.  Perhaps that tells us more about them than it does about our state. 

Douglas Carswell is the President & CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.


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