Award-winning newspaper writer and editor. Entrepreneur. Aide to leaders in the public sector. Community activist.
James L. “Buddy” Bynum was all of these things.
“Buddy was a serious, capable journalist who never lost sight of the real meaning of journalism,” said Joe Jones, CPA, who was publisher and co-owner of the Mississippi Business Journal during Bynum’s tenure. “He taught me a lot about publishing and the newspaper business in general. Buddy contributed mightily to the success we’ve enjoyed at the Mississippi Business Journal.”
A graduate of the University of Mississippi where he earned a degree in journalism and was editor of The Daily Mississippian, Bynum wrote for The Sun Herald and covered state government and politics at the Jackson Daily News.
“Buddy was passionate about all things Mississippi, but he especially loved journalism and our politics,” said Karen Gilder, owner/publisher, PORTICO magazine, and who formerly headed the MBJ sales team. “He was always fair, always insightful, always vigilant and always professional. And my days with him at the Mississippi Business Journal were filled with his knowledge, his humor and his concern for all of us.”
His knowledge of politics and his communication skills led him into the public arena on the state and national level. This included serving as deputy assistant secretary with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as press secretary to former Mississippi U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.
Bynum served at the MBJ from 1993-1997. During his tenure, the MBJ won best newspaper in its class from The Mississippi Press Association the first year it competed. It marked the first time in the Association’s history that a newspaper took top honors in its inaugural year of competition.
Gibson Sims was general manager of the MBJ when Bynum served as editor. “Buddy was a fine person — and one of the most talented writers I’ve ever known,” said Sims.
From 1998-2000, Bynum headed up public affairs at the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development, now known as the Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s lead community and economic development organization.
A Meridian native, Bynum returned home in 2000 as editor of The Meridian Star. He headed the newspaper’s editorial department through 2005.
He also served as Gov. Haley Barbour’s director of communications. In a statement, Barbour said he had known Bynum for years before he hired him.
“So for me, this is more than the loss of a great staffer, but (also) a true friend,” Barbour said.
Bynum was also active in his community. He served as president of the Meridian Kiwanis Club, and was a board member of both the Wesley House Community Center and the Meridian Little Theatre.
Bynum was buried in Little Rock, a small community near Meridian, Sept. 8 following a memorial service at the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church in Madison.
His survivors include his wife, Sandy, as well as a daughter, stepson, two grandchildren and his parents.
“My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife and family and all the people who called Buddy a friend. He will be missed,” Jones said.