The Journal, which publishes the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo and 20 weekly newspapers (including the Mississippi Business Journal), is unique in that it is owned by the nonprofit CREATE Foundation — which has assets of $58 million. CREATE was formed by George McLean, who owned the paper from 1934 until his death in 1983. McLean’s vision was to be a catalyst for positive change in Northeast Mississippi by committing its resources to projects to improve the quality of life for Northeast Mississippi.
“George McLean was a genius,” said Joe Rutherford, editorial page editor for the Daily Journal who has been with the company nearly 39 years. “We are a for-profit newspaper. We have an autonomous board of directors with directors from inside the corporation and directors elected from the larger community. Our goals in terms of the things we emphasize for coverage start with education. That is and always has been on the top of the list. That goes hand-in-glove with economic development, and everything falls out from those two priorities. I’m proud to be a part of an organization genuinely committed to the region it serves.”
While some newspapers across the country have drastically cut staff, the Journal has been able to minimize any reductions in force with selective hiring and lean staffing during strong economic times, according to Foster
Rutherford said it adapted to the recession by practicing good management. While employees didn’t see the kind of raises common before the recession, jobs were preserved.
“There has been a real strong commitment to the workforce throughout the time I have worked here,” Rutherford said.
CEO/president/publisher Clay Foster said they intentionally work on a daily basis toward greater transparency and creating a culture of candor where information flows freely.
“This is even more critical in the current economic environment and with the rapid changes in our industry,” Foster said. “When tough choices have to be made, we make every effort to make them in a timely and constructive manner. We are focused on results that matter most, and determining which actions will produce those results. Yet, we attempt to remain flexible with the ability to change directions quickly to keep pace with the changing needs of the company and our customers.”
Foster said they encourage collaboration, teamwork, information sharing and a learning culture. Information must flow freely to increase their capacity to compete, solve problems, innovate, meet challenges and achieve goals.
“We work to create an environment where all team members feel respected, proud and trust that management is doing the right thing,” Foster said. “We strive to communicate clearly, effectively, consistently, and honestly. Finally, we face the uncertainly of today’s world with hope. We attempt to inspire through clarity of vision, optimism and a profound belief in our ability to turn dreams into reality.”