As editors: Oh, the places we have been and the stories we have been able to tell

Ronnie Agnew and Wanda Lloyd at Jackson State University’s Media Day 2013

What happens when two former newspaper editors get together?

A lot of war stories are told.

That was the case this week when I traveled to Mississippi to be the keynote speaker for Mass Communications Day at Jackson State University. The highlight, of course, was the ability to spend time with the students and impart whatever knowledge and advice I could share in about 30 minutes.

But a personal highlight, for me was reconnecting with Ronnie Agnew, former executive editor of the Jackson Clarion Ledger. A member of the university’s mass comm program’s advisory board, Ronnie was there to introduce me.

Ronnie is now executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting. He was executive editor of the Jackson newspaper for nine years, and managing editor there before that. 

When we sat at the luncheon table and looked at the printed program and my bio on page two, I mentioned to Ronnie that I hoped he was not planning to read that entire bio. He said “I didn’t even see that bio until I got here today. I won’t use any of it.”

When the time came, Ronnie made the best intro of me that I’ve ever had. It was personal, professional and warmly presented. One thing he shared was that he was present when I won two major awards for media diversity, awards presented with a decade between them. I had no memory that Ronnie was present for either of them — the Ida G. Wells award or the Robert G. McGruder award.

Now that we’ve both left daily newspaper newsrooms, Ronnie and I had a great old time talking about some of the highlights and low lights of our days as editors — two of very few African Americans who have held these positions. Who knows, we may need to collaborate someday and speak together. Younger generations of journalists need to understand what it takes to get to be a top editor, how to keep those jobs and how to make a difference in communities.

More about Ronnie Agnew:

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Author of the memoir "Coming Full Circle: From Jim Crow to Journalism." Available for book talks and signings, speaking. (Signed copies available on this site)

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