My name is J. Mark Bryant. A large part of my life has revolved around The Mississippi Press.
I got my start writing about sports at Pascagoula Junior High while covering summer league baseball games at $2.50 an article. I had no idea why Don Broadus wanted my mailing address, so I was very pleased to learn I would actually be paid. Being one of the few people who knew had to keep a baseball scorebook, I continued to call in results during high school.
After starting at the University of Mississippi as a pre-med major, I eventually changed over to journalism. Once again, I would help at The Mississippi Press during my school breaks.
I was then offered a chance by Gary Holland to be Mike Wixon’s Assistant Sports Editor during Christmas of my senior year. I will be eternally grateful to Mike, who manned the department by himself until I graduated on May 13, 1979. I was at my desk two days later.
I would work at The Mississippi Press for 19 years. I managed to cover a little bit of everything in that stretch, including a Super Bowl in New Orleans on a Sunday and junior high girls’ basketball the next day in Gautier.
My first weeks were highlighted by riding in a school bus to cover the baseball team from Our Lady of Victories playing in the Class 1A championship. Soon after we had Hurricane Frederic tear down most of the stadium lights, leading to afternoon football games in stifling heat.
During my last two years in Pascagoula, I served as Managing Editor. I then continued my journalism career as an Editor and Page Designer with the Newhouse newspaper syndicate, first at the Birmingham News and finally the Press-Register.
After the Mobile newspaper eliminated my department in 2012, I was later asked by former Mississippi Press co-worker Rob Holbert to join his team to cover sports as a freelancer with his weekly newspaper called Lagniappe. I have continued writing my column – called Under Further Review – up to this day.
While The Mississippi Press was a small paper in size, it left a big impact on the community. My parents always took the Times-Picayune, the Chronicle Star and eventually The Mississippi Press as I was growing up.
Newspapers were always there. I’m certainly glad I was able to play some part in its history.