First things first

Some things just feel right


As you read this column you are holding in your hands a dream that seemed as though it would never become reality.


As of last Friday, my wife Barbara and I became owners of the Kemper County Messenger. Over my 45 years of journalism I had toyed with the idea of owning a paper, but it seemed like it was a thought that would never be birthed into fact.


A few months ago when Jim Prince, the longtime owner and publisher of the Messenger, and a man this community owes much to for keeping this paper alive during bleak times, approached me about the possibility of purchasing the paper.


I thought that ship had sailed. Just a few months earlier I had publicly announced that at the end of 2021 I was retiring from the journalism business. Then I got the call.


Barb and I prayed about this opportunity and felt like it was truly what the Lord wanted us to do. So here we are, owners, publishers, and editors of the Kemper County Messenger. It just felt right.


As I moved into may 50s (I’m now 63), I began to realize that if I ever owned a paper it would be the one in DeKalb. I live 17.1 miles from the doorsteps of the Kemper County Courthouse and over my many years working for the Messenger off and on and for The Meridian Star for what seemed like an eternity I got to know the people of Kemper County. And more importantly, they got to know me.


I remember shaking the hand of coach Billy Brown following a West Kemper football game in the late 1970s. Most of you who know coach Brown recognize that you never forget that handshake.


Honestly, over time, despite graduating from Louisville High School in 1976 and living near the Daleville community in Daleville since 1987, I have become to feel like a Kemper Countian. What happens here matters to me and more importantly what the future holds for this county has a place in both my heart and dreams.


So, what kind of newspaper will the Messenger become? Well, that’s really pretty simple. If it’s local and matters to you, we are interested in it getting in the paper.


Of course we will cover the local governmental bodies and the schools, but it must go much deeper than that.


On the Community page of this week’s paper you will find the return of the “Looking Back” feature. That has always been one of my favorites. Another thing I would love to see return is the local community columns. If you are interested in writing about your community, let us know. I want to see columns about communities, churches, and local organizations. Tell us, and the readers of this newspaper, what is happening with you!


I have talked to the top administrators at both the Kemper County School District and Kemper Academy and have let them know if it is happening on their campuses we are interested. I have also reached out to the media relations people at East Mississippi Community College and let them know the same thing.


For the most part myself, and others on staff, will cover the news and politics, but the community is welcome to submit local interest items for publication.


The paper you hold in your hand is 16 pages. That’s the smallest it will be. If our ad revenue picks up we may go up to 24. It would make me happy if it had to be 32 pages. The size of your local newspaper is driven by revenue.


While we will do our best to run every local item that is submitted, we also want to balance our coverage with statewide and perhaps even nationwide news that has an impact on Kemper County.

When local photos and news items are submitted we will do our best to get them in the very next paper. If not that one, then the next. It is our goal that if you send us something to run we will never take longer than 17 days for us to get it in for you.


My heart’s desire is that each week you are eager to get a Kemper County Messenger so that you can read about people you know, as well as about things you need to know.


You can look for this column on the front page of the paper each week. Sometimes it will be about particular subjects; sometimes it may be about the newspaper itself; sometimes it may be somewhat whimsical; and ofter it will touch on multiple topics and subjects that I hope will both interest and inform you.


I you would like to submit items to the paper you can e-mail them to or to my personal e-mail address at


You are also free to text or call me at 601-938-2471.


We ask you to be patient during our growing pains as we strive to bring Kemper County the local newspaper it so richly deserves.


Be blessed!


Austin Bishop is editor and publisher of the Kemper County Messenger. Bishop, who has worked in the journalism field for 45 years, is also pastor of Great Commission Assembly of God in Philadelphia. He can be reached by e-mail at

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