The Port Gibson Reveille newspaper is one of the state's oldest papers and one of the few independent papers left anywhere. Emma Crisler is the editor. Although being the editor of a newspaper is not what she intended to do in life.
The Reveille keeps a watch on Port Gibson from its building on one end of Market Street, downtown. The building survived the fire back in the 1830s. People come and go all day bringing newsworthy items or to ask questions.
Emma Crisler sits behind the publisher's desk nowadays. Her predecessors keep watch over her from their portraits hanging on the wall.
Her husband's grandfather bought out his partners in 1898 becoming sole owner of the newspaper. He passed the torch to his son in the 1940s. Then on to Emma's husband Ed who was editor and publisher until his death in 1998, just shy of the newspaper 100th anniversary.
It has been Emma's paper since then. And she's very quick to tell you her relationship to the newspaper.
"I married it," said Emma. "Yea. I married it in 1969. I married the man who wound up being the editor. His father was then the editor, with his mother."
Although the paper is composed on a computer and Marge Bufkin burns it to a disk and takes it to Vicksburg every Thursday to be printed by the folks at the Post, Emma still prefers a typewriter on which to write her articles and editorials.
"I'm a typewriter lady. Always will be," said Emma. "Sorry, I don't want to touch the computer. You have to know my handwriting is terrible. So my daddy got me a typewriter in the 8th grade. So I've been at it for a while. And there it is. That's the one I started out on."
And believe it or not, even typewriters came with spell check. That's it right next to it, the big, thick dictionary.
Emma's philosophy of what a small town paper should be hasn't changed over time.
"Hopefully you're going to have good news every time on the front page. It's not always possible," she said. "But that's what you want. Upbeat. Positivity. Yea, gotta have it. And of course I have editorial privilege. Which I hit ‘em as hard as you can and too bad if they get mad at you, I don't care."
Newspaper is an industry that has mechanically reinvented itself from old hand-set type presses to computers. But the end product is still the same. Turn out a front page that reflects the community. And use your editorials to change things for the good if you can.
That's also century-old family tradition for Emma Crisler and the Port Gibson Reveille.
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