Veteran journalist launches newspaper
by Jack Criss
A newspaper reporter has been bringing local news to a Delta community that has been without a newspaper since October 2020. Ted Evanoff is the editor and publisher of the new Tunica Voice, a weekly newspaper that launched in April of this year. His wife, Abbay Evanoff, serves as associate editor.
“Tunica County residents have not had a local newspaper since The Tunica Times closed in October 2020 amid the pandemic after 116 years in business,” says Evanoff. “Abbay and I felt the time was right and after much thought and careful deliberation, as well as conducting a business feasibility study, we decided to go ahead with publishing Tunica Voice with the goal of being fair, inclusive, factual , curious, and a true community newspaper that our citizens could learn from and be proud of.”
Evanoff, who has long worked at the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Detroit Free Press, among other leading newspapers, says that more than 1,000 weekly copies of the Tunica Voice will be printed, typically averaging eight pages long, and that the newspaper will be sold at newsstands, at stands and through subscriptions.
“We will periodically publish reasonably priced school news, church news, business news, human interest stories and obituaries, as well as classified and legal ads and reports on the Tunica Town Board of Aldermen and the Tunica County Board of Supervisors. Evanoff says. . “And while we call this a ‘soft launch,’ we’ve seen a positive response so far and plan to grow and expand as a true ‘voice’ for this city and community.
We are also looking to build businesses behind the newspaper that serve our mission and support the business model, as well as having a group of local residents who will provide us with information and ideas called the Tunica Voice Editorial Board,” adds Evanoff. “It will meet regularly and act as the voice of the newspaper, a voice of reason, I might add, and hopefully the voice of the entire community.”
Evanoff said he bought The Tunica Times mailing list and recently sent free copies to those on it along with an option to subscribe and a letter explaining the new paper’s mission.
“I will ask a separate group of readers to sit down and tell me every few weeks if the news reporting has been fair, inclusive and objective,” adds Evanoff. “This particular group will be called the Tunica Voice Readers Advisory Panel and it will know, and will tell us, when the paper’s news has been off or on point. This group will also host community forums; lots of them, hopefully. The reader advisory panel, which we call Friends of the Voice of Tunica, will choose the topics, the ones that are relevant and meaningful to our area.”
The new newspaper will, of course, accept advertising and, editorially, will focus more on news features and analysis, along with photos and information from the community. “We just hired a director of advertising,” says Evanoff, “and of course we will be focusing more on that aspect, and we certainly encourage interested parties and companies to contact us for more information on advertising.”
Evanoff also wants to use Tunica Voice as a springboard to launch a proposed journalism club in Tunica. “He would mentor the students at Rosa Fort and Tunica Academy,” he says. Later, his student journalism would appear in the school news section of Tunica Voice. We will also introduce student podcasts in the future.”
Since its first issue, Evanoff wrote the following about his mindset when launching Tunica Voice: “Here’s something I have to say. American newspapers struggle. When I was hired three decades ago, the Memphis Commercial Appeal employed nearly 1,500 people, including 250 in the newsroom. Fewer than fifty were working in the newsroom when I resigned last year. Newsrooms across the country have been destroyed as advertisers wowed by social media. Newspapers need new ways to make money. That is the idea behind Amigos de la Voz Tunica. Part of the donations to FOTV would flow to Tunica Voice, particularly to buy advertising to help pay for our journalism.”
“I couldn’t be happier to see that Tunica now has a new locally owned newspaper up and running,” says Layne Bruce, executive director of the Mississippi Press Association in Jackson. “I commend Ted, Abbay and his staff for taking this positive step for their community and the state by launching Tunica Voice.”
“My wife and I go to church here, we’ve lived here, and we’ve always had strong ties to Tunica,” Evanoff sums up. “There is still a place, a need and a desire for local printing, I believe with all my heart, and we are honored and excited to bring a newspaper back to this great community.”
For more information about Tunica Voice, visit tunicavoice.com.