By Anne Defrank
“Home is where the heart is.”
Most people hear this and think it’s a cliché, but to Mississippi native Bailey Martin, it’s a way of life.
Martin, a 2019 University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism graduate, is serving as the press secretary for Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves.
Martin was born and raised in Tupelo and attended Tupelo High School, where she graduated in 2015. Middle Tennessee State University was on the backburner until a few weeks before graduation. Then she enrolled, switching up the family education tradition of attending the University of Mississippi. But by sophomore year, Martin had found her way back home.
“Ole Miss runs in my blood, and I had to follow my gut instinct back home,” Martin said.
Before she knew broadcast journalism was her calling, Martin didn’t know what her future held until 9th grade, and she needed one more credit in high school. Martin chose to enroll in a journalism class. She liked being on air.
“You can get a better feel for the person when you can put a face to a name,” she said, regarding journalism.
In 2019, she graduated from UM with a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in psychology. Martin worked as a paralegal assistant for Tupelo and Oxford attorneys. Shortly after, she began working for SuperTalk News Mississippi in Jackson as a political correspondent.
During her radio days, Martin interviewed former governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi. Nervous and not knowing what to talk about, they discussed the flu shot.
Shortly after the interview, Martin was asked to cover Tate Reeve’s election party. Reeves won, and Martin introduced herself to the governor.
“He was quite intimidating,” she said, “and the whole time we spoke, I was worried that I had food in my teeth.”
Martin said she had no idea she was talking to her future boss.
Covering politics gave Martin the opportunity to interview and connect with important people. This would lead to a friendship with former Mississippi press secretary Renae Eze (now with Gov. Abbott of Texas), which would open the door to Martin being named the next press secretary for Governor Reeves of Mississippi at only 23 years old.
“I felt like a baby that had just graduated from high school, and all of a sudden, I’m working for the governor,” Martin said.
Working for first-term Republican Governor Reeves, Martin was faced with big responsibilities. She quickly matured and learned how to adapt as the 2020 presidential election was happening, the Mississippi state flag was being changed, and the end of COVID-19 was nowhere in sight.
On Jan. 6, 2021, only two months into her press secretary appointment, the Capitol Hill insurrection took place. While the whole nation was watching as our Capitol was being ambushed, Martin and the rest of the governor’s team were preparing statements and waiting to see if the worst was yet to come. During this uncertain time, security was enhanced in and around the Capitol in Jackson.
“I called my mom and told her that there were men with big guns and vague expressions all around me, and I did not know how to act,” she said.
Even though her experience in the governor’s office has been eye-opening and unpredictable, Martin is taking advantage of the opportunity and making sure she doesn’t waste a second.
“I hope that people will see me on TV or notice one of my articles and see it as trustworthy,” Martin said. “I want people to see truth and trust in my name.”
Her mother, Deborah Martin, said her daughter has always had big dreams.
“We’ve never had any doubt that her confidence, independence and determination would lead her to success,” she said.