The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

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Students recognized for work published on

Posted on: May 15th, 2015 by ewrobins

Rucker Class Spr15Students from one section of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s multimedia news reporting class were recognized during an awards ceremony on the last day of class this semester.

Oxford Stories, an online publication at, was launched in the fall of 2015 as a website where journalism students could publish their work and share it on social media. The first semester ended with approximately 5,000 page views.

This semester, readership grew as students better promoted themselves on Facebook and Twitter, sharing stories that their friends, family, and the public could read. The semester ended with 17,184 page views, more than twice the amount of page views recorded for the first semester.

“It seemed a little wasteful to have students write 5-10 stories over the semester that weren’t being published or shared online, especially when some of the stories were very well written,” said LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor. “Creating an online publication for students to showcase their work was a way for them to get their stories out there and learn about the power of social media, while taking the content they produce more seriously. Their name is on every story published, and in an Internet and new media age, their stories have almost as much power to travel the globe as a story written by a large daily newspaper.”

Not every story makes the cut. Only the best ones with all of the required elements are posted to the site, an incentive to do good work.

“It’s also designed to be fun,” said Rucker. “Students are part of a staff, and teamwork is encouraged. It was nice to see them support and cheer each other on during the award ceremony.”

Rucker said using the website is also a way for students to easily turn in their work, and it encourages them to stick to deadlines, because the website records the exact time and date the stories are entered into the system.

“Students are taught the basics of WordPress so that they may submit their work,” she said, “and since WordPress is a popular blogging and website tool, they learn how to work with multimedia using a content management system.”

During the fall semester, students wrote about a variety of topics, including organic farming, Vietnam veterans, racism, the special needs community, challenges of international students, sexual assault on campus, police militarization, and the local arts scene.

During the spring, students wrote about the single motherhood, the University of Mississippi Pride group for LGBTQ students, the resurrection of vinyl records, the perception of the University of Mississippi, religion issues, campaign finance reform, feminism, living with chronic pain, the Oxford community’s growing acceptance of gay couples and the history of the UM Gospel choir. They also studied a murder case and wrote about criminal justice issues surrounding it.

For motivation during the spring semester, students were told an awards ceremony would be held on the last day of class modeled after the Mississippi Press Association’s annual award’s ceremony.

Awards were based on WordPress website stats and analytics of the students’ most well-read stories. Each student received an award for their best work, with four students taking home top honors as reporters and writers of the year.

The winners are:

Katelin Davis – 2015 News Reporter of the Year

Ann Marie Edlin – 2015 Features Reporter of the Year

Brianna Barnes – 2015 Social Media Reporter of the Year

Justavian Tillman – 2015 Opinion Column Writer of the Year

Yusuf Abusharif – International Issues Reporting Award

Joy Addison – Social Justice Reporting Award

Bernard Blissett – Research Writing Award

Megan Meyers – In-Depth Writing Award

Colin Preston – Education Writing Award

Jana Rosenberg – Arts Reporting Award

Chloe Scott – Crime Reporting Award

Hannah Simmons – Charity or Philanthropy Writing Award

Kendra Taylor – Feature Writing Award

Rebecca DeLuna – Business Feature Writing Award

Jordan Dollenger – Investigative Reporting Award

Virginia Driftmier – Column Writing Award

Lindsey Edwards – Business Feature Writing Award

William Frigo – Feature Writing Award

McKenna Wierman – General Interest Column Award

Those interested in story updates can find and follow Oxford Stories on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted on: May 15th, 2015 by ewrobins

Flenorl & Norton 2015Dean Will Norton with alumna Rose Jackson Flenorl (’79), the 2015 Meek School commencement speaker. Flenorl is manager of social responsibility at FedEx.

Future industry leaders from Ole Miss at the min day event in NYC

Posted on: May 15th, 2015 by ewrobins

Min Event 2015

Announcing the publication of “RIOT: Witness to Anger and Change”

Posted on: May 8th, 2015 by ewrobins

Riot CoverYoknapatawpha Press and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media are pleased to announce the joint publication of RIOT: Witness to Anger and Change, a photo album featuring the photography of Edwin E. Meek, with an Introduction by Curtis Wilkie and Afterword by Governor William Winter.

On Sept. 30, 1962, when a student demonstration in the Circle protesting the admission of James Meredith turned violent, Meek, a 22-year-old graduate of Ole Miss and staff photographer for University Public Relations, was first at the scene. He stayed up all night and took over 500 photos including exclusive shots of Meredith in the classroom. Meek is the only photographer with a full body of work before, during and after the 1962 riot at the University of Mississippi.

“I heard the hiss of a bottle sailing over my head and saw it strike a marshal’s helmet. When I turned to see who had thrown the bottle, I did not recognize a single face. The crowd had become a mob of strangers. Suddenly a man snatched a reporter’s camera and smashed it on the ground. Photographers began warning each other, ‘Shoot and run!’ When people noticed me taking pictures, someone said, ‘It’s okay. He’s from Ole Miss!’ ”  (Edwin E, Meek, Foreword)

Meek helped set up a press room in the Lyceum and went back and forth to the “Circle” taking photographs. The rioting, which took the lives of French journalist Paul Guihard and bystander Ray Gunter, lasted until dawn when it was suppressed by Federal Marshals, the Mississippi National Guard and units of the U.S. Army and 101st Airborne. James Meredith registered for classes that day, becoming the first black student at Ole Miss. He graduated from Ole Miss in 1963.

“I have always believed that Mississippi has much to teach the rest of the country when it comes to race relations. Having been the state where some of the most extreme battles over integration were fought, we can now appreciate more fully the progress we have made.” (Gov. William F. Winter, Afterword) 

RIOT contains 120 photos, many previously unpublished. The book features a “Recollections” chapter in which Meek and Wilkie, fellow journalism students at the University of Mississippi, recall events from different perspectives. While Meek was in the middle of the action taking pictures, diving for cover, changing film in a cloud of tear gas,  Wilkie, also 22, braved the tear gas to witness the mindless destruction.

WILKIE: I walked up and saw, yeah, the marshals had the Lyceum ringed, and they were in battle gear and across the street…a crowd of students began to gather. At the earliest stages it wasn’t an ugly mob at all, it was largely just curious. I was there out of curiosity.

MEEK:  It felt like a pep rally…

WILKIE:  You know, if history was going to be made, I think we all wanted to see it. If they were going to bring Meredith in to register, I was there to see history being made.

MEEK:  Well, I think also there were numerous false starts back and forth.  This was a scenario over about a six month period, and so it was kind of hard to get excited at first, that this was really happening, until you saw the marshals.

WILKIE:  When these guys showed up, you knew…

MEEK:  You knew it was serious.

(“Recollections,” by Curtis Wilkie and Edwin E. Meek)

Promotion plans include a book announcement event at the University of Mississippi’s Overby Center and a traveling photo exhibit.

Proceeds from sales will benefit the Meek School of Journalism’s Student Entrepreneurship Fund which will enable students and faculty to publish their work. In 2014 Ed Meek donated his photo collection to the University of Mississippi Library.

The RIOT album is being promoted online at Visit this site for alumni and students:

We have a very long way yet to travel in Mississippi 

and at the University of Mississippi there is much wrong 

that needs to be made right, 

but we have come light years together.

 — James Meredith

Four Meek School faculty members honored for kindness to students

Posted on: May 8th, 2015 by ewrobins
Four Meek School faculty members were among 15 professors honored campus-wide for their kindness to students by members of the Student Alumni Council. Pictured, left to right, are the professors and the students who nominated them. Front row: Senior Lecturer Robin Street and students Augusta Williams, Virginia Mayo and Sarah Bracy Penn. Back row: Assistant professors Scott Fiene and Chris Sparks, student Luke Love and Dean Will Norton. Photo credit: Charlie Mitchell

Four Meek School faculty members were among 15 professors honored campus-wide for their kindness to students by members of the Student Alumni Council. Pictured, left to right, are the professors and the students who nominated them. Front row: Senior Lecturer Robin Street and students Augusta Williams, Virginia Mayo and Sarah Bracy Penn. Back row: Assistant professors Scott Fiene and Chris Sparks, student Luke Love and Dean Will Norton. Photo credit: Charlie Mitchell

Faculty members in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media received accolades recently for something other than teaching or research.  These honors were for their kindness to students.

Four Meek School faculty members were among the 15 total professors recognized campus-wide for their “Random Acts of Kindness” to students by members of the Student Alumni Council.  They were Dean Will Norton, Assistant Professor Chris Sparks, Assistant Professor Scott Fiene and Senior Lecturer Robin Street.

The SAC is a student leadership organization sponsored by the Ole Miss Alumni Association. Members who are graduating seniors selected one faculty member each whose kindness towards them stood out during their college years. Students could select one teacher from any class they took.

The professors were honored at a reception April 29 at which the nominating student spoke about the professor and presented him or her with a small gift from the SAC.

Norton was nominated by Journalism major Sarah Bracy Penn. “Dean Norton has played a huge role in my Ole Miss experience, “ Penn said. “Even before I enrolled, he convinced me that the University of Mississippi and specifically, the Meek School, was the perfect place for me. Dr. Norton was a constant source of advice and counsel.

“And this year, when I was deciding where to apply to graduate school, he encouraged me when I thought I wasn’t qualified, and later, guided me through my decision making process.”

IMC major Virginia Mayo nominated Fiene. “I nominated Mr. Fiene because he played a huge part in me choosing IMC as my major,” Mayo said. “Since I met him almost three years ago, he has not only served as my academic advisor and professor, but he has also been a constant figure in the IMC department, always full of great advice.”

Augusta Williams, a marketing and corporate relations major, nominated Street. “Ms. Street is a wonderful light in the Journalism School,” Williams said. “She is kind, empathetic and truly cares for those in her classes. She is an engaging teacher who loves public relations, Ole Miss and students.”

IMC major Luke Love nominated Sparks. “Mrs. Sparks is the reason that I switched my major from biology to IMC,” Love said. “ I have had her for multiple classes where her passion for advertising inspired me and gave me a drive to succeed in the field.

“Her passion for the subject shows also through her care for her students as she has helped me, in her own free time, perfect my resume and gain connections so that I may be successful in the future.“

Drone Journalism

Posted on: April 28th, 2015 by ewrobins

Drone Journalism is something we’re experimenting with at the Meek School. This video of campus was shot on a DJI Phantom 2 in mid-April 2015. As the camera rises above the Overby Center, the ongoing construction of the new Honors College building is immediately visible. Panning around the the Grove and beyond, viewers can see the full scope of the campus skyline, including the football and baseball stadiums and the new partially-constructed basketball arena.

This type of aerial videography is the news-gathering tool of the future. Any broadcast outlet currently using helicopter footage will revel in the portability (and the price tag) of these machines. But not yet. Current FAA guidelines are limiting the use of drones in professional newsrooms, however those parameters appear to be headed toward change.

Once the floodgates open, journalists will be faced with a steep learning curve and some genuine ethical dilemmas where privacy and public safety are concerned. Having the opportunity to continue to explore these issues with our students is an important facet of the work going on at the Meek School.


UM students featured in segment on CNN’s HLN

Posted on: April 27th, 2015 by ewrobins

Journalism alumnus Darian Billington, producer of “Morning Express with Robin Meade” on CNN’s HLN, visited classes and the Student Media Center on April 15. Under Darian’s direction, NewsWatch and Daily Mississippian students recorded a segment that was broadcast April 23 on the CNN show, which has millions of viewers around the world.

Posted on: April 23rd, 2015 by ewrobins

Husni.WAN-IFRAProfessor Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni recently spoke at the WAN-IFRA’s (World’s Association of Newspapers and News Publishers) 10th Annual Middle East Conference that drew more than 250 participants to Dubai, UAE, which once again hosted this key event for news publishers in the region. Dr. Husni’s presentation was titled “Secrets of a Brighter, Bolder and Better Newspaper Future: Lessons from the Magazine Industry.”  The conference took place April 15 and 16.

Meek School students, alumni dominate Mississippi Associated Press Broadcasters awards

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by ewrobins
Meek School students and alumni: Standing left to right, Erica Davis, Ferderica Cobb, Margaret Ann Morgan, Charlotte Roi, Camille Mullins, Ryan Moore, Browning Stubbs, Candace Coleman, Wilson Stribling. Kneeling, left to right, Gerard Manogin and Sudu Upadhyay.

Meek School students and alumni: Standing left to right, Erica Davis, Ferderica Cobb, Margaret Ann Morgan, Charlotte Roi, Camille Mullins, Ryan Moore, Browning Stubbs, Candace Coleman, Wilson Stribling. Kneeling, left to right, Gerard Manogin and Sudu Upadhyay.

Meek School students won 10 college journalism awards Saturday night at the Mississippi Associated Press Broadcasters banquet at the Capital Club in Jackson. In addition, recent Meek School graduates took home top honors in several categories and an Ole Miss alumnus was inducted into the Mississippi Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

NewsWatch 99 took home six awards, including first place in College TV Newscasts. This is the fourth year in a row NewsWatch has won the award and the second year in a row it has taken first and second place in the newscast category. Rebel Radio won three awards, with Ferderica Cobb winning first place in News Reporting and a scholarship from the MAPB. The documentary Casinos in Mississippi: Worth the Gamble?” – produced in a course taught by Dr. Brad Schultz and Dr. Kathleen Wickham – won first place in Student TV Documentary.

In the professional, large market category for TV Documentary, alumnus Joe Doolittle (who produces under the name Joe Smiley), took home a first place award. Margaret Ann Morgan and Gerard Manogin, both 2013 Meek school graduates, won in three prestigious professional categories:  Morgan for Best Public Affairs Reporting and Best TV Reporter in a small to medium market, and Manogin for Best TV Newscast in a large market.

Ryan Moore, a 2009 journalism graduate, won first place for TV News Videographer.

Ole Miss marketing graduate Wilson Stribling was inducted into the Mississippi Broadcast Hall of Fame.  Wilson has been a reporter and anchor at WLBT Jackson for 17 years.

Dr. Nancy Dupont and Roy Frostenson, assistant director of Student Media for radio and advertising,  accompanied the students to Jackson. Dupont is on the board of MAPB and served as chair in 2013.

The MAPB awards honor the best in broadcast journalism in Mississippi.

Student Awards:

College Radio

Best News Story: Ferderica Cobb, first place

Best Feature Story: Ferderica Cobb, award of excellence

Best Newscast: Zachary Bodenhamer, award of excellence


College Television

Best Documentary: Ji Hoon Heo, Camille Mullins and Charlotte Roi, first place

Best Newscast: Sudu Upadhyay, Payton Green, Browning Stubbs, Quinton Smith, Shelby Sansone and Marks Mann, first place.

Miriam Cresswell, Sudu Upadhyay, Houston Brock, Bailey Braseth and Shelby Sansone, award of excellence.

Best Sports Program: Browning Stubbs, Sudu Upadhyay and Brittany Clark, award of excellence.

Best News Story: Gabriel Austin, award of excellence

Best Weathercast: Sudu Upadhyay, award of excellence


Professional, large market

Best Newscast: Gerard Manogin, WJTV
Best Documentary: Joe Doolittle, WJTV


Professional, small to medium market

Best Public Affairs Reporting: Margaret Ann Morgan, WDAM-TV, first place

Best TV Reporter: Margaret Ann Morgan, WDAM-TV, first place

Best TV News Videographer: Ryan Moore, first place


Meek School professor wins Paragon Award

Posted on: April 17th, 2015 by ewrobins
Deb Wenger (right), associate professor of journalism, won the 2014 Paragon Award for Excellence from the Office of Online Design and E Learning (ODeL) for her JOUR 102 class. Rich Gentry, assistant professor of management in the School of Business, and Robin Street, lecturer in journalism, received honorable mentions. 

Debora Wenger (left), associate professor of journalism, won the 2014 Paragon Award for Excellence from the Office of Online Design and E Learning (ODeL) for her JOUR 102 class. Rich Gentry, assistant professor of management in the School of Business, and Robin Street, lecturer in journalism, received honorable mentions.

Debora Wenger, an associate professor in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, is this year’s winner of the Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Learning Education.

UM’s Department of Online Design and eLearning gives the award annually. Wenger, who was honored for her journalism 102 class, said she’s grateful for the help she’s received from UM Online Design and eLearning to make the course successful.

“I am honored and thrilled to receive this award,” Wenger said. “I have loved the challenge of figuring out how to make this writing intensive course meaningful for the students who take the class online. Frankly, I think I get more excited when their stories get published in The Daily Mississippian or than the students do.”

The Paragon Award recognizes UM faculty members who use technology to transcend traditional classroom instruction. The award recipient receives a $1,000 reward and a trophy. Their name is engraved on a plaque listing previous winners, which is on display in the J.D. Williams Library. Wenger was honored at the Online Design and eLearning Recognition Luncheon April 15 at noon at the UM Jackson Avenue Center.

The class is a key component of a journalism minor, which is a big help to students majoring in other fields, Wenger said. Several Meek School faculty members have developed online versions of their courses so anyone enrolled in the university can get a journalism minor without having to visit campus.

Will Norton, dean of the Meek School, said distance learning courses are crucial for universities like UM.

“I think distance learning courses are vital, particularly for universities that are not situated in metropolitan areas,” Norton said. “That Professor Wenger is so facile at developing a required course that teaches basic skills is a reflection on her talent as a teacher and her understanding and ability to manipulate technology.”

Anne M. Klingen, director of Online Design and eLearning, said Wenger’s students in the online class receive lots of feedback and attention from her.

“Deb’s commitment to students is evident; she has an extraordinarily high level of interaction with the students in her online courses,” Klingen said. “Her course is designed so each assignment builds on another, and she gives them guidance and feedback throughout the process. She also requires students to produce stories that will be submitted for possible publication to media outlets, which motivates and challenges the students to constantly improve.”

Robin Street, a journalism lecturer, also received a Paragon Award honorable mention for her public relations distance learning class. Street’s journalism 391 class introduces students to the public relations profession, which involves ‘being a communicator for an organization.”

“This recognition is especially meaningful to me because when I first heard I was going to teach an online class, I was worried that I would not be able to learn how to build the course,” Street said. “Then I worked long and hard to learn the skills and techniques that go into creating a successful online class. To go from that initial worry to being honored for the class is very gratifying.”

Rich Gentry, assistant professor and director of the Center for Innovation and Entrpreneurship, also was recognized with an honorable mention. Gentry’s professional master of business administration 613 course is the capstone for the online MBA program at UM. The class helps students connect the information they’ve gathered over the previous two years and apply it to critical decision-making problems.

“For me, being recognized as a member of a cohort of strong online instructors is very meaningful,” Gentry said. “Laboring for hours constructing a blackboard site or meticulously going through each element of the course to ensure that it is intuitive and helpful can be a very unpleasant experience. It is nice that the award committee recognizes the people who put in that kind of effort and encourages them to keep improving.”