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Meek students and faculty attend NABJ convention in New Orleans

Posted on: August 13th, 2017 by ldrucker

Meek School students and University of Mississippi Association of Black Journalists officers Terrence Johnson and Brittany Brown, and Assistant Dean Pat Thompson attended the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans Aug. 8-13.

While there, they spent time with UM alumni, including Fred Anklam, Jared Boyd, Lynecia Christion, Jesse Holland, Rose Jackson Flenorl, Dennis Moore, Ashley Norwood, Norman Seawright III and Kayleigh Skinner.

Terrence and Brittany also participated in NABJ’s Day of Community Service helping to rebuild homes destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.

Harold Burson, ‘Father of Public Relations,’ Named to SPR Hall of Fame

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ldrucker

Harold Burson, a University of Mississippi alumnus known as the “Father of Public Relations,” was inducted Friday (July 21) into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame in recognition of his decades as a giant figure in the industry he helped invent.

Burson, a 1940 Ole Miss graduate who has been described by PRWeek as the 20th century’s “most influential PR figure,” founded the powerhouse public relations firm Burson-Marsteller with Bill Marsteller in 1953. The firm created the concept of total communication strategies, which became the industry standard for decades.

Will Norton, dean of UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, was among those who wrote a letter supporting Burson​’s nomination to the Hall of Fame. Norton notes Burson has had a long and exceptional career and brought honor to the profession. He’s also made enormous contributions to the success of the Ole Miss journalism school.

“We have worked with Harold to initiate the integrated marketing communications degree program at Ole Miss that now attracts nearly 1,100 majors to the Meek School,” Norton said. “His sage advice in developing the curriculum and his interaction with faculty and students have been crucial for the program’s gaining recognition from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.”

“Without the guidance of Harold Burson, the Meek School would not be what it is.”

A Memphis native, Burson was an exceptional student, so much so that he entered Ole Miss at age 15. When he was 19, he served as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army, and in 1945, he worked as a reporter for the American Forces Network and was assigned to cover the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

After leaving the military, he used a connection he had forged with an engineering firm, which became the first client of his new PR company. Later, Burson-Marsteller was born.

The PR business grew from there and for many years, Burston-Marsteller was one of only two major PR firms in the world. In 1969, Burson’s firm was making about $4.4 million a ​year, according to PRWeek, but by the early 1980s, revenue was about $64 million, and Burson was head of a firm with 2,500 employees in 50 offices worldwide.

In 1983, it officially became the world’s largest PR firm, with regional headquarters in New York, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong and London.

His firm handled several major accounts. ​For example, it​ help​ed Johnson & Johnson with its response to the deaths of ​eight​ people who had taken Tylenol in 1982. The company was not faulted, but it assumed responsibility and took the product off the market ​and halted advertising.

Representatives showed complete transparency and openness and made themselves available at all times to answer questions. The ​response to the​ Johnson & Johnson case led to Burson being credited with creating the template for crisis management.

The British government called on Burson-Marsteller​’s​ help ​during​ an epidemic of mad cow disease. He also counseled Union Carbide, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant after a famous meltdown in 1979 and BP after its Torrey Canyon oil tanker sank​.​

The Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame is co-sponsored by the Southern Public Relations Federation and Mississippi State University’s Department of Communications. The names of the Hall of Fame members adorn the walls in the Mitchell Memorial Library at MSU.

Inductees must have 25 years of professional experience that brings honor to the profession and show strong contributions to their organization, city, state or ​region, among other criteria.

Burson’s son, Mark, is an adjunct instructor in integrated marketing communication at UM. He accepted the recognition on behalf of his father, who could not attend the ceremony Friday.

Scott Fiene, director of the school’s integrated marketing communications undergraduate program, said it’s fortuitous for Ole Miss that the “father of public relations” got his start here.

“He’s counseled royalty and shaped the image of many top global brands​, ​but he’s always remained involved and partnered with the university on so many projects,” Fiene said. “His influence on the profession isn’t just what he has accomplished, but on the lives he has touched and the students he has mentored.

“The seeds he has sown will live for generations to come.”

Rick Dean and Kristie Aylett, agency principals with The KARD Group, a PR and marketing firm based in Mississippi, also ​were​ among those ​writing letters in support of Burson’s nomination​.

“Kristie and I have studied and respected Harold’s contributions to our industry since we were students and, as professionals, we continue to use things learned from him,” Dean said. “To have played a role in Harold’s well-deserved nomination and induction into the Hall of Fame was our honor.”

Story by Michael Newsom

 

Norton, Wilson tapped for MPA Hall of Fame

Posted on: July 10th, 2017 by jheo1

Will Norton, Jr., professor and Dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, has been tapped for induction into the Mississippi Press Association Hall of Fame.

Joining Norton on the list of those who have made lasting contributions to journalism was Carolyn Wilson, longtime chief executive of the state newspaper trade group.

Both were inducted at the MPA convention July 8 in Biloxi.

Carolyn Wilson, former director of the Mississippi Press Association, and Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School at the University of Mississippi, were inducted into the state press Hall of Fame.

Norton, who previously served on the faculty and as chair of the Department of Journalism at Ole Miss, returned to Mississippi in 2009 as inaugural dean of the newly created Meek School. He holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communications from the University of Iowa and a Master of Arts in Journalism from Indiana University.

A partner in The South Reporter in Holly Springs, Norton was serving as dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln when the innovative school at Ole Miss.
Under his leadership, the Meek School has experienced tremendous growth in enrollment and in scholarship dollars earned by its students.

He has been an active member both for MPA and the Nebraska Press Association, where he was inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame in 2009.

Norton has been key in establishing newspaper “reporting expeditions” to member papers. Funded by the MPA Education Foundation, the trips allow a team of journalism majors to work over the course of several days on assignment for member newspapers.

“Will is a tremendous advocate for excellence in both the curriculum and practice of journalism,” said Layne Bruce, executive director of the MPA. “He’s also has been invaluable in strengthening the relationship between Ole Miss and our member newspapers.”

Wilson lives in Sandy Hook. She served as executive director of the MPA for 22 years was one of only two employees when she joined the staff in 1982. She was promoted to executive director in 1985. Under her leadership, the organization grew to a peak of a dozen employees and handled over $5 million in advertising placements for its member papers through its business subsidiary, Mississippi Press Services.

An Arkansas native, Wilson worked on behalf of newspaper members on such cornerstone issues as open records and sunshine laws, as well as internships for journalism students and continuing education for member employees. She was also key in the purchase of two headquarters locations for MPA in 1987 and 2002.

She retired in 2007 but continued to consult with MPA on contract through 2009.

“Those years of Carolyn’s hard work, along with the leadership of board members through the decades, has ensured MPA continues to be in a strong position to serve its members during an age of rapid change in our industry,” Bruce said. “She certainly deserves this honor, and we couldn’t be happier for her.”

The Hall of Fame was created in 1986. Inductees are chosen by a committee of past honorees and past presidents of MPA.

More than 300 graduate from Meek School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: May 14th, 2017 by ldrucker

Saturday was a beautiful day to see more than 300 University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media students in cap and gown congregate inside the Tad Smith Coliseum to receive diplomas during commencement exercises.

Meek School Dean Will Norton Jr., Ph.D., spoke to the audience of proud family members and graduates Saturday afternoon.

“We are delighted today to join with you in recognizing your loved ones,” he said. “332 students were eligible to participate in today’s festivities, but many completed their requirements in December, and some will complete their work in August. They may not be in the ceremony today.”

Norton also recognized Meek School faculty before introducing guest speaker J. Steve Davis, who Norton described as a “major player in the culture of the United States.”

Davis, who has worked in the world’s highest levels of marketing and advertising, has worked for powerhouse brands such as Crest toothpaste, Pampers, Dawn detergent, Scope mouthwash, Bounce fabric softener, Gillette Trac II razor blades and Tropicana premium orange juice.

“Make no mistake,” said Norton. “He is not Don Draper, one of the executives of the ‘Mad Men’ television series who worked and played at one of New York City’s most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s.

“Our speaker today is not (only) a great business man with great knowledge, he is a spiritual man, a man of wisdom. He grasped the great desires and needs of American people. His professional career has been exceptional. He is known worldwide as an uncommonly astute strategic marketing professional. He is revered at the highest levels of integrated marketing communications.”

Davis decided in 2002 to found and fund his own private equity consulting business in San Francisco. In the spirit of sticking his neck out, he named the company “Giraffe.”

The Nebraska native was a double major who earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Nebraska College of Journalism (with an emphasis in advertising studies) and the Department of Sociology.

He later became president of J. Water Thompson’s flagship Chicago office. The agency worked to brand Sears Die Hard and Craftsman products, created the Oscar Mayer Bologna and Hot Dog campaign, and the Kibbles and Bits campaign.

Steve was named Adweek’s Adperson of the year in 1995. Today, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Each of us were designed to serve, not to be served,” Davis said Saturday, as he talked about America’s selfie culture.

“Did you know there are over 2 billion Facebook users, who on average, spend over an hour a day on the site,” he said. “He or she checks her Facebook account, again on average, 47 times a day. How much of this truly connects us? How much separates us?”

Davis encouraged students to practice gratitude and set goals for their lives.

“Be uncommonly grateful,” he said. “It seems to be that, in spite of our collecting blessings and successes in this great country, we tend to be short on gratitude. I saw this time and again in my career.”

Davis believes gratitude is a habit one can cultivate instead of “some magnificently bestowed character of greatness received by a few souls.”

“Habit begins with practice,” he said, challenging the students to begin a daily exercise. “… Take out a blank piece of paper and write down 10 things that you are especially grateful for each day for a month. You’ll be amazed at just how easy it is to reach 300 things you’re grateful for in just a month. And if you aren’t sufficiently grateful now, you’ll be on the road to forming the habit of gratitude to carry through your life.”

To read more about where some of our Meek School of Journalism and New Media students are headed, check out this story.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker

Meek School students prepare for graduation and the real world

Posted on: May 11th, 2017 by ldrucker

Insecurity, worry, tranquility, acceptance, and excitement. What do all these adjectives have in common?

They are the series of emotions college seniors feel leading up to graduation.

Most college seniors are often unsure about where they will go and what exactly they will do once they’re thrown out into the real world with only a diploma to prove their worth. Over the course of their four, or maybe five years, at Ole Miss, seniors have learned who they are as people and who they want to be once they enter the professional world.

In the days leading up to graduation, seniors are getting ready to walk across the Grove stage where they have spent so much time to receive their diplomas and officially become Ole Miss alumnae.

Elise Jones.

“I can’t believe how fast it has all gone by,” said Elise Jones, an upcoming Meek School of Journalism and New Media integrated marketing communications graduate. “It seemed like yesterday that I was being dropped off at my dorm by my parents and was first feeling some type of freedom.”

Ashley Quagliaroli.

Ashley Quagliaroli, an upcoming Meek School graduate from Atlanta, Georgia, is graduating with a double major in IMC and political science. As she gets ready to leave Oxford, she has decided to take a different route than immediately entering the work force. Quagliaroli will have a gap year between graduate school so that she can gain more experience in her field before pursuing a law degree.

“I’m so excited to be able to pursue my love for journalism and also be able to pursue my other love of law,” she said. “I have always struggled deciding between the two before I realized that maybe I am just meant to do both and find the happy medium later.”

Rachel Reimers.

Another upcoming Meek School graduate, Rachel Reimers, who is graduating with a degree in journalism, will continue her education at the University of Georgia before joining the workforce. Many college seniors are choosing to continue their education after gaining their undergraduate degree, hoping to find better paying jobs or higher ranking positions in their field.

“I’m hoping that by gaining my MBA, I will become more valuable to the professional world,” Reimers said, in regard to pursuing her MBA.

Elise Jones, an upcoming Meek School graduate with an IMC degree, has decided to move to Dallas, Texas, after graduation. Jones will be working as a marketing coordinator for an insurance company.

As Elise gains real world experience in Dallas, she hopes to become an entrepreneur.

“I’m extremely excited to make the move to Dallas,” she said. “I’ve loved my time here, but I’m ready to put everything I’ve learned to real use. This is a completely new chapter in my life, but I know I’m ready.”

Murphy Butler.

Murphy Butler, an upcoming Meek School IMC senior, has also decided to join the workforce. The New Jersey native will begin an internship with a travel lacrosse program in his home state.

“I’m excited to put my degree to use and combine my two passions, sports and marketing,” Butler said. “Before I begin my internship, I am going to relax for a little while and visit with friends and family.”

As Butler gains more experience in his field, he hopes to start a travel lacrosse program and become an entrepreneur like his mother, Chris Murphy.

“I’ve grown up with my mother having her own successful business and my father finding success in the sports world,” he said. “I’m hoping to one day be able to find a way to bring these two things together for myself.”

Chloe Riley, an upcoming Meek School graduate with a degree in journalism and a specialization in public relations, has decided to move to New York to become a business analyst. Though Riley’s degree is in journalism, she has found that her career path may not always completely align with her college degree.

Chloe Riley.

“I’m so excited to work with this company,” she said, “although what I’ll be doing is not quite journalism.”

As she begins to pack her belongings and say her good-byes, Riley is starting to realize how quickly her time at Ole Miss as gone by.

“I can’t believe that I’m about to be in the real world,” she said. “Leaving Ole Miss is so scary, because so much is changing in my life right now. I’m excited, but all this change is intimidating,” Riley said about her upcoming move to New York.

As college seniors graduate and move on to their next project in life, many are left in awe by how quickly their time at Ole Miss has gone by. From spending their first Saturdays in the Grove, to staying up all night for finals, upcoming graduates look back with fond memories of their time in Oxford.

As  Riley gets closer to her move, she offers words of wisdom to fellow Meek students: “Enjoy your time here because it’s fleeting,” she said. “Talk to your professors and really get to know them. Find an internship doing something you’re passionate about, and try not to stress too much about the future, because I promise everything will turn out the way it should.”

For more information about graduation, visit the University of Mississippi Commencement web page. 

  • Story by Nancy Jackson

UM students take top awards from Public Relations Association of Mississippi

Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by ldrucker

Photo caption: University of Mississippi public relations students were the only college students in the state recognized in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi Prism student competition recently. Pictured from left to right, are seven of those student winners: (front row) Rachel Anderson, a journalism and Spanish major from Chesapeake, Virginia; Christina Triggs, a marketing and corporate relations major from Sugarland, Texas; Emma Arnold, a journalism major from McKenzie, Tennessee; Hannah Pickett, an integrated marketing communications major from Houston, Texas; (back row) Alex Hicks, an IMC major from Meridian; Sarah Cascone, a journalism major from Thomasville, Georgia; and Cassidy Nessen, an IMC major from Katy, Texas. Not pictured is journalism graduate Maggie McDaniel from Columbus, Georgia. Photo by Stan O’Dell.

University of Mississippi public relations students won every award presented in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition recently, and one student was named the best public relations college student in the state.

Journalism and Spanish major Rachel Anderson from Chesapeake, Virginia, was named PRAM’s 2017 Student of the Year, competing with nominees from five other universities in the state.

“Rachel was selected for her impressive record of excellence and drive in all areas such as her academic honors, PR-related organizations and experience, and for her activities on campus and in the community,” said Kylie Boring, PRAM’s director of student services. “She has acquired a skill set of talents that will help propel her into the public relations industry, and I am confident she will represent this industry to the highest standard.”

Anderson also won an award for her student work, as did five other students and one alumna. The awards were presented at the PRAM state conference in Hattiesburg April 24.

Students entered public relations campaigns they produced in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s advanced public relations class. Each campaign required multi-media skills, including writing news and feature articles, shooting video and photos, creating digital media, planning creative events and conducting research.

“I was so proud that every student award presented went to one of our students,” Street said. “Our students demonstrated that they excel in the diverse set of skills needed in PR. That is a tribute to the preparation they received from all the faculty members at the Meek School.”

Awards were given at three levels, based on the number of points judges award each entry. The top award is the Prism, followed by the Excellence and Merit awards. Multiple students can win in the same category if they earn the required number of points.

Hannah Pickett, an integrated marketing communications major from Houston, Texas, won a Prism.

“Students from the University of Mississippi once again proved their knowledge and understanding of the public relations practice through their entries in the Prism Awards,” said Amanda Parker, PRAM’s vice president for awards. “The judges praised Prism Award winner Hannah Pickett for having an extremely creative and well-planned project, making it an excellent campaign all around.”

Excellence winners were Anderson; Emma Arnold, a journalism major from McKenzie, Tennessee; and Christina Triggs, a marketing and corporate relations major from Sugarland, Texas.

Merit winners were Sarah Cascone, a journalism major from Thomasville, Georgia; Cassidy Nessen, an IMC major from Katy, Texas; Alex Hicks, an IMC major from Meridian; and Maggie McDaniel, a journalism graduate from Columbus, Georgia, who now works as an account manager at Communications 21 in Atlanta.

For more information on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit their website at http://meek.olemiss.edu or email MeekSchool@olemiss.edu.

Student Media Center celebrates successful year of work

Posted on: May 5th, 2017 by ldrucker

As graduation nears, many University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism students who are enrolled in the journalism and marketing programs will be leaving us to pursue careers in their chosen fields. They will be missed.

To show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication this year, the Meek School held a Student Media Center end-of-the-year celebration Tuesday, May 2. The group photo is of graduating seniors, many of whom have worked in Student Media all four years.

Taylor Grocery catered the event. All photos were taken by The Daily Mississippian photo editor Cameron Brooks, an integrated marketing communications major.

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith speaks about his Meek School of Journalism roots and life

Posted on: May 3rd, 2017 by ldrucker


As the chief news anchor and managing editor of Fox News Network’s breaking news division, Shepard Smith has seen it all. He covered the 1997 death of Princess Diana. He was on the scene five minutes after planes deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center on 9-11.

He covered the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire on their classmates before taking their own lives. He was there when Hurricane Katrina destroyed parts of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, making sure the nation understood the severity of conditions that ravaged the region, transforming the lives of its residents.

At one time, Smith worked the Pentagon, the White House, Los Angeles and London, all in the same week, and he has been on the frontlines of American and international news helping write a first draft of history.

Smith is a Holly Springs native, a New Yorker of 20 years, a Mississippian, a former University of Mississippi journalism student, and a devoted Ole Miss Rebels fan.

Because of all of those factors, he was a featured speaker at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s “It Starts With MEek” conference last week, an event that promotes diversity and inclusivity. He is also gay. Smith believes his sexuality is a piece of his personal story, but not the most defining factor.

In the fall of 1979, broadcast journalism was added to UM’s journalism program. Meek School Dean Will Norton said the department was filled with print professors, but after three years of searching, they hired the late professor Jim Pratt, Ph.D., who had spent 40 years with CBS.

“He was a great man who worked hard with students outside and inside of class, and one of his first students was Shepard Smith,” Norton said. “He immediately identified Shep as this young guy who would have a great future.”

Smith left Ole Miss during his junior year of college for a Florida internship. When the school year began again in the fall of Smith’s senior year, he made a decision that caused Pratt to remark to Norton: “Shep decided to stay in Florida and take the job. He’s not going to graduate.”

“So my immediate response was: ‘Well, he’ll never amount to anything,’” Norton said.

The crowed laughed Friday afternoon as Norton spoke about Smith’s career, a journey that took him to Gainesville, Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando and Los Angeles before establishing himself in New York City.

“His reporting has been a trademark of the Fox News channel,” Norton said. “He anchors most primetime news presentations provided by Fox News. He was like so many of you (journalism students) in the 1980s. He was this energetic young guy carrying equipment around everywhere, thinking that he could make a difference, and he has.

“Through the years, we have watched him develop into this smooth, sophisticated television personality who represents the best of the profession. In the process, we have become so proud of the journalism values that Shep Smith espouses and truly grateful for his promotion of his roots on this campus.”

Smith said he’s carried many fundamental lessons learned in Mississippi throughout his career. Some came from working at a fast food restaurant, one of the most important things he said he ever did.

“I really learned about little things,” he said. “Like if you (give customers) two and three napkins instead of two napkins, you’re just screwed if that happens over, and over, and over again,” he said. “If you give them three ketchups for every (order of) fries, you’re going to go broke. So you learn these little things in life. They really translate to everything else.”

He also learned fundamental journalism lessons at Ole Miss and took a job in Panama City, Florida, in 1987 without graduating from the UM journalism program, citing an economic recession as his reason for staying with the company.

“All the time, I’m just kind of chasing ambulances and trying to find out what is going on, going to city council meetings and trying to make it relatable at a time when television is how people are getting their news,” he said. “It felt important to me at the time … I wanted to operate in the public interest … and I wanted to be their eyes and ears, and let them know what’s happening, so they could decide what they think about what’s going on in the world.”

Smith was bitten by the news bug as a child while sitting at the breakfast table. His family often disagreed about the Vietnam War.

“All that time, I was thinking, if I could just get over there and find out what’s happening, and let mom and dad know, we could avoid these discussions,” he said. “You know? (I was a) little kid.”

He was also influenced to become a reporter by Memphis news media. At the time, Smith said Channel 5 had the first live truck in Memphis.

“Memphis is the greatest, biggest city in the world if you are coming from Holly Springs,” Smith said, as he recalled watching the live broadcast of Elvis Presley’s funeral. “We had never ever, ever, ever seen this (a live truck broadcast.) No one had ever seen this. I mean, we’d seen something from somewhere with Eric Sevareid or someone, but nobody local had ever been live in my world.

“And I’m immediately like, ‘Oh s—. Now I can actually do this. I might be able to get over there and find out what’s happening in Vietnam, and let the parents know about it. I really might. And that’s when I decided this is what I want to do.’”

Smith said Pratt helped professionally mold him. One of his first assignments – investigating how long the burgers were left sitting out at the Union Grill. “I think some heads rolled over that, if I remember,” he joked.

After working in Florida, he landed a job at “A Current Affair,” a self-described “disaster.” Overwhelmed by work and never home, he rarely spent a night in his apartment for a year and a half after moving from Los Angeles to New York.

“I was still getting carded when I came into my own building,” he said. “So I’m just traveling, traveling, traveling and popping up all over the world, because we didn’t have enough people. And other people needed to get home. They needed to get home to their dog, or their children, or their wife, or their husband. And I didn’t need to do that. I needed to sort of escape what my own reality might have been, because I wasn’t answering my own questions, or even posing my own questions to myself about what it is that is different about me.

“I’m really not different. I really like all the same stuff y’all boys like. All of it. But I am different.”

Smith hadn’t questioned his sexuality at the time.

“That’s sort of how I rolled,” he said. “And that’s why it wasn’t until seven, or eight, or nine years ago, I started living my truth. I grew up in Holly Springs. I went to the First Methodist Church. I went to Ole Miss. You know what we do. We wear khakis and startched white shirts, and we all do what everybody else does. And Hotty Toddy!

“That’s exactly what we do. Y’all wear dresses. We wear khakis. We are drunk by 10 p.m.,” he joked. “‘I’m not making that 8 o’clock (class). What are you doing on Friday?’ I didn’t get it. And on top of that, I was also trying to avoid what having a normal social life is. I didn’t need to go home and find my girlfriend or boyfriend, I just cut it off (and said): Where do you want me? Next plane?”

Because of that, Smith witnessed much of modern history. He even missed his sister’s wedding to cover convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s execution by lethal injection.

“Nobody was going to outwork me, and no one did,” he said. “If they wanted me to shoot it, I’d grab the camera and shoot it. I worked hard and kept going, and going, and going.

“I really hit it hard, and I was crushing everybody. My bosses were really so astounded. They were like how can you do this? … At one point, they were like: ‘You have to sleep. You can’t continue to stay up.’”

Smith said he never hid his sexuality. He just avoided the question. There were too many consequences.

“A. You’re going to hell for it,” he said, listing the reasons he avoided the subject. “B. You’ll never have any friends again. C. What are you going to tell your family? And by the way, you’re on television on the craziest conserative network on Earth,” he joked.”That will probably put you in front of a brick wall. Of course none of that was true, but that’s how it felt.”

One day, he decided to confront his fears. He talked with his closest friends, and began to live his truth.

“Someone asked me if Roger Ailes (founder and former chairman and CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group, who resigned in July of 2016 following allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues) had been abusive to me, and I said, ‘No. He was always good to me,’ and that was the truth. And when I told the truth, I guess it was considered that I outed myself. I didn’t even think about it, because I didn’t think I was in.”

Smith said his sexuality is both important and a non-issue.

“I don’t think about it,” he said. “It’s not a thing. I go to work. I manage a lot of people. I cover the news. I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I’m in love with. I come home to my family.”

He joked that he’s moved on to more important battles, like Ole Miss sports.

“Now, I just want to win on Saturdays,” he said, receiving applause from the audience. “That’s all I want to do. I don’t even care about the bowl. I just need to beat LSU. ‘Go to hell LSU.’ My dad likes that,” said Smith, whose father was sitting on the front row in the Overby Center auditorium.

Because diversity and inclusivity is the focus of “It Starts With MEek,” Smith addressed the issue of stereotyping others.

“The big black guy in the back is not always the criminal, and the little white girl in the front is not always the victim,” he said, again receiving applause from the audience. “That’s really ingrained in us.”

He said goth kids who wore trenchcoats were unfarily stereotyped after the Columbine shootings.

“Dylan and Eric,” he said. “They were different kids who were stereotyped. I am in no way making excuses for them. They ruined lives. They changed my life … But a lot of kids who kind of like the goth thing or might think it’s cool to wear a trenchcoat, had to suffer after that.”

Muslims are now being stereotyped because of 9-11.

“They didn’t do that,” he said. “People who bastardized that religion brought that thing down, and started this conflict. It’s not about religion, but we’re turning it into that because that’s what they want us to do.”

Smith rejects any personal stereotypes people may assign him. On the weekends, he said you’ll find him at Vaught Hemmingway.

“I’m not playing your stereotypes,” he said. “I’ll be there. And later, I need to watch ESPN the rest of the day. And tomorrow, I need to think about it.”

Concerned about Jackson’s leadership, Smith said he’s glad UM is setting a progressive example for the state. “We have a special responsiblitiy as people from this place to go out and show the world with our deeds and our actions that we are very inclusive, and we want everyone who is good to be here, and the rest of y’all can go,” he said, receiving applause. “…We’ve done a fantastic job. It’s not easy. This place is littered with landmines. Yet, they’re getting it done.”

He’s embarrassed by the Confederate emblem on the state flag and believes the flag should be retired to a museum.

“You can’t be much of an activist when your job is to report the news,” he said, “but you can remind people what happened under that flag. … So it’s got to go. Put it in the museum. Don’t get rid of it. Make it part of your curriculum. Talk about it. But get it out of the stadium. Get it out of the grove. Get it out of my state.”

Smith later answered audience questions, including what’s your best advice for getting a job in New York City. His answer: Get a job somewhere else first, because New York City is different.

“We operate faster, and we speak different,” he said. “… Everything about life has a way, and no one tells you what it is. And if you’re real polite, (they) hate you, because it gets in the way. There’s no time for it … ‘No, I’m not going to look you in the eye.’”

Those are foreign ideas to most Mississippians and Southerners, he said.

“You have to work somewhere else where they don’t care about you first,” he said. “… It’s not that we don’t like each other. We’re just very busy, and in a really big hurry. We’ve got to get to that train. We’ve got to get to that elevator. Back on that train. Back on the elevator.”

He believes there are advantages to living in Mississippi.

“There are plenty of things that we’re just ruling on,” he said. “And that’s one of the reasons I’m so proud of this place. Because one of the things that Ole Miss has done through all their struggles is give our kids a chance. We’re educating our children here, and some of our children are willing to stay here and make our state a better place. And I think I can say really without bias, more as an observation, people who come out of this place tend to do really well.”

Smith said he wrote in his high school yearbook that he wanted to have a journalism career in Nashville, but they kept turning down his audition tape. He had never been west of Texas or north of the Carolinas when he graduated high school, but his inexperience didn’t hinder or confine him. It gave him a unique life perspective.

“I felt like my Holly Springs upbringing … we had it great,” he said. “But it wasn’t like we were rolling in dough or traveling around the world anymore than anyone else was … I didn’t realize it until I got to New York that all my friends were Ivy League kids, and they’re all millionaires, and they all know governors and … I was like: ‘Holy crap. I’ve led a deprived life,'” he laughed.

He said never let a small town limit your dreams.

“If you are from Eupora, or Iuka, or Mount Pleasant, or Hickory Flat – you can do whatever you want, and what you’re supposed to do is go do it and bring some of it back here, because this really is our only hope,” he said. “Our institutions are our only hope. Our government is regressive, and our institutions are progressive.”

Smith has accomplished a lot in his journalism career, but he said he’s always been grounded by Mississippi.

“I sort of kept my Mississippi/Ole Miss sensibilities about myself,” he said. “I didn’t (think) I had become something because I moved away from here. I think I was something because of the foundation I got here … (There’s) something about … home … that we kind of know that other people don’t. Right? I think we get that in ways other people don’t.”

You can also read The Clarion-Ledger version of this story here.

 – Story by LaReeca Rucker

The C Spire Tech Experience brings notable speakers and robots to campus

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by ldrucker

Randi Zuckerberg, founder of Zuckerberg Media and former chief marketing officer of Facebook.

A major technology event featuring nationally acclaimed speakers and cutting-edge demonstrations came to the Ole Miss campus this week, and they brought robots.

A robot with school spirit greeted guests. He was programmed to give the “fins up” sign and say “Hotty Toddy!”

We teach our robots to say Hotty Toddy! C Spire #CTX #technology #journalism #media

Posted by Meek School of Journalism and New Media on Thursday, April 27, 2017

CTX – the C Spire Tech Experience – was held in The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The mini-SXSW expo featured Brian Uzzi, a Northwestern University professor and artificial intelligence expert; Michelle McKenna-Doyle, chief information officer for the National Football League; and Randi Zuckerberg, founder of Zuckerberg Media and former chief marketing officer of Facebook.

The event offered demonstrations of some of the leading technology innovations in the U.S., including virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and a “sneak peek” of C Spire’s forthcoming streaming digital television product. The VR demonstrations featured advanced work by faculty and students in the UM School of Engineering and the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

Brian Uzzi

Partners for the event include the UM schools of Business Administrationand Engineering, Associated Student Body, the CME and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We’re excited to partner with an industry leader in hosting a major high-tech event on campus,” Chancellor Jeffery Vitter said in an earlier interview. “It will help spur ideas and innovation that will enable our students and faculty to more fully participate in the new digital economy.”

C Spire CEO Hu Meena said the Mississippi-based telecommunications and technology services company is uniquely positioned to bring to life an event at the intersection of music and technology.

“In the new digital economy, these are some of the leading innovations that hold promise for greatly improving the quality of our lives,” Meena said.

Besides providing the venue and additional support for CTX, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics had two demonstrations set up in the vendor area.

Randi Zuckerberg

“One is our virtual reality kiosk, which allows viewers to put on a headset and go on the Walk of Champions, inside the locker room and other Rebels’ sports-related scenarios,” said Michael Thompson, senior associate athletics director of communications and marketing. “The second one is our Rebel Rewards app, which gives faithful patrons and users several discounts on Ole Miss Athletics merchandise.”

A group of nearly 40 students in UM’s virtual reality class is working on demonstrations for CTX.

“These students are from all across the state, nation and world,” said Adam Jones, assistant professor of computer and information science. “This class is the first of its kind at Ole Miss and is the only regular class in the state dedicated to developing virtual reality systems.”

Jones’ Hi5 Virtual Reality Lab students, his research group, also showed off some of their projects, demonstrating mixed reality and augmented reality experiences.

CME students’ demos included a table that showcases the NASA Student Launch rocket project in which they participated.

Michelle McKenna-Doyle

“Our research project was devoted to designing, constructing and launching a high-powered rocket to a target altitude of 1 mile,” said Dillon Hall, a senior mechanical engineering major from Saltillo and leader of the 12-member team. “Our rocket also had to carry an experimental payload apparatus designed to protect a fragile cargo installed into the launch vehicle throughout an entire flight.”

In addition, CTX 2017 included a music concert that evening at The Lyric Oxford, near the Square. Featured performers were Passion Pit, a highly-regarded alternative indietronic band from Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Weeks and the Lonely Biscuits, both from Nashville, Tennessee.

CTX’s technology focus helped kick-off the 22nd annual Double Decker Festival, set for April 28-29. The two-day event attracts thousands of visitors and features nearly 200 arts, crafts and food vendors, along with live music and other entertainment.

For more information about CTX 2017, visit http://cspire.com/ctx or follow C Spire on Twitter.

Story by Edwin Smith.

ACT 7 Experience at Meek School is a magazine industry success

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by ldrucker

John Harrington @nscopy shares what he learned in his 40 years of single copy sales #MICACT7.

The magazine business has changed radically over the past two decades, and John Harrington has learned a lot.

Harrington, a partner of Harrington Associates, and the former editor/publisher of The New Single Copy, spoke Thursday afternoon in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s Overby Center auditorium on the topic: “Why I’ve Learned: A Personal Perspective.”

“Everyone here knows that magazines (industry) have undergone a shocking transformation in the last decade,” he said. He said leaders who work in traditional magazines now seem focused on developing new forms of media other than print.

“Their mission is to find ways to exploit, leverage .. their valuable magazine brands on these new media formats, and or platforms, such as mobile, video and other forms of apps,” he said. “Truthfully, as indicated, I am unqualified to offer predictions or guidance in any of those areas. However, all of these expanded magazine extensions will contain content, editorial, and hopefully that content will contain journalism.”

Harrington was one of more than 50 speakers who shared his thoughts about the magazine industry during the ACT 7 Experience at the University of Mississippi.

The conference, hosted by the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media from Tuesday to Thursday (April 25-27), focused on the revival of the magazine industry in terms of publishing, advertising, creating content and distribution. The event also allowed students to network with industry professionals.

Inside the Act 7 Experience.

Posted by Meek School of Journalism and New Media on Thursday, April 27, 2017

Created in 2010 by Samir Husni, Ole Miss journalism professor and Magazine Innovation Center director, the conference featured more than 50 speakers and 50 other attendees, including CEOs of major magazine and marketing companies, publishers, editors-in-chief and other industry leaders. Students were paired with industry professionals throughout event to learn directly from them.

Harrington addressed students at the conference:

“To the students, as your careers unfold, many of you will not necessarily be involved in writing in journalism contained in the future’s many multimedia formats, whether it be print publications like magazines and newspapers, or internet, … sites, apps or even presently unimaginable platforms,” he said. “However, whether you are in sales, in production, or in audience development, a.k.a. circulation and distribution, you will still be involved in journalism, which is what I always felt I was involved in for the past 40 years – first as the leader of a trade group, then as a publishing consultant, then as the publisher of a newsletter about the business.

“An ethical journalist acts with integrity and ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists,” he said. “The guidelines should not just be the goal of those who are essayists, writers, novelists, or writers of any kind. It should be a standard of all of you to be part of the machinery that produces the journalism and makes it available to the public.”

In this age of challenges, such as the blurring of church and state, political spin, alternative facts and fake news, Harrington said future journalists face enormous challenges.

“I would like to think that I followed this concept during my 40 years involved in magazines, but I also admit that it is not always easy,” he said. “The pressures and choices are not always clear. Often, they are very subtle. And few of the veterans of this experience can say we were always pure.

“However, let me praise the Magazine Innovation Center, the ACT 7 Experience, and magazine journalism students,” he said. “ACT has done much more than educate future generations of journalists. By exposing me to the creativity and energy of its students, it has given me a greater recognition of the significant role that our business, no matter what our contribution to it is, plays in a free society in our democracy, and in our responsibility to be true to its values. For that, I think the school and the students as well.”

Husni said there is no other event that involves this collection of experts with future industry leaders, our students.

“When they see students in the audience, they tell us stuff from the heart, and it creates an intimate atmosphere,” Husni said in a news release. “CEOs and freshmen students are on the same level of communication.”

All conference lectures were in the Overby Center Auditorium. They were free and open to the public, thanks to the support of industry leaders and their sponsorships.

Husni tells his students to leave an impact on the industry professionals they shadow, and some have.

At last year’s conference, Austin Dean, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Hammond, Illinois, shadowed Jim Elliott, president of the James G. Elliott Co. By the end of the conference, Dean was offered an internship at the company and spent his summer in New York working in the industry.

“For me, the benefits have been spending one-on-one time with publishers, editors and distributors, getting to know them and making reliable connections with them,” Dean said in a news release. “Dr. Husni does a great job at putting together this collective group of people and makes sure each of his students have someone they want to shadow.”

Ashlee Johnson, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Monticello, Arkansas, enjoys the intimate aspect of learning from both the guest speakers and Husni.

ACT 7 Experience attendees talk before the next presentation begins.

“Even people that work with these professionals don’t get to know them like we do,” Johnson said in a news release. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s good for professional development.

“Another great part of this conference is watching Dr. Husni interact with the speakers. He is so well-respected in the industry. He’s a hidden gem in Mississippi, and we’re lucky to have someone who cares so much about their students as a mentor.”

Students accompanied guest speakers on a trip through the Delta to experience magazines, music and Mississippi. The group traveled to the B.B. King Museum, Dockery Farms Historic District and Delta Blues Museum before ending the evening with dinner at the Ground Zero Blues Club.

Dinner on the Meek School grounds #MICACT7 serving the famous Taylor Grocery catfish.

“When I started the Magazine Innovation Center, it was at a time when everyone was saying print is dead and new media is in,” Husni said in a news release. “It’s not an either/or situation. Print, broadcast, digital, mobile, social media – it’s all journalism. The necessity will never change, regardless of the platform.”

“When magazines hire, they want writers,” he said. “The other stuff is great, but journalism is still what’s important.

“Magazine industry leaders are experience-makers. Reading a magazine is unlike reading something online. It’s an experience packaged together in your hand.”

To see a Storify of some of the event’s social media activity visit: https://storify.com/lareecarucker/act-7-experience/