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Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Meek School African American alumni discuss professional experiences

Posted on: April 26th, 2017 by ldrucker
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From left, Ashley Ball, Poinesha Barnes, Kim Dandridge, Kells Johnson, Selena Standifer and Jesse Holland speak during It Starts With MEek events. This panel of Meek alumni discussed their experiences as students and professionals.

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media recently concluded its “It Starts With Meek” campaign promoting diversity and inclusivity. Two panels were called “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” A panel of African American Meek School alumni discussed their experiences as students and professionals.

The first panel was moderated by Jesse Holland, an Associated Press race and ethnicity reporter. It featured panelists Gabriel Austin, a video editor for Mississippi Today; Ashley Ball, a communications associate for Siemens Corporations; Poinesha Barnes, a news producer for WREG; Kim Dandridge, an attorney for Butler Snow; Kells Johnson, an assignment editor for WZTV Fox 17; and Selena Standifer, deputy public affairs director for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

The second panel, featuring the same panelists, was led by Rose Jackson Flenoral, manager of global citizenship for FedEx Services.

Meek Journalism students who are part of the J102 Oxford Stories journalism class were asked to sit in on the panel and share their thoughts. Their responses are featured below.

Addis Olive
alolive1@go.olemiss.edu

The first question asked was how panel members thought Ole Miss has changed since they were students. Members agreed there are more conversations now acknowledging race issues.

They fullsizeoutput_435bdiscussed personal experiences of name, gender, political beliefs, and race bias in their own work spaces.

They also discussed and agreed that being a black minority today is celebrated. Black culture is being celebrated after being oppressed for so long, especially through social media, with hashtags like #blackgirlmagic and #blackboyjoy.

At the end, each member offered advice to students heading into the workplace. They said try to expose yourself to different cultures and experiences and be prepared for the unexpected. They said students should be go-getters and indispensable.

They suggested being open-minded and experiencing different spaces. They said “integrate, but don’t assimilate.”  Panelists also advised students to be versatile, step outside their comfort zones, and surround themselves with people who are aiming in the same progressive direction you are.

I thought this panel was very thought-provoking and stimulating. I loved listening to the panel member’s perspectives on race issues.

They gave extraordinary advice on how to handle indirect and direct stereotype issues. Their advice was very impactful and something everyone should hear. Being open-minded and stepping out into different spaces can change your perspective.

Nancy Jackson
nmjackso@go.olemiss.edu

This discussion focused on how fighting hate with love has helped members of the African American community through troubling times faced at the University of Mississippi. 

Multiple panelists said they have faced adversity in their current professions. Some said they had never faced blatant racism at Ole Miss, but did once they joined the workforce.

One story that stood out to me was how one man was told “You will always be able to find another job,” insinuating that he was only an “affirmative action” hire.

Walking away from this discussion, I felt more enlightened. Much of the discussion did not just focus on the inequalities faced by black men and women in the professional world; they emphasized that many of these same inequalities are experienced by white women in the professional world.

I had never thought about the fact that once I graduate and enter the professional world, my opportunities could be limited just because of my race. I felt that this discussion was thought-provoking and enlightening for anyone who listened.

Ashley Muller
anmulle1@go.olemiss.edu

What initially impressed me was the diversity of age and gender represented by the panel. Moderator Rose Jackson Flenoral introduced the group of men and women. The first woman to speak during this presentation was Kimbrely Dandridge, a former UM student and former Associated Student Body president.

What struck me immediately was Ms. Dandridge introducing herself as the first African American to be elected into this prestigious position. At first I found it mesmerizing to be given the opportunity to listen to this young woman speak, but I also thought to myself, “FIRST black ASB president? There wasn’t one sooner?”

I am aware of the racially segregated past of the University of Mississippi, but this moment made me realize that transitioning into a campus that consistently practices inclusion is still a challenge here. Black inclusion on campus is a more recent element of student life than initially assumed.

Ms. Dandridge, as well as other members of the panel, experienced moments of racism that they could have let bring them down. Luckily, because they were strong-minded and strong-willed,  these incidents became factors in their developing success.

An example of racism that Dandridge faced was when she joined a predominantly white sorority on campus, Phi Mu. Members of the sorority accepted her, but the study body did not. Racial slurs were thrown at her throughout campus, and she discovered an article that labeled the sorority a “joke” for accepting an African American young woman.

Another panelist spoke about his experiences with campus racism. When he began attending the University of Mississippi, he lived on a dorm floor as only one of five other black students. He made friends with the white students who neighbored him, and become closer with them over time. Choosing these friends also pushed him towards deciding to join a fraternity on campus.

This decision, however, became more controversial than progressive. He would be one of the first African American men to become a member in Ole Miss’ Greek system. Typically, an African American student would choose to join a black fraternity, and likewise for caucasian students because of the university’s history.

This young man’s bravery, whether he was aware of it at the time or not, set a path for the future success of university students from a variety of backgrounds. These situations, as well as the others discussed by the panel, are elements of the University of Mississippi’s history that provide constant hope and drive to create a more inclusive campus.

Lydazja Turner
Oxford Stories

This panel of black Meek School alumni discussed their experiences here at the university and in the workforce. This was such a great experience for me, because I am a black journalism student here, and even though I am just a freshman and have yet to start my career, I could relate to so much they have gone through.

I related the most to Poinesha Barnes when she started to speak about the situation with her name. I, too, have an ethnic name that is not considered common. Like she is named after her father, I am too am named after my grandmother, so I am extremely proud of my name. However, I am in fear of being judged by future employers because of this.

I could also relate to her being natural and the way people may stereotype me because of my hair. People often assume that I do not act like the average African American person because of the school I attend, so I am often called an “Oreo,” but then they assume that I’m “ woke” and a militant angry black girl.

Many times, I have been told that I would not succeed in an on-air position because of my hair in its natural state. Of course, hearing many comments like this makes me angry, but like many people on this panel, on many occasions, I have to stop and think about my future before I respond.

Hearing them talk about some of their experiences gave me so much hope that I could actually succeed in this industry. This panel helped me to better prepare myself for stereotypes I have to deal with during my college life and when I enter the workforce.

Madison Edenfield
meedenfi@go.olemiss.edu

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow featured a panel of black Ole Miss Meek School alumni. The panel discussed their experiences at the University of Mississippi, changes, or lack thereof, in race relations on campus, and how stereotypes have followed them into the professional world.

The mediator, Jesse Holland, started the presentation by asking the panel what it was like as an African American at Ole Miss. The panel was filled with recent graduates, but their stories made me feel as though race relations have not evolved over time.

The panelists reported almost unanimously the emotional and even physical abuse they endured as students. Even with stories of being threatened by dorm mates, unnecessary frisking by a police officer, and being harassed while walking on the Square, all of the panelists agreed that they would return to Ole Miss if they had the chance.

The panelists said that even though there were less than ideal situations, all the life lessons and good relationships made it worthwhile.

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Panelists posing for a picture.

Reagan Smith
rmsmith5@go.olemiss.edu

In the Overby Center on campus, seven Ole Miss alumni gathered to discuss some of the race issues they have faced on campus. The panel ranged in age, but all seemed to face the same difficulties at some points in their time here at Ole Miss.

UM 2013 graduate Ashley Ball said her Ole Miss experience was very normal, and she did not face direct racism. After graduation, she got a job working on the external communications team at Siemens USA. Ball was then only one of two black women who worked with the company, and she described her first direct encounter with racism.

“A group of us had a conference call, and when a woman was going around introducing who was on the call, she mistakenly called me the wrong name,” Ball said. “The name she called me was the other black woman in the company, and it seemed like an honest mistake, but when she realized she had called me the wrong name, she made a joke of it and said, ‘Oh you know who I mean; the other black girl who works here.’ This hurt me a lot, and it took me two days to get the courage to confront her about it.”

This is just one of the many examples of racism the panel discussed, and in the end, they gave the audience great advice. The advice was: “Surround yourself with people who are going to bring you up, and get you to where you want to be in life.”

Grant Gibbons
gjgibbon@go.olemiss.edu

On Friday, I attended the “It Starts with MEek” panel discussion “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” The panel consisted of seven African American alumni of Ole Miss and was moderated by Rose Jackson Flenoral.

The panelists, most being very recent graduates, discussed what it was like in their time at Ole Miss and how the university has changed over time. Almost all of the panelists shared stories of times when they had been called a racial slur or had hateful things said about them, but they also stated that the climate is changing and trending in the right direction. They said a dialogue has started on campus, and it is helping the university combat this history of hate that has plagued Ole Miss for years.

The panel then shifted to issues faced in the workplace and what it is like being an African American in newsrooms and offices that are predominately white. It was clear to the audience that discrimination in the workplace was still an issue. One of the panelists brought up the term “microaggression” and said some people don’t even realize what they say is offensive. In little ways, whether it is meant as a joke or not, microaggressions still have an strong affect on whoever it was directed towards.

Towards the end of the discussion, the panel was asked to give advice to students in the audience who are heading into the real world, workplace environment. The biggest thing I took from this question was to surround myself with people who have similar goals as me and are going in the direction I want to go. This is something that I have been taught for years, and to hear it now from a different perspective made that advice so much stronger.

The discussion was interesting and entertaining. The advice they gave was not just centered around African American or minority students, but for everyone as a whole. The discussion opened my eyes about discrimination in the workplace and really gave me a sense of what it could be like in any of the panelists’ shoes.

Emily Wilson
Oxford Stories

On Friday afternoon, I attended the discussion panel led by Ole Miss alumni based on their experiences as African American people in both the journalism workplace and their experiences as an Ole Miss students.

I expected this event and panel to not really affect me much, based on the fact that I am not a minority. I was very wrong after only being there for a couple minutes when each panel member began telling their individual stories of being targeted in both the media workforce and as students at the University of Mississippi.

Certain stories that were told really affected me, such as the story about the one woman being the first African American member of a sorority. She became a member of Phi Mu, and many blogs and such were put up on social media to personally attack and assault her. This struck me as absurd, especially based on the fact that there are still minimal African Americans involved in the Greek community.

What I took away from this lecture is that it is important to push inclusion, especially in a place such as Mississippi where the history says otherwise. It was very beneficial to hear their stories and hear the way they have been treated, especially in the aspect of microaggressions. After this panel, it is a personal goal of mine to consider the way I talk to people and interact with them, because words are powerful and can hurt even when you don’t intend for them to.

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Angelica Pecha
akpecha@go.olemiss.edu

I was not sure what to expect from the Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow panel, but I was intrigued to hear what journalists had to say to aspiring journalists at the Meek School. Most of the questions asked had to do with race, gender, age, and the parts they play in being a journalist.

Being that I am a white female, I do not personally relate or experience some of the stereotypes and struggles that a black journalist would experience, so hearing a different perspective was beneficial.

Being a journalist on its own is a challenge and is a risk to take on considering the idea that the “starving artist” idea still lives today. Aside from the challenges and risks of taking on a career in journalism, I have a future of struggles within my career because of my gender and age.

As confirmed by the female panelists, there will be certain stereotypes, and people who think less of me and my intelligence because I am a woman. Also, it never occurred to me that my age and millennial status would affect my career. Young panelists spoke about the preconceived ideas that millennials are lazy.

“Millennials care about being happy,” said one female panelists. People love to criticize millennials for being lazy, lacking commitment, and having little concern for the outside world. Millennials face a lot of hate and doubt from their elders because millennials have a high turnover rate, but this is because if millennials are not happy, they will leave and begin anew regardless of the paycheck, which I find to be refreshing and hopeful. By the time I join the work force, the work place will be filled with even more millennials, so this will be an adjustment to the work force as a whole.

I was born a white female. I never had the same struggles a black male or female would face. Black female panelists talked about fighting the stereotype of the “angry black woman” or a the stereotype of a “black person that cannot take a joke.”

A black male panelist mentioned that many black journalists are assigned stories just to get a black point of view. This diminishes their talent and is unfair. The same man struggled with combatting black stereotypes. He didn’t write about topics he loved in fear that it would be too stereotypical.

He said black males typically write about sports, crime, or race issues. He did not want to be seen as a black reporter who “won’t talk about anything, but black news.” He wanted to simply be seen as a writer. These are struggles that I will never have to face, but these struggles are seemingly unfair and unjust.

I will have my own struggles to face in the work force. I have already experienced the stereotypes of being a blonde, fashionable, outgoing, white girl. In high school, the smart girls in the class were shocked to hear my name on the honor roll. They told me they thought I was just dumb and fun.

These same struggles will follow me in the work place. People will not take me seriously because of my appearance. People will doubt my intelligence and capability as a woman and as a writer. No one is free from judgement in the work place or, really, anywhere.

UM Association of Black Journalists welcomes media professionals

Posted on: April 26th, 2017 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi Association of Black Journalists sponsored “Guidance Matters” on Saturday, April 22, at the Overby Center. Professionals and UM faculty critiqued student work and led a workshop for students about careers, resumes and portfolios.

Participating were: Toni Avant, director of the UM Career Center; Kym Clark, WMC-TV Memphis; Don Hudson, executive editor, Decatur Daily; Amicia Ramsey, WTOK-TV Meridian; Evangeline Robinson, IMC professor; Alysia Steele, UM multimedia journalism professor; Bobby Steele, UM IMC support faculty; Andrea Williams, WTOK-TV Meridian; and Patricia Thompson, UM Assistant Dean for Student Media and UMABJ adviser.

Terrence Johnson and Alexis Neely are the student co-presidents of UMABJ.

Have lunch with the Billion Dollar Buyer: Tilman Fertitta to speak at UM Pavilion May 5

Posted on: April 21st, 2017 by ldrucker

In today’s fast-paced, media-rich society, it’s easy to brand someone a celebrity. Success can rise and fall in an instant, and celebrities disappear as quickly as they emerge. Roller coaster reputations are common, on the top one day and plunging into relative obscurity the next.  Not so, for the man who has become known as “The Billion Dollar Buyer.”

Tilman Fertitta’s rise to fame might have appeared instantaneous, but in reality, the journey was arduous and intense.  What began near the beaches of Galveston, Texas, took years of dedication and determination to garner the attention of the media moguls of Madison Avenue.  One thing’s for certain, everywhere he goes, Tilman Fertitta leaves an indelible impression with his rare blend of sarcasm and success.

Grab your popcorn and fill your glasses, the “Billion Dollar Buyer’ is coming to Oxford and Ole Miss. Thanks to the invitation from lifelong friend, Blake Tartt, III, the highly sought after celebrity will be the keynote speaker for an event at The Pavilion on the Ole Miss campus on Friday, May 5th.

Most recognizable for the instant success of his MSNBC television show, in his real life, Tilman Fertitta is the Chairman and CEO of Landry’s, Inc.  With a host of concepts flourishing across the nation and around the world, Landry’s, is a symphony of success on all fronts, and the “conductor” takes great pride in the mark the company has made in the marketplace.

As a group, Landry’s owns and operates more than 500 properties, including more than 40 unique brands such as Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s and the Rainforest Cafe. The hospitality conglomerate is built on a combination of good, fresh food, unparalleled service and marvelous locations.

When you add five Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino locations to the mix, along with numerous hotel properties and other entertainment destinations, Landry’s has vaulted into position as one of America’s leading dining, entertainment, gaming and hospitality groups.

Golden Nugget Casino

Topping the success of last year’s program, featuring internationally prominent urban development visionary, Joel Kotkin, would be a challenge for the Ole Miss Real Estate School Alumni Board. Co-sponsored by the Business School, Ole Miss Athletics and the Meek School of Journalism & New Media, last year’s event garnered national media attention for Kotkin’s insightful and entertaining message on the importance of planning urban environments and creating quality of life in dense development settings.

“We wanted to top last year with a personality who was both entertaining and enlightening. Who better to captivate our audience than a market leader with a perspective that no one else has,” noted board chairman and Ole Miss aficionado, Blake Tartt, III. “I’ve known Tilman since childhood and have worked with him on real estate developments for over 30 years.  He’s a rare blend of creativity and candor, vision and veracity.  Our audience will be entertained and inspired by his story of success that arose from incredibly humble beginnings to international prominence and celebrity.”

With a reported net worth of nearly $3 billion on Forbes’s list of the “world’s wealthiest people, Fertitta is a self-made success.  He learned the food business in Galveston, where he worked at his father’s seafood restaurant after school.  He began selling Shaklee vitamins before following his dream of owning restaurants.

The second youngest inductee into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, Fertitta began as a partner in the first Landry’s restaurant in 1980 and bought the controlling interest in the company in 1986. Landry’s went public in 1993, and he took it private again nearly 20 years later in a $1.4 billion deal.

Landry’s Seafood House

Dedicated to the value of higher education, Fertitta is the Chairman of the University of Houston’s board of regents, where he recently donated $20 million to renovate the basketball arena to the Fertitta Center.

“He’s no stranger to Oxford.  His son, Michael is a graduate of the IMC Meek School and son Patrick began his college career at Ole Miss.” Tartt is quick to point out.  “Though Tilman’s headquarters is in Houston, he loves Ole Miss and travels here frequently.  I’m eager for our community to have the opportunity to experience Fertitta’s rare blend of wit and wisdom.  Quite frankly, he’s a development genius.”

Beginning at 11:30, admission to the May 5 event is free with the first 1000 attendees receiving a free lunch as well due to the generosity of sponsors Renasant Bank, Evans Petree, P.C. and White Construction.

In Tartt’s inimitable style, he said, “I can’t think of a better way to cap the last day of classes than to have lunch with “The Billion Dollar Buyer.”

This story was originally published on HottyToddy.com.

Former Meek grad Otis Sanford will discuss How Race Changed Memphis Politics April 24

Posted on: April 18th, 2017 by ldrucker

Otis Sanford, a longtime columnist for The Commercial Appeal, will be a guest speaker at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics Monday, April 24, at 6 p.m. to talk about the racial conflict and transition that has taken place in Memphis politics, from the time of E.H. Crump’s rule of the city in the first half of the 20th century, to the modern era in which African Americans exert power.

Sanford has written about this subject in his new book, From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics.

He will be joined in the discussion by two other long-time political observers, Charles Overby, chairman of the Overby Center, and Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie.

The program in the Overby Center Auditorium is free and open to the public. A reception will be held following the event, and arrangements have been made for parking in the lot adjacent to the auditorium.

Sanford, who grew up near Como, a north Mississippi town in the shadow of Memphis, is a 1975 graduate of the University of Mississippi. He majored in journalism. He served on the staff of major newspapers in Jackson, Pittsburgh and Detroit before settling at The Commercial Appeal, where he eventually became managing editor.

In 2005, Sanford was awarded the Silver Em, the highest honor given by the university’s journalism school to native Mississippians who excel in journalism or to those who have distinguished themselves in the state.

He is now a member of the University of Memphis faculty, but continues to write a weekly column for The Commercial Appeal.

“Otis is not only a product of Ole Miss we value, he has become the most knowledgeable source on Memphis politics, and it will be great to welcome him back,” said Wilkie.

Meek School of Journalism to host ‘It Starts With MEek’ diversity conference April 19-25

Posted on: April 13th, 2017 by ldrucker

UM public relations students, led by senior lecturer Robin Street (center), have planned It Starts with (Me)ek, five days of campus events celebrating inclusion and rejecting stereotypes. The committee includes (kneeling, from left) Emma Arnold and Brittanee Wallace, and (standing) Kendrick Pittman, Dylan Lewis, Street, Zacchaeus McEwen and Faith Fogarty. Photo by Stan O’Dell

Just pause. Just pause before you assume you know me. Just pause before you stereotype me.

That’s the message of an upcoming series of events April 19-25 called It Starts with (Me)ek, hosted by the University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Shepard Smith, a UM alumnus and chief news anchor and managing editor for Fox News Network’s Breaking News Division, is among the keynote speakers.

The five-day conference open to all students, faculty, staff and community members is designed to encourage inclusion and respect while rejecting stereotypes. It will feature panelists and guest speakers discussing race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and religion. A diversity fashion show and a festival also are included.

“This campaign is particularly important to our Meek School students because as professional journalists, public relations specialists or integrated marketing communications specialists, students will be dealing with and working with many different kinds of people,” said Robin Street, senior lecturer in public relations.

“We all need to learn the value of waiting before we make assumptions about other people. However, we also hope that everyone on campus and in Oxford will consider joining us for the programs.”

The program, designed to remind participants that one single factor does not define a person’s identity, was created by a 31-member student committee under Street’s direction. Through each panel and lecture, Street hopes all attendees will learn to approach individuals with understanding, dignity, respect and inclusion.

Both alumni and students will participate in panels about their personal experiences on race, sexual orientation, mental health, religion and disabilities. Smith will moderate an alumni panel, as well as provide remarks on April 21.

Other guest speakers include Michele Alexandre, UM professor of law; Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement; Mary Beth Duty, owner of Soulshine Counseling and Wellness; Jesse Holland, an Associated Press reporter covering race and ethnicity; Shawnboda Mead, director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement; Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion; Otis Sanford, political commentator and Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis; Jennifer Stollman, academic director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation; and Ryan Whittington, UM assistant director of public relations for social media strategy.

Duty, Holland, Sanford and Whittington are all Ole Miss journalism alumni.

Student committee members enrolled in a course specifically to design the campaign. The group met weekly to plan events, promotional videos, communications, pre-campaign competitions and social media posts surrounding the five-day conference.

Rachel Anderson, a senior double major in broadcast journalism and Spanish from Chesapeake, Virginia, is co-chair of events and will moderate one of the panels.

“These events give students the opportunity to understand the experiences of people both similar and different from them,” Anderson said. “Understanding the experiences of others can help you learn more about yourself and the world around you.

“I hope attendees understand that we all have our differences, but at the same time, we also share so much in common. There is much more to people than outside appearances. One trait does not limit someone’s entire identity.”

Dylan Lewis, a senior broadcast journalism major from Mooreville, will serve on the LGBTQ student panel.

“The things we say or think about people affect everyone around us,” Lewis said. “Stereotypes hurt specific people or groups being stereotyped, but in reality it hurts all of us because our friends are part of those marginalized groups. When they hurt, we all hurt.

“While this campaign may not end stereotypes completely, it is a way to start the conversation, hence our campaign name ‘It Starts With (Me)ek.’ I hope students come to just see the perspectives of these individuals and realize that just pausing, our key message, can make a difference when trying to understand someone.”

The conference concludes with a festival April 25 on the front lawn of Farley Hall. Students are encouraged to wear purple to show their support, while faculty and staff will wear 1960s-inspired outfits to celebrate the many activist movements of the decade.

Students wearing purple will get a free treat from Chick-fil-A. If students have attended at least two events throughout the week and have their program stamped, they will receive a free T-shirt.

All events take place in Overby auditorium or in the front lawn of Farley Hall. For more information, visit https://www.itstartswithmeek.com/ or follow the campaign on social media at https://www.instagram.com/itstartswithmeek/ or https://twitter.com/StartsWithMeek.

The full schedule for the series features:

Wednesday, April 19

10 a.m. – Opening ceremony

11 a.m. – Lecture: “Other Moments: A Class Photography Exercise in Honoring Difference at Ole Miss,” Mark Dolan, associate professor of journalism

1 p.m. – Lecture: “Making a Difference by Engaging with Difference,” Jennifer Stollman, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

2 p.m. – Lecture: “Tell Me a Story: Using Personal Narratives to Navigate Cultural Difference,” Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement

Thursday, April 20

9:30 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “From James Meredith to Millennials: Race Relations at Ole Miss,” moderated by Shawnboda Mead, director of CICCE

11 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “Red, Blue and Rainbow: An Inside Look at Being LGBT at UM,” moderated by journalism major Rachel Anderson

1 p.m. – Lecture: “Building Trust Within Professional and Personal Communities: A Workshop,” Jennifer Stollman

2:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Sometimes I Feel Invisible: Living with a Disability,” moderated by Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism

5:30 p.m. – Spoken Word Performance

Friday, April 21

10 a.m. – Lecture: “Race in America: A Journalist’s Perspective,” Jesse Holland, AP reporter

11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – Panel Discussions: “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” black UM journalism alumni discuss their experiences, moderated by Jesse Holland

2 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Red, Blue and Rainbow Alumni,” LGBT alumni discuss their experiences, moderated by Shepard Smith

3 p.m. – Lecture: “My Journey from Farley Hall to Major News Events Around the World,” Shepard Smith, Fox News chief news anchor

4 p.m. – Reception for speakers and students

Monday, April 24

9 a.m. – Lecture: “Normal Does Not Exist, Mental Illness Does,” Mary Beth Duty, professional counselor

10 a.m. – Lecture: “From the Bible Belt to Baghdad: What Today’s IMC and Journalism Professionals Need to Know About the World’s Major Religions,” Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion

11 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “Keeping the Faith,” members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths discuss challenges they face, moderated by Dean Will Norton

1 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Mental Health and Me,” panelists discuss their experiences with mental health, moderated by Debbie Hall, instructor of integrated marketing communications

2 p.m. – Lecture: “Role of Individual and Institutional Accountability in Doing Diversity and Equity,” Michele Alexandre, professor of law

3 p.m. – Lecture: “Keeping it Real on Social Media: Guidelines for Handling Diversity Issues,” Ryan Whittington, assistant director of public relations for social media strategy

4 p.m. – Fashion Show: “Unity in Diversity,” entertainment on Farley Hall lawn

6 p.m. – Lecture: “Racial Politics in Memphis,” Otis Sanford, University of Memphis

Tuesday, April 25

10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. – Farley Festival Day

  • Story by Christina Steube

C Spire to hold major technology event at Meek School April 27

Posted on: April 11th, 2017 by ldrucker

C Spire is convening a major technology event in Oxford on April 27 that will feature nationally acclaimed speakers and cutting-edge technology demonstrations capped off by a music concert by an alternative indietronica rock group at a popular downtown nightspot.

CTX – the C Spire Tech Experience – is set for Thursday, April 27 beginning at 2 p.m. in The Pavilion, the new $96.5 million multipurpose arena on the University of Mississippi campus.

The one-day event will feature a trio of renowned speakers at the forefront of technology and culture, including Brian Uzzi, Ph.D., a Northwestern University professor and artificial intelligence expert; National Football League CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle; and Randi Zuckerberg, founder of Zuckerberg Media and former CMO at Facebook.

Demonstrations also are planned for some of the leading technology innovations in the U.S., including streaming digital television, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

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

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, Ph.D., said the university is excited to partner with an industry leader in hosting a major high-tech event on campus.

“It will help spur ideas and innovation that will enable our students and faculty to more fully participate in the new digital economy,” he said.

Vitter said some of the technology demonstrations in virtual reality will feature cutting-edge work by students and faculty from the UM School of Engineering and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

In addition, CTX 2017 is hosting a music concert April 27 at The Lyric in downtown Oxford featuring Passion Pit, a highly regarded alternative indietronica band from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and two Nashville-based bands, The Weeks and The Lonely Biscuits.

CTX’s technology focus will help kick off the 22nd annual Double Decker Festival April 28 and 29 in the Lafayette County town.  The two-day event, which C Spire also is sponsoring, attracts thousands of visitors and will feature nearly 200 arts, crafts and food vendors along with live music and other entertainment.

For ticket availability, pricing and more information about CTX 2017, visit cspire.com/ctx or follow C Spire on Twitter or Facebook.

About C Spire

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It Starts with (Me)ek

Posted on: April 10th, 2017 by jheo1

Thirty-one Meek School PR students, under the direction of Senior Lecturer Robin Street,  have been working hard to plan “It Starts with (Me)ek”, five days of events rejecting stereotypes and celebrating diversity and inclusion April 19-25. Student team members are listed below

Pictured here are:

Front row: Riley, Pickett, Childress, Street, Abney, Beatty, Fogarty

Second row: Bowker, Arnold, Nichols, Hicks, Fazio, Walker
Third row: Kalu, Heredia, Wallace, Mayo, Locke, Heck

Fourth row: Lewis, D., Lewis, T., Fox, Sims, Trigg, Anderson

Fifth row: McEwen, Miller, Vanderford, Rainey, Pittman, Jackson, Baird

Photo credit: Stan O’Dell 

Official Program

Download (PDF, 2.26MB)

It Starts with (Me)ek Committee Members

Listed alphabetically, with sub-group members and chairs

Bianca Abney, events

Rachel Anderson, events co-chair

Emma Arnold, communications co-chair

Grace Baird, communications co-chair

Kayla Beatty, video co-chair

Colbie Bowker, social and online media

Kaitlin Childress, competitions

Allison Fazio, festival co-chair

Faith Fogarty, costume chair

Scarlett Fox, hospitality co-chair

Reade Heredia, survey director

Hailey Heck, festival co-chair

Alex Hicks, social and online media co-chair

Gabrielle Jackson, competitions

Chi Kalu, special consultant

Dylan Lewis, hospitality co-chair

Taylor Lewis, social and online media

Kailen Locke, social and online media

Callie Mayo, competitions coordinator

Zacchaeus McEwen, competitions co-chair

Grace Miller, throwback photo coordinator

Bess Nichols, competitions co-chair

Hannah Pickett, social and online media co-chair

Kendrick Pittman, video

Billy Rainey, events co-chair

Chloe Riley, program materials coordinator

Kelsey Sims, events

Robin Street, campaign chair

Christina Triggs, events co-chair

Rachel Vanderford, social and online media

Kalah Walker, video co-chair

Brittanee Wallace, fashion show chair

Dennis Moore awarded Silver Em and Best of Meek journalism students honored

Posted on: April 6th, 2017 by ldrucker

From left, Debora Wenger, Dennis Moore and Will Norton Jr.

In 1975, the Memphis Commercial Appeal asked the University of Mississippi to nominate two students for potential internships. Dennis Moore was one. He traveled to Memphis and survived an odd interview with the managing editor, who asked a variety of strange questions, such as “Name the countries you fly over when traveling from Memphis to Antarctica?”

“Despite the bizarre nature of the interview, he demonstrated an ability to be removed from the chaotic nature of questioning and keep his wits,” said Will Norton Jr., Ph.D., professor and dean of UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “He has followed a similar pattern throughout his career. His achievements demonstrate that, while the Meek School has more prominence today than it had 40 years ago, its graduates have always had national stature.”

Moore was honored Wednesday night as the 58th recipient of the Samuel S. Talbert Silver Em award at the Inn at Ole Miss on the UM campus. The Silver Em is UM’s highest award for journalism. Recipients must be Mississippi natives or have led exemplary careers in the state.

Moore began his journalism career as an intern at The Germantown (Tennessee) News. He later directed breaking news coverage for USA Today, the nation’s largest circulation newspaper, on stories such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; the spread of Ebola from Africa to the United States; and the trial of one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Earlier at USA Today, he was managing editor of the Life section, which put him in contact with Mick Jagger, John Grisham, Steven Spielberg and and many other notable people.

Moore said his favorite entertainment interview was with Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her role in “The Help,” a book that became a movie written by fellow UM graduate Katherine Stockett set in Jackson, where Moore began his professional reporting career at The Clarion-Ledger.

Moore is now co-editor of Mississippi Today, a news website, with Fred Anklam, also a USA Today and Clarion-Ledger veteran, Ole Miss graduate and Silver Em recipient.

“When I found out I was going to receive the award, I thought I don’t measure up to the previous recipients,” Moore said Wednesday during his acceptance speech. “I don’t think my accomplishments are as stellar as theirs.

“I’ve never endangered myself and my family for editorializing about a social issue. I’ve never revealed government malfeasance. I’ve never helped the community overcome a major natural disaster. I spent most of my career covering entertainment, movies, television, music, and the slightly higher respectability chain, books.”

However, Moore said he believes the staffs he’s worked with over the years have applied the same enthusiasm, vigor and aggressive newsgathering that people on other beats did while covering the entertainment industry.

“We just had more fun,” he said.

Moore said he likes to think he’s helped people understand the importance of critical thinking. “I believe if you look insightfully, if you look aggressively at popular culture, you can find out as much about society as if you write a news story,” he said.

Moore said he’s concerned about the lack of critical thinking in modern journalism. He said journalists must present facts and provide information to defend them because, in a “fake news” era, the public questions the media.

“They don’t have the confidence,” he said. “I believe we can do that by reporting and providing context. By context, I don’t mean let’s interpret for people. Let’s get enough facts so that we can speak confidently, authoritatively and can address issues in a way that can’t be questioned.

“If there’s a problem, we can possibly offer alternatives. We can treat the people we deal with on our beats with respect. Hold them accountable, but don’t present them with our agenda. I think that’s what a lot of news organizations are starting to do now.”

While Moore is concerned about the state of journalism today, he said he’s also encouraged, because he thinks journalists are on a good path.

“We have to report with depth, insight, and then we may be able to affect change,” he said.

Moore credited several people with his success, including Norton, who he described as “inexhaustible” and a “genius.”

“He will very humbly describe himself as making connections, when actually what he does is he creates character and careers,” said Moore. “The Meek School would not be the Meek School without Dr. Norton.”

Norton said he went through issues of The Daily Mississippian from 1973 to 1975 to look at some of Moore’s work as a student journalist. He found several stories, including one titled ‘Dorm Hunting, the night I kicked my leg through the wall, I decided it was time to move.’ Moore wrote light and serious pieces for the college newspaper, including stories about UM applying again for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and voting issues.

“Whether it was about shoddy campus housing, lack of freedom for faculty members or voting rights, tonight’s honoree always seemed to focus on important news,” said Norton, who gave attendees an update about the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

“During the 1974-75 academic year, the Department of Journalism had fewer than 100 majors, and an accreditation team made its first site visit to the campus,” he said. “The endowment of the department was less than $50,000.

“Today, the Meek School has more than 1,500 majors in Farley Hall and the Overby Center, and is raising funds for a third building that will be situated in the parking lot between Lamar Hall and the Overby Center, and the accreditation team called the Meek School a destination – and one of the elite programs in the nation.”

Norton said the endowment today is more than $13 million with a major estate committed to the future.

“The Meek School is prominent nationally now, if not globally,” he said. “Clearly, media education at Ole Miss has gained a great deal of exposure. Several times over the last few weeks, the chancellor has called the Meek School one of the two best schools on the campus. That exposure is based on the strong foundation established in 1947 by Gerald Forbes, the founding chair. He was joined by Sam Talbert and Dr. Jere Hoar. They produced outstanding graduates.”

Hoar was one of the event attendees Wednesday night, and he was recognized for his contribution to the school.

The Silver Em award is named for Talbert, the professor and department chairman, who believed a great department of journalism could be an asset to the state of Mississippi. An “em” was used in printing. In the days of printing with raised metal letters, lines of type were “justified” by skilled insertion of spacing with blanks of three widths – thin, en and em. The Silver Em blends the printing unit of measure with the “M” for Mississippi.

“The award has been presented annually since 1948 as the university’s highest honor for journalism,” said Debora Wenger, associate professor of journalism. “The requirements are that the person selected be a graduate of the University of Mississippi, who has had a noteworthy impact in or out of the state, or if not a graduate of Ole Miss, a journalist of note who has been a difference-maker in Mississippi.”

Meek journalism students were also honored during the event, which featured the Best of Meek awards ceremony.

Students who received Taylor Medals include Rachel Anderson, Katelin Davis, Hannah Hurdle and Ariyl Onstott.

The Kappa Tau Alpha Graduate Scholar was Stefanie Linn Goodwiller.

The KTA Undergraduate Scholar was Ariyl Onstott.

Graduate Excellence winners were Mrudvi Parind Vakshi and Jane Cathryn Walton.

The Lambda Sigma winner was Susan Clara Turnage.

Excellence in Integrated Marketing Communications winners were Austin McKay Dean and Sharnique G’Shay Smith.

Excellence in Journalism winners were Maison Elizabeth Heil and John Cooper Lawton.

Who’s Who winners were Rachel Anderson, Ferderica Cobb, Austin Dean, Elizabeth Ervin, Leah Gibson, Madison Heil, Cady Herring, Rachel Holman, Amanda Hunt, Hannah Hurdle, Amanda Jones, John Lawton, Taylor Lewis, Ariyl Onstott, Meredith Parker, Susan Clara Turnage, Sudu Upadhyay and Brittanee Wallace.

The Overby Award was given to Susan Clara Turnage.

Kappa Tau Alpha inductees include Brandi Embrey, Elizabeth Estes, Madison Heil, Rachael Holman, Hannah Hurdle, Tousley Leake, Taylor Lewis, Jessica Love, Hailey McKee, Olivia Morgan, Ariyl Onstott, Alexandria Paton, Natalie Seales and Zachary Shaw.

Dean’s Award winners include Madeleine Dear, Lana Ferguson, Kylie Fichter, Jennifer Froning, Dylan Lewis, Emily Lindstrom, Sarah McCullen, Dixie McPherson, Anna Miller, Rashad Newsom, Hannah Pickett, Kalah Walker, Brittanee Wallace, Kara Weller and Anna Wierman.

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media was founded in 2009 with a $5.9 million gift from Dr. Ed and Becky Meek, Ole Miss graduates with a long history of support. It is housed in Farley Hall, with a wing for the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Today, the Meek School has 1,570 students in undergraduate and graduate studies working toward degrees in journalism and IMC.

For more information, email meekschool@olemiss.edu.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor

‘Free State of Jones’ to be remembered at Overby Center Monday, April 10

Posted on: April 5th, 2017 by ldrucker

A rebellion against the Confederacy by poor white farmers in Jones County loyal to the Union, joined by a few former slaves, led to the establishment of the “Free State of Jones” during the Civil War. This will be the focus of a discussion next Monday, April 10, by two prominent Jones County natives – retired U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering and Jones County Junior College history instructor Wyatt Moulds – and Charles Overby, chairman and host of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss.

The program, free and open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium. A reception will be held following the event.

The uprising in Jones County has been the subject of several books and was dramatized last year in a movie, “The Free State of Jones,” starring Matthew McConaughey in the role of Newton Knight, the leader of a guerrilla operation that succeeded in seizing control of part of the county. (See trailer below.)

The breakaway movement eventually failed, but with the defeat of the Confederacy and the implementation of Reconstruction in the South, Knight continued to led an interracial struggle in the southeast Mississippi county.

The review of these events more than a century and a half ago is the latest in a series this year at the Overby Center in connection with the 200th anniversary of Mississippi’s statehood.

“We are going to talk about the impact of the Free State of Jones – the movie and the historical event – on the past and the present,” said Overby.

Pickering was born in Laurel – one of two seats of government in the colorful county – and attended Jones Junior College before earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi in 1959 and a law degree in 1961. He served as U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Mississippi for 14 years.

Moulds has been a member of the faculty at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville since 1982, served as an advisor to Gary Ross, the director of the film, and is considered a leading authority on the subject of Knight’s insurgency.

Meek School students win top awards at regional Society of Professional Journalists conference

Posted on: April 4th, 2017 by ldrucker

From left, Lana Ferguson and Clara Turnage.

University of Mississippi students brought home six first-place wins and 14 awards total in the Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 Mark of Excellence annual awards contest.

The Daily Mississippian won first place for best daily newspaper, and NewsWatch Ole Miss won first place for best television newscast.

Clara Turnage, Daily Mississippian editor-in-chief, won two first-place writing awards. Ariel Cobbert, DM photo editor, won a first-place photography award. NewsWatch’s Payton Green and Lauren Layton teamed up to win first place for television breaking news.

Ole Miss, which competes in categories against other large colleges, won more awards than any other university in the Region 12 competition.

“I cannot remember Ole Miss students doing better than they did in this year’s contest,” said Will Norton, dean of the Meek School of Journalism & New Media. “It is an amazing statement about the kind of work the Student Media Center has distributed this year. The M
eek School congratulates students who were honored and expresses our gratitude and respect to those faculty who worked with them. We are proud of each of you.”

Region 12 includes universities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. SPJ selects one winner and two finalists in each category. The awards – for work published, broadcast or posted in 2016 – were announced at the regional conference on April 1 in Knoxville, Tennessee. First-place winners move on to compete against the first-place winners in the other 11 regions for national awards. National winners and finalists are expected to be announced in late spring, and honored at the SPJ national convention in September in Anaheim, California.

In the best newspaper category, entries must include three issues. The Daily Mississippian’s winning entries were April 21, October 27 and November 17.

DM Editor-in-Chief Clara Turnage not only led her staff to the best newspaper awards, but also won first place for general news reporting for “Confronting the Trust Deficit,” an article published in spring 2016 examining the university’s relationship with the IHL board, and first place for feature writing for “They Never Stopped Searching,” an article published during her summer 2016 internship at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock. Turnage also won a finalist award in feature writing for “A beautiful multitude: The ordination of Reverend Gail Stratton” published in the DM in fall 2016.

In the best television category, one newscast is entered. The winning show for NewsWatch was broadcast on April 18, when Payton Green was manager. Green also teamed with Lauren Layton for the first-place TV breaking news award for a package headlined “ASB Resolution,” and he was a finalist for online feature reporting for “Coming Out in the Christian South.”

DM Photography editor Ariel Cobbert won the breaking news photography competition with a photo from the “Occupy the Ole Miss Lyceum” protest in fall 2016.

Other finalist awards went to:

theDMonline.com, best affiliated website.

Daily Mississippian staff, online news reporting, “Ole Miss Lyceum Protest.”
Lana Ferguson, non-fiction magazine article, “Taking Care of Their Own,” from the Mississippi Miracle depth report.

The Mississippi Miracle depth report publication, student magazine.
Brian Scott Rippee, sports column writing, “Kelly leaves a legacy as one of the best.”
Jake Thrasher, editorial cartoons.

“What a spectacular year for our student journalists,” said Patricia Thompson, Meek School assistant dean for student media. “Our students have been honored so often in the past few weeks, it has been hard to keep track. The awards covered a wide range of content – news, features, sports, visuals, television, radio, multimedia. Students work many hours each to week to provide information for the campus and community, and they are getting great experience that has helped them land great jobs and internships.”