The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Archive for the ‘News’ Category gives students opportunities to publish their work

Posted on: February 5th, 2016 by ewrobins
Class 1. Front row, from left: Allison Fazio, Ashley Gambrel, Hannah Simmons, Lana Ferguson; middle row, from left, Shelby Nichols, Jac Bedrossian, Chloe Riley, Elizabeth Wilks Parry, Kara Knapik; back row, from left, Herbert Moore, Connor Heitzmann, Tyler Bullard, Rachel Anderson and Carson Horn.

Class 1. Front row, from left: Allison Fazio, Ashley Gambrel, Hannah Simmons, Lana Ferguson; middle row, from left: Shelby Nichols, Jac Bedrossian, Chloe Riley, Elizabeth Wilks Parry, Kara Knapik; back row, from left: Herbert Moore, Connor Heitzmann, Tyler Bullard, Rachel Anderson and Carson Horn.

In the fall of 2014, Oxford Stories, at, was launched as part of a Journalism 271 class in the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. A course was designed incorporating the website to enable multimedia journalism students to publish their work and share it via social media. After the first semester, the site ended with approximately 5,000 page views.

Last semester, two classes of Journalism 271 multimedia news reporting students teamed up to contribute to Oxford Stories with a goal of reaching 20,000 page views. Students not only exceeded their goal, they doubled it. The fall semester of 2015 ended with 48,720 page views.

There were also new course developments. Adjunct journalism instructor LaReeca Rucker, who created the course, worked with Stephanie Rebman, editor of The Oxford Eagle; editor Callie Daniels; and Ed Meek, namesake of the UM Meek School of Journalism and New Media, to publish student stories in their publications.

Meek, who was also a UM assistant vice chancellor for public relations and marketing, an associate professor of journalism, and the owner of Oxford Publishing Inc., is the creator of, a website geared toward Ole Miss fans and alums.

Class 2. Front row, from left: Meagan Robinson, Ariel Cobbert, Haley Renschler, Elizabeth Darcey; middle row, from left, Lynecia Christion, Bryce Dixon, Olivia Morgan, Austin Ivy, Brian Romski, Alice McKelvey, Dominique McGhee; back row, from left, James Lott, Desmen Ison, Nate Larkin, Austen Derrick, Emily Schrimsher and Kennedy Johnson.

Class 2. Front row, from left: Meagan Robinson, Ariel Cobbert, Haley Renschler, Elizabeth Darcey; middle row, from left: Lynecia Christion, Bryce Dixon, Olivia Morgan, Austin Ivy, Brian Romski, Alice McKelvey, Dominique McGhee; back row, from left: James Lott, Desmen Ison, Nate Larkin, Austen Derrick, Emily Schrimsher and Kennedy Johnson.

Last semester, students were asked to turn in their work on with the possibility of having it additionally published in The Oxford Eagle or on functioned as a news distribution service with editors from The Oxford Eagle and selecting content from the website to republish in their respective publications.

Almost every student had one or multiple stories published by the local media, and some of the student stories published in The Oxford Eagle were picked up by the Associated Press and distributed to newspapers across the country.

Last semester, students wrote a variety of stories about the homeless, nutrition, healthcare, Syrian refugees, UM athletes, student business owners, bullying, the impact of social media, the UM Gospel Choir, and the use of students as confidential informants.

Other topics included UM’s decision to lower the state flag on campus, construction developments on Old Taylor Road, college tuition, adoption, parking woes, cultural appropriation, the environment, religion, racism, Black Lives Matter, the Ku Klux Klan on campus, and local musicians and artists.

“When I initially began designing the class, I knew I wanted to find a way to work with local media,” said Rucker. “Once the local editors got on board, everything seemed to work symbiotically. We are grateful that the editors of The Oxford Eagle and have been so cooperative and supportive of UM students. Because of them, many students have been able to obtain professional news clips.”

Rucker said one of the class goals was to create a real-world environment for student journalists so they can understand how the news gathering and writing process works.

“In this interactive setting, they were able to learn as students and become professional writers earning bylines in a real newspaper,” she said. “Some were even lucky enough to have their work recognized and picked up by the Associated Press, an impressive student feat. That was evidence that we were on to something with Oxford Stories.”

Students are assigned 5-10 stories over the semester, a video package and a column.

“Oxford Stories is also a way for students to learn about the power of social media, while taking the content they produce more seriously,” Rucker said. “Their name is on every story published, and in an Internet and new media age, their stories have almost as much power to travel the globe as a story written by a large daily newspaper. It also gives them an incentive to do good work. Otherwise, their stories will not make it on the Oxford Stories site.”

Not every story makes the cut – only the best ones with all of the required elements. Rucker said using the website is also a way for students to easily turn in their work, and it encourages them to stick to deadlines, because the website records the exact time and date stories are entered into the system.

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

The class is also designed to be fun.

“Students are part of a staff, and teamwork is encouraged,” Rucker said. “At the end of the year, we hold an awards ceremony, and students are rewarded with certificates, ribbons and medals for a semester of hard work.”

For motivation, students are told an awards ceremony will be held on the last day of class modeled after the Mississippi Press Association’s annual awards ceremony. Awards were given out last semester based on WordPress website statistics and analytics of the students’ most well-read stories. Each student received an award for their best work, with some students taking home top honors as reporters and writers of the year.

Last semester’s winners were:

Rachel Anderson – 2015 Oxford Stories Social Justice Reporter of the Year
Chloe Riley – 2015 Oxford Stories Reporter of the Year
Dominique McGhee – 2015 Creativity Award
Alice McKelvey – 2015 Music Writer of the Year
Olivia Morgan – 2015 Oxford Stories Reporter of the Year
Brian Romski – 2015 Social Media Reporter of the Year
Bryce Dixon – 2015 Best Feature Reporter Award
Elizabeth Wilks Parry – 2015 Social Media Reporter of the Year
Jac Bedrossian – Best Business Story
Tyler Bullard – Best Video Story
Ariel Cobbert – Best Photographer Award
Allison Fazio – Best Health Features Writer
Lana Ferguson – Best In-Depth or Investigative Reporting
Ashley Gambrel – Best General Interest Column
Connor Heitzmann – Best Visual Artist and Photographer Award
Carson Horn – Best Student Stories Reporter
Kara Knapik – Best Business Feature Story
Chandler Lewis – Best General Interest Column
Herbert Moore – Best Business Feature
Shelby Nichols – Best Religion Columnist
Molly Randles – Best Crime Story
Hannah Simmons – Best Environmental Story
Lynecia Christion – Best Sports Columnist
Elizabeth Darcey – Best Student Feature Reporter
Austen Derrick – Best Multimedia Feature Story
Desmen Ison – Best Campus Stories Reporter
Austin Ivy – Best Multimedia Story
Kennedy Johnson – Best Arts Reporter
Courtney Kamm – Best Video and Broadcast Story
Nate Larkin – Best Religion Reporter
Kailen Locke – Best News Reporter
James Lott – Best UM Athletics Reporter
Haley Renschler – Best News Reporter
Meagan Robinson – Best General Interest Column
Emily Schrimsher – Best Student Feature Story

UM journalism professor selected for Humanities Council honor

Posted on: February 4th, 2016 by ewrobins

steele2A prize-winning University of Mississippi journalism instructor is the 2016 recipient of a prestigious award from the Mississippi Humanities Council.

Alysia Burton Steele, assistant professor of multimedia, will be presented the Preserver of Mississippi Culture Award on Friday (Feb. 12) at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. The award, which recognizes an individual or organization for extraordinary efforts to protect and promote the cultural traditions and assets of the state, is in recognition of Steele’s book, “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom” (Center Street, 2015). The invitation-only awards program begins at 6:45 p.m.  Read more …

Alumnus Burnis Morris chosen as a History Hero

Posted on: January 29th, 2016 by ewrobins

Meek School alumnus Burnis Morris (’72) was selected as a 2016 History Hero for his work with the Carter G. Woodson Foundation.  Read the article at

Meek School teams up with Jackson State University to enhance learning opportunities

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by ewrobins

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media has developed a partnership with the School of Journalism and Mass Media Studies at Jackson State University.

The partnership will enable students in the Meek School to take courses at Jackson State and students in the School of Journalism and Mass Media Studies at Jackson State to take courses in the Meek School. There also will be faculty exchanges.

Students of Jackson State University will remain students of Jackson State University for all purposes, including tuition, course fees, academic credits and any and all other factors. Likewise, students of the University of Mississippi will remain students of the University of Mississippi for all purposes, including tuition, course fees, academic credits and any and all other factors.

Instructors, whether members of the Jackson State University faculty or The University of Mississippi faculty or specially employed adjuncts, will be agreed upon by both institutions.

If regular faculty of either institution, the instructors will remain faculty of their respective institutions for all purposes, including compensation, course loads and any and all other considerations.

If adjunct faculty are selected and agreed upon by both institutions, compensation will be awarded through mutual agreement, either alternating or pro rata based on the home institutions of students in the course.

“It is important for the Meek School and the School of Journalism and Mass Media Studies at Jackson State to collaborate so that every student in our program has appropriate instruction and a quality education,” said Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School.

The program at Jackson State University prepares students to be practitioners of Mass Communication in the areas of multimedia journalism, media production, and integrated marketing communication.

Its curriculum provides the opportunity for students to develop up-to-date skill-sets applicable in a wide-variety of areas of the media, making the Jackson State Mass Communication experience one of a kind.

Students learn from professionals with more than 100 years of total experience. The faculty include former general managers, producers, writers and Pulitzer finalists.

The Meek School offers a B.A.J. degree in Journalism, a B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications and an M.A. in Journalism.

The school has grown from 500 majors in 2010 to more than 1,400 majors.

Watch the partnership announcement at

Alumni Update: Amber Lynn Murphy (’15)

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by ewrobins

Amber Lynn MurphyI’m Amber Lynn Murphy (’15) and I recently took a job working for The Alliance Agency. Our agency works with many athletes and entertainers. At this point, I thought I was done with journalism, but I have been using my creative abilities more than ever. Everyday I use what I learned in the journalism program to help our company grow differently from other companies in our industry.

I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, where my choosing Ole Miss was a shock. My whole family went to Louisiana State University. At first it was hard for them to understand why, but when I started Ole Miss, I gave them a reason to understand. Needless to say, they all are Ole Miss fans, now. Thanks to the community, university, faculty and higher administration for making this journey possible.

While at Ole Miss, I held a sports anchor and reporter position with News Watch99. I had a broad range of duties from editing my own stories to anchoring a live show. I believe my experiences have enabled me to have the flexibility to excel in any tasks that are given to me now. I further refined my skills when I interned at FOX8 and WGNO in New Orleans. During these internships, I attended editorial meetings and performed research. I also prepared for presentations by writing scripts and cutting corresponding film. No story was too tough to tackle and no deadline was too quick. I worked extremely hard, and I loved having a plan and being organized. I always try to get better with each assignment, and I look forward to using these skills in any field of work.

During the academic year, I was involved in 12 student activities, while taking 21 hours and working part-time. My strong work ethic and time-management skills allowed me to successfully understand what it takes. The journalism professors provided me with constructive feedback to better my skills. Additionally, my experience as a student leader of various organizations has prepared me to make quick decisions when difficult situations arise.

I am very interested in using my talents in communication that I learned at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Meek School alumnus David Magee to lead new Alabama Media Group initiative

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by ewrobins

David Magee.VenturesAlabama Media Group has named award-winning journalist and author David Magee to the new executive position of vice president, Ventures.

In this role, Magee will serve as executive producer of Amazing Alabama, an original documentary series under development, and as publisher of Birmingham magazine.

Magee came to Alabama Media Group in 2013 and has served in roles across the print and digital content teams, most recently as the company’s senior director of content. He is the author of a dozen non-fiction books, including profiles on some of the world’s most prominent CEOs and brands, worked as a top editor at print and online publications in New York and Mississippi, and is a former advertising agency executive and business owner.

His new role will help position Alabama Media Group as an even stronger player in the media landscape, Bates said in announcing the appointment.

“David’s background in both business and journalism make him a fantastic choice to collaborate with our sales and content executives to expand our company’s portfolio,” Bates said. “With Amazing Alabama we have an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate the richness and vibrancy of our state. With Birmingham magazine, we have the chance to build on decades of leading our community.

“This is real demonstration of our commitment to tell stories across all platforms, and connect with businesses who want to be part of our state’s unfolding story.”

Magee assumes his new business duties immediately. The company will begin a search for an experienced, hands-on digital leader to run the day-to-day operations of news and sports teams, reporting to Vice President of Content Michelle Holmes as Magee did in his previous role.

“David has been an incredible factor in our success over the last few years,” said Holmes. “His contributions to audience growth and to high-quality, award-winning storytelling has been enormous. We’re committed to carrying on that vision and serving as the pre-eminent home of great Alabama journalism, supported by David’s success in his new role.”

Meek School student wins logo design contest for international music competition

Posted on: January 11th, 2016 by drwenger

When pianists from around the world are tickling the ivories in Oxford at the 2016 World Championship Old-time Piano Playing Contest this spring, student Rachel Gholson should be tickled about playing a role in the competition’s success.
Gholson designed the festival logo as part of an assignment in her Creative Visual Thinking class, taught by Emily Bowen Moore.

“Ian Hominick from the music department approached me earlier in the semester about having my students design a new logo identity system,” said Moore.  Dozens of students submitted logos, but Gholson’s stood out for Hominick.

“What I liked best about Rachel’s logo was the simplicity and effectiveness of her design.  It was not overly ornate, possesses a striking layout with font and gets the message across in a simple manner.  It is also versatile and can be reworked for different concepts,” he said.

Bowen says the design will be used for promoting the contest across all of their multimedia platforms.

The international piano contest is in its 43rd year, but this is the first time it will be hosted in Oxford.  The festival is set for Memorial Day weekend and will include the university and Oxford communities.

Watch the multimedia video produced by IMC master’s student Jessica Love

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by ewrobins

As a recent college graduate of Rust College I understand now, more than ever, that my success was attributed to more than just my efforts. The faculty and staff all invested a part of themselves in me; a devotion tantamount to the love for their own children. With this multimedia project, I wanted to share that love with the world. Mr. Carllos Lassiter serves as the Vice President of Student Affairs and, like many professionals at HBCUs, understands that his purpose is more about what he does than who he is. Unlike the traditional role that professionals take in this position, his job requires him to build and maintain nurturing relationships in order to better understand and serve the students. This project explores his perspective and how he uniquely commits to each and every student.

Watch the video at

*Love was a student in the fall 2015 IMC 504 course taught by Associate Professor Mark Dolan.


Ole Miss alumnus picked to lead Jackson TV station

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by drwenger

Michael L. Neelly, a longtime Hearst Television news executive most recently serving as a news director in Cincinnati and Louisville, has been promoted to president and general manager of WAPT-TV, the Hearst Television ABC TV affiliate serving the Jackson, Mississippi, market.

The appointment, effective January 1, 2016, marks a return to Jackson for Neelly, an Ole Miss alumnus who was a photojournalist and producer in Jackson during the early 1990s. He succeeds Stuart Kellogg, who recently announced his year-end retirement after serving as WAPT’s president and general manager since 1991.

“For the last fifteen years, Mike has successfully led two Hearst Television news operations to new heights, building award-winning newscasts, increasing audience, and launching new digital products,” said Jordan Wertlieb, Hearst Television’s President. “His accomplishments, coupled with his strong leadership style and deep Mississippi roots, make Mike an excellent successor to carry on the overall growth and commitment to the local community that has been a hallmark of the WAPT team during Stuart Kellogg’s tenure.”

Neelly has served since 2012 as news director at WLWT-TV, the Hearst Television NBC affiliate in Cincinnati. While there, he helped establish “Making a Difference for Our Youth,” a multi-platform initiative spotlighting issues facing young Cincinnatians, the resources available to them and how viewers can help. He also led a rejuvenation of the news operation, overseeing staff expansion and creating an investigative unit. In recent ratings periods WLWT has ascended to the top of Cincinnati newscast ratings in key demographics and earned a 2015 Regional Emmy Award for Special Achievement: News Excellence – the market’s first station to receive the award.

The Meek School of Journalism & New Media would like to add its congratulations to Neelly and say, “Welcome home!”

Assistant Professor Alysia Steele wins Mississippi Humanities Council award

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by ewrobins

The Mississippi Humanities Council will recognize Meek School Assistant Professor Alysia Steele with its “Preserver of Mississippi Culture” award for her “Delta Jewels” project on Friday, February 12, 2016, in Jackson.  Read more at