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UM Journalism Professor Presents Katrina Archive Work at UCLA

Posted on: October 19th, 2016 by jheo1

A professor at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media will present her work to discover and republish an archive of lost blogs, emails and other online writing from the years after Hurricane Katrina on Friday (Oct. 14) at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Cynthia Joyce is editor of “Please Forward: How blogging reconnected New Orleans after Katrina,” an anthology released Aug. 29, 2015, the 10th anniversary of the storm. The anthology mined blog posts and widely circulated emails from more than 75 blogs and online websites, many of which are no longer live. It weaves an intimate narrative of the first two years after the storm and the lives of the people who lived through it.

cynthiajoyce2-768x431“The contributors to this anthology were so generous in allowing us to resurface their reflections from such a difficult part of their lives,” Joyce said. “We pulled those up and put them into print.

“Those posts – and the original blogs they were excerpted from – also deserve to be discoverable in an online context. Working with Archive-It made that possible.”

Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005 near the Mississippi-Louisiana state line, killed 1,833 people in five states, including 231 in Mississippi. It’s often referred to as the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history.

Joyce is participating in the “Dodging the Memory Hole: Saving Online News” forum at UCLA’s Young Research Library, hosted by Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. She is part of the lightning round of participants, in which each panelist has three minutes to deliver their message.

Will Norton, dean of the Meek School, said Joyce’s colleagues are proud of her work.

“Cynthia Joyce is a first-rate journalist who brings years of work at the cutting edge of new media to her presentation at UCLA,” Norton said. “It says a lot about the Meek School that our faculty members are making presentations at prestigious institutions with other pioneering innovators.”

Joyce and the others involved in the anthology project used Archive-It, a web archiving service of Internet Archive used by more than 450 libraries, archives, universities, governments and researchers to collect, preserve and provide ongoing access to cultural heritage materials published on the web.

The anthology, which was published by University of New Orleans Press, will also be accessible and searchable online via the Internet Archive’s Archive-It database later this year. Jefferson Bailey, director of web archiving at Internet Archive/Archive-It, is also presenting at the conference.

“The web is the most significant publishing platform of our era, democratizing the ability to document our lives and communities for a global audience,” Bailey said. “Yet content on the web is highly ephemeral, often eluding the traditional process of historical preservation.

“We are excited to be able to collaborate with researchers like Cynthia Joyce, who bring local expertise and community knowledge, and work together to identify, archive and provide access to these historically valuable resources so that they remain available long into the future.”

Spotlight on 2016-2017 Student Media Leaders

Posted on: October 7th, 2016 by jheo1

Rebel Radio Manager: Leah Gibson

Upon meeting Leah Gibson at a conference in Washington, D.C., former Chancellor Robert Khayat and Meek School Dean Will Norton knew she would be an asset to the University of Mississippi. Gibson was a high school student at the time, and they recruited her.

“After meeting them at the conference and learning about the programs available here, I then visited Ole Miss and fell in love with the station and all the opportunities I’d be able to have,” Gibson said.

leahgibson1Gibson, a senior from Starkville, is majoring in broadcast journalism. In her freshman year, she auditioned for Rebel Radio and was hired as a DJ. She auditioned for NewsWatch and landed a role as a correspondent. Last year, she was a news correspondent for Rebel Radio. This year, in addition to serving as student manager for Rebel Radio, she is also a NewsWatch anchor.

Gibson worked at Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson as a radio news reporter this summer. She covered Mississippi current events, race relations, education and politics.

“I’m excited to see where Leah will take Rebel Radio in her year as station manager,” said Roy Frostenson, student media assistant director and adviser for the radio station. “She is a terrific leader, very organized and detail-oriented. She has a great amount of energy and enthusiasm and a lot of great ideas for the station. She does a good job of sharing her vision for the radio station and it’s easy to get excited about the future listening to her talk about Rebel Radio.”

Gibson’s plans for this year include more big events, talk shows, and much more.

“I want to do a campus spotlight where I have interviews coming in every week, giving people direct connection to the station,” Gibson said. She is creating a training manual for her staff, and she produced a training video for the DJs.

Gibson is passionate about music, saying that the right song can change a person’s mood, and she wants to be sure Rebel Radio gives that to its listeners.

“I really want 92.1 Rebel Radio to be a hot topic on campus. I want people to know exactly who we are, what we play. I want people to have a favorite show that they listen to, for people to be excited about everything that we do.”

Gibson manages to do her radio and TV work in addition to her many other activities on campus, such as serving in the Columns Society and as an orientation leader. She was Miss Meridian in this year’s Miss Mississippi pageant, where she placed in the top 15 and won a talent award and was a finalist in the quality of life competition.


Leah Gibson and other Meek School students and faculty follow a guide across a bridge near Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, during a Winter Intersession 2015 multimedia project.

Gibson will pursue a career in broadcast journalism or radio, and thanks the SMC for preparing her for her future.

“The SMC has provided me with numerous opportunities to meet people, to learn, and to better my craft. It gives you experience in the field which I feel is much more valuable than sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture.”


NewsWatch Ole Miss Manager: Payton Green

Payton Green had no idea what he was getting himself into when he joined NewsWatch his freshman year.

“I assumed it was a fun after-school activity. I didn’t realize that this was kind of a big deal. I first heard about NewsWatch in Journalism 101, and then I heard about it again in Freshman Convocation, so I decided to join. I figured it was just a bunch of kids putting on a news show.”

Now a senior, the broadcast journalism major from Pascagoula says he quickly realized that it was much more than that.

“I was so scared on my first day,” he said, laughing.


Payton Green and NewsWatch adviser Nancy Dupont on the set of WLOX-TV during Green’s internship in summer 2016.

Fast forward a few years. Green recently traveled to New Orleans to accept a first-place national award for multimedia reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. Green was part of a team of Meek School students who won the award for their coverage of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.

“Payton has a great future, and we’re so privileged to have him with us this semester,” said Nancy Dupont, professor of journalism and NewsWatch adviser.  “In many ways, Payton is the ideal student news manager because he is more concerned with developing his staff than he is with promoting himself. He’s assembled a great team, and he’s already showing strong leadership skills.”

Green worked as an anchor for NewsWatch for two years before becoming News Director, and fell in love with producing and “the behind-the-scenes thing.” He is serving as NewsWatch manager, in charge of the entire newscast, for fall semester 2016.

Among the improvements Green has already made this year: new titles and job descriptions for his staff, an emphasis on more social media interaction, more local news and campus coverage, and more live shots from the field and the newsroom.

Green’s favorite part of the SMC is seeing his student colleagues’ hard work pay off in a dream job. But he points out that it is not all hard work and no play at the SMC. Some of the goofiest moments end up giving them more insight into new ways to branch out on their show, he says.

“When people audition at the beginning of the year, we are there until late at night working long hours which really allows us to bond. During a break one night we began blasting an EDM (electric dance music) song that has a really great drop, and began dancing around and decided to Facebook Live film it. The video got 700 views! We had already been planning on starting to do Facebook Live videos, which are great because you are really able to see how well we are doing.”


Payton Green interviews Biloxi Public Affairs Officer Jerry Creel during coverage of the 10thanniversary of Hurricane Katrina in August 2015.

Green interned at WLOX-TV on the Gulf Coast this past summer. When he graduates in December 2016, he plans to get a job as a TV producer in local news. He would love to someday be a producer for Dateline or 60 Minutes. He is grateful to the SMC for giving him the skills to pursue his dreams.

“If I hadn’t come here, I don’t know what I would be doing. If I hadn’t been producing this newscast, I wouldn’t have gotten those internships. It’s helped me learn what I want to do. It’s also given me the opportunity to meet and work with very talented people.”



The Ole Miss Yearbook Editor: Cady Herring


Photo courtesy Lindsey Lissau Photography.

As she embarks on her year as Yearbook Editor, Cady Herring is no stranger to the SMC.

Herring began as a freshman photographer for The Daily Mississippian, and later became DM photo editor. Last spring semester, she was co-photo editor of the yearbook.

“I love news journalism and storytelling, and I believe that the yearbook is the perfect platform to creatively and eloquently document this year,” Herring said.

Herring, a senior from Memphis, is a double major in print journalism and international studies, with a minor in Spanish. She has participated in several multimedia journalism projects during her years at the Meek School, in the Mississippi Delta and in Ethiopia. She has studied abroad twice in Africa and once in South America.

This summer Herring spent a month in Tanzania in East Africa as the media intern for UM professor Laura Johnson’s National Geographic Society grant, Faces of the Mountain.

“We circumnavigated villages around Mt. Kilimanjaro to finish the grant by conducting surveys and project videos,” Herring said. “I was in charge of setting up African-style movie theaters, making sure all the equipment worked, and shooting photos and video.”

She is currently communicating with the media team in Tanzania to edit final videos and working with National Geographic editors to submit content.

“Working in Tanzania forced me to think innovatively to accomplish tasks that would be easy in the U.S., but almost impossible there,” Herring said. “The cultural and linguistic barriers were onerous, but I loved the challenge. I carry duct tape with me everywhere now!”


Cady Herring photographs the Mweka village presentation for the Faces of the Mountain project in Tanzania in summer 2016.

Student Media Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson noted that Herring has won national and regional awards for her photography and writing, including placing in the prestigious Hearst national journalism competition.

“Cady is one of those students who can do everything well, which makes her a natural for a job as yearbook editor,” Thompson said. “She is one of the most creative journalists I have ever met. Her photography in the Ethiopia depth report was stunning. I can’t wait to see the yearbook she leads her staff to produce.”

Herring wants to use the yearbook to bring students together this year.

“The Student Media Center has provided me with such an invaluable education that I wouldn’t be able to receive anywhere else,” Herring said. “It’s my plan to structure our staff like a team to foster that experience for other ardent students, so that this book will be a celebration of the amazing talent UM has to offer.” She and her staff are hard at work creating their theme and cover design, and they are planning events to reveal the theme later this fall.

“I want to make this yearbook extremely literary and artistic to highlight our campus, our students, and really show who we are as a University today, and I have an amazing staff to do it,” Herring said. “This year, we’re pushing the limits by redesigning the website to use unexpected technologies to more comprehensively present stories. We’re searching for contributors from every area of campus to have frequent content that ranges from high fashion to campus politics, so that it will be an information hub to keep up with the campus and Oxford. This yearbook will be for everyone.”

Herring graduates in May 2017, and is applying for internships and fellowships. She’s doing research this fall for her thesis about the relationship between the  media and migrants, and hopes to continue using her storytelling skills in a career as an international documentary journalist.

Overby Center Senior Fellow and Meek School instructor Bill Rose is a writing coach for the yearbook staff. He has worked with Herring on several Meek School in-depth projects.

“Cady Herring is a young woman with a big heart for the less fortunate and a big talent for photos that capture people’s souls,” Rose said. “Her work in Africa, South America and the Delta demonstrate a strong sense of empathy and understanding for people of other cultures.”


Advertising Sales Manager: Ben Napoletan

Making the decision to give the top advertising job this year to Ben Napoletan was easy.

“Ben was one of our top sales account executives last year and so he was a natural choice for sales manager this year,” says Roy Frostenson, student media assistant director in charge of advertising. “He earned his spot with his great work last year.”


Ben Napoletan at his summer 2016 Nissan internship in Atlanta, with the company’s regional chief marketing and marketing analytics manager.

Napoletan is a senior majoring in finance with a minor in marketing. He is from Alpharetta, Georgia.

“Managing and growing account lists is the main duty of the job,” Napoletan says. “Since I am the manager this year, I mainly focus on providing my team with leads, organization, and maintaining my current accounts. Contacting my accounts and presenting them with current promotions and convincing them to advertise more is my goal with those accounts.”

This summer, Napoletan interned with Nissan Motor Company in its southeast regional headquarters in Atlanta. He worked on analytical projects ranging from after-sales forecasting to dealership incentive programs.

He says his favorite part of his SMC manager job is meeting monthly and annual sales goals. If they aren’t met, it just gives him even more motivation to work harder for the next month.


Ben Napoletan meets with Oxford attorney Dwight N. Ball, one of his Daily Mississippian advertising clients.

“Sales has a scorecard, so the only thing that matters is how much revenue we bring in. It doesn’t matter if it is from one business or 100 businesses, as long as we earn the most money possible, that is the goal,” he says.


Napoletan and his staff are creating video advertisements this year for the first time. And he is making his team work more efficiently by using call lists, which help his team avoid calling the same people twice.

“Ben is extremely organized and he’s brought that mindset to his job as sales manager and is working to make our sales operation more efficient and productive,” Frostenson says. “He’s a hard worker who puts in the time necessary to be successful and sets a great example for our sales team.”

Napoletan plans to seek a sales job when he graduates in May 2017. Long term, he wants to be VP of sales for a Fortune 500 company.


Daily Mississippian Editor in Chief: Clara Turnage


Clara Turnage

Clara Turnage knew on the first day of her freshman orientation in 2013 that she wanted to be involved with the Student Media Center. And even then, the persistence that makes her an outstanding reporter was evident.

“I remember hearing about the DM at the first day of orientation, so I went by that day but no students were there. So I went back again and told them that I wanted to write and get involved,” Turnage recalls.

The Sunday before the first day of classes, Turnage got a call from the DM editor in chief, giving her an assignment. Two days later, Turnage had a front-page byline. She was hooked.

Turnage is a senior from New Hebron, majoring in print journalism. Her minor is an unusual one for a journalist: computer science.

“ I became interested in computer science when Professor Deb Wenger asked if I would like to be in an Engineering Honors class that focused on the history of media systems,” Turnage says. “The class doubled as a computer science elective and the professor told me I should consider CS as a minor. I enjoyed what little coding we did in that class, and I valued the marketable skill I would receive with a computer science minor. So I decided to go with it.” It’s a skill she uses frequently to create timelines, website designs and other graphics.

Turnage says she loves seeing her staff of writers and editors grow as journalists. She started at the DM as a writer and photographer her freshman year. In her sophomore year, she was promoted to lifestyles editor. She was promoted to managing editor at the end of her junior year, and that summer she also served as news editor and designer.

Patricia Thompson, DM adviser and assistant dean for student media, has worked with Turnage every day for several years. Turnage is one of the best young journalists she’s ever seen.

“She is a fearless reporter, a gifted writer, a strong leader,” Thompson says.  “On the outside, she seems sweet, and she IS kind and fair and thoughtful, but make no mistake, when it comes time for toughness, she has the ‘fire in the belly’ that I always see in the best journalists. I have seen her doggedly pursue stories others would have given up after a few rejections. Clara’s work and influence and commitment have been a major reason for The Daily Mississippian’s success in recent years.”

For the past two years, The Daily Mississippian has been named by the Society of Professional Journalists as one of the top three daily campus newspapers in the nation.  In addition, Turnage has won several awards for her writing.

This past summer, Turnage was a copy editor intern for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock. The newspaper has one of the most sought-after internships in the country, receiving hundreds of applications for just a few spots.

So far this year, Turnage has led a major redesign of The Daily Mississippian, and increased its social media and digital media presence. In mid-August, she led a new training program for her staff.

It’s her last year at Ole Miss, and Turnage reflects on her time at the Student Media Center as a blessing.

“I spend a great deal of my time here. It is because of the SMC that I’ve had every internship and job that I’ve had. If you put in a little here, I promise you’ll get a lot out of it.”


Clara Turnage at work in the Daily Mississippian newsroom.

At the start of fall semester, Turnage bought an air mattress sofa and often can be found sitting or lying on it, discussing stories with her staff or just hanging out with them as they wait for stories and photos to arrive for editing.

While they have fun in and out of the newsroom, Turnage says that she and her team work hard to tell the University’s story in full – the good and the bad. They take seriously their mission to serve as campus watchdogs and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information.

“The University is going through a time that is very stressful,” Turnage says. “There’s a lot of change happening on campus. I want to cover that to the best of my ability, while being as unbiased as possible. That is something we struggle with constantly. I am looking forward to continuing to cover in-depth stories that make our writers better and our newspaper better. “

Turnage will graduate in May 2017. Like most other students, she is applying for jobs and internships at media companies in many states, but she adds: “There’s a lot of opportunity for news gathering in Mississippi. I’m very interested in that, too. I think Mississippi is one of those states that would benefit most from skilled reporters staying where they are.”

By Mary Ruth Womble

Overby Center to Host Two Programs Next Week

Posted on: October 6th, 2016 by jheo1

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics will host two dramatically different programs next week – an affectionate look back on the short history of a gadfly Mississippi publication in the 1960s and a visit with the author of a new book dealing with the work of U.S. diplomats and the international press during a civil war in Liberia in 2003.

The activity will start at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11, with a discussion with Lew Powell and Ed Williams who edited “Mississippi Freelance,” a free-wheeling monthly that critiqued the status quo in the state in 1969. The pair were working for the Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville following their graduation from Ole Miss and recruited journalists and others around the state to offer commentary and news stories that could not be found elsewhere.

During its one-year existence the “Mississippi Freelance” exposed a case of plagiarism involving the president of the University of Southern Mississippi, lampooned the Sovereignty Commission, a state agency that spied on blacks and white liberals during the civil rights era, and published many biting reports on Mississippi politicians.

Powell, a native of Coahoma County, and Williams, who was editor of The Daily Mississippian at Ole Miss, both recently retired after long and distinguished careers at the Charlotte Observer. They will be joined on the panel by Charles Overby, chairman of the center who was a journalist in Mississippi at the time, and Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie, who was a frequent contributor to “Mississippi Freelance.”

“Lew and Ed were talented journalists when we were at Ole Miss together 50 years ago,” said Overby. “They had an amazing career and it will be fun to hear from them.”

A reception will be held following the program, which is free and open to the public. Parking will be available in the lot adjacent to the Overby Center Auditorium.

At 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, Dante Paradiso, author of “The Embassy,” will be on hand to discuss his book and his recollections as a political officer at the embattled mission in Liberia during a period of violent upheaval in the West Africa nation that was founded in the 19th century by freed American slaves. Paradiso will talk of the efforts by U.S. diplomats clinging to maintain a constructive influence in the country as well as the role of journalists working under dangerous conditions to get news out to the rest of the world.

For the one-hour program Paradiso will be engaged in a conversation with Wilkie, who covered similar unrest in Africa as a foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe.

“Paradiso’s book captures the drama of sudden violence in an unstable environment; the fighting in Liberia made life miserable for the people who lived there and created danger for diplomats and reporters who worked there,” said Wilkie. “The book offers some good lessons for aspiring journalists.”


Meek School Faculty Members Honored at SPRF Lantern Awards 

Posted on: October 3rd, 2016 by jheo1

Two Meek School faculty members were honored recently for outstanding public relations projects during the 2016 Southern Public Relations Federation Lantern Awards program.

Lantern awards are presented at three levels in multiple categories. The highest award in each category is called the Lantern, followed by Awards of Excellence and Merit.

Both Andrew Abernathy (pictured left) and Robin Street (right) are faculty members in the Integrated Marketing Communications program, and members of Oxford/Ole Miss chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi.

Abernathy, communications specialist for the UM School of Education, is teaching one class as an adjunct. He won a Lantern in the brochures category for Opportunity Starts Here, a view book for prospective education graduate students. Abernathy is also a Meek School alumnus, earning a B.A. in 2008 and M.A. in 2010.

Robin Street, senior lecturer, received two Awards of Excellence. One was for an opinion column she wrote titled The IHL gets an F in Public Relations, and the other was for a multi-media news release. Street has taught in the Meek School since 1990 and actually taught Andrews in introductory Journalism and Public Relations classes.


Westbrook Pledges Major Gift to Meek School

Posted on: September 29th, 2016 by jheo1

In true Rebel style, University of Mississippi alumna Leslie Westbrook bucked the confines of her generation and became one of the nation’s most successful consumer market specialists with Fortune 500 clients.

“Like all good Southern ladies in that era, I planned to marry my college sweetheart and teach school,” said Westbrook, a Jackson native who was named Miss Ole Miss in 1968. “I was to start the family and add to it the station wagon and dogs. Well, I cancelled the Big Fat Southern Wedding.”

Instead, she landed a job in Procter & Gamble’s Market Research Department and left Mississippi for Cincinnati, Ohio. The bachelor’s degree in education that Westbrook earned from Ole Miss in 1968 would have served her well for teaching, but she required weeks of on-the-job training for her newly chosen career as a consumer research specialist and marketing strategist.

“There is a great need to offer extensive consumer research training to students who are majoring in integrated marketing communications (IMC) through the Meek School of Journalism and New Media,” Westbrook said.


Leslie Westbrook visits with (from left) Jason McCormick, development officer for the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, and Meek School Dean Will Norton.

Determined to see students adequately prepared to enter her profession, Westbrook recently pledged $500,000 to the university. The Leslie M. Westbrook Journalism Quasi Endowment will ultimately support the construction of a new state-of-the-art consumer research laboratory bearing Westbrook’s name.

“Leslie is very generously giving for an area to which she devoted her entire professional life. She’s basically saying how thankful she has been for her Ole Miss education and that she wants first-class opportunities that will enable students to prepare for a similar career,” said Will Norton, dean of the Meek School. “This is the first major gift for the new building, and it means a great deal to have such a significant kick off.”

Westbrook said she has discussed the school’s needs with Norton and Meek School namesake Ed Meek over the past couple of years. In addition to providing financial support, she participates in faculty support, teaching a Global Brands course during May intersession and co-teaching, guest lecturing and meeting with students several other times a year.  She also serves on the board of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss.

“We found the perfect fit,” she said. “Everything that I learned and put into practice in my career is taught in IMC over the course of the four-year program. I can speak from actual experience, from the business world, about how IMC can be utilized in a career and with a wider variety of choices — consumer research, marketing, branding, public relations, advertising, writing and more.”


Leslie Westbrook visits with students at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

In class, Westbrook often shares case studies from her work with such brands as Pringles, Pampers, Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee and the Dairy Queen Blizzard.

“I love my time back at Ole Miss, passing it forward, interacting with students,” she said. “If I can impact even one student, I am fulfilled.”

Meek said Westbrook’s gift will benefit the university community and beyond.

“Leslie’s gift will represent the beginning of a major campaign to build a new building and dramatically expand the reach of the Meek School. Her focus is a unique laboratory that will create tremendous instructional, research and service opportunities for students and faculty,” Meek said, adding that Westbrook enjoyed an extraordinary career in corporate practice nationwide.

After Procter & Gamble, Westbrook joined New Product Insights, a nationally revered new product consulting firm in Kansas City, Missouri, where she practiced qualitative research as a marketing strategist for seven years before starting her own company in Easton, Maryland. During her career, she met with many Fortune 500 companies which later became clients of Leslie M. Westbrook & Associates, Inc.

For the past 20 years, she has lived on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay near Washington, D.C., with her husband Paolo Frigerio of Milan, Italy.

“The loyalty, support and dedication of our alumni like Leslie is a key element to the university’s continued excellence,” UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Her gift will have a transformative effect on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media as we build for the future.”

The Leslie M. Westbrook Journalism Quasi Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, Miss. 38655; or visit

By Bill Dabney

National Politics Dominate Coming Overby Center Events

Posted on: September 23rd, 2016 by jheo1

An impressive combination of major political faces and popular television commentators will be featured at two separate events in the last week of September sponsored by the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss.

Stuart Stevens, a veteran Republican consultant who managed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012, will be the guest next Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. for a public conversation with Charles Overby, chairman of the center, and Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie. The program will be held in the Overby Center Auditorium.

The top two figures at NBC News, Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News, and Tom Brokaw, NBC’s long-time anchor who now serves as a special correspondent, will be joined by two political heavyweights, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford Jr. for a discussion of the 2016 presidential campaign at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.The event will be moderated by Maggie Wade, an anchor at WLBT, the NBC affiliate in Jackson.

To accommodate the large crowd expected, the Sept. 30 program is being moved to the Nutt Auditorium on campus. It is being co-sponsored by Mississippi Today, the online news operation that was launched in the state earlier this year.

Both programs are free and open to the public, and special arrangements have been made to provide free parking adjacent to the Overby Center for the first event, and in a large lot next to Nutt Auditorium for the Friday night program on the eve of the Ole Miss-Memphis football game.

“This may be the best line-up of programs we’ve had in the ten year history of the Overby Center,” said Wilkie. “Coming on the same week as the first presidential debate, we hope the programs will bring some of the political drama back to Oxford that we enjoyed in 2008 when Ole Miss hosted the first presidential debate.”

Stevens, a native of Jackson, has been a force in GOP politics for decades, managing a number of Senate and gubernatorial campaigns and playing a role in former President George W. Bush’s political efforts. He has been a frequent guest on national television this year, offering sometimes biting commentary on the candidacy of Republican nominee Donald Trump. Aside from his political work, Stevens is also a well-known writer. Two years ago, “The Last Season,” his affectionate book about attending Ole Miss football games with his aging father, received strong reviews. This year, Stevens has a new novel about a political insider, “The Innocent Have Nothing To Fear,” in bookstores around the country.

The members of the NBC duo are no strangers to Ole Miss. Lack, who has ancestral links to Greenville, is one of the founders of Mississippi Today and has become a strong supporter of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Brokaw, perhaps the best-known face on television, served as the university’s commencement speaker this spring. Brokaw first came to Ole Miss exactly 16 years ago – for a friend’s birthday party in connection with an Ole Miss game — and he and members of his family have returned repeatedly over the years.

Barbour, a two-term governor of Mississippi, is still one of the dominant figures in the Republican Party. Before winning office in 2003, he served as national chairman of the party and worked in President Ronald Reagan’s White House. He is now a lobbyist in Washington and Jackson.

Ford, a member of the most prominent Democratic family in Memphis, served five terms in Congress. Though he now works on Wall Street, Ford — like Barbour – still holds important credentials in his party and is often asked to appear as a guest commentator on television. He is a regular guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program.



Alumni Update: Laura Beth Lyons Strickland (’08)

Posted on: September 22nd, 2016 by jheo1

laura-beth-lyons-stricklandMeek School graduate Laura Beth Lyons Strickland, communications manager at the Vicksburg, Mississippi Convention and Visitors Bureau, was named Mississippi Tourism Association Member of the Year for 2016 recently.

Strickland has been an integral leader in the rebranding of Vicksburg as The Key to the South, says a news release from the MTA. She has overseen the building and design of Vicksburg’s new responsive design website, launched a weekly blog and grown social media platforms to record levels. She also served as chair of the 2015 Mississippi Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

Her former public relations instructor, Robin Street, fondly recalls Strickland in the classroom and has kept up with her as a public relations professional.

“Laura Beth is a special young woman who puts her heart into her work, whether it was in the classroom or now in her professional work,” Street said. “It also says a lot about her that she remained in her Mississippi to put her talents to use in bettering her hometown and home state.”

Strickland graduated in 2008 with B.A. in both journalism and English, along with a specialization in public relations. She joined the Vicksburg CVB in 2009 and has worked there ever since.

Her work has been recognized multiple times with awards for websites, special events and branding from the Public Relations Association of Mississippi. She has also been named to the Vicksburg Post’s list of the “Top 20 under 40.”

Alumni Update: Alex Cox Shockey and Rachel Hammons (’10, ’14)

Posted on: September 21st, 2016 by jheo1


Just who is behind all those clever social media posts from FedEx? Two Meek School alums, of course. Alex Cox Shockey (pictured left ) and Rachel Hammons (pictured right), both communication specialists with FedEx, plan, create and oversee much of the social media for that company.

The two graduates returned to campus on Sept. 13 to speak to the same public relations techniques class they took with Robin Street, senior lecturer(pictured, center).
Shockey graduated with a degree in print journalism with an emphasis in PR in 2010. She joined FedEx in 2012 after working as a digital communications specialist for Pinnacle Airlines,  now called Endeavor Air,  for two years.

Hammons earned a degree in IMC in May 2014, then completed a master’s degree in IMC at Northwestern while also interning at FedEx.  Following her graduation from Northwestern, she began working fulltime at FedEx in January 2016. (photo credit: Hailey Heck)

Alumni Update: Madisen Theobald (’16)

Posted on: September 21st, 2016 by jheo1

Madisen Theobald at Condé Nast corporate headquarters.

Madisen Theobald is coordinator for digital advertising and product monetization for Condé Nast Publications in New York City. She works on all 16 of the company’s brands: Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Allure, Glamour, The New Yorker, Pitchfork and nine more. Her day-to-day duties include working with the corporate team’s directors and managers to execute and create digital advertisements and grow overall digital revenue. She also facilitates video interviews and production work for Condé Nast’s The Scene.

Madisen graduated Magna Cum Laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, a minor in graphic design and an emphasis in magazine services. While at the Meek School, she was Ole Miss Yearbook Design Editor, Daily Mississippian designer, and president of the Society for News Design chapter.

“It has been my dream to work for Condé Nast for as long as I can remember,” Theobald says “But it didn’t come easy. During my senior year at the Meek School, I worked five journalism-related jobs, strived for straight As, joined as many clubs in the Meek School that I could, found life-long mentors that saw my strengths when I saw weaknesses, and took classes that I didn’t even need to graduate just so I could learn more. The Meek School was more than the school that gave me an education and my dream job. It was my family that pushed me to be the best version of myself.”

Secretary of the Navy Opens 10th Overby Center Season

Posted on: September 14th, 2016 by jheo1

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus returns to the Ole Miss campus this weekend and will make an appearance Friday evening as the first guest of the fall season at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.
Mabus will take part in a conversation about his long career in public service with Charles Overby, chairman of the center, at 6 the Overby Center. A reception will follow. As with all Overby Center programs, the event is free and open to the public. Arrangements have been made for parking in the lot adjacent to the Overby Center, which overlooks the Grove.

“No one in Ray Mabus’s generation has a greater record in public service in Mississippi,” said Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie. “We’re delighted that he’s coming back to the Overby Center to talk about a political life that has had some remarkable highs as well as setbacks.”

Mabus, a summa cum laude graduate of Ole Miss in 1969, got his start in the Navy on campus as a member of the Navy ROTC unit. He later served two years as a surface warfare officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.

The Ackerman native earned a master’s degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School. In 1979, the progressive William Winter was elected governor, and Mabus joined his staff – a cadre of young Mississippians including Dick Molpus, Andy Mullins, David Crews and John Henegan that became known as the “Boys of Spring.”

Mabus entered politics as a candidate, himself, in 1983 and was elected state auditor. He helped oversee an FBI investigation into corruption at the county level throughout Mississippi that resulted in the conviction of dozens of county supervisors.

Mabus was 39 when elected governor of Mississippi in 1987. He served one term but was defeated for re-election by Kirk Fordice, the first modern Republican to win the office.

An unflinching Democrat in a state rapidly being taken over by Republicans, Mabus was appointed to be U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia by President Bill Clinton.

In the following decade, Mabus was an early campaigner for Barack Obama and after his election, Obama made Mabus secretary of the Navy.

The discussion with Mabus will be the latest in a series of “Gatherings Before the Grove” that the Overby Center has hosted over the years on Friday evenings before home football games. On Sept. 30 – the night before the Ole Miss contest with Memphis – the Overby Center joins with Mississippi Today to sponsor a political discussion including Andy Lack, president of NBC News; Tom Brokaw, the network’s long-time anchor and correspondent, and former Gov. Haley Barbour. The program will be moderated by Maggie Wade of Jackson’s NBC affiliate,WLBT. It will be held at 6 p.m. at Nutt Auditorium on campus.