Examination of job skills wins paper award at World Journalism Education Congress

WJEC-Win-EditThe need for journalists to have strong social and mobile media skills has skyrocketed in the past three years, but the need for basic journalism skills remains critical, too.   The bottom line is that journalism educators must prepare their students to do more than ever before.

Those are the findings of an award-winning paper co-authored by Meek School Associate Professor and head of the journalism program, Debora Wenger.  One of Wenger’s co-authors, Dr. Lynn Owens, heads the journalism program at William Peace University; the two have been replicating this study since 2008 in order to track the needs of the journalism industry.

This year’s paper took third place at the World Journalism Education Congress in Mechelen, Belgium on July 5 — the only U.S. paper to place in the competition.  The Meek School’s Darren Sanefski and Pat Thompson are also involved in the project — Sanefski is interpreting the results graphically and Thompson and Wenger are working on a piece that more fully explores the findings about mobile news skills.

The paper examines job postings from the Top 10 newspaper and TV companies in the U.S. and also looks at online-only positions.  The researchers break down the results by medium and by job category to give educators a better idea of the industry’s expectations of journalism graduates.

You can explore the list of skills and attributes by news medium in the graphic below or read the paper online (registration required).





Broadcast profs lead packed training sessions at national conference

Associate professor Nancy Dupont leads session crafting the best resume reel.

Associate professor Nancy Dupont leads session crafting the best resume reel.

Meek School professors Deb Wenger and Nancy Dupont shared ideas with journalism colleagues and students April 8-10 at the Broadcast Education Association national convention in Las Vegas.

Professor Wenger led a session on mobile newsgathering and was a panelist in a session on recruiting and retaining students.  She outlined the success of Meek’s Summer Producer Program in a session on building TV news internships.  The producer program is Wenger’s brainchild and has already resulted in full-time jobs for Meek graduates.

Professor Dupont led a session with TV news directors from around the country on how students can win the job with an effective resume video.  The standing room only crowd was testament to the need for and the impact of the session.  Dupont also served as the vice-chair for research for BEA’s News Division.

BEA is an organization of over 1,000 professors, media professionals and students dedicated to teaching and research of the multimedia and broadcasting industries.  The Meek School is an institutional member of BEA.

Broadcast faculty produce documentary on engineers’ Togo outreach

Ole Miss Engineers Without Borders and faculty advisers test water in a Togo village.

A good documentary depends on having a good subject and the Meek School’s Dr. Nancy Dupont and Dr. Brad Schultz knew they the makings of a good project when the Ole Miss chapter of Engineers Without Borders traveled to Lomé, Togo on an engineering mission trip August 6-13.

The team of eight consisted of three faculty members and five students, including  Dupont and journalism student Norman Seawright, who traveled with the engineering group to document their efforts.

“The documentary was a labor of love requiring more than 35 hours of writing and editing time,” Dupont said.  She was the lead producer on the project, but said she could not have done it without considerable assistance from Schultz.

Seawright  produced three stories for NewsWatch, the student-run newscast at Ole Miss.

The local Engineers Without Borders is currently in the middle of a fundraising campaign to return to Togo in August 2013 to begin work on building a school there.  To help support their efforts, you can make a donation online,.



Meek School faculty contribute to New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

Two Meek School faculty members have articles in the recently released New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture volume on the media.

Professor Joseph Atkins contributed an article on how the press has covered labor in the South historically and today. Dr. Kathleen Wickham wrote a biography on Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell. In both cases the entries represent the research interests of Atkins and Wickham.

Atkins, a professor of journalism, writes on labor issues in the South and is the author of “Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press”

Wickham, an associate professor, has previously written a book on how The Clarion-Ledger won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for its coverage of education reform legislation. She is currently working on a book about the reporters who were on campus during the1962 integration crisis.

A review in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly said the volume’s strength is in its “expansiveness” and that is “an irreplaceable reference tool” for scholars conducting research on media figures.  The reviewer cites Wickham as one of the media scholars worth noting, along with E. Culpepper Clark of the University of Georgia and Michael Fuhlhage and Lucila Vargas of UNC-Chapel Hill.

The volume contains more than 130 articles and 40 thematic essays. The encyclopedia is a project of the Center for Southern Studies at Ole Miss.

Storm Coverage Teaches Important Lessons

Meek School journalism student Margaret Ann Morgan braves the pelting rain to cover Hurricane Isaac on the Mississippi coast, August 29, 2012. Photo by Mikki Harris.

Day 2 of Hurricane Isaac coverage brought more field experience for students Margaret Ann Morgan and Stephen Quinn.

“The day went really well today,” said Assistant Professor Mikki Harris. “Margaret Ann and Stephen did a fantastic job in extreme conditions, which included horizontal rain pellets!”

Meek School student Stephen Quinn uses his smartphone to cover Hurricane Isaac, August 29, 2012. Photo by Alysia Steele.

The team of four, which traveled to the Mississippi coast on Tuesday, also included Professional in Residence Al Steele.

Steele captured photos of the students in action, focusing on their mobile news gathering, which they used to report the story in real-time through social media.

“The rain stung and the winds were fierce, almost knocking us all down at one point or another,” Steele said.

Morgan, who is a Mississippi resident, called on her knowledge of the state and even family members to help the team get the story covered.

“I think the most important thing that we learned is how important the use of true multimedia is, especially in a breaking news situation when it’s all coverage, all the time,” said Morgan. “We had to balance reporting to Twitter and Facebook and producing live shots and then turning around stories for the Web, so that we were able to reach everybody whichever way they were getting their information.”

The students reported for student media outlets, including the DM Online and NewsWatch. Quinn’s stories also aired on WTVA in Tupelo.