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Vanessa Gregory receives Mississippi Arts Commission Fellowship

Posted on: July 2nd, 2015 by pchurdle

University of Mississippi assistant professor of journalism Vanessa Gregory has been awarded a $4,500 Literary Arts Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). This grant is a portion of the $1.61 million in grants the Commission awarded in 2015-2016 and will be used to support Gregory’s creative work as a nonfiction writer. The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The arts in Mississippi are now being recognized as a key component to economic development and as a driver for creative strategies for the growth of our communities,” said Dr. Tom Pearson, Executive Director of MAC. “Individual artists play a vital role as really the backbone of this movement, and it is an honor for this agency to be a part of their professional growth.”

Gregory’s work has appeared in Harper’s, The American Prospect, and Garden & Gun, among other places. She studied journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and specializes in narrative nonfiction. “MAC’s fellowship is essential for supporting the type of in-depth journalism that might not otherwise make it into mainstream media outlets,” Gregory said.

The Mississippi Arts Commission is a state agency serving residents of the state by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, the Mississippi Arts Commission is the funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.

For information from the Mississippi Arts Commission, please contact Susan Liles, 601/359-6031 or

Ole Miss graduate receives MDOT summer internship

Posted on: June 24th, 2015 by pchurdle
Pictured from left: Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert; Clancy Smith; Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall; and, Transportation Commissioner Tom King.

Pictured from left: Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert; Clancy Smith; Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall; and, Transportation Commissioner Tom King.

At a recent meeting of the Mississippi Transportation Commission, Clancy Smith of Saltillo was introduced as the summer intern for the Public Affairs Division of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT). The Commissioners greeted Smith and welcomed her to the new position. Smith recently graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in journalism and will attend the University of Alabama in the fall to pursue a Master’s degree in advertising and public relations. The MDOT Public Affairs Division hires one intern every fall, spring and summer semester to allow students interested in the field of public relations to cultivate skills in writing press releases, developing campaigns and working with the media, among other things. Smith is the granddaughter of State Senator J.P. Wilemon, Jr. (District 5).


Alumni Update: Marlo Kirkpatrick

Posted on: June 24th, 2015 by pchurdle

MarloBioShotMarlo Kirkpatrick (’86) has degrees in journalism and English cum laude and has enjoyed a long career as a writer. She is the owner and writing partner in Kirkpatrick & Porch Creative, an award-winning advertising agency based in Madison, Mississippi, and also works steadily as a freelance writer. Magazine and book assignments have taken Marlo to locations throughout North, Central, and South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Marlo has won more than 200 local, regional, and national awards for creative excellence, including the National Outdoor Book Award, the International Self-Published Book Award, the Benjamin Franklin Publishing Award, and three Southeastern Outdoor Press Association Book of the Year Awards. She has been named the Jackson Advertising Federation’s Writer of the Year five times, including four of the last five years.

Marlo is married to Stephen Kirkpatrick, a wildlife photographer she met when he hired her to write a book for him (17 years later, Stephen refers to this project as “the job he is still paying for”). The Kirkpatricks were married in an orchid garden in Machu Picchu, Peru, in 1998.

Marlo’s books include 100 Years of Home: A History of Mississippi Children’s Home Services; Lost in the Amazon: The True Story of Five Men and their Desperate Battle for Survival; It Happened in Mississippi; and Mississippi Off the Beaten Path, a guide to unique attractions currently in its eighth edition. She has also collaborated with her husband on several coffee table books, including Sanctuary: Mississippi’s Coastal Plain; Romancing the Rain: A Photographic Journey into the Heart of the Amazon; Among the Animals; Images of Madison County; Wilder Mississippi; and To Catch the Wind. Her journalism degree has taken Marlo to places and led on her adventures she never could have imagined in her early days at Ole Miss; she is grateful for every opportunity her journalism degree has given her.

Professor Vanessa Gregory’s work featured in Harper’s Magazine

Posted on: June 19th, 2015 by drwenger

Gregory Harper's Article 6.15A moving, feature-length article by Meek School assistant professor Vanessa Gregory appears on the June cover of Harper’s, the nation’s oldest general interest monthly magazine.

Gregory’s article, “Surviving a Failed Pregnancy,” combines memoir and reporting to explore the rarely discussed subjects of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. The narrative examines personal resilience, medicine’s relationship to the female body, society’s response to pregnancy loss, and reproductive politics.

Readers have described the story as “eloquent” and “beautiful.” Research and writing took more than six months, followed by a lengthy submission and editing process.

This is Gregory’s second published piece with Harper’s, a magazine celebrated for its fine writing and original thought. The magazine is known for publishing literary luminaries such as David Foster Wallace, Annie Dillard, and Willie Morris.

Gregory’s work also ​has ​appeared in The American ProspectThe New York Times, and Garden & Gun. She was a Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism and studied literary nonfiction at the University of California, Berkeley.

Viral: Husni blog on Vanity Fair

Posted on: June 11th, 2015 by pchurdle
Samir Husni-1

Dr. Samir Husni

Rare is the day when national or international publications/stories regarding the media industry don’t call on Dr. Samir Husni for comment/analysis of a trend or development. Last summer, University Communications printed out the line-item attributions to him in one news cycle and it took 36 pages. (They review all Internet mentions of “Ole Miss” or “University of Mississippi.”)

Dr. Husni’s blog re the Vanity Fair cover of Caitlyn Jenner drew worldwide attention, including the attention of Vanity Fair editor Chris Mitchell who both commented and offered Dr. Husni some comments for his blog,

All of this continues to keep the Meek School in the conversations related to the media industry. And, as here, not merely in the conversation but leading.

Meek School scholar cited in Columbia Journalism Review

Posted on: June 9th, 2015 by pchurdle

The Columbia Journalism Review cited research by assistant professor Robert Magee in an article on how print and digital media can have different effects.

The authors expressed concern that these differences might influence readers’ tendency to empathize with characters in journalistic stories.

Magee’s experiment showed that readers of print material, compared with readers of online material, are likely to browse a greater number of stories, and they have better memory of what they have read.

This finding, along with others, led the authors to wonder if print stories might lead readers to become more engrossed in the narrative and more likely to empathize with a story’s characters. If so, then, stories in print might have a greater influence than those in digital media.

While the advantages of digital media have been touted often, the benefits of print media should not be overlooked, either.

UM alumna joins writing staff of The New Yorker

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by pchurdle
Paige Williams

Paige Williams

Paige Williams, a graduate of the Department of Journalism at the University of Mississippi, has joined The New Yorker magazine as a staff writer. She will also continue as an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Williams has written for The New Yorker previously. She won the National Magazine Award for feature writing in 2008 and was a finalist in 2009 (shared) and 2011. Her stories have been anthologized in five volumes of the Best American series, including The Best American Magazine Writing (2011, 2009) and The Best American Crime Writing (2006, 2003).

In January 2010, she self-published “Finding Dolly Freed,” an independent experiment in crowd-funded long-form narrative; the “Radiohead journalism” project, which encouraged voluntary reader support via PayPal, was an early exploration of a la carte online journalism that was covered by the Columbia Journalism Review, NPR’s “On the Media,” Mother Jones, Wired, and others.

Williams has written for a range of publications, including Smithsonian, GQ, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, and has taught narrative, investigative, news reporting, features writing and literary criticism at universities including Harvard, M.I.T., New York University, the University of Pittsburgh, Emory, and the University of Mississippi.

She has been a Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of Nevada Reno’s Reynolds School of Journalism and was a 1996-97 Nieman Fellow at Harvard. From 2010 to 2014 she taught narrative nonfiction at the Nieman Foundation and edited Nieman Storyboard, the Nieman’s Foundation online magazine on storytelling.

Her narrative nonfiction book The Dinosaur Artist, based on a story that originated in The New Yorker, will be published by Hachette in Fall 2016. She she also holds an MFA from Columbia University.


Meet Mr. Magazine™: A case study from the European Union’s Print Power magazine

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by pchurdle

“Dr Samir Husni is one of the world’s most influential voices in global publishing, advising major publishing houses across the globe on their editorial and advertising strategies. Professor of Journalism, author, consultant and curator of over 28,000 different titles, when he talks, the magazine industry listens.”   Read the entire article at

Meek School junior named finalist in film festival

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by pchurdle

Sudu shootingA short video shot and edited by Meek School junior Sudu Upadhyay has been named a finalist in the American Society of Engineering Education film festival. Sudu’s video chronicles the construction of a school in Togo, West Africa, by the Ole Miss Engineers Without Borders chapter.

Sudu and Dr. Nancy Dupont traveled to Togo in January 2014 with the EWB chapter as they completed the last phase of the school’s construction. The three-room school replaces one classroom that had fallen in and several that were in unsafe condition. With Dr. Dupont as project adviser, Sudu produced a four-part series, a 30-minute documentary and several shorter videos on the EWB efforts to improve education in the impoverished country.

The winners of the ASEE film festival will be announced later this month.

Thousands pay last respects to B.B. King

Posted on: May 29th, 2015 by ewrobins
A hearse bearing the body of blues great B.B. King passes the famous A. Schwab store on Beale Street in Memphis. Throngs turned out with happy memories of the beloved musician. The cortege traveled to Indianola in the Mississippi Delta, near King’s birthplace and the site of his burial.

A hearse bearing the body of blues great B.B. King passes the famous A. Schwab store on Beale Street in Memphis. Throngs turned out with happy memories of the beloved musician. The cortege traveled to Indianola in the Mississippi Delta, near King’s birthplace and the site of his burial.


MEMPHIS – John White, a 35-year-old schoolteacher in Memphis who got his graduate degree at the University of Mississippi, said he picked up the phone one day as a young fellow and B.B. King was on the line.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he recalled with a laugh.

He found out that King knew his grandmother, Claudia Jackson. They used to date. “She has a photograph of her with B.B. on one side and Elvis on the other.”

White was one of thousands of fans crowding the sidewalks of Beale Street here in Memphis May 27 as the great bluesman made his last journey down the street where he began his career. King died earlier this month at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 89.

A New Orleans-style brass band played “The Thrill Is Gone” and other classics as it marched down Beale in front of the long, black hearse that had carried King from the Memphis airport, where he had been flown in from Las Vegas, and would bring him to his final resting place in Indianola, Miss.

People called out “We love you, B.B.!” and “Rest in peace, B.B.” as the hearse passed by the B.B. King Blues Club and A. Schwab’s dry goods store and made its way toward Third Street, where it turned right onto what becomes Highway 61 direction Mississippi Delta. When the hearse came to a stop just past Beale, women walked up to the back of it and kissed the rear view mirror repeatedly. Many cried.

Famous blues singers like Bobby Rush were in the crowd, but most were regular folks like Lucille Shields and Latham Walker.

“Yes, my name is Lucille,” Shields said, “and I’ve got an ID to prove it.”

Of course, “Lucille” was also the name B.B. King gave his guitars after a long-ago dispute between two men over a woman by that name. The dispute took place in an Arkansas dance club where King was performing and led to a fire and King’s desperate rescue of his guitar from the blazes.

“I’ve been listening to the blues since I was five,” 59-year-old Shields said. “I’m here to celebrate B.B. King’s homecoming from Las Vegas to Beale to back home in Mississippi.”

Latham Walker, 61, is another Memphian who loves B.B. King and the blues. “I’m first cousin with Rufus Thomas,” he said proudly, referring to another Beale Street legend known for his classic “Walkin’ the Dog.” “The blues will never die. The blues will be forever. Everyday everybody’s going through something.”

I interviewed King back in 2004, and we talked about his career and the future of the blues. He recalled his influences — from his cousin, early era country blues singer Bukka White, to the music he heard up and down Beale Street in the 1940s. Today “there is a young guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Keb Mo, Corey Harris,” King said. “They don’t play what I play. I don’t play like Bukka did. I wish I could. What I’m trying to say is that each generation brings about their own musicians.”

Maybe among those thousands mourning and celebrating B.B. King on Beale Street Wednesday were a handful of young blues musician waiting for their chance and knowing they’d never forget the day they paid their last respects to the King.

Joe Atkins is a professor of Journalism in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He is the author of numerous scholarly works and a new novel, “Casey’s Last Chance.”