The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.”

Study USA students back from magazine tour

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by ewrobins

Meek School students accompanied Dr. Samir Husni (Mr. Magazine) for a tour of New York-based magazines for insights on the industry ranging from planning and design to delivery and keeping customers happy. They met many of the top industry professionals with whom they may be working in internships and after graduation. View some photos of their adventure in learning at

Students recognized for work published on

Posted on: May 15th, 2015 by ewrobins

Rucker Class Spr15Students from one section of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s multimedia news reporting class were recognized during an awards ceremony on the last day of class this semester.

Oxford Stories, an online publication at, was launched in the fall of 2015 as a website where journalism students could publish their work and share it on social media. The first semester ended with approximately 5,000 page views.

This semester, readership grew as students better promoted themselves on Facebook and Twitter, sharing stories that their friends, family, and the public could read. The semester ended with 17,184 page views, more than twice the amount of page views recorded for the first semester.

“It seemed a little wasteful to have students write 5-10 stories over the semester that weren’t being published or shared online, especially when some of the stories were very well written,” said LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor. “Creating an online publication for students to showcase their work was a way for them to get their stories out there and learn about the power of social media, while taking the content they produce more seriously. 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.”

Not every story makes the cut. Only the best ones with all of the required elements are posted to the site, an incentive to do good work.

“It’s also designed to be fun,” said Rucker. “Students are part of a staff, and teamwork is encouraged. It was nice to see them support and cheer each other on during the award ceremony.”

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 the 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.”

During the fall semester, students wrote about a variety of topics, including organic farming, Vietnam veterans, racism, the special needs community, challenges of international students, sexual assault on campus, police militarization, and the local arts scene.

During the spring, students wrote about the single motherhood, the University of Mississippi Pride group for LGBTQ students, the resurrection of vinyl records, the perception of the University of Mississippi, religion issues, campaign finance reform, feminism, living with chronic pain, the Oxford community’s growing acceptance of gay couples and the history of the UM Gospel choir. They also studied a murder case and wrote about criminal justice issues surrounding it.

For motivation during the spring semester, students were told an awards ceremony would be held on the last day of class modeled after the Mississippi Press Association’s annual award’s ceremony.

Awards were based on WordPress website stats and analytics of the students’ most well-read stories. Each student received an award for their best work, with four students taking home top honors as reporters and writers of the year.

The winners are:

Katelin Davis – 2015 News Reporter of the Year

Ann Marie Edlin – 2015 Features Reporter of the Year

Brianna Barnes – 2015 Social Media Reporter of the Year

Justavian Tillman – 2015 Opinion Column Writer of the Year

Yusuf Abusharif – International Issues Reporting Award

Joy Addison – Social Justice Reporting Award

Bernard Blissett – Research Writing Award

Megan Meyers – In-Depth Writing Award

Colin Preston – Education Writing Award

Jana Rosenberg – Arts Reporting Award

Chloe Scott – Crime Reporting Award

Hannah Simmons – Charity or Philanthropy Writing Award

Kendra Taylor – Feature Writing Award

Rebecca DeLuna – Business Feature Writing Award

Jordan Dollenger – Investigative Reporting Award

Virginia Driftmier – Column Writing Award

Lindsey Edwards – Business Feature Writing Award

William Frigo – Feature Writing Award

McKenna Wierman – General Interest Column Award

Those interested in story updates can find and follow Oxford Stories on Facebook and Twitter.

Press Foundation Scholarships Available

Posted on: May 15th, 2015 by ewrobins

The Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation offers scholarships for new students and sophomores majoring in journalism. Contact Monica Gilmer, or 601-981-3060 for an application form. New applications are due by June 5 each year.

Criteria for the $1,000/year awards, renewable for up to four years, include:

  • You have a current 3.0 GPA
  • You are a bona fide Mississippi resident
  • You are an upcoming freshman or sophomore at any junior or senior in-state college or university
  • You are an upcoming junior or senior at an in-state college or university offering a graduate degree in journalism or communications. Special consideration is given to applicants who are pursuing a degree or emphasis in print journalism.

Announcing the publication of “RIOT: Witness to Anger and Change”

Posted on: May 8th, 2015 by ewrobins

Riot CoverYoknapatawpha Press and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media are pleased to announce the joint publication of RIOT: Witness to Anger and Change, a photo album featuring the photography of Edwin E. Meek, with an Introduction by Curtis Wilkie and Afterword by Governor William Winter.

On Sept. 30, 1962, when a student demonstration in the Circle protesting the admission of James Meredith turned violent, Meek, a 22-year-old graduate of Ole Miss and staff photographer for University Public Relations, was first at the scene. He stayed up all night and took over 500 photos including exclusive shots of Meredith in the classroom. Meek is the only photographer with a full body of work before, during and after the 1962 riot at the University of Mississippi.

“I heard the hiss of a bottle sailing over my head and saw it strike a marshal’s helmet. When I turned to see who had thrown the bottle, I did not recognize a single face. The crowd had become a mob of strangers. Suddenly a man snatched a reporter’s camera and smashed it on the ground. Photographers began warning each other, ‘Shoot and run!’ When people noticed me taking pictures, someone said, ‘It’s okay. He’s from Ole Miss!’ ”  (Edwin E, Meek, Foreword)

Meek helped set up a press room in the Lyceum and went back and forth to the “Circle” taking photographs. The rioting, which took the lives of French journalist Paul Guihard and bystander Ray Gunter, lasted until dawn when it was suppressed by Federal Marshals, the Mississippi National Guard and units of the U.S. Army and 101st Airborne. James Meredith registered for classes that day, becoming the first black student at Ole Miss. He graduated from Ole Miss in 1963.

“I have always believed that Mississippi has much to teach the rest of the country when it comes to race relations. Having been the state where some of the most extreme battles over integration were fought, we can now appreciate more fully the progress we have made.” (Gov. William F. Winter, Afterword) 

RIOT contains 120 photos, many previously unpublished. The book features a “Recollections” chapter in which Meek and Wilkie, fellow journalism students at the University of Mississippi, recall events from different perspectives. While Meek was in the middle of the action taking pictures, diving for cover, changing film in a cloud of tear gas,  Wilkie, also 22, braved the tear gas to witness the mindless destruction.

WILKIE: I walked up and saw, yeah, the marshals had the Lyceum ringed, and they were in battle gear and across the street…a crowd of students began to gather. At the earliest stages it wasn’t an ugly mob at all, it was largely just curious. I was there out of curiosity.

MEEK:  It felt like a pep rally…

WILKIE:  You know, if history was going to be made, I think we all wanted to see it. If they were going to bring Meredith in to register, I was there to see history being made.

MEEK:  Well, I think also there were numerous false starts back and forth.  This was a scenario over about a six month period, and so it was kind of hard to get excited at first, that this was really happening, until you saw the marshals.

WILKIE:  When these guys showed up, you knew…

MEEK:  You knew it was serious.

(“Recollections,” by Curtis Wilkie and Edwin E. Meek)

Promotion plans include a book announcement event at the University of Mississippi’s Overby Center and a traveling photo exhibit.

Proceeds from sales will benefit the Meek School of Journalism’s Student Entrepreneurship Fund which will enable students and faculty to publish their work. In 2014 Ed Meek donated his photo collection to the University of Mississippi Library.

The RIOT album is being promoted online at Visit this site for alumni and students:

We have a very long way yet to travel in Mississippi 

and at the University of Mississippi there is much wrong 

that needs to be made right, 

but we have come light years together.

 — James Meredith

Four Meek School faculty members honored for kindness to students

Posted on: May 8th, 2015 by ewrobins
Four Meek School faculty members were among 15 professors honored campus-wide for their kindness to students by members of the Student Alumni Council. Pictured, left to right, are the professors and the students who nominated them. Front row: Senior Lecturer Robin Street and students Augusta Williams, Virginia Mayo and Sarah Bracy Penn. Back row: Assistant professors Scott Fiene and Chris Sparks, student Luke Love and Dean Will Norton. Photo credit: Charlie Mitchell

Four Meek School faculty members were among 15 professors honored campus-wide for their kindness to students by members of the Student Alumni Council. Pictured, left to right, are the professors and the students who nominated them. Front row: Senior Lecturer Robin Street and students Augusta Williams, Virginia Mayo and Sarah Bracy Penn. Back row: Assistant professors Scott Fiene and Chris Sparks, student Luke Love and Dean Will Norton. Photo credit: Charlie Mitchell

Faculty members in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media received accolades recently for something other than teaching or research.  These honors were for their kindness to students.

Four Meek School faculty members were among the 15 total professors recognized campus-wide for their “Random Acts of Kindness” to students by members of the Student Alumni Council.  They were Dean Will Norton, Assistant Professor Chris Sparks, Assistant Professor Scott Fiene and Senior Lecturer Robin Street.

The SAC is a student leadership organization sponsored by the Ole Miss Alumni Association. Members who are graduating seniors selected one faculty member each whose kindness towards them stood out during their college years. Students could select one teacher from any class they took.

The professors were honored at a reception April 29 at which the nominating student spoke about the professor and presented him or her with a small gift from the SAC.

Norton was nominated by Journalism major Sarah Bracy Penn. “Dean Norton has played a huge role in my Ole Miss experience, “ Penn said. “Even before I enrolled, he convinced me that the University of Mississippi and specifically, the Meek School, was the perfect place for me. Dr. Norton was a constant source of advice and counsel.

“And this year, when I was deciding where to apply to graduate school, he encouraged me when I thought I wasn’t qualified, and later, guided me through my decision making process.”

IMC major Virginia Mayo nominated Fiene. “I nominated Mr. Fiene because he played a huge part in me choosing IMC as my major,” Mayo said. “Since I met him almost three years ago, he has not only served as my academic advisor and professor, but he has also been a constant figure in the IMC department, always full of great advice.”

Augusta Williams, a marketing and corporate relations major, nominated Street. “Ms. Street is a wonderful light in the Journalism School,” Williams said. “She is kind, empathetic and truly cares for those in her classes. She is an engaging teacher who loves public relations, Ole Miss and students.”

IMC major Luke Love nominated Sparks. “Mrs. Sparks is the reason that I switched my major from biology to IMC,” Love said. “ I have had her for multiple classes where her passion for advertising inspired me and gave me a drive to succeed in the field.

“Her passion for the subject shows also through her care for her students as she has helped me, in her own free time, perfect my resume and gain connections so that I may be successful in the future.“