The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.“

“PRINCE/Chancellor Jones’ humility”

Posted on: April 24th, 2015 by ewrobins

Read Meek School alumnus Jim Prince’s article “PRINCE/Chancellor Jones’ humility” at

Big wins in Vegas for Meek School

Posted on: April 16th, 2015 by drwenger

SuduWinThe Meek School of Journalism is flying high for a couple of different reasons.  First, the student-produced NewsWatch 99 broadcast took home an honorable mention at the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) competition in Las Vegas this week.  According to NewsWatch 99 advisor Dr. Nancy Dupont, a 4th place showing in the national contest is the highest ranking the program has ever received.

In addition to the broadcast honors, Dupont and Prof. Deb Wenger presented in multiple sessions at the conference, moderating or participating in panels on topics such as using audience analytics in teaching and job hunting for broadcast students.

Journalism students and NewsWatch 99 managers Browning Stubbs and Sudu Upadhyay also traveled to Vegas for the conference.  BEA meets annually with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) because that group attracts more than 100,000 attendees who showcase products and demonstrate techniques affecting radio and television industries.

Upadhyay and Stubbs evaluated the latest in broadcast technology, which they hope to leverage in an effort to bring home a first-place award for student newscast in 2016.

Future of journalism focus of Ole Miss New Media Conference

Posted on: April 16th, 2015 by smitche3
Lewis D'Vorkin of Forbes opens the Ole Miss New Media Conference

Lewis D’Vorkin of Forbes opens the Ole Miss New Media Conference

Industry professionals and students gathered at the Overby Center recently to gain insight on the present and future of journalism at Innovate 2015, the Ole Miss New Media Conference, hosted by the Meek School.

The conference featured industry experts Lewis D’Vorkin chief product officer, print and digital platforms for Forbes Media; Hank Price, president and general of the WVTM-TV in Birmingham; and Fred Anklam, senior editor for USA Today.

D’Vorkin discussed the business and content model that Forbes has adopted for content development for both the website and magazine.

“The key to any successful company is a unique identity, an identity that works for both your audience and business,” D’Vorkin said.

D’Vorkin also discussed how Forbes is attempting to change the culture of publishing by finding more contributors that know about a specific field in great detail.

Hank Price started his presentation with the question, “Is your organization innovated?”

Price discussed the changing landscape of television and the 1970’s model of newscasts. He stated that not much has changed, just the make up of the people involved in the newscast. He made it clear that it is fundamental for anyone in the industry to start with the basics and to not be afraid of taking risks to the benefit of the industry.

Fred Anklam spoke after lunch and went into detail about the future of print in the digital world. The 1977 Ole Miss alumnus discussed the importance of both print and digital in the ever-changing world of technology and communication. Anklam also discussed the importance of relating the news to the readers of USA Today and how this has remained an important part of their corporate culture throughout the years.

“You want to be available to your audience, wherever they are, whenever they’re there,” Anklam said.

Professor Deb Wenger and instructor R.J. Morgan closed the conference with “Tech Talk.” The Meek school faculty members discussed new technologies in the field that might change the landscape for journalists and marketers alike, such as Google Glass, Apple watch and drone journalism.

— Samantha Mitchell






“Delta Jewels” Book Tour Schedule

Posted on: April 16th, 2015 by ewrobins

Delta Jewels Cover copy red.View Assistant Professor Alysia Steele’s book tour schedule for “Delta Jewels” at

Read articles about the book at and

Read an article from USA Today here.

Meek School of Journalism and New Media students sweep PR competition; faculty member and graduates also honored

Posted on: April 16th, 2015 by ewrobins
Public relations students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media won every one of the awards presented in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition at the PRAM state conference April 10.  Award winners pictured here, standing, from left to right, are Cody Fullinwider, an integrated marketing communications major from Denver, Colorado; Courtney Richards, a journalism major from Austin, Texas; Nancy Hogan, a journalism major from Atlanta, Georgia; Alex Kohl, an IMC major from Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Bridge Leigh, an IMC major from Hernando; Mara Joffe, a journalism graduate from Biloxi; Robin Street, lecturer in journalism who taught the students and also won a professional award; Lauren Raphael, an IMC major from Madison; and Clancy Smith, a journalism major from Saltillo.  Kneeling: Lindsay Langston, a journalism major from Dallas, Texas; Lauren Walker, an IMC major from Madison; Sydney Hembree, a double major in journalism and marketing and corporate relations from Kennesaw, Georgia; and MarKeicha Dickens, a journalism major from Olive Branch. Not pictured: Journalism graduate Melody Skinner of San Diego, California; and Mary Frances Tanner, an English major with a journalism minor from Mobile, Alabama. Photo credit: Stan O’Dell

Public relations students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media won every one of the awards presented in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition at the PRAM state conference April 10.  Award winners pictured here, standing, from left to right, are: Cody Fullinwider, Courtney Richards, Nancy Hogan, Alex Kohl, Bridge Leigh, Mara Joffei, Robin Street, Lauren Raphael, and Clancy Smith.  Kneeling: Lindsay Langston, Lauren Walker, Sydney Hembree and MarKeicha Dickens. Not pictured: Journalism graduate Melody Skinner and Mary Frances Tanner. Photo credit: Stan O’Dell

Meek School of Journalism and New Media public relations students won every one of the awards presented in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition recently, including the prestigious Student Best In Show.

In addition, in the professional competition, faculty member Robin Street won the top award in her category, and Meek School graduates working in University Communications brought home four awards. All awards were presented during the PRAM state conference in Tupelo April 9 and 10.

“We set two records in this competition,” said Street, a lecturer in journalism and public relations. “First, our students were the only university students in the state to be honored. Second, the sheer number of awards we won surpassed all previous years. That is a real tribute to the preparation they received from all the faculty members at the Meek School.”

Journalism major Clancy Smith of Saltillo won both Student Best of Show and the top award in her category, called a Prism.

“Winning the Prism awards more than reassured me that my classes and projects have helped me develop the skills I will need for a career in public relations,” Smith said. “I am so grateful for the instruction I’ve received from all the Meek School faculty members.”

The students, all seniors except for two recent graduates, entered the public relations campaign they created as a final project in the advanced public relations class taught by Street. Each campaign required multi-media journalism skills including writing news articles, creating photos and video, and developing online and social media.

Five other students won Prisms in their categories including Nancy Hogan, a journalism major from Atlanta, Georgia; MarKeicha Dickens, a journalism major from Olive Branch; Mara Joffe, a journalism graduate from Biloxi; Lauren Raphael, an integrated marketing communications major from Madison; and Lindsay Langston, a journalism major from Dallas, Texas.

A step below the Prism is the Excellence Award, followed by the Merit Award. The seven students winning Excellence included Alex Kohl, an IMC major from Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Cody Fullinwider, an IMC major from Denver, Colorado; and Melody Skipper, a marketing and corporate relations graduate now living in San Diego, California.

Also winning Excellence were Sydney Hembree, a double major in journalism and marketing and corporate relations from Kennesaw, Georgia; Mary Frances Tanner, an English major and journalism minor from Mobile, Alabama; Bridge Leigh, an IMC major from Hernando; and Lauren Walker, an IMC major from Madison. Journalism major Courtney Richards from Austin, Texas, won a Merit Award.

In the professional categories, University Communications staff members won five awards. A Prism award went to Assistant Director for Social Media Ryan Whittington and Producer Win Graham. An Excellence award went to PR Assistant Will Hamilton and Communications Specialist Dennis Irwin. Merit awards went to Communication Specialists Michael Newsom and Edwin Smith. Whittington, Hamilton, Newsom and Smith are all Meek School graduates.

For more information on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit their website at or email

Garden a great place for father-son bonding

Posted on: April 14th, 2015 by ewrobins

By Tim Phillips

Oxford Eagle Publisher

As the days get longer and the dogwoods begin to bloom, a certainty reappears in my life: garden time with my dad is just around the corner.

Growing up in Holcomb in Grenada County, my dad’s father was a sharecropper working the land to pay for his rent and to feed his family. For many years after the Depression, people learned to live off the land and appreciate everything that they grew to eat.

Dad always had an interest in gardening and farming. While I enjoy duck hunting and playing golf, (or at least used to), my dad’s only hobby was gardening. He would always tell me that he couldn’t wait to smell the dirt for the first time after it was turned over by the tractor pulling the disk.

When my parents moved to Oxford, they purchased some land on Highway 6 East, about 2 miles outside of town. It would eventually be where we would grow up after living on Johnson Avenue Extended during our early years. 

Garden spot

On a flat piece of this land, located on Campground Road, was where my dad decided his permanent garden spot would be. There used to be an old barn on this spot and the manure made the soil fertile and well suited for gardening.

Even before we moved to the country, as I like to call it, Dad would always have a small garden on that spot. When we moved permanently, he decided to turn our small garden into a large garden. I joked with him that we were turning into truck farmers.

While I say truck farmer, we never sold any of our produce. We just fed many of our friends and family. I remember one year Dad kept an actual count of how many different families received produce out of our garden. Thirty different families enjoyed everything from fresh tomatoes to gorgeous zinnias.

Unfortunately, my older brother Dan and younger brother Andy never seemed to be able to locate the garden. Neither of them had a passion for working the soil. I wouldn’t say that I did either, but I enjoyed the time outdoors with my dad. Working with him for so many years at The EAGLE taught me so much about life, but all of our garden memories hold a special place in my heart. 

Lots of valuable help

My dad was always working, and it was difficult to find the time to get the ground disked, harrowed, and then rowed. The weather in the spring always played a part in when we could actually start planting. Roy Norphlet, Willie Morris, T.J. Holmes, Wade Smith, Wanda Phillips, Cynthia Ferguson Parkin and the late Charles Herod, all played a role in making the garden happen every year.

Even during my early days, I remember getting up at daylight and picking peas and butterbeans. The dew was still fresh and we tried to get as much done before the sweltering sun came beaming down. I remember one day the sweet corn came in and my mom got home from work late. She realized that we had over 150 ears of corn to put up. Needless to say, she wasn’t very happy.

The garden was also a way that we would get punished if we didn’t make curfew or had too much fun the night before. Nothing clears your head quicker than bending over to pick butterbeans at 6 in the morning.

As Dad’s health began to fail, the garden was something I tried to make happen just to lift his spirits. As work demands increased, it was harder to find the time to get all the work that needed to be done accomplished.

At 83 years of age, my dad’s health has declined to the point that he is mostly confined to the limitations of the house. I remember checking the mail a couple of weeks ago and there was the Burpee seed catalog. I knew how excited he would be when he saw what new seeds were offered.

Without my knowledge, Dad already had the garden mapped out that day with each row marked on a legal sheet. When I say mapped out, my dad knew exactly how many rows there were, and their exact width, and what was to be planted on each row.

As the dirt is turned over for yet another year for our garden on Campground Road, it is time to get the seeds in the ground. Thanks, Dad, for letting us share that special time together, when work and life problems seem to fade away as we worked the soil together.

Tim Phillips (’83) graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in journalism.

Published April 12, 2015, by The Oxford Eagle. Posted with permission.