Former Mississippian editor dies at 88

Paul Newton deceasedOle Miss alumnus Paul Newton of Gulfport, Miss., passed away on February 10, 2014.  Newton, 88, was editor of The Mississippian, now The Daily Mississippian, in the 1940s.  Read his obituary at legacy.com.

Alumni Profile: Jesse Holland

By Annie Rhoades

Jesse HollandFrom journalism student, beat reporter and editor for The Daily Mississippian to writer for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C., alumnus Jesse Holland (BA 94), has led an accomplished career.

Born in Holly Springs, Holland, Associated Press race and ethnicity writer, had his sights set on Ole Miss long before he graduated from Mount Pleasant’s H.W. Byers High School in 1989. Read more at olemissalumni.com.

Alumnus honors Speakes’ life

Washington, D.C. businessman makes gift to UM speaker series

Larry Speakes with former president Ronald Reagan.

The late Larry Speakes, an Ole Miss alumnus, left, served as White House spokesman to President Ronald Reagan. Another alumnus, Joel Wood of Washington, D.C., has provided a generous gift to the Overby Speakers Series Endowment to pay tribute to Speakes’ life.

Joel Wood, a University of Mississippi graduate and prominent Washington, D.C., businessman and lobbyist, has committed a generous gift to the Overby Center Speakers Series to pay tribute to the late Larry Speakes, former spokesperson for a U.S. president.

Wood’s contribution coincided with a recent tribute to Speakes at the university’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Speakes, a journalism student at Ole Miss in the late 1950s, became the White House spokesman for President Ronald Reagan in 1981. After a long illness, Speakes died Jan. 10 at the age of 74. Read more at umfoundation.com.

Lewis DVorkin of Forbes offers seven things all journalists need to know

 

Lewis DVorkin

Lewis DVorkin

Read the article at forbes.com.

Meek School documentary on Simeon Wright to air nationally

EMMETT TILL MARKER

Simeon Wright

Simeon Wright

“No Longer Silent,” the Meek School’s documentary on the experiences of Simeon Wright related to the 1955 abduction and murder of his cousin, Emmett Till, has been shown on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Last month it was uploaded to a clearinghouse server for educators and public broadcasters. As of this week, February program schedules for Colorado, Alaska, South Carolina, Philadelphia, and Dayton, Ohio, public broadcasters include the documentary.

 

Bracey Harris selected for national journalism fellowships

Bracey HarrisMeek School journalism senior Bracey Harris has been awarded two prestigious national journalism fellowships this semester: The New York Times Student Journalism Institute and the CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship. Both programs provide hands-on training from some of the best journalists in the country.

In March, Harris heads to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for an intensive workshop led by UNC journalism faculty and professionals at Capitol Broadcasting Company’s WRAL-TV in Raleigh. The CBC-UNC program is a competitive fellowship for only 12 top students from across the country. The program is geared toward seniors and graduate students finishing their programs and pursuing careers as producers, reporters, photojournalists and Web editors.

In late May, Harris travels to Dillard University for the New York Times institute. Students work as journalists supervised by New York Times editors and reporters. They work as reporters, copy editors, photographers, Web producers, print and Web designers and video journalists. Many alumni of the program now work at major news organizations.

“During the institute at Dillard, I will be responsible for writing an enterprise story about New Orleans,” Harris said. “By the end of the program, we will produce a newspaper. I have seen copies of past publications and can tell the expectations are high. What’s really exciting is that the paper will contain The New York Times masthead. I’m really looking forward to utilizing the skills I’ve gained from the Meek school, SMC and internships.”

Harris is multimedia editor at The Daily Mississippian, a former NewsWatch anchor, and was named Best Magazine Writer by the Southeast Journalism Conference for articles published in “The Flood of the Century” depth report. Her internships include print and television work in Jackson.

In the summer of 2012, Dean Will Norton and three students traveled to South Africa to work on a reporting project with students from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Harris was one of the Meek School students on that trip.

Dean Norton noted that at the end of one of her essays for the South Africa publication, Harris wrote: “Although separated by the Atlantic Ocean, Mississippi and South Africa often fight the same struggles. How to look forward to the future without denying the past poses a challenge. However, the battle can be won.”

Dean Norton added: “That expression of optimism in the face of enormous challenges is who Bracey is for me.”

Daily Mississippian wins MPA advertising awards

DM Winning MPA Ad 2014

Winning entry for best advertising promotion

The Daily Mississippian won several awards in the Mississippi Press Association Better Newspaper Contest advertising division annual competition. The Daily Mississippian competes against professional newspapers in the state in this contest, not other college newspapers.

Kristen Saltzman, an education major, won 1st place for best advertising promotion, competing against all daily newspapers in Mississippi. The winning entry was a house ad for yearbook class portraits that featured students in the 1983 yearbook. Saltzman has worked on the creative staff at the Student Media Center for several years.

The Daily Mississippian won second place for best niche publication in the state, for its 2013 orientation guide. Emily Roland, last year’s DM editor in chief, was in charge of the editorial content and designed the cover. LeAnna Young was student sales manager, and students Kristen Saltzman and Nate Weathersby were the creative design staff for the publication.

An ad for the Ole Miss Quarterback Club, by Creative Services Manager Debra Novak, won third place for best black and white institutional advertisement in a category that includes newspapers with daily circulation higher than 9,000.

Meek School student Alexandra Donaldson among winners in Speaker’s Edge contest

Alexandra Donaldson, second from right, with other Speaker’s Edge winners. Photo by Chris Ruple

Alexandra Donaldson, second from right, with other Speaker’s Edge winners. Photo by Chris Ruple

By Chun Wu

Alexandra Donaldson, a senior majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), placed third in Informative Speech and fifth in Marketplace Pitch at the 11th annual Speaker’s Edge event last month.

The Speaker’s Edge competition is a two-day public speaking competition in which participants make three different presentations.

“It is of Ole Miss, by Ole Miss and for Ole Miss,” JoAnn Edwards, the coordinator of Speaker’s Edge.

Before the formal competition, students are intensively tutored for two weeks by world-class coaches. At the end of the two weeks, all of the students make three presentations (Ethical Dilemmas, Informative Communication and The Marketplace Pitch) to judges who are Ole Miss alumni or Ole Miss professors. The alumni are from throughout the nation.

Donaldson was the first and only student from the Meek School to participate in the campus-wide speech competition.

She used to be extremely nervous in front of a group.

“It really helped me,” Donaldson said. “I’ve come so far. You wouldn’t even think I’m the same person.”

“She was in the campaigns class last fall, and was terrified to give a presentation,” said Scott Fiene, assistant professor in the Meek School. “She knew that was a skill she needed, so she participated in the Speaker’s Edge. I’m very proud she took that initiative.”

Will Norton, dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and Chris Sparks, IMC professional in residence, were invited to be judges of 2014 Speaker’s Edge.

“Leaders have to speak on television,” Norton said. “They have to make presentations, or they have do interviews. They have to learn how to think on their feet and make adjustments based on their audiences.”

“Thus, Speaker’s Edge is a great venue for learning how to do these things well, and Professor Edwards has hired an excellent teaching faculty.”

According to Edwards, Speaker’s Edge is still growing. She hopes that more journalism students and more judges from journalism’s alumni base will participate in the competition in the future. She sees it as not only a opportunity for students to improve their presentation and public speaking skills, but also their networking.

It is a way for businesses to recruit exceptional talent.

Sam Haskins, an executive at FedEx, told Edwards he is recruiting more employees from Ole Miss alumni.

Overby Center remembers life and career of Larry Speakes

Larry Speakes with former president Ronald Reagan.

Larry Speakes with former president Ronald Reagan.

Larry Speakes (left) with Stan Dearman, editor of the Ole Miss student paper (which was The Mississippian at that time, before it became a daily).

Larry Speakes (left) with Stan Dearman, editor of
the Ole Miss student paper (which was The Mississippian
at that time, before it became a daily).

From his childhood in Merigold, Mississippi, and his college days at Ole Miss, to his role as spokesman for President Ronald Reagan at the White House, Larry Speakes’ life had the trajectory of a Horatio Alger tale.

He rose from a job as a small-town Delta newsman to become press secretary for Sen. James O. Eastland before becoming a player in national politics.

After an assassination attempt in 1981 that wounded President Reagan and left his press secretary, Jim Brady, disabled, Speakes became the voice of the Reagan Administration and had a role in some of the most memorable events of the Reagan years.

Speakes, who died earlier this month, was remembered last month at a program to start the Overby Center’s spring schedule with a panel of guests who knew him or worked with him – including his close friend Ed Meek.  Charles Overby served as moderator. Watch the full program on YouTube.

Rory Reardon and Harriet Riley with Larry Speakes in his White House office during 1982.  Speakes always was willing to meet with Ole Miss journalism students at the White House.

Rory Reardon and Harriet Riley with Larry Speakes in his White House office during 1982. Speakes always was willing to meet with Ole Miss journalism students at the White House.

Daily Mississippian wins MPA advertising awards

DM Winning MPA Ad 2014

Winning entry for best advertising promotion

The Daily Mississippian won several awards in the Mississippi Press Association Better Newspaper Contest advertising division annual competition. The Daily Mississippian competes against professional newspapers in the state in this contest, not other college newspapers.

Kristen Saltzman, an education major, won 1st place for best advertising promotion, competing against all daily newspapers in Mississippi. The winning entry was a house ad for yearbook class portraits that featured students in the 1983 yearbook. Saltzman has worked on the creative staff at the Student Media Center for several years.

The Daily Mississippian won second place for best niche publication in the state, for its 2013 orientation guide. Emily Roland, last year’s DM editor in chief, was in charge of the editorial content and designed the cover. LeAnna Young was student sales manager, and students Kristen Saltzman and Nate Weathersby were the creative design staff for the publication.

An ad for the Ole Miss Quarterback Club, by Creative Services Manager Debra Novak, won third place for best black and white institutional advertisement in a category that includes newspapers with daily circulation higher than 9,000.

Meek School professor and student spend intersession in Togo

Sudu and Nancy and studentsBy Nancy Dupont

Trading the winter weather in Oxford for the extreme heat of West Africa, Dr. Nancy Dupont and freshman journalism major Sudu Upadhyay spent winter intersession with the Ole Miss chapter of Engineers Without Borders in Togo.

Togo 2014 2Eleven engineering students, led by Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of engineering, and Michael Costelli of Gulfport, professional mentor, built a three-room school building in the village of Hedomé in the Vogan region of Togo. Local villagers assisted with what’s known as “sweat” equity.

“This is the most magnificent building we’ve ever seen in this village,” said Rev. Kokou Loko, a Baptist minister with churches in Lomé and Hedomé. “We can’t thank the engineering students enough for their service to my people.”

Sudu and NancyDupont and Upadhyay will produce various stories about the project, including print reports, a three-part television series and a documentary.

“This is a big deal to me because I’m getting to witness something that could be life-changing for the people of this village,” said Upadhyay. “For me as a young student journalist, the experience is incredibly valuable.”

The engineering team and the journalists returned to Oxford on January 19.

Larry Speakes dies at 74

Larry Speakes in 1959 when he was an assistant editor at The Daily Mississippian. Photo by Ed Meek

Larry Speakes in 1959 when he was an assistant editor at The Daily Mississippian. Photo by Ed Meek

Larry Speakes, a native of Merigold and Ole Miss graduate who later served as press secretary for President Ronald Reagan (1981 to 1987), died early Friday morning, Jan. 10, at his home in Cleveland.

Read reports of his passing at HottyToddy.com and nytimes.com.

School’s New Media conference focuses on branding, featuring ESPN executive

Rob King - 2007On March 27, 2014, the Meek School of Journalism and New Media proudly presents “Ole Miss New Media EXPAND YOUR BRAND,” an intensive one-day conference for journalists, marketers, business owners and anyone else who wants grow their business through the power of social and mobile media.

Kicking off the event is Rob King, ESPN’s senior vice president of editorial, print and digital media, who will share insights about ESPN branding and editorial strategies across multiple platforms.

The day will feature additional speakers and sessions on monetizing social media, understanding search engine optimization, the role of design in banding and strategic planning and much more.

Register Now

Purchase tickets by February 14 for $100 ($150 after that date).  For more information, contact Susan O’Keefe at saokeefe@olemiss.edu.

“Back Story: A Pulitzer-Winning Journalist Examines His Own Family”

Harness_makers_dream_cover_pageNick Kotz reflects on writing “The Harness Maker’s Dream: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas.” Read the article at nickkotz.com. Kotz is married to Mary Lynn Kotz, a Meek School graduate.

PR students learn from alumni at FedEx

Students in two advanced public relations classes taught by Robin Street traveled to Memphis Nov. 5 to meet with PR professionals at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and FedEx.

At FedEx, seven public relations professionals are Ole Miss graduates. Five of them talked with the students and provided insight into working for a global corporation, as well as career guidance.

Street FedExPictured here are, left to right, FedEx employees Ed Coleman, communications principal, Services Communications; Steve Barber, senior communications specialist, Global Engagement and Events; Jenny Robertson, manager of global media; Street; Alex Shockey, senior communications specialist, Digital & Social Media; and Natashia Gregoire, manager of reputation management. Scheduled to meet, but unable to attend were Ole Miss grads Rose Flenorl, manager of corporate citizenship and Cindy Conner, director, Global Citizenship and Reputation Management.

Street St. JudeAt St. Jude, students toured the hospital and learned what it is like to work in non-profit public relations. They learned that St. Jude must raise enough in donations to fund its operating costs of $1.9 million dollars a day. Here they pose in front of the hospital with the statue of St. Jude.

Panelists discuss future of energy, economic development in North Mississippi

TVA OverbyThe chief executive officer for the Tennessee Valley Authority, Bill Johnson, joined three other specialists in the field of energy and development from North Mississippi in a discussion of “The Future of Energy and Economic Development in the Region.”

The special program, designed to take advantage of a meeting of the TVA board of directors in Oxford, was moderated by Charles Overby, chairman of the Overby Center.

Johnson, who became president and CEO of the TVA in January, is responsible for leading the nation’s largest public utility. TVA provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors in parts of seven states across the southeastern United States. A summa cum laude graduate of Duke University with a law degree from the University of North Carolina, Johnson developed an impressive background in the energy field in North Carolina before taking the TVA position.

Others on the panel from North Mississippi – which is served in many areas by TVA – are:

  • David Copenhaver of Tupelo, a retired vice president, administration, for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, Inc. With more than a quarter-century’s experience in economic development in the Southeast, Copenhaver had a major role in establishing the Toyota plant at Blue Springs, near Tupelo.
  • J.R. (Josh) Gladden, associate professor of physics and director of the National Center for Physical Acoustics at Ole Miss. Gladden conducts research on energy-related materials and served last year as the university’s representative to the SEC Symposium on Renewable Energy.
  • David Rumbarger, the president and CEO of the Tupelo-based Community Development Foundation. Rumbarger has more than 20 years experience in economic development and focuses on creating project partnerships and local incentive packages.

Watch the program on YouTube.

TIME photo editor visits Meek School

J Woods PhotoJonathan Woods, senior editor of photo and interactives at TIME, visited the Meek School of Journalism last week as a guest lecturer. Woods, who oversees the photography and interactive components published on TIME.com, visited with journalism students in JOUR 101, 271, and 375 classes on Thursday and Friday, and also conducted a workshop at the Student Media Center.

Recently, Woods spearheaded “Timelapse,” in partnership with Google, Landsat, and Carnegie Mellon University, a 30-year-long time-lapse of satellite images showing global climate change. The project garnered more unique views than any story TIME has published in 2013.

Prior to joining TIME, Woods spent three years with nbcnews.com as a multimedia producer and six as a photojournalist for newspapers ranging from the Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. You can follow him on Twitter: @jonwoods

Street named Oxford’s PR Professional of the Year

Kelly Graeber, president of the Oxford chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, presents the PR Professional of the Year award to Robin Street, lecturer in journalism.

Kelly Graeber, president of the Oxford chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, presents the PR Professional of the Year award to Robin Street, lecturer in journalism.

Robin Street, APR, was named PR Professional of the Year by the Oxford chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi recently.

Street, lecturer in journalism at the University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media, specializes in teaching public relations.

The award is given for career and professional achievements, as well as involvement in PRAM. Street co-founded the local chapter of PRAM and has served as president, vice president,and secretary-treasurer.

Local PRAM president Kelly Graeber presented the award to Street.

“Robin was chosen for the award because she is a role model and mentor to all her current and former students, as well as others in the profession,” Graeber said. “As a teacher, she has prepared hundreds of students to become the PR professionals they are today. In addition, her own work is award winning. She is truly a shining example of what a PR professional should be.”

Street now becomes the Oxford PRAM chapter’s nominee for the state professional of the year award. Previously, in 2009, Street was named Educator of the Year by both PRAM and the Southern Public Relations Federation.

Randall Pinkston accepts 2013 Silver Em

Randall Pinkston, center, accepted the 2013 Sam Talbert Silver Em Award from committee chair Dr. Samir Husni, left, and Dean Will Norton, Jr., right in a ceremony at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Pinkston, who was born in Yazoo County and grew up in Jackson, spent most of his career as a correspondent for CBS News.

Randall Pinkston, center, accepted the 2013 Sam Talbert Silver Em Award from committee chair Dr. Samir Husni, left, and Dean Will Norton, Jr., right in a ceremony at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Pinkston, who was born in Yazoo County and grew up in Jackson, spent most of his career as a correspondent for CBS News.

Randall Pinkston, winner of three national Emmys and one Edward R. Murrow Award as a network correspondent, accepted the 2013 Sam Talbert Silver Em Award from the University of Mississippi in a ceremony at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

Pinkston is a native of Yazoo County. He retired in May after 33 years with CBS and in September joined the new Al Jazeera America team as a freelance journalist and national correspondent.

“Whether he was on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement or in the press room at the White House, Randall Pinkston reported with clarity and courage,” said Sharyn Alfonsi, Pinkston’s colleague who is now with “60 Minutes Sports.” “He is an intrepid reporter, a gifted story teller and always a true gentleman. I was honored to call him my colleague and proud to call him my friend.”

Pinkston was joined at the ceremony by his mother, Mrs. Clementine Davis, a retired school teacher, and other members of his family. In a brief acceptance speech, Pinkston traced the roots of his interest in news and reporting as a young man growing up in the shadow of the Mississippi Capitol and in an era when black voices were excluded from mainstream media. Watch Pinkston’s comments on YouTube.

The Silver Em dates to 1958 and is the highest award in journalism presented by the University of Mississippi. The criteria limit recipients to Mississippians with notable journalism careers, journalists with notable careers in Mississippi or both, which is the case with Pinkston.

He is a graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson whose first television work was three years with WLBT-TV. That was followed by two years with WJXT-TV, followed by a move to Hartford, Conn., where he worked four years as a reporter, anchor and producer for public affairs programs and specials while also earning his juris doctorate from the University of Connecticut.

In 1980, Pinkston joined WCBS-TV in New York, where he covered New Jersey for 10 years. Pinkston then joined CBS News as White House Correspondent covering the presidency of President George H.W. Bush and traveling with the president. At the end of the Bush presidency, Pinkston was reassigned to New York and covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. intervention in Haiti, the Unabomber story, the standoff with the Montana Freemen and the trial of Susan Smith, accused of killing her children. Pinkston covered the early developments in the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida and, notably, among his last interviews for CBS was with Myrlie Evers Williams, a fellow Mississippian and widow of Medgar Wiley Evers who was assassinated when Pinkston was 12 years old.

Foundation launches speaker series endowment

Students listen to a briefing on the nuances of magazine design during a presentation in the 225-seat Overby Auditorium.

Students listen to a briefing on the nuances of magazine design during a presentation in the 225-seat Overby Auditorium.

Now in its sixth year, the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics has become a leading center for civil discourse on issues facing Mississippi, the region, nation and world.

Programs have ranged from second generation Chinese Americans sharing their stories of growing up in the rural South to the only debate between Democratic contenders for governor to a call for journalistic truth and fact-checking by the cousin of Emmett Till, whose 1955 murder triggered the American Civil Rights Movement.

To continue the exploration, the University of Mississippi Foundation has launched an initiative to endow a speaker series. Proceeds from the endowment will cover travel and expenses for guests invited to be part of presentations at the center, which have averaged about one per week during the fall and spring semesters. When fullly funded, the endowment will be the largest for a speaker series at Ole Miss.

Programs have included the well-known — Myrlie Evers Williams, Tom Brokaw, Shepard Smith and Harold Burson — as well as those, such as Till’s cousin Simeon Wright and Stuart Stevens, a manager of Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, whose stories are behind the headlines.

“The quality of speakers the Overby Center hosts each semester is a huge asset for the university,” said Chancellor Dan Jones, who is often in the audience at the center’s 225-seat auditorium.

The center was created through a gift from the Freedom Forum, the foundation created by the Gannett media company to support freedom of expression as an essential element in American Society and around the world. A major project of the Forum is the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

It was named in honor of Charles L. Overby, a Jackson native who, after serving as editor of the Daily Mississippian at Ole Miss, worked in politics and journalism, earning a Pulitzer Prize, before becoming chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum.

The center is adjacent to the newly renovated Meek School of Journalism and New Media, the fastest-growing academic unit at the university. In addition to the auditorium, the center features display areas, a 100-seat conference area and a boardroom for up to 24 people. Media technology is on display throughout the center, including a news wall with nine large-screen monitors showing 20 front pages of newspapers around the South as well as live news programs.

“The center has become a focal point for attracting knowledgeable and interesting speakers with diverse points of view,” Overby said. “Inside the center, we have benefitted from our ongoing partnership with the Newseum, through exhibits and technology.”

Gifts to the Overby Center Speaker Series Endowment may be made in a range. A gift of $50,000, payable over five years, will provide a named speaker series. Gifts of $25,000 each may be given for a paired-name series.

Gifts of $5,000 will endow a premium seat, which is commemorated with a permanent nameplate on the seat. Gifts of $1,000 will endow the remaining seats, which will also have a permanent nameplate.

More information is available from Director of Development John Festervand (jfestervand@umfoundation.com/662-915-1757). Donations may be made through the Giving link on the Meek School website, www.meek.olemiss.edu.

Congratulations, Winners; Thank You, Judges …

Husni IRMA GroupProfessor Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni was the Master of Ceremonies at the 33rd Annual International and Regional Magazine Association in Baltimore, Maryland.  The annual magazine competition was judged by the faculty of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media for the first time this year.  The IRMA awards are now housed at the Magazine Innovation Center and administered by the staff of the Magazine Innovation Center.  Winners of the Magazine of the Year were Missouri Life magazine and Cottage Life magazine.

Jack Ford discusses new crime novel set in Mississippi

Jack FordWatch CBS Legal Analyst Jack Ford’s interview about his new novel based on the 1955 unsolved murder of a civil rights activist in Mississippi at cbsnews.com. Ford, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist, is scheduled to speak at The University of Mississippi School of Law, on October 10, 2013, at 3 p.m.  Visit the School of Law’s website for more information.

Meek students and faculty receive Robert F. Kennedy Award

Courtesy of Morris Melvin

Courtesy of Morris Melvin

Students and faculty were honored on Sept. 26 with the college journalism award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. The awards ceremony was at the Newseum in Washington, and D.C. alumni showed up to support the winners. The winning multimedia project focused on University of Mississippi students engaged in service learning work in Belize. Pictured are (left to right): Lee Sanders (Jour ’85), Anna Scott (Jour ’78), Patricia Thompson (director of student media and faculty leader on the winning project), Jesse Holland (Jour ’94 and former Daily Mississippian editor in chief), Margaret Ann Morgan (Jour 2013 and a student on the winning project), Steve Riley (Jour ’80 and a member of the team that won the RFK domestic print award and the grand prize award for a joint project of The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer); student project winners Aubry Killion (Jour ’12), Katie Williamson (current student) and Cain Madden (Jour 2013); Christine Burgeson (Jour ’92), Dennis Moore Jour ’75), John Hall (Jour ’83), John Festervand, director of development. The winners had a wonderful time networking with alumni and with journalists from NBC News, PBS Frontline, CNN and with Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner for economics who was awarded the RFK Book Award.

Courtesy of Morris Melvin

Courtesy of Morris Melvin

Students and faculty who traveled to Washington to accept the award have all been active in student media. They are (left  to right): Katie Wiliamson, who graduates in December; Cain Madden, who graduated in May 2013 and is managing editor of a newspaper in southern Virginia; Patricia Thompson, assistant professor and director of student media, holding the bust of Robert F. Kennedy; Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy; Margaret Ann Morgan, May 2013 graduate and former Miss Ole Miss who works as a correspondent for WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg; Aubry Killion, who graduated in 2012 and works as a correspondent for 5News in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Others who helped produce the project but weren’t at the awards ceremony are Meek School grad Jajuan McNeil, and assistant professors Mikki Harris and Darren Sanefski.

Ole Miss grad returns to teach sports production class

EwertBy Brandon Rook

Terry Ewert (’73) has had a successful career in media production during the last 40 years. The Emmy Award-winning producer was back in Oxford during September, teaching a five-week sports television production class.

Under his direction, journalism students have partnered with Ole Miss Athletics for the first time, to produce live coverage of the women’s volleyball match against Arkansas. Ewert also worked with Dr. Bradley Schultz, a long-time broadcast journalism professor.

Senior Morgan White, a student in the class, said, “Mr. Ewert has been amazing, and I’ve learned a lot… and I’m going to use it in the future. ”

“Now, I feel like I have a better foundation if I do feel like I want to go into production or even on air. The live webcast of the game was streamed on RebelVision at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27.

Ewert answered a few questions about Ole Miss and his career:

What is your favorite memory of your time as a student at Ole Miss?

I had a lot of them. Coming out of high school then coming to a university was bizarre for me. I was in a fraternity, and I have 120 or so automatic friends. Some are friends, some are not friends, but they’re the kind of people who look out for you, and that’s just something that I wasn’t used to.

When I was a freshman, it was Archie Manning’s junior year, his phenomenal year! I think all of us in the class that came in were caught up with the great football and national attention that we were getting with Archie that football season.

I think the fraternity, working at the sorority house and certainly my classwork were my best memories. Oh yeah, and the football season that freshman year.

So, how did you end up at Ole Miss?

When I was in high school looking for a place to go to college, I had been appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy.  I wasn’t sure at the point that I wanted to be a career officer in the military.  I was always a service brat; we moved from place to place; my father was in the Air Force.  I promised him that if I got a scholarship to Ole Miss I would take ROTC.  Indeed, I did get a scholarship, and I ended up at Ole Miss and took ROTC at least for the first year (laughs).

As an alumnus of the University of Mississippi, what kind of advice would you give to a soon-to-be graduate from the university?

You should explore where you want to be.  I think this school of journalism has a very good reputation, and I think the best thing to do is choose your steps wisely and reach out to every different media outlet, newspaper or whatever direction you want to go in.  Try to find your niche.  If you really want to stay in journalism, the opportunities are there if you really strive and want to get noticed or hired.

How often do you come back and visit?

Not very often, unfortunately.  I travel a lot on my job.  I have my own production company where we have to do a certain amount of hours and certainly the Big Ten Network keeps me busy as well.  I live in the New York area, and I always enjoy coming back.  I’m always impressed with how the university has grown and how it’s more diverse.  I think that’s the important step this university made years ago, and it continues to this day.  I think it’s getting to be what Dr. Robert Khayat called it, “A Great American Public University.”

What advice would you give to Terry Ewert the freshman?

I probably would’ve taken more courses in broadcasting when I was here. I really only took one. My very first job was in broadcasting. I was an on-air anchor and on-air sports director for KALB-TV in Alexandria, La. I should have concentrated more in broadcasting so that the learning curve wouldn’t have been so high. I was a political science major, but I also was in speech and theater. I took Broadcasting 101, and I wish that I had pursued that another semester or even further. There were very rudimentary courses at the time, and eventually that whole system moved to where it is now, a school of journalism. I probably could have gotten a lot more out of Ole Miss at the time in the world of broadcasting.

With working in such a deadline-oriented and sometimes stressful business, how do you balance out your life when you’re not working?

I have a wife and family.  My children have always been an inspiration.  They’re grown now, but to spend time at home and watch my children grow up was always my recreation — just being a dedicated family man.

Could you describe some of the biggest highlights of your career that were the most exciting to you?

I was a senior production executive for three Olympic games, two for NBC sports and one for the Atlanta Olympics. My former executive producer Don Ohlmeyer said, “If you ever wonder how good you are, do an Olympics,” and I did three of them. The first one was the Olympics in 1988, and I did the broadcast side. In 1992 for Barcelona I did the cable side. Lastly for 1996 I did the overall. I actually worked for the Olympic Committee. I got to experience all sides of Olympic coverage, and I think that was fulfilling, but I think working as an executive producer at CBS sports for six years and doing the Master’s, NCAA basketball tournaments, SEC Championship games, doing a multitude of other things with the NFL and doing the PGA tour were really the highlights of my career.

What was your first job after graduating from Ole Miss in 1973?

It’s funny because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had worked the year before between my junior and senior year at WJTV in Jackson, Miss. I needed a summer job and they had cameramen positions open for those who were on vacation relief, so that is what I first did.

That was kind of the seed, and I went back to the station after I graduated. They had a sister station in Louisiana. As fate would have it, they were looking for a sportscaster. I talked a lot of SEC football with them, and they liked that. They auditioned me, and I got hired. So my first job was being an on-air anchor and sports director at KALB.

Were there any risks that you ever had to take in your career?

Moving to New York. I was at the KALB station for a year, and I also was an actor while I was at Ole Miss. I was into speech and theater as well, so I did a lot of the plays. A group of theater friends were moving to New York, and they asked me to come with them. I quit the job at KALB and, with $600 to my name, moved to New York. That’s all I had. I ended up on the streets of New York. I hated it while I was there because I was struggling, and within three months I got a commercial, and I thought it was easy, and for six months after that I didn’t even get another callback.

That’s when I decided to become an NBC page and from an NBC page, I just worked my way up through NBC to NBC Sports. I was there for 18 years. The biggest risk I took was quitting everything and moving to New York City.

What did you learn at Ole Miss that has helped your career get to where it is today? Was there a specific professor or experience?

The biggest thing most individuals learn in college is how to live with other people. You lived with your family your whole life through high school, and that’s kind of a sheltered existence because there’s someone that’s always looking out for you. When you come to any university or college, you have to get along with other people, and it’s a great social experiment that you don’t even know that you do. You have all this freedom, but you have to go to class. You have to get all your work done. You’ve got to get good grades, and you’ve got to progress through the four years. So, the great social experiment of living with other people and being around other people was the greatest takeaway from this university because this university was very nurturing with the staff and the teachers.

A version of this story was originally published on HottyToddy.com.

Bestselling author to students: Sweat the small stuff

Author Charles Graeber paid a visit to Meek School students this week to discuss his best-selling book “The Good Nurse,” about the serial killer Charles Cullen, the so-called “Angel of Death” who, before his arrest in 2003, murdered as many as 300 patients over the course of a 16-year nursing career.

Graeber explained how his six-year investigation into Cullen — and into the broken health care system that allowed him to continue undetected for so long – all started with the bizarre news clipping he’d been carrying around in his pocket, about a serial killer who wanted to donate a kidney against the wishes of his victims’ families. That clip inspired Graeber to write a letter to Cullen, asking if he would talk with him. Despite having turned away dozens of reporters in the past, Cullen agreed.

“At that point,” Graeber said, “I had the football.”

“It’s a little counter-intuitive to think that good story ideas often come from other news sources – it might seem like that story has already been told,” Graeber told students in Assistant Professor Cynthia Joyce’s JOUR 271 News Reporting classes on Tuesday. “But that’s not always the case – there was another story here that wasn’t being told.”

His initial investigation led to a feature story in New York magazine, “The Tainted Kidney.” That story, in part, launched a book deal, and the book became the basis of a two-part “60 Minutes” segment.

Curious about his reporting techniques, Meek students asked Graeber whether spending so much time with a serial killer required “psychological counseling.”

“In the middle of working on “The Good Nurse,” I was sent by Business Week to write a story about a family in Kamaishi, Japan, who survived the 2011 tsunami,” he said. “This was one month after [the tsunami] – and the fact that I was actually eager to go and sit around a campfire with the survivors was probably a pretty good indication of my mental state.”

That story – “After the tsunami: Nothing to do but start again” – earned the Overseas Press Club’s Ed Cunningham Award in 2011.

Although Graeber is obviously drawn to “big” stories, he emphasized the importance of sweating the small stuff — getting every single fact right, down to the tiniest detail.

“Never mind that for more than 15 years a killer was allowed to work in nine different hospitals — if the guy had been wearing brown shoes, and I’d said they were black, no one was going to believe anything else about the story.”

Graeber will be signing copies of “The Good Nurse” at Square Books on Wednesday, September 18 at 5:00PM

Watch the “60 Minutes” segments about “The Good Nurse” here.

 

Hoar’s students working to preserve his legacy

Greg Brock, senior editor for standards at The New York Times and 2012 Silver Em recipient from the University of Mississippi, shares a laugh with Dr. Jere Hoar, the professor Brock described as the most influential in his career. Hoar’s students have initiated an in-gathering of stories about Dr. Hoar’s classes as well as an effort to increase the existing scholarship fund for journalism honors students to at least $300,000.

Greg Brock, senior editor for standards at The New York Times and 2012 Silver Em recipient from the University of Mississippi, shares a laugh with Dr. Jere Hoar, the professor Brock described as the most influential in his career. An initiative has been launched to collect “Dr. Hoar stories” via the UM Foundation’s website as well as increase the Hoar Scholarship fund for journalism honors students.

Honors students at the University of Mississippi no longer have the opportunity to enroll in a class led by the famed and now retired Jere Hoar — but they may get the opportunity to be at Ole Miss due to the journalism professor’s legacy.

Inspired by his teaching, Hoar’s students created a scholarship in his honor a few years ago. They are launching an initiative this fall that will both record history and make history.

Alumni and friends invited to log onto a dedicated link on the University of Mississippi Foundation website to share their memories of the professor so that the stories are not lost to time. Also, if the goal of increasing the existing endowment by $100,000 is met, an anonymous donor has pledged another $100,000 to make the fund among the largest available to students in UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Journalism at Ole Miss began in the years immediately after World War II. Since then, dozens of the students have become leading national and international practitioners in newspapers and broadcasting.

One of them is Curtis Wilkie, now senior fellow at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics (named in honor of a Pulitzer winner and fellow alumnus, Charles Overby). Wilkie’s career culminated with many years covering presidential politics and the Middle East for The Boston Globe, but it began in the presence of Jere Hoar.

“I was a callow high school senior considering journalism at Ole Miss, and he was a young professor willing to spend time advising me,” Wilkie said. And he added a confession about arriving late for a class during his senior year: “As I handed over my papers, Dr. Hoar had the look of a man confronted with an unpleasant odor.” Wilkie failed the class, the same class he now teaches in the Meek School — and he tells students about it on their first day every semester. “The story demonstrates Jere Hoar’s strong commitment to the highest standards,” and “it taught me a valuable lesson about meeting deadlines as a newspaper reporter.”

Greg Brock, now senior editor for standards at The New York Times, came to the University of Mississippi a generation after Wilkie. A leader in the effort to honor Hoar and preserve his legacy, Brock says his initial take on Hoar was that he was “demanding, overbearing and totally unreasonable.” Brock’s viewpoint has moderated. “I understand why he pushed us so hard to do our best. He is the professor I remember most fondly and appreciate the most.”

Students who receive the Jere Hoar Scholarship in Journalism will be selected from journalism majors who are also members of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi. It will be a perpetual endowment, with scholarships limited to the fund’s annual earnings.

Hoar is a native of Tennessee who continues to live and work on his farm in Oxford. Before and after graduating from Auburn, he worked in weekly and daily journalism and for trade publications.

He is a veteran, having served in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. Later, Hoar earned a master’s at Ole Miss and a doctorate from the University of Iowa. He also completed a preceptor program, passed the legal examination and became a licensed Mississippi attorney.

Hoar also continued to write short stories and novels, but says teaching was his passion. Too, he is as happy about students who “chose to do good work in small places” as he is those who have had more notable careers.

The “tell your story” portal can be found at www.umfoundation.com/jerehoar, where donations can also be made.

Mailed donations should be sent to The University of Mississippi Foundation, Jere Hoar Scholarship Endowment, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677-0249.

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media is the newest academic unit at Ole Miss. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism and in integrated marketing communications. The school website is www.meek.olemiss.edu.

 

Street interviewed by MPR for obesity grant story

streetDue to her background in public relations and wellness, Lecturer Robin Street was a source for Mississippi Public Radio in reporting on a new federal grant.  Listen to the interview.

How journalists are using their smartphones to build audience

Beech sends out a tweet before heading out on an assignment. She says, as a journalist, she feels “indebted to being a gatekeeper of important information.” Photo by Margaret Ann Morgan.

Beech sends out a tweet before heading out on an assignment. She says, as a journalist, she feels “indebted to being a gatekeeper of important information.” Photo by Margaret Ann Morgan.

Think Web first. A sign with those three simple words hangs in the Raycom-owned WDAM-TV newsroom in Hattiesburg, Miss. The idea is to remind reporters, producers and everyone else to push to Web, and smartphones make that job much easier.

Reporter Rachel Beech is perhaps the best example of someone who thinks Web first, and by extension, she goes mobile. A quick look at her Facebook posts (which she has automatically linked to her Twitter account) shows that she is always plugged in- and so are her followers.

“My online presence is important, because I see great value in communicating with others while keeping them informed about happenings around the Pine Belt,” says Beech. “People want an accessible avenue for information, and there’s no better place to access info than the Web.”

Perhaps Rachel’s “star moment” was during a mayoral election uproar, which has just recently been taken to a trial. With this constant coverage, Beech has learned the importance of not only immediate updates but also updates that are factual.

“Receiving information straight from the source quickly is critical,” she says, “and I try to do that as soon as news breaks.”

Her live updates boost her online presence, and she says it could not be done without having that mobile access in the field. “After receiving info, I relay it to the public- straight from my iPhone- as efficiently and objectively as possible.”

Here’s what the expectations are for making mobile newsgathering part of the reporter’s day:

  • Each reporter is supplied with a smartphone and is expected to use that for reporting in the field. As a reporter rushes out the door, equipment and coffee in hand, they are (or at least should be!) sending out a tweet and posting to Facebook to let their followers know what they are covering. While on the scene, several social media updates are expected, which should include both pictures and video. The quality of camera in the phones is high enough to allow the use of pictures and videos on the Web, as well as in television cut-ins.
  • Pictures are sent with a two paragraph story summary that is immediately posted to the Web, Twitter and Facebook. In addition, the reporter also sends back a ten-second tease that is used as a cut-in prior to the newscast. This is also posted to the Web. While the reporter is in the field, the Web producer back at the station is posting the content. But when a reporter returns, it is his or her responsibility to post a Web story along with a video to the website.

The goal is to create a news organization that keeps viewers in mind, every minute of the day.

This story was contributed by Margaret Ann Morgan, a 2013 graduate of the Meek School and a reporter for WDAM-TV.

Journalism student’s project prompts engineering research

102Student-EditWhen Mary Frances Stephens signed up for her first journalism writing class, she probably had no idea she would spark a round of academic research.  The journalism major’s video project evaluates the benefits of recycling glass and was featured on a website that focuses on environmental news.

“This video explains how the recycling/re-use of glass can help improve our safety on the roads in our community, as well as reduce the heat island effect that is common in most urban areas,” wrote Stephens.

One of the people she interviewed, Dr. Waheed Uddin, is a professor in the engineering school at Ole Miss.  Her story got him thinking more deeply about the topic.

“I have written a paper with my Ph.D. student Fahmi for 2013 IJPC international conference in São Paulo, Brazil where we were motivated by Ms. Stephens’s video project. Our recommended approach involves minimal consumption of energy, lower GHG emissions, as well as, reducing “heat-island” effects,” wrote Uddin.

Stephens did her story for Dr. Kristie Swain’s JOUR 102 class; Swain has long been involved in reporting on environmental issues.

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).

DebChartCombinedSkills