In America, you can start as an intern and wind up the boss if you have talent and don’t mind hard work. 2011 Meek School graduate Emily Mowers is proof of that.
And not only did she make that giant leap, she’s earned national acclaim in the process.
In working her way up, Mowers spent two years in WTVA Creative Services, the commercial and video production branch of WTVA Inc, in Tupelo. She and her six co-workers in the unit have been named as one of five finalists in the country for the PromaxBDA Local Awards in the category of Sales/ Demo Reel. The PromaxBDA Awards honor design and marketing work in the advertising and promotions business.
Mowers was recently promoted to marketing and promotions director for WTVA and WLOV. She began her career less than three years ago as an intern, moving into a part-time summer replacement position before landing the full-time job.
Another Meek alumna is on the same trajectory. Lauren Ann McLaughlin is assistant director of marketing and promotions at WTVA after completing a producer internship in 2013 in the program led by Professor Deb Wenger. McLaughlin is also the Face of FOX 27.
The national winner of the Sales/Demo Reel award will be announced June 26in Las Vegas, Nevada at the annual PromaxBDA Station Summit.
“Land of Plenty,” a depth report produced primarily by Honors College journalism students, has been named best student magazine in the nation by the Society of Professional Journalists. The magazine was honored in the annual Mark of Excellence Awards contest for college journalism. One national winner, and two national finalists, are selected in each category.
Students in the depth reporting class, taught by Overby fellow and Meek School instructor Bill Rose and veteran food writer Susan Puckett, spent the spring semester and spring break in the Delta, reporting stories for the magazine on the region’s distinctive food. Neil McMillin, Lauren McMillin, Bowen Thigpen, Sarah Bracey Penn, Camille Mullins, Rachael Walker, Erin Scott, John Bobo and Phillip Waller were the students in the depth reporting class.
“Land of Plenty” was designed by a class taught by assistant professor Darren Sanefski, and photos were shot by photography students taught by assistant professors Mikki Harris and Alysia Steele. Those students included Virginia England, Ben Hurston, Katie Williamson, Alex Edwards, Ignacio Murillo, Austin McAfee, Gerard Manogin, Elizabeth Beaver, Kristen Ellis, Caroline Callahan, Petre Thomas, LeAnna Young, Jared Burleson, Paris Crawford, DJ Jones, Lauren Loyless, Lauren McMillin, Alessandra Richards, Phillip Waller and Thomas Graning.
In addition to the win for “Land of Plenty,” Daily Mississippian photo editor Thomas Graning was named a national finalist in the SPJ Mark of Excellence breaking news photography/large university category. His photo, “Charges Dropped,” was published in The Daily Mississippian from his coverage of a trial.
First-place national winners will be recognized at the SPJ Excellence in Journalism 2014 conference in Nashville in September. Last year, Margaret Ann Morgan and Stephen Quinn won a first-place national SPJ Mark of Excellence Award for their multimedia coverage of Hurricane Isaac. Last year’s depth report, “The Flood of the Century,” was a finalist in the national SPJ student magazine category.
Dr. Ed Meek, left, and Dean Will Norton Jr. hold a $6,000 check in memory of alumnus Joe Williams with his daughter, DeeAnn, a 2014 Ole Miss graduate, and Williams’ wife, Kathy Kelly, far right. The donation was from Williams’ employer, Pinnacle, and was added to the Williams Fund, which will create a scholarship for Meek School of Journalism and New Media students. Donations to the fund may be sent to the UM Memory House, Box 249, University, MS 38677. Online gifts may be designated for the Joe Williams Fund at www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/main.php. Photo by Thomas Graning
Pinnacle, a Memphis-based air carrier, has made a generous donation in memory of Joe F. Williams Jr., who worked as corporate communications manager for the company now known as Endeavor Air. “Joe certainly believed that Ole Miss and the School of Journalism provided him with a platform to grow his talents,” said Phillip Reed, a vice president for Endeavor. “We believed in Joe and we benefited from his education and his passion for his craft.” Williams was a 1977 graduate of the University of Mississippi, with a degree in radio and television broadcasting. He was 57 when he died unexpectedly on Aug. 6, 2013. Before joining Pinnacle, Williams was a broadcaster, television and corporate communications executive. He worked as editorial commentator, producer and program host for WHBQ-TV in Memphis for many years. He had also served as communications officer for Time Warner Cable. Friends and family members established the fund at his alma mater, where his daughter, DeeAnn, is a recent graduate. Dr. Ed Meek, who with his wife, Becky, gave the endowment to create the Meek School of Journalism and New Media in 2009, joined Dean Will Norton Jr. in accepting the gift. It was added to the Joe Williams fund, created by family and friends, which will create a scholarship for Meek School of Journalism and New Media students. Donations to the fund may be sent to the UM Memory House, Box 249, University, MS 38677. Online gifts may be designated for the Joe Williams Fund at www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/main.php.
Anne-Conner Dickerson doesn’t have to much to worry about at graduation on Saturday. Even before she walks across the stage she knows her career is underway.
Dickerson took advantage of the Ole Miss Producer Internship Program in the Meek School last summer. She learned how to be a newscast producer at WTVA in Tupelo, and the station liked her so much, they hired her full-time during the spring semester.
Though there are other students like Dickerson who already have jobs by the time they graduate, most are deep into the job hunt right now. Dickerson spent some time talking to her colleagues at WTVA to get their best advice for getting work in TV.
“Home work – do your home work. You should research the station and whom you are applying to. If I get a resume that says ‘to whom it may concern’ it goes right in the trashcan, but someone who says ‘To Dave Beech’.. who knows how to spell my name correctly… that shows me that they have taken initiative on their end to do some homework, to go out of their way to find out a little bit about me, about this station, and who we are and what we are. This industry rewards self starters and if you can’t take the time to do a little bit of homework then I won’t want you in my newsroom.
– Dave Beech, WTVA News Director
“I would tell people that you have to put together a great resume reel with no mistakes in it and be confident. Always have your reason why you want to be a reporter ready because news directors will ask. Make sure your reason is unique. And, of course… You have to be ready to move far from home.”
– Jessica Albert, WTVA Reporter
“Persistence. If you know you’re qualified for the job then always follow-up. If you send a tape don’t wait for them to call you. Follow-up with a phone call. Then follow-up your phone call with another call. Use each opportunity to self-promote and tell them how you’re ready to get right to work. I’ve noticed that most News Directors always stall making decisions while waiting for something better. Make them think you’re the better choice they’ve been waiting for.”
– Dave Bauer, WTVA Producer
“In one word: networking. I got my first job in television by passing along my resume’ to a friend who put in a good word for me. In the TV positions following, my news directors made personal calls on my behalf to news stations for where I had applied. Never be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone, ask a favor, or hand out a resume’. Because a friend said, ‘Give this girl a call’ I was given a shot. Always seize the opportunity to meet people in your field and make connections.”
– Riley Koppa-Eversull, WTVA Producer
“The first question you need to ask is which area of television you want to work in, and in what capacity. The requirements for different vocations are varied, so you need to plan your training path according to your particular ambition. On the other hand, it’s also a good idea to keep your options open. Many people find that they end up with a very different job to the one they had originally wanted. This is one advantage of beginning your training with a general media studies course – it will give you a good grounding in many different disciplines and may help you decide which you prefer. Put your application in with a resume and wait for someone to call. Be patient….”
– Alvin “AI” Ivy, WTVA Photojournalist
Of course, one of the best pieces of advice is to get “job ready” while you’re still at school. If you’re interested in the job of a newscast producer, consider applying for the Ole Miss Producer Internship Program. In addition to earning up to 3 credits, you receive a $500 scholarship and the experience you’ll need to get a job in television news. Contact Deb Wenger at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
University of Mississippi public relations students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media won the three top awards in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition and 10 out of all 11 awards presented. Pictured from left to right, are (front row) Bridget Quinn, a journalism major from Alpharetta, Ga. and Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen, a marketing communications major from Stockholm, Sweden; and (back row) Lauren McMillan, a journalism major from Madison, Miss.; Caty Cambron, a journalism and Spanish major from Rome, Ga.; Wil Yerger, a marketing communications major from Jackson, Miss.; Olivia Rearick, a journalism major from Glen Ellyn, Ill.; Robin Street, lecturer in journalism and public relations; Katie Davenport, an integrated marketing communications major from Wiggins, Miss.; Madison Hill, a journalism major from Auburn, Ala.; and Emily Crawford, a journalism major from Horn Lake, Miss. Not pictured: Laura Gaziano, an integrated communications major from Atlanta, Ga. Photo credit: Stan O’Dell
Public relations students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media won the three top awards in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition and 10 out of 11 awards presented.
Journalism major Olivia Rearick from Glen Ellyn, Ill., won both Student Best of Show for the best entry in the entire competition and the top award in her category, called a PRism. Marketing communications major Wil Yerger from Jackson, Miss., also won a PRism. Those students won the only PRisms presented.
In addition, eight other students and their instructor, Robin Street, all won awards, which were presented at the PRAM state conference in Hattiesburg on April 25. In each category, an award a step below the PRism is the Award of Excellence, followed by the Award of Merit.
“Having 10 of our students get awards sets a record for us,” said Street, a lecturer in journalism and public relations. “It was overwhelming that the judges only chose 11 students’ work from all over the state, and ten of those were ours.
“Our students demonstrated that they excel in the diverse set of skills needed to succeed in PR such as producing quality journalism, planning strategy and conducting research. That is a real tribute to the preparation they received from all the faculty members at the Meek School.”
Winning Awards of Excellence were Lauren McMillan, a journalism major from Madison, Miss.; Madison Hill, a journalism major from Auburn, Ala.; Caty Cambron, a journalism and Spanish major from Rome, Ga,; and Street.
Awards of Merit were presented to Katie Davenport, an integrated marketing communications major from Wiggins, Miss.; Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen, a marketing communications major from Stockholm, Sweden; Bridget Quinn, a journalism major from Alpharetta, Ga.; Emily Crawford, a journalism major from Horn Lake, Miss.; and Laura Gaziano, an IMC major from Atlanta, Ga.
The students entered public relations campaigns they produced as final projects in an advanced public relations class taught by Street. Each campaign required multi-media journalism skills including writing news releases and feature stories, as well as creating video, photos, blogs and social media.
The Society for News Design: College News Design Contest announced Deeper South: Land of Plenty won second place for Multi-page News Design, behind the Chicago Art Institute and ahead of Syracuse and Missouri. Journalism students Virginia England and Kristen Ellis were the designers.
This is the third award the publication has received. The others are: SPJ regional awards — first place as best student magazine; and Best of the South — first place in the Best Magazine Page Layout Designer.
Meek School of Journalism and New Media students cover the destruction of a tornado in Tupelo, Miss., Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Photo by Mikki K. Harris
Meteorologists had been warning anyone who would listen about the potential for deadly storms in Mississippi and across the South, and on Monday afternoon, their predictions came true for our area.
“At the Student Media Center, students started planning for storm coverage on Sunday, and went into high gear via social media all afternoon Monday. This was the first big test for the brand-new DM staff, and they rose to the occasion,” said SMC Director Pat Thompson.
Broadcast journalism professor and interim NewsWatch 99 advisor Deb Wenger also had video journalists on standby. Shortly after 2 p.m., all the preparation proved its importance. An EF-2 tornado hit Tupelo, damaging as many as 500 businesses and 200 homes.
“Our students were amazing. They did what professional journalists do on a regular basis — cancel previous plans, gear up and go,” said Wenger.
Broadcast journalism senior Ian Cowart produced a story within hours of the touchdown.
Online, DM Photo Editor Cady Herring used photos from Thomas Graning and Ignacio Murillo to compile a photo gallery that quickly garnered hundreds of page views. Herring also quickly put together a map showing the wide path of the tornado destruction.
“New DM Editor in Chief Lacey Russell anchored the coverage throughout the night,” Thompson said. “Alli Moore got a quick baptism as new Design Editor, and Sierra Mannie contributed to the DM’s online presence. Students were tired as deadline approached Monday night, but spent time planning follow-up coverage for Tuesday.”
On Tuesday, Newswatch 99 produced extraordinary coverage of the storms in Louisville and Tupelo for the 5 p.m. newscast. Led by manager Miriam Cresswell, the show also included a graphic explainer of how tornados form, as well stories about the ways in which Mississippi residents were coming together to help the victims. Students Leah Gibson and Gabriel Austin were on the road by 6 a.m. Tuesday to cover the Louisville damage.
Russell, Graning, Herring and News Editor Logan Kirkand spent all day Tuesday in the field reporting, taking photographs and shooting video. Photojournalism professor Mikki Harris accompanied the students to help guide their multimedia reporting.
“I was so encouraged by the professional approach and demeanor the students used yesterday,” Harris said. “Logan was in people’s homes and yards not only conducting interviews, but helping. Logan said, ‘I didn’t really do that much. I helped carry a bin full of things to their car and tied a rug to the top of their car.’ Logan may not see that as doing much, but it is. He was there on assignment, interviewing, recording audio, capturing stills and video. Logan taking the time to move his focus away from a story, and focus on the people, shows tremendous skills as a journalist.”
In addition to all the work for student media outlets, former DM Editor Adam Ganucheau wrote the lead story for the New York Times’ U.S. page online. Graning’s work was used by the Associated Press throughout the day on Tuesday. Journalism student Jared Senseman’s photos were included in a slideshow produced for the Weather Channel on weather.com.
Robin Street, (on right) Meek School of Journalism and New Media lecturer, who coordinates the School’s PR program, was presented the Professional Achievement Award from the Public Relations Association of Mississippi by PRAM President Shannon Coker. The award, given to one PR professional yearly, is given for outstanding achievements in the profession of PR.
Meek School of Journalism and New Media Lecturer Robin Street, who coordinates the school’s PR emphasis, was presented the Professional Achievement Award by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi.
The award, given to one professional yearly, is the association’s top honor. It was presented to Street at a ceremony in Hattiesburg on April 25 by PRAM President Shannon Coker. Recipients “embody the highest degree of professionalism, are committed to advancing the profession and have outstanding achievements in the practice of public relations,” according to PRAM. Street was previously named PRAM’s Educator of the Year, and it is rare for an educator to be honored in the professional category. However, judges selected Street for her continued involvement in the profession, the multiple awards her work has won, and her commitment to ethics and diversity, according to Tara Burcham, PRAM vice president for awards.
“The judges said she is an inspiration to her students and other professionals,” Burcham said. “They also noted that her commitment to the field of PR is unparalleled.” Multiple former students who are now PR professionals joined in supporting Street’s nomination.
Former student Alex May-Sealey wrote, ”Her career achievements speak for themselves, but it is her enthusiasm, energy and ideas that truly make her shine as an inspiration to all. Robin is an excellent mentor and is consistently a favorite among her students and colleagues.”
Other student statements of support included, “(T)he epitome of a public relations professional.” “Trains the next generation of PR professionals while being one of the best the profession has to offer.” “A woman of integrity, keen intelligence, responsibility, calm confidence and compassion.”
“Although Ms. Street is winning this award for one year, she has practiced quality public relations for decades,” said H. Will Norton, Jr., professor and dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.
Street’s previous awards include a Silver Anvil Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America, the highest award given for PR work, and more than 30 awards in the PRAM Prism and the Southern Public Relations Lantern competitions. Her work previously won “Best in Show” from in both the Prism and Lantern competitions and twice won “Judges Choice” in the Prisms.
As the PRAM winner, Street now becomes Mississippi’s nominee for the SPRF multi-state competition.
For two days in late April, the Ole Miss Student Media Center became a news bureau for WTVA in Tupelo. Led by journalism professors Deb Wenger and Nancy Dupont, a team of 5 students covered the annual Double Decker Festival.
Gabriel Austin and Natalie Wood focused their Friday story on the artists of Double Decker.
The art story and another on festival music aired on WTVA’s 10 p.m. show.
“They did a terrific job,” said Wenger. “The started shooting at about noon, produced four versions of the story — one for WTVA, one for NewsWatch, one for HottyToddy.com and one for the DMOnline. Gabe anchored NewsWatch and then he and Natalie went back out for another round or reporting.”
On Saturday, a second team picked up the reporting baton at 7 a.m. to cover the Double Decker 10K. Ian Cowart and Jillian Clifton worked hard to capture the flavor of the festival’s biggest day.
Clifton says she was willing to give up her Saturday to get this kind of experience.
“It makes me feel proud to be a journalism student and to know that my work actually means something and people are actually watching it,” said Clifton.
WTVA’s news managers were so pleased with the students’ efforts that they asked to expand from two days of reporting to three. Miriam Cresswell and Gabriel Austin were tapped to cover a fundraiser for Good Food for Oxford Schools on Sunday; however, that event was postponed due to storms in the area.
The weekend reporting experience is part of the advanced TV reporting class, which is taught by both Dupont and Wenger.