The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

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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.

Daily Mississippian wins SPJ best student newspaper award; 14 awards go to students

Posted on: April 13th, 2015 by ewrobins
SPJ OM By Damn.Graning

Winning sports photo by Thomas Graning

The Daily Mississippian was named best daily student newspaper, and University of Mississippi students won 14 individual awards in the 2014 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Region 12 competition.

UM students placed first in seven categories, and were named finalists in seven categories.

Region 12 includes universities in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana. There are categories for small and large colleges, and UM students compete against students at other large universities. Entries are judged by professional journalists.

All first-place winners advance to judging for national awards, competing against first-place winners in the other 11 regions. National winners will be announced in late spring and recognized at the national SPJ Excellence in Journalism conference in September in Orlando.

The Best All-Around Daily Newspaper category required each publication to enter three newspapers from dates selected by SPJ in March, October and December 2014.

UM first-place winners are: 

Winning general news photo by Cady Herring

Winning general news photo by Cady Herring

Ian Cowart, television breaking news reporting (Tupelo tornado aftermath);

Adam Ganucheau, general news reporting (coverage of James Meredith statue incident);

Thomas Graning, sports photography (front-page DM photo after the Alabama game);

Cady Herring, general news photography (front-page DM photo from Tupelo tornado last spring);

Ji Joon Hoo, online feature reporting (grad student, children using poetry to reach elderly patients in Charleston, MS);

Jessi Hota, online in-depth reporting (grad student, Trans Mississippi on being transgender at Ole Miss);

Sudu Upadhyay, TV feature reporting (series from Togo, West Africa).

One winner and up to two finalists are selected for each category. UM finalists are:

Nicole Bounds, online in-depth reporting (depression increasing on campuses);

Ian Cleary, editorial cartoonist (DM cartoons);

Emily Guess, in-depth reporting (Shopping center displaces families);

Sierra Mannie, general column writing;

Dylan Rubino, sports writing (Just Bo, profile of Bo Wallace);

Lacey Russell, feature writing (Remembering fallen brothers, 10th anniversary of ATO fire);

Natalie Wood and Wiley Anderson, television general news reporting (cyberbullying in Oxford schools).

The awards were announced on Saturday, April 11, during the Region 12 conference at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Kendyl Noon, an officer with the UM SPJ chapter and active in student media, represented the Meek School at the conference.

We are proud of our students, and grateful to the many faculty who worked with students to produce award-winning work.

Meek School senior places 4th in Hearst competition

Posted on: April 10th, 2015 by ewrobins
Clancy Smith

Clancy Smith

An article based on her interview with Civil Rights hero and U.S. Rep. John Lewis has won honors in a Hearst competition for Clancy Smith and further enhanced the reputation of the journalism school at the University of Mississippi.

Smith, a senior, placed fourth out of 99 entries from 56 schools throughout the nation in the Personality Profile category of the writing competition in the annual Hearst Journalism Awards Program.

The award for the senior Journalism major was the highest for any University of Mississippi student since Ole Miss students began entering the contest in the fall of 1975.

“This is a remarkable achievement when you recognize all the outstanding graduates that Ole Miss has produced in the elite media,” said Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

The Hearst Foundation describes the program purpose as support, encouragement and assistance to journalism education at the college and university level. The program awards scholarships to students for outstanding performance in college-level journalism, with matching grants to the students’ schools.

Hearst Journalism Awards are considered the Pulitzers of collegiate journalism.

This honor absolutely would not have been possible without Mr. Bill Rose, Smith said. He taught the class that produces the Delta Reporting Project, “Land of Broken Dreams” that included the profile on Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia.

“Clancy Smith’s perceptive profile of civil rights icon John Lewis was a powerful, multi-layered look inside the psyche of a man very nearly martyred for the cause,” Rose said.

“In a story laden with symbolism, she told of a man who responded to hate with love, a man who clung to a gospel of hope and forgiveness even when beaten within an inch of his life. It was an artful story, taking readers through Lewis’ childhood then into the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s and finally to the halls of Congress,” Rose said.

“His guidance allowed me to be competitive in a competition that is usually dominated by much larger schools.” Smith said.

“A Meek student placing this high shows that Ole Miss has outstanding professors who work diligently with students outside the classroom as well as in the classroom,” Norton said.

“I’m just so happy that the Meek School of Journalism and New Media is getting recognition for the wonderful program that it is,” Smith said.

Smith, a Saltillo, Mississippi, native will graduate in May and plans to attend the University of Alabama to pursue a master’s degree in Public Relations.

“The one thing I do know is that I want to continue writing in a way that improves the lives of others and helps keep the public knowledgeable about important issues,” she said.


Assistant Professor Alysia Steele talks about her new book

Posted on: April 7th, 2015 by ewrobins

Delta Jewels Cover copy red.Read novelist Alice Randall’s interview with Meek School Assistant Professor Alysia Steel at www.chapter16.0rg. Steele recently published Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.

New Media Conference speaker featured in The Clarion-Ledger

Posted on: April 2nd, 2015 by ewrobins

Read the article at

Berkley Hudson awarded 2015 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

Posted on: April 2nd, 2015 by ewrobins

Read the article at

The Focus Group wins 39 Addy Awards

Posted on: April 1st, 2015 by ewrobins

Buchanan Addy Awards 2.15 croppedMembers of The Focus Group, an integrated marketing, advertising and PR firm in Gulfport, pose with the 39 Addy Awards they received after they swept the show at the Miss. Gulf Coast Advertising Federation’s “Totally Awesome Addys” 80’s-themed awards gala at the IP Casino Resort Spa in Biloxi. The Focus Group is led by Allison Brown Buchanan (B.A. Journalism/PR 1982). Among the 39 awards, they received gold Addys for Best of Show, Art Director of the Year, the Judges’ Choice Award, Best of Interactive, two integrated campaigns, two photography campaigns, two websites, an illustration campaign, a trade publication ad, a television spot :30, a digital advertising campaign and two brochures. The remaining awards were silver Addys for a variety of work ranging from copywriting and brochures, to digital campaigns, TV and illustration. The gold awards will automatically advance to the regional competition.

Left to right: Thomas Broadus, director of interactive and new media; Tara Gerald, lead graphic designer; Samantha McCain, PR and contentmanager; Jamie Gryder, accountant. (back row) William Colgin, photographer; Brenna Aplin, multimedia designer; Brynn Joachim, advertising operations manager; Allison Buchanan, general manager; Cecelia Shabazz, creative director; and Tyler Johnson, web developer.

Meek faculty recognized for online instruction

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by ewrobins
Robin Street

Robin Street

Deb Wenger

Deb Wenger

Deb Wenger, associate professor of journalism, is the winner of the 2014 Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Learning Education. Her course JOUR 102 was selected as an exemplar of online instruction by the award committee.

Wenger will be honored at the ODeL Recognition Luncheon on April 15 at 12 p.m. at the Jackson Avenue Center.  The Paragon includes a $1,000 monetary award.

Additionally, Robin Street, lecturer in journalism, will receive an Honorable Mention for her course JOUR 391, which was rated as an extraordinary course by the committee.

Meek School Professor Joe Atkins publishes fiction novel

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by ewrobins

Joe Atkins croppedRead The Clarion-Ledger’s interview with Professor Joe Atkins about his new novel, “Casey’s Last Stand,” at

Innovation is focus of Ole Miss New Media 2015

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by drwenger

OMNMImageIt’s a rare business that doesn’t see the need to innovate, and the news and information industries have never needed to try new things more than they do now.

“Culture is the key word,” says Hank Price, general manager of WVTM-TV in Birmingham. “It’s very difficult to innovate; the more successful a company is at doing what they currently do, the more difficult it is for them to innovate.”

Price, who is one of the speakers at the Ole Miss New Media Conference (OMNM) on April 9 in The Overby Center Auditorium on the Oxford campus, says that companies often don’t think about innovation until it’s too late. He says media businesses have a tremendous opportunity right now.

“The door is open for anything we want to do,” Price said. “The consumer has never been more willing to accept fresh ideas. It’s a fantastic time to really look at how we can interact with the consumer in ways that are valuable and important.”

In addition to speaking at the conference, Price is one of the authors of a new book about news media management. Called “Managing Today’s Media: Audience First,” he wrote the book with Ole Miss journalism professors Deb Wenger and Samir Husni. It should be available in August of this year.

The OMNM Conference will kick off at 9:30 a.m. with remarks from Lewis D’Vorkin, Forbes Media’s chief product officer, a man responsible for the company’s digital and print platforms, including on desktop, mobile and tablets.

The conference will also feature USA TODAY’s Fred Anklam. Anklam is an Ole Miss graduate who will be receiving the Meek School of Journalism & New Media’s Silver Em Award. The award honors Mississippi journalists who have contributed a great deal to the profession.

Registration for the conference is now open. It costs $50 to attend and includes lunch in the Grove. Price hopes participants will come away understanding one important point.

“The fact is that you can’t innovate without failure. I don’t have any hard numbers, but I would guess looking at my own failure rate, I think it’s about 80 percent. The reality is you have to do a number of things wrong before you find your success.”