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Archive for the ‘Student Work’ Category

Students cover Double Decker Festival for two-state region

Posted on: April 28th, 2016 by drwenger
Oxford's Double Decker Festival 2016 is showcased on TV in the region, thanks to Meek School students.

Oxford’s Double Decker Festival 2016 is showcased on TV in the region, thanks to Meek School students.

As many as 65,000 people poured into Oxford for the 2016 Double Decker Festival, and tens of thousands more got to look in on the fun thanks to a team of Meek School broadcast journalists.

Leah Gibson, Payton Green, Sereena Henderson, Maggie McDaniel, Lacey Russell and Sudu Upadhyay produced stories on the music, the art and the food for WMC-TV in Memphis and WTVA in Tupelo.

“This partnership is a win-win for everyone involved — the university, the students, the community and WTVA. It gives the students valuable, real-world experience, theuniversity one more tool to offer its students, and provides exposure and coverage to the community and the Double-Decker Festival,” said Steve Rogers, news director at WTVA.

Friday night’s story aired on WTVA’s 10 p.m. show and was published on the WMC-TV website with student video airing in that station’s evening broadcast. “We are very excited to work with the next generation of journalists, in our own backyard. We have been very impressed with the students at Ole Miss…their work ethic, their passion, and their love for the industry,” said WMC-TV News Director Tammy Phillips.

Professors Deb Wenger and Nancy Dupont have been working with the students to cover the festival for the past four years, but this year the students coordinated the process all on their own.

“It makes us especially proud to see how well these students handled the whole stressful and complicated process of producing stories on deadline for much bigger audiences than is typical for them,” said Wenger.

Both WMC-TV and WTVA have indicated that they hope to work more with the school’s top students, partnering on additional projects throughout the year.

Meek School student wins logo design contest for international music competition

Posted on: January 11th, 2016 by drwenger

When pianists from around the world are tickling the ivories in Oxford at the 2016 World Championship Old-time Piano Playing Contest this spring, student Rachel Gholson should be tickled about playing a role in the competition’s success.
Gholson designed the festival logo as part of an assignment in her Creative Visual Thinking class, taught by Emily Bowen Moore.

“Ian Hominick from the music department approached me earlier in the semester about having my students design a new logo identity system,” said Moore.  Dozens of students submitted logos, but Gholson’s stood out for Hominick.

“What I liked best about Rachel’s logo was the simplicity and effectiveness of her design.  It was not overly ornate, possesses a striking layout with font and gets the message across in a simple manner.  It is also versatile and can be reworked for different concepts,” he said.

Bowen says the design will be used for promoting the contest across all of their multimedia platforms.

The international piano contest is in its 43rd year, but this is the first time it will be hosted in Oxford.  The festival is set for Memorial Day weekend and will include the university and Oxford communities.

Meek School student writes about flag controversy for NBC

Posted on: October 29th, 2015 by cjoyce

Ann-Marie Herod writes about flag removal for NBC BLK The recent decision to remove the MS state flag from campus thrust Ole Miss once more into the national media spotlight — but this time it was students leading efforts for change, as well as leading media coverage of the events.

In a powerful essay written for NBC News, “Your Heritage is Hate: Take Down the State Flag at Ole Miss,” Meek School student Ann-Marie Herod lamented what the flag has meant for her personally as an ambassador for the university:

“There was a time where we were not wanted at this University. To some that may have been fifty years ago, to others that may have been just a few years ago, and for me it was just last week…every week I face the challenge of convincing students why they should come to Ole Miss. It makes my job ten times harder when I have to convince minority students to see beyond the confederate flags that are literally in every tent during home games.”

Read the full essay here.


Around Farley Hall

Posted on: October 15th, 2015 by mpolito
Lacey Russell (right) and Maggi McDaniel (left), shooting the dabate between Greg Snowden and Michael Bentley. Russell is from Tupelo, Ms, and McDaniels is from Columbus, GA. Russel and McDaniels are studying broadcast Journalism

Lacey Russell (right) and Maggi McDaniel (left), shooting the dabate between Greg Snowden and Michael Bentley. Russell is from Tupelo, Mississippi, and McDaniels is from Columbus, Georgia. Russel and McDaniels are studying broadcast journalism.


Emily Marshall is a senior studying Integrated Marketing Communications. Marshall is on her phone waiting outside for the other class to end.

Emily Marshall, a senior studying integrated marketing communications, waits for a class to end.


Neely studies outside of Farley Hall. She is a print journalism major from Jackson, Mississippi.


Lyndy Berryhill from Brookhaven,MS stopped by the booth to look through the book "Riot". Berryhill is a junior studying journalism.

Lyndy Berryhill from Brookhaven, Mississippi, looks through Ed Meek’s book “Riot.” Berryhill is a junior studying journalism.


Derrick Martin from New Orleans, LA outside of Farley hall talking on the phone and enjoying the nice warm fall weather.

Derrick Martin from New Orleans, Louisiana, sits outside of Farley Hall enjoying the warm, fall weather.


Shelby Dix from Cape Girardeau, MO is reading "All the Presidents men". Dix is in the IMC program and is a senior

Shelby Dix from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, reads “All The President’s Men.” Dix is a senior in the IMC program.


Amber Wright(Left) a and Tierra Woodard(right) are currently a students at Houston High school. Wright and Woodward are attending the MSPA conference 2015. Woodard and Wright are interested in journalism.

Amber Wright (left) a and Tierra Woodard (right), students at Houston High school, attend the 2015 MSPA conference.



Rebecca Fabick is a senior studying Integrated Marketing Communication. Fabick is studying her notes before class.

Rebecca Fabick, a senior studying integrated marketing communication, studies before class.

Photos by Marlen Polito

Environmental agency in Ethiopia working against deforestation

Posted on: May 9th, 2015 by ewrobins

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.

Student-faculty team creates documentary on Ole Miss Engineering project in West Africa

Posted on: December 9th, 2014 by drwenger

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 1.09.21 PMIn January 2014, two Engineering Without Borders (EWB) teams from the School of Engineering at Ole Miss returned to Togo, West Africa, to complete a school they started building for the people of the Hedome village a year before. Ole Miss Meek School of Journalism and New Media student journalist Sudu Upadhyay and professor Nancy Dupont followed the team to the West African country to document their work. Here is Sudu’s documentary that chronicles EWB’s work and tells a remarkable story of a minister trying to help his people.

The EWB organization will be returning to Togo in 2015 to work on a medical clinic for the village.  For more information about the program, contact the engineering school’s assistant dean, Marni Kendricks,


White Mayors Win On Black Votes

Posted on: December 3rd, 2014 by ewrobins

Nowadays it’s about green – not black and white.


Dr. Clyde Glenn had lived in Clarksdale for four years. So in 2002, the 46-year-old psychiatrist had an idea: applying for membership at the Clarksdale Country Club, he reasoned, would get him more involved with his community.

But, much to his surprise, he was rejected. It wasn’t for lack of money. It wasn’t for lack of education. It was for something else: He was black.

Flash forward 12 years later. An elderly black man wearing a denim jacket and frayed jeans walks into the mayor’s office.

“Coley, come on in. Is there something I can do for you?”

“Yes, Mr. Luckett. Some drug dealers shot up my street last night. They shot up my truck and now I can’t make it to my house-painting job. I just wondered if the police had had a chance to come by yet?” says Coley White.

Mayor Bill Luckett pivots on his chair, grabs a phone and calls the police department.

“Can you get a detective out to 1450 Choctaw?” he asks.

The mayor’s response did not go unnoticed by his visitor, who later explained how a white mayor got elected in a community 70 percent black.

“Before Mr. Luckett, we had a black mayor,” said White. “But from the people’s point of view, he was never doing anything to help the people. Whenever you wanted his help, he was never around. So a lot of us worked really hard to get Mr. Luckett elected.”

It didn’t always work that way.

In Clarksdale and throughout the Mississippi Delta, race has long been a topic of heated discussion and an intractable problem. For generations, black voters were in electoral chains and a kind of apartheid system had evolved: white mayors, boards of supervisors, school superintendents, police chiefs and sheriffs occupied the Delta’s most prominent public positions decade after decade.

Then came 1965 — and with it, passage of the federal Voting Rights Act. Empowered with full citizenship rights for the first time, the Delta’s heavily black electorate slowly began leveling the political landscape: They started electing black mayors, city councilmen, aldermen, commissioners, boards of supervisors and sheriffs.

But now, a half century after passage of the Voting Rights Act, significant change has swept across the Delta. For much of the last decade, black voters in some communities have elected white mayors.

Today, the Delta’s five largest cities — Clarksdale, Greenwood, Greenville, Indianola and Cleveland — all have white mayors. The reason: Black voters have become more color-blind, more concerned with electing people who can fix potholes, sweep up trash, take out junker cars and shore up dilapidated housing.

As black empowerment across the Delta seasoned and became reality, more voters matured in their ways of thinking and at the ballot box.

“I think some people realized that just being black is not a good qualifier for anything —nor is being white,” said Luckett. “They started looking for quality people with leadership skills, and what’s happened (in the mayoral races) in the Delta is that whites are being elected because they are the better-qualified candidates at that particular time.”

*     *     *

It’s December 2012, and the streets of downtown Greenville are awash in holiday cheer. Mayor John Cox motors along the parade route, his wife, Lynn, at his side. As they cruise toward the levee, his car reaches the peak of a hill. Cox can see all the way down Washington Avenue, can see sidewalks crammed with residents.

“Can you believe this?” he asks his wife.

It’s Greenville’s biggest Christmas parade in half a century.

A year later, Greenville’s Hot Tamale Festival morphed from a one-day event to a three-day festival with more than 8,000 people clogging the streets to celebrate the popular cuisine.

“I really think that those kinds of events started changing the attitudes of groups,” said Cox. “They help everybody feel good about themselves and about Greenville and about the fact that color and race are just no part of this.”

But that wasn’t always the case.

In the 1920s, Greenville experienced its share of tense racial history. After the historic 1927 flood, the Delta was underwater. Thousands of black people lived in tents amid squalid conditions on the Greenville levee. There were complaints of discrimination as white farmers sought to keep their sharecroppers on the levee rather than allow them to be moved someplace else. They feared they might not come back if they were moved out of the county. Those complaints eventually led to a federal investigation.

Despite these shortcomings, Greenville long has been noted for a kind of liberal progressiveness. Black residents got jobs in downtown stores, its police department integrated and the schools desegregated—all earlier than other Delta communities. The city even came to be known as the “rest stop” for weary civil rights workers throughout the 1960s.

By 2011, that progressive mindset led to a different type of change. That year, Cox was elected mayor of Greenville’s 33,000 residents. He triumphed over a black opponent, Carl McGee, winning 57.5 percent of the vote in a city where 78 percent of the voters are black.

“In the Delta, it used to be about race. Not now,” said Greenville contractor Willie Sullivan. “It’s about who can bring money to town and is the best qualified candidate. Nowadays, it’s about green—not black and white.”

Or as Cox puts it: “Black and white people can get past race if there is a trust factor that they have about the candidate. A lot of politicians think it’s all about them. This is not about me. This is about Greenville.”

*     *     *

Across the Delta, similar seeds are taking root. And in many of those places, accessibility seems linked to mayoral popularity. For example, in Greenwood, Mayor Carolyn McAdams initially had little knowledge of where the mayoral boundaries were drawn.

Then one afternoon, during her first term, a black man walked into her office.

“I could tell he was real upset, you know, very emotional,” recalled McAdams.

So she walked out and asked how she could help.

“I need to see the mayor,” he said.

“Well, that would be me,” she replied.

The man then told her how his wife had left him the night before, wringing his hands as he spoke.

“I need somebody to tell me what to do,” he finally said.

Go see a preacher or a therapist, she suggested. But the man wanted her personal advice.

“Well, you know, sir, I’ve been in your shoes before,” she told him. “And I did go to my priest, and then I went and got help from somebody who was very objective and didn’t take sides.”

Two weeks later, the man returned.

“That was the greatest advice,” he told her. “I don’t know that I’m going to get my wife back, but now I’m straightening my life out.”

McAdams said these impromptu encounters have become typical, part of her job, and she welcomes them.

But in Greenwood, like many other Delta towns, that hasn’t always been so.

Once upon a time, this Delta community of 15,000 symbolized an ugly racial history. It was the hometown of Klansman Byron De La Beckwith, who killed Medgar Evers. In 1963, the city made The New York Times’ front page after civil rights activist Bob Moses led hundreds of residents to the Leflore County Courthouse, protesting the shooting of a young activist, Jimmy Travis. They were met by politicians and snarling dogs. The Times’ headline the next day read: “Police Loose Dog on Negroes’ Group, Minister is Bitten.”

But as the decades unfolded, an air of change began to sweep across Greenwood, culminating in 2009 when McAdams got 56 percent of the mayoral votes, beating out the black incumbent, Sheriel Perkins. In 2013, that change continued as McAdams won again, this time with 52 percent.

“There’s still room for growth. There’s still room for improvement,” said Tim Kalich, publisher of The Greenwood Commonwealth. “We still are too focused on race more than we should be. But it’s worlds different than it was 50 years ago.”

And looking down the road, the mayor hopes it stays that way.

“Black, white, green, yellow, at the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter because we’re all going to be here,” said Mayor McAdams. “I mean, I’m going to be here until I die, so I want Greenwood to sustain itself as a city. It can’t do that with just one race.”

*      *     *

Sometimes, it seems, the personal relationships mayors have formed with voters have made more of a difference in election years than race.

In Indianola, Mayor Steve Rosenthal attributes his election victory to his deep city roots. In 1913, his grandfather started a clothing store in Indianola called Ben Fried’s.

“We used to joke that we go from birth to burial. We had christening gowns, and I sold suits for the local funeral home,” said Rosenthal, who was born and raised in Indianola.

That position allowed Rosenthal to form relationships throughout Indianola, from the wealthiest in town to the most impoverished neighborhoods.

“When Indianola was 60 percent African-American, that was my business: 60-40,” he said. “When we became 75-25, that was my business. So as the population shifted, so did my business base because our store was moderate, middle-of-the-road merchandise.”

However, merely being friends with everyone wasn’t enough. After the family business burned down in 2001, he realized he had an opportunity to speak out about a troubling political climate.

“Typically, when you’re in retail, especially in a small town, you stay as politically neutral as you can,” he said. “But after I got out of the retail business, there were a lot of things I was frustrated about that I was not able to take action upon publicly.”

Those frustrations centered on financial control of the city and its failing school systems. In 2006, before Rosenthal decided to run for office, then-Mayor Arthur Marble encouraged the Board of Aldermen to approve a 60 percent pay hike for him and a 50 percent raise for the board. They did so in an executive session, and at the next board meeting, an angry crowd gathered at City Hall in an uproar over the increased salaries. Marble publicly admitted that the raise was meant to boost his retirement benefits, but that didn’t quell the town’s outrage.

Rosenthal felt the need to step up. He also believed the city’s largely black public school system was rapidly deteriorating.

“I didn’t feel, at the time, that the administration was equipped to run a system of that size,” said Rosenthal.

But the white community wasn’t interested in helping.

“They had pretty much said, ‘That’s your all’s school. We’ll do other things.’ But I felt like we needed to be involved,” Rosenthal said. “Whether their children are attending or not, the future of Indianola is dependent on a quality public school education.”

Dissatisfaction with Indianola schools has long been a community issue. In 1986, black residents boycotted Indianola’s businesses after the school board selected a white man, W.A. Grissom, as superintendent of a system in which 97 percent of the students were black. The boycott lasted 37 days until Grissom’s contract was bought out, and Robert Merritt, a principal of 16 years, became the system’s first black superintendent.

In a city that gave birth to the White Citizen’s Council — a group dedicated to enforcing segregation — Mayor Rosenthal, who is Jewish, won the 2009 election with 76 percent of the vote in a city where 80 percent of the citizens are black. Then he won again in 2013.

“People chose Mayor Rosenthal because they weren’t satisfied with the predecessor,” said Ben Gaston, general manager of the Indianola Super Valu. “It wasn’t a black-white issue. Steve is well-known throughout the community and people trust him.”

The mayor agrees – then frames the issue in a larger context.

“Now we’re seeing that race is not the deciding factor — that people are choosing people,” he said. “So we’re getting back to what democracy’s all about — freedom of choice and not choosing based on race.”

*     *     *

When the Voting Rights Act was passed, white leaders warned that black voters would only vote for black candidates. That may have been mostly true in the beginning, but the claim was undermined over the years when black support kept re-electing a handful of long-time white officials in each county.

The theory was finally and emphatically debunked again in a dramatic way in June of this year when long-time U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, a Republican, was forced into a runoff by Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. The challenger, an ultra-conservative, had been an honored speaker at gatherings of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and had railed against government spending and Obamacare, both of which are dear to the hearts of poor blacks in the Delta.

In the runoff, black Democrats by the thousands rushed to the polls to vote for Cochran, who won by a little over 8,000 votes. Both candidates’ camps agree that all those black Delta votes made the difference.

 *     *     *

Being a white mayor, of course, doesn’t guarantee you’re better than a black mayor.

And sometimes, just as black officials were occasionally hounded by claims that they ignored white constituents, white office holders are finding that they aren’t exempt from racial controversy, either.

In Greenville, Cox came under fire when he was featured in a NBC Today report highlighting academic struggles at a local middle school. He said socio-economic reasons were part of why local schools weren’t integrated. He also said he didn’t send his two daughters to public school because “it was not up to what I felt they should have.”

Black state Sen. Derrick Simmons quickly called for an apology. The senator’s twin brother, Greenville Councilman Errick Simmons, called for the mayor to resign and engineered a no-confidence vote in the council that broke down along racial lines.

Since then, Cox has said he supports public schools and will work with school officials to improve academic performance.

And in Clarksdale, race often is still stage center at city commission meetings. Commissioner Buster Moton, who is black, has made clear his animosity toward Luckett.

“The only thing that really needs to happen is that the mayor needs to be fair,” Moton said in an interview. “We made phone calls and got him elected. Then he turned right around and spit in our faces.

“The way Bill is doing things around here — it’s like he’s trying to put black people back in chains.”

Those remarks draw a sharp rebuke from the mayor, who has worked to reduce crime and remove dilapidated buildings besides using his own money to help rekindle commerce in downtown Clarksdale through blues shops and restaurants.

“He’s called me all kinds of things,” said Luckett. “He’s called me a Republican, a racist, a one-term mayor, a slave driver … It doesn’t feel good being called a racist. People can suggest it, but it’s simply not true. I look at people’s character and abilities and I try to completely overlook color. I think the best policy is to move right on past it.”

And based on the votes, Luckett has widespread support throughout the Delta community of about 18,000. In the 2013 Clarksdale election, he swept to office in a landslide, capturing 70 percent of the vote and taking all four wards.

Some days, it seems nearly impossible to grasp the dramatic changes in Clarksdale that native son Luckett has seen in his 66 years.

“When we were all kids growing up here, no white people ever crossed the tracks unless it was to buy tamales or pick up their maid,” Luckett said. “But a lot of that has changed. In many neighborhoods, blacks and whites now live next door to one another.”

And some days, it’s just as hard for Coley White to grasp those same changes.

“Nowadays,” he said, “a lot of people really aren’t into that color thing. We’ll vote for who we think can get the job done. Period.”

Journalism Innovation class experiments with Google Glass

Posted on: November 10th, 2014 by drwenger

KendricksGlassTechnology keeps changing the way journalists tell stories and that has students in Professor Deb Wenger’s Journalism Innovation class experimenting with Google Glass this semester.  The Web-enabled eyewear has been used by professional journalists to cover breaking events such as the Ferguson, Missouri, riots and feature stories such as NBA Draft Day through the eyes of Victor Oladipo.

Students were challenged to come up with stories that took advantage of the unique “point of view” video that Glass wearers can provide.  For example, Ashleigh Culpepper and her partner Sarah Douglass had USA pole vault champion Sam Kendricks wear Glass during a practice session.

“The Google Glass story was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” said Culpepper, “being a pole vaulter myself I never have seen pole vaulting in slow motion. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

Journalism students Nicole Bounds and Gabriel Austin asked a dancer with RIOULT Dance NY to wear Glass during a rehearsal at the Ford Center with somewhat dizzying results.

“The most challenging thing is explaining to someone how to work Glass,” said Bounds. “I think it is especially hard because you can’t see what they are seeing on the Glass screen, which makes it hard to explain what to do next. With Glass, only the person wearing Glass can see the screen.”

Wenger says the class is designed to expose journalism students to the latest trends in journalism practice and hopes these experiments will help students understand what’s possible, as well as what’s effective, when it comes to the use of new technologies.

“You have to play around with tech and think through its applications before you can use it as an effective storytelling tool,” said Wenger. “These stories aren’t perfect, but producing them contributed to the learning process that every good journalist has to go through these days.”

3 Things Bleacher Report did to rebrand

Posted on: November 10th, 2014 by drwenger
Photo by Gabriel Austin.

Photo by Gabriel Austin.

When the sports website Bleacher Report first started in 2007, it was considered something of a joke in the world of sports journalism. Just about anyone could sign up and be a “reporter” for the then upstart site.

“Bleacher Report began as a platform — give us your email and you start writing,” said Bleacher Report writing program manager King Kaufman. Kaufman says the founders were simply looking for a way to give diehard fans a way to get more information about their individual teams than ESPN and other sports sites were providing.

Now, seven years later, Kaufman, who came to the Meek School to recruit writers, says Bleacher Report has made three key changes:

1.  Better Writing

Since Bleacher Report let almost anyone with a keyboard and Internet access write for the site at first, the content wasn’t very strong, nor was it very reliable. As the years have progressed, Kaufman says Bleacher Report has moved on from focusing on website traffic alone to increasing the amount of quality material that’s being posted on the website.

Along the way, the path to becoming a contributor to Bleacher Report has become much more difficult.  According to its website only 15 percent of applicants are hired, but Kaufman says not everyone has recognized the change.

“Your reputation lags behind reality. You’re not going to convince anyone that you’re awesome; you just have to show them. People will figure it out. There are influencers who catch on…it’s a slow process,” said Kaufman.

2.  More Training

Many of the most popular writers for Bleacher Report are not trained journalists, so Bleacher Report has instituted an in-house training program. “Newsroom education” is how Kaufman describes it.

3.  Rethinking the Numbers

“On the other side, we used data to learn what people wanted to read about,” Kaufman said. By catering to exactly what people are talking about, Bleacher Report has continued to have high volume traffic on their website and mobile app.

Kaufman says the goal now is to get people to come back more often and to give them the the best reader experience possible when they do.

Today, Bleacher Report is one of the top sports sites around. Bleacher Reports now ranks second, only to ESPN, in both unique desktops viewers and unique mobile viewers.

Kaufman was at the University of Mississippi to promote Bleacher Report’s Advanced Education Programs.  The paid programs in sports writing and editing are open to undergraduate and graduate students.

This story was contributed by Gabriel Austin, a broadcast journalism major.