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Westboro Baptist Church came to Oxford May 18, to protest the movie The Blind Side and the Ole Miss fans’ love of football.
Student journalist Jared Senseman covered the event for HottyToddy.com.
Five broadcast journalism students put their multimedia skills to the test during Oxford’s 18th Annual Double Decker Festival. Under the direction of professors Nancy Dupont and Deb Wenger, the team went to work for both WTVA-TV in Tupelo and HottyToddy.com in Oxford, covering events that began as early as 7:30 a.m. and working well past the end of the 6 p.m. newscast on WTVA.
The students also felt the pressure of real-time reporting with additional requirements to tweet story updates and photos, as well as to write text pieces for the Hotty Toddy website.
This is the second year in a row that Meek School students have covered the festival for WTVA. C.J. LeMaster, who anchors and produces the WTVA weekend shows, says the station is happy to work with the students and he enjoys helping them get the experience they’ll need to succeed on the job.
“It’s a humbling experience for me. Not that long ago, I was in their shoes, trying to learn as much as I could. No matter how young or ‘green’ you are as a journalist, you have to start somewhere, and someone has to give you that break, that chance to prove yourself,” said LeMaster. “It’s an honor and a privilege to help these students get some real feedback and experience in the industry.”
Graduating senior Stephen Quinn woke up before the sun to cover the Double Decker Spring Run. He found dozens of participants dedicating their miles to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Students Brittani Acuff and Stewart Pirani focused one story on festival food for the HottyToddy website and another on a Tupelo artist for the WTVA Sunday newscast.
Brandon Rook found out why so many people come back to Double Decker year after year for his piece which aired on WTVA’s 10 p.m. show on Saturday night.
But it may have been Bracey Harris who had the most fun covering the Square Fair for Kids where the younger set had a blast with the space-themed amusements.
Harris appreciated the chance to learn about working under deadline pressure.
“Today gave me experience that can only be gained outside of the classroom. I am fortunate to have guidance from Meek School faculty even when the week ends,” said Harris. “I found myself challenged and even frustrated at times, but the lesson was worth it. Field work is organized chaos, but I survived and am better prepared for the future because of it.”
It took four platoons of ROTC cadets, about a dozen Arabic-speaking students and a team of ten Meek School reporters to pull off Operation Rebel Charge on April 25. Ole Miss ROTC took over the Whirlpool Trails on the edge of campus in their final field exercise of the year.
Four students from Prof. Deb Wenger’s advanced TV reporting class embedded with the platoons and learned something about what it’s like to rely on the very people you’re covering, not only for information, but for safety.
“I think the journalism students also got an entirely new perspective on how much preparation it takes to effectively cover stories about war and issues of national security,” said Wenger. “Students got a crash course in how essential research is when it comes to conducting good interviews.”
For their part, the cadets learned how to handle tough questions from the media — getting practice in how to share information without over-stepping their bounds as representatives of the military and without giving away details that would put troops at risk.
The ROTC’s Lt. Col. Nate Minami spearheaded the effort to bring in, not only journalism students, but also student studying Arabic at Ole Miss. The Arabic language students played the role of villagers with whom the cadets had to work to secure an area within the fictional land of Atropia. The cadets learned how to work through an interpreter and the Arabic students got to practice both their speaking and translation skills.
The exercise was made as real as possible, featuring mock explosive devices, enemy combatants and a race against time. Journalism students also got a chance to explore some of the issues facing today’s military, such as the move to allow women to take part in combat someday soon.
Even some of the first-year journalism students got a chance to get involved. Students in Wenger’s multimedia writing course took part in the news conference that wrapped up the exercise.
“It was actually kind of fun,” said Katie Lovett.
A car wreck on I-55, an armed robbery and a significant court case — how can one person cover them all? Lekitha Terrell, an assignment editor at WJTV in Jackson, Miss., has been in the journalism industry for eight years and says that without sources to help you find accurate information, those stories won’t make the air. So, how can new journalists build their sources? Terrell says persistence is key.
“On a daily basis you have to contact the same people. I know it may seem like you’re getting on their nerves but it really does pay off,” says Terrell. It doesn’t take long to make your name recognizable, if you are willing to work at it, according to Terrell.
School officials, police departments, sheriff dispatchers or court workers are all potential sources for a journalist. Once a journalist proves to be trustworthy, the information will come more frequently says Terrell.
Melanie Christopher has been an anchor or reporter in the Jackson market for more than 25 years. She says that journalists must be two people when it comes to sources.
“You have to be compassionate, but at the same time you’re there to do your job,” says Christopher.
She says a journalist has to be friendly enough to get on a personal level with a source so he can feel comfortable and information will flow more freely. At the same time, the journalist must maintain a professional relationship. Christopher says that all too often she will witness a new reporter trying to badger a source for information. She says this can be effective for that one story, but more than likely, that source will not come to that reporter again with a story.
Christopher also says reporters should keep their ears open because anyone can be a source. What she calls a “hearsay” tip can occasionally lead to a “scoop.”
Many new reporters will enter the job market in May and some may worry that their youth will work against them when it comes to building sources. Christopher says it shouldn’t be a problem.
“It’s all about how bad you want it. Your age won’t matter. A county official can tell if you have come to get the story and will treat you as professional as you act.”
Lauren McLaughlin is a senior in broadcast journalism who completed an internship at WJTV.
Students in Dr. Mark K. Dolan’s media history class this fall produced multimedia pieces focusing on voices seldom heard, but that are part of our campus identity. The goal was to have students interview a person unlike themselves in some fundamental way and to give that person a voice through multimedia storytelling, creating their own first draft of history with an eye towards diversity.
Thousands of miles away in Africa, Ole Miss students are having an impact.
The Ole Miss chapter of Engineers Without Borders traveled to Lomé, Togo on an engineering mission trip August 6-13. The team of eight consisted of three faculty members and five students, including the Meek School’s Dr. Nancy Dupont and student Norman Seawright, who traveled with the engineering group to document their efforts.
“The trip to Togo with the Ole Miss Engineers Without Borders chapter was so much more than Norman Seawright and I thought it would be. We knew Togo had needs, but we were not prepared for the level of poverty we saw,” said Dupont. “At the same time, we were stunned by the beauty and friendliness of the people and the way they welcomed visitors who had come to help. It was the experience of a lifetime. ”
Seawright is producing three stories for NewsWatch, the student-run newscast at Ole Miss. He is also working with Dupont and other Meek School faculty on a documentary.
The local Engineers Without Borders is currently in the middle of a fundraising campaign to return to Togo in August 2013 to begin work on their selected project. To help support their efforts, you can make a donation online, or you can participate in Trot for Togo, a 5K run/walk that takes place on Dec. 1 in Oxford.
The plan to construct a new school will take thousands of dollars, but a new building could have a major impact on the educational capabilities of the area.
For more information, please contact Dr. Cris Surbeck, Department of Civil Engineering, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freshman Ann-Marie Herod’s interview with junior Tim Abram for PBS NewsHour Extra’s “Listen to Me” series focuses on the most important issues in the election year, whether or not political system is broken. This is her first national story and part of a series of videos being produced in Dr. Mark K. Dolan’s media history class on alternative campus voices.
Watch the interview on YouTube.
“I was making a lot of money, but it wasn’t what I wanted,” said Pritchett, who says he got in on the ground floor of the dot.com boom and then went into mortgage lending before that industry blew up.
About a year ago, he decided to radically change his life and launched a magazine. Blindfold is what Pritchett calls “socially conscious.” Published in Boca Raton, Fla., Blindfold hit the newsstands in March and now issue No. 4 is in the works.
“Barnes and Noble bought the first issue for every store,” said Pritchett. He said the latest publication went to all Whole Foods stores and is nearly sold out.
The magazine and its focus is very much influenced by Pritchett’s years growing up. For example, one reason that Blindfold is visually rich, is that Pritchett was captivated by photos as a child.
“That became my first love: photography- a movie inside a picture,” said Pritchett.
And why the socially conscious theme? Pritchett says he went through a phase where he wanted to be Gandhi, even dressing like the man on Halloween and sometimes giving up food.
“I fasted for all of three hours and I would tell me parents I wouldn’t eat until they bought me a toy,” said Pritchett with a laugh.
Pritchett was speaking at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media as part of the ACT Experience. The conference is sponsored by the Magazine Innovation Center, founded by Dr. Samir Husni.
Pritchett says his magazine fills a niche for those who are interested in changing the world. The Blindfold theme of the magazine fits with that goal of raising the audience’s social consciousness.
“We always make the last picture in our magazine someone with a blindfold still on. It symbolizes that a lot of people are still blind.”
This story was crowd sourced by students in JOUR 102 Introduction to Multimedia Writing. Contributions by Nick Finch, Frances Phillips, Victoria Mekus and Drew Moak.
By Jennifer Peterson
Dr. Carrie Brown-Smith, a journalism professor from the University of Memphis, hosted a session called “Social Media Boot Camp” to kick off Meek Week.
“I think it is a really exciting time [to be a journalist] because we have all these tools like Twitter at our disposal,” she said.
Brown-Smith recommends Twitter as a tool for every journalist. She says that it is an easy, interactive instrument that allows people to both take the pulse about what people are talking about and to collectively participate in that discussion as well.
“There are literally over a hundred New York Times [reporters] who are using Twitter every day in their news process,” she said.
Social media has allowed many news companies to reach much larger audiences, something that Brown-Smith says was much more difficult to do in earlier times. It also allows companies to potentially reach more diverse audiences. For example, African Americans use the social media approximately twice as much as whites, according to Brown-Smith.
Brown-Smith said that the first and most obvious use of Twitter for a journalist is breaking news. She emphasized the fact that social media is changing the way news breaks and said that many of the most recent front page stories, such as the death of Whitney Houston, were first broken on Twitter. Because of an effort to distribute breaking news to as many audiences as possible, Brown-Smith said that some news companies are even re-tweeting their competitors.
But, Brown-Smith says, the fact-checking process should follow the same standards as traditional media – especially if you plan on retweeting someone else’s information.
“A tweet is no different than anything else. You gotta check it out,” she said.
Although the Twitter process is hard work, Brown-Smith doesn’t recommend giving up. She says that an online community is not built in a day or even a year, but that it is achievable.
“Keep plugging away,” she advises, “Consistency over time does drive you to have a following.”
On Oct. 1, administrators, students, faculty and guests honored James Meredith and his historic walk into history as the man who integrated Ole Miss 50 years ago.
The walk was lead by civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, who also spoke to a packed house at the university’s Ford Center.
Media came from across the country and around the world to cover the events, including CBS News, the New York Times and BBC radio.
Ole Miss is remembering the 50th anniversary of integration, but amid the speeches and ceremonies, some details of that historic day may be lost.
Reporters Margaret Anderson, Brittany Shields, and Kaylah Johnson retraced James Meredith’s steps on his first day of class and found a story of fear, courage, and hope.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Ford Center on the 50th anniversary of the riot that changed Ole Miss forever. As the university paused to reflect on the years following the enrollment of James Meredith, broadcast journalism students covered the event for NewsWatch.
Reporter Stephen Quinn explored the pride some members of the university community are feeling and the promise that others are making.
The ceremony included a spiritual component, and reporter Gerard Manogin talked with local clergy about the role of religion in this historical event.
And James Meredith paved the way for thousands of students who came after him. Reporter Margaret Ann Morgan shows us how the event looked through the eyes of an African-American student.
Photojournalism students at the Meek School found themselves listening to a living history lesson, as witnesses to the integration process at Ole Miss spoke about their experiences. The event was part of the university’s “50 Years of Integration” project, a year-long exploration of James Meredith’s enrollment in 1962 and its impact then and now.
Jan Humber Robertson is a former managing editor of the Daily Mississippian. She described what it was like to be a journalist at the scene.
“I went up to a highway patrolman, and I looked up on the building, Old Chemistry, and saw a man with a rifle on the roof… and I went up to a highway patrolman and I said, ‘There is a man with a hunting rifle on the roof of that building… I just saw him.’ He turns around and literally patted me on the head and said, ‘Don’t you worry your pretty little head about that little girl.’ He didn’t even turn around and look up at the roof, I think he was afraid that he might see him,” said Robertson.
Other panelists described walking over the wounded at the Lyceum and of hearing the tear gas canisters popping while they tried to listen to President Kennedy on the television set, calling for calm.
Humber Robertson said she was proud of the work done by the Daily Mississippian that year, and she stated that the FBI had praised the student paper for providing accurate reporting on the events leading up to and following Meredith’s enrollment.
“My father tried to withdraw me from Ole Miss, but I did not go home until Thanksgiving. I had seen so many lies about what happened here. I knew that I wanted to be a journalist; I had a responsibility to study and do what I could to print what I witnessed, what was actually happening,” said Humber Robertson.
The students captured the memories of the panelists in a series of quotes and photos.
Many students find themselves producing run-of-the-mill pieces for class assignments, but in the advanced TV reporting course, students Joel Kight and Kayla Johnson had a chance to record a bit of Ole Miss history.
The student body voted in Courtney Pearson as the first black homecoming queen ever at the university. The story originally aired on NewsWatch, Ch. 99.
“Even though the Memphis television stations and some local newspapers covered the homecoming queen election, this is her first student media interview,” said Dr. Nancy Dupont, who teaches the reporting class.
Thanks in part to Meek School student Anna Ellingburg, who co-produced a live online video discussion for the New York Times, two Oxford residents were able to join in on a roundtable discussion led by Op-Ed columnist Frank Bruni about key issues for women voters in the 2012 presidential election.
Cristen Hemmins and Mary Beth Mobley were joined by four other women voters from around the country to discuss the candidates’ positions on several key issues, including abortion, rape and women’s rights in the workplace. You can watch the discussion below.
Working with Dr. Andy Harper, director of the Media and Documentary Projects at Ole Miss, and covering topics ranging from Christian fraternities to dog breeding, students in last semester’s Journalism 580/IMC 509 class produced several documentary shorts, several of which you can view here.
The below video was produced by Meek grad school student Jajuan McNeil:
In this tweeting, liking, posting world, WLBT in Jackson, Miss. is trying to stand out. Throughout the Raycom-owned newsroom are signs reminding everyone to engage the viewer all day on the website, mobile app, Twitter and Facebook.
Charley Jones, executive producer for WLBT, says social media is a bridge to information.
“It’s this personal device right here,” Jones said pulling out his iPhone, “that’s the first bridge you have to cross.”
Jones explained that WLBT’s goal is to carry viewers from social media platforms over to the television set.
Bob Burks, the director of new media at WLBT, is tasked with bringing the station to screens beyond the television. He has overseen the development of an app for mobile users and is instrumental in regularly updating WLBT’s website and Facebook presence.
Recently, the newsroom managers started requiring newscast producers to update the station’s Web and social media presence, as well. Some producers divide their time between updating social media platforms and preparing for their shows.
Darrell Brown, who is the producer for the 6 p.m. broadcast, comes in at 1 p.m. and puts together that day’s show. After 6:30 p.m., he then works on posting stories to the Web and Facebook.
All producers have to include a “Web push,” which urges viewers to read more about the story on the WLBT website. They also are required to have a social media push for Facebook and Twitter.
WLBT community Web producer, Morgan Carlson, is a recent graduate of the University of Florida. While there she paid attention to the influence that social media was beginning to have on the news industry and took classes that emphasized writing for the Web to prepare.
“I was lucky enough to be in a journalism program that realized they had to switch focus,” she said.
She stressed that it is important that journalism students pick up as many skills as they can and gain as much experience as possible.
One thing that has surprised Carlson is how many of their viewers check Facebook first. She said that it is common for viewers to comment that a certain story is not on Facebook, even though it is posted to the station’s website.
However, where the audience goes for the station’s content is not the real issue. Carlson says the goal is for people to say, “They saw it [the story] on a WLBT platform.”
Although, she works the typical eight hours, five days a week, she along with Burks, producers and reporters ensure that social media is monitored and updated 24-7.
For example, when a major accident occurred involving an 18-wheeler and a pickup truck, Carlson worked off the clock in order to update the story on the Web and social media. WLBT was the first station to have the story posted on the Web and to a mobile app.
The debate over how to use tools such as Facebook and Twitter without losing story quality is a concern for the journalistic community. One hundred and forty characters don’t provide enough room for a full explanation, and there is no guarantee that readers will click over from social media to the website, watch a newscast or buy a newspaper or magazine.
For now, though, it appears that a news outlet that wishes to be successful in today’s market cannot thrive without social media.
Bracey Harris is a journalism major who took part in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s inaugural newscast producing internship program. She and three other students spent 6-8 weeks at Jackson television stations, learning how to craft a newscast and producing their own shows. To apply for the summer 2013 internship, please contact Deb Wenger: email@example.com.
More than 60 University of Mississippi students have taken part in service-learning projects in Belize over the past couple of years. This year, five journalism majors were part of a group of 24 students who traveled to Belize for Winter Intersession courses. They spent most of their time in San Mateo, a small community on the island of Ambergris Caye in northern Belize, where residents struggle to survive without electricity, roads, running water, decent housing and sewage systems.
UM Journalism students produced a magazine and TV series based on their Study Abroad experience, and a TV series. You can download that magazine for free here. The link to the TV series is available in the table of contents in the magazine.
In his recently published book, “Buttonless: Incredible iPhone And iPad Games,” Ole Miss sophomore Ryan Rigneylooks at the genesis behind more than 65 titles for Apple’s iOS platform, such as Canabalt, Angry Birds, Words With Friends and more. In a chapter excerpted on the gaming site Gamasutra.com, Rigney look at the unusual story of Nimble Strong, a game inspired by Cooking Mama, Phoenix Wright, and New York City cocktail culture:
So here’s the story: you’re a total screw-up. You’ve lost both your wife and your best friend, and you have no job. Somehow you manage to land your sorry self a position as a bartender at a local pub. The only problem is, you have no idea how to mix drinks — ANY drinks. Fortunately, outside knowledge of cocktail mixing isn’t required because your patrons will happily teach you how to make them.
During the game your customers will saunter up, tell their stories (which are usually pretty interesting, surprisingly enough), and order drinks. There are over 70 drinks in the game, and the ingredients are all at your disposal. In order to make the requested drink you’ll have to know the actual recipe, and that’s where your patrons come in handy.
The rest of your challenge is pouring the correct amount of each ingredient into a glass, which you do by holding anywhere on the screen. The goal is to pour just the right amount in one try, and that can sometimes be pretty difficult. Nimble Strong: Bartender in Training is educational and entertaining, since it’s essentially a bartending class wrapped up in a fun, Phoenix Wright-style puzzle game.
You can read the full chapter here.
The Oxford Parks Commission has 766 kids participating in youth soccer this season, a dramatic increase over the past four years. As Norman Seawright shows us, the benefits of the sport go beyond fun and games. Produced by Norman Seawright & Ross Lyell.
Students in Dr. Nancy Dupont’s Journalism 300: Media Performance course produced an introductory tour of historic sites on the Ole Miss campus and around Oxford.
Stephen Quinn: The James Meredith statue
Stephen Quinn: The Confederate statue
Norman Seawright: The Confederate Cemetery
Brittani Acuff: The Grove
Kirby Barkley: Rowan Oak
By Betsy Lynch, Ashley Lance, and Stephanie Konkle
The University of Mississippi’s Big Event is taking place on March 31, and it serves as a way of bringing Ole Miss and the Oxford community together through service.
The idea of having one big day of community service originally began at Texas A&M and has since spread across colleges all throughout the Southeastern Conference.
This year Ole Miss hosts its second annual Big Event and expects for it to be even more successful than last year.
According senior public policy major and The Big Event’s Director of Registration and Placement Marianna Breland, “We have it set up where no one can schedule events or spring parties or anything to go on this day, because we really want this to be that big of a deal.”
However, though the student led Big Event team has been so successful in encouraging students to register to volunteer, with three weeks left for registrations and over 2,700 students already signed up, logistical issues have arisen.
Representing the campus side of Big Event coordination, Breland says, “But now we’ve realized, especially the student recruiting directors, that they’ve done such a good job that now we have to get projects.”
While The Big Event is composed of mostly student volunteers, the city of Oxford is playing a large role in establishing worksites and managing the students.
In an effort to support The Big Event, Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson is heading up his on workforce that will participate in the community service project.
However, according to Patterson, there have been challenges.
“We have some, not issues that’s too strong, but there are some challenges in managing two thousand of y’all,” said Patterson.
Even so, Patterson and campus directors have faith that the event will be a great success and have a positive impact on both the Ole Miss and Oxford communities.
“We’re going to have a good time, we’re going to work hard, and it’s going to be a good thing for the community. And I hope that it’s good for the students as well,” said Patterson.
For more information on The Big Event and how to get involved, visit The Big Event’s website.
BY ROSS LYELL AND MAGGIE DAY
With graduation drawing near, students of the Ole Miss class of 2012 are signing names, stuffing envelopes and sticking stamps on letters to their parents to donate towards the “Senior Class Gift.”
The class launched a letter campaign and is accepting donations to go towards a plaque detailing the history of the Hotty Toddy cheer.
The Senior Class Gift is an annual present given to the university by the current graduating class in order to leave its mark on campus. Gifts have ranged from benches in the Grove to a marker on the Lyceum lawn displaying the University Creed.
Senior class president Toran Dean says school spirit was a deciding factor in this year’s gift.
“Almost every student on the senior class executive committee wanted to give something that would showcase our school spirit, and we settled on a plaque with the history of the Hotty Toddy cheer,” Dean said. “People always ask where the Hotty Toddy comes from, and most students and alumni don’t know how to answer.”
Dean says that the class of 2012 has witnessed traditions come into question since its tenure at Ole Miss, and that Hotty Toddy is an all-encompassing tradition.
Senior class council member John Kaiser says he hopes that everyone, students, faculty and alumni alike, can enjoy the gift once it is placed on campus.
“I hope that our senior class gift helps to further tie us together,” Kaiser said. “I feel like it’s the perfect gift to leave the university with.”
A home for the plaque on campus is yet to be determined. A team led by Ian Banner, university architect, is working to find the perfect spot.
Donations for the gift are tax deductible and can be given through the UM Foundation by clicking the link or by calling 800-340-9542.
University of Mississippi IMC and Journalism students Brittany Duhon, Jajuan McNeil, Dane Morton, Leslie Smith, Benjamin Tucker, and Wanfei Wu produced a series of Red Carpet Interviews for the Oxford Film Festival, held February 9-12 in Oxford, MS.
With the debut of the Oxford Film Festival this Thursday night, filmmakers from around the world will be coming to Oxford. As Betsy Lynch shows us, Ole Miss faculty like Alan Arrivee’ and his students will get a chance show off their work as well. The Film Festival kicks off on Thacker Mountain Radio on the first night at the Lyric Theater. The festival will continue until Sunday afternoon at different locations around Oxford.
Graduate students from the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy are participating in AARP Tax-Aide, a program of the AARP Foundation that has helped people of low-to-medium income with their income tax returns for more than 40 years.
The service is offered to the general public 1-5 p.m. each Thursday through April 15 at Stone Recreation Center on Washington Avenue in Oxford.
The students are supervised by return preparers who have had several years of experience and have also passed the IRS certifying exam, said Tonya Flesher, professor and Arthur Andersen Lecturer in accountancy.
Stephen Quinn and Rufus Wilson visited the center to see why the student help matters.
One of the most talented pianists in the Southeastern U.S. can be found right here in Oxford, MS. Oxford High School student Taide Ding is now competing for the national title in the Music Teachers National Association Competition. Newswatch reporter Margaret Ann Morgan sat down with Ding to hear about his passion for piano playing.
View the video report, produced by Margaret Ann Morgan and Kylea Boutwell, on YouTube