The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Archive for the ‘Student Work’ Category

Ole Miss journalism students cover tornadoes for national, regional media

Posted on: April 30th, 2014 by elwalke1
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

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

Photo by Jared Senseman, April 28, 2014.

Photo by Jared Senseman, April 28, 2014.



Photojournalism Spring 2013 Multimedia Projects

Posted on: May 23rd, 2013 by elwalke1
Below are featured student multimedia projects from two of the photojournalism classes at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at The University of Mississippi. The course introduces students to visual storytelling, and challenges them to not only capture storytelling moments, but pair visuals with audio to produce multimedia content using Final Cut Pro or Premier.


“Memory Makers,” by Kayleigh Skinner


“Steve Kolbus: A Delta Blues Man,” by Jared Burleson


“The Tree of Knowledge,” by Bentley Burns


“For the Love of a Daughter,” by Bridge Leigh


“The Life Oxford,” by Blake Johnson


“Connecting to an Unexpected Home,” by Kristen Stephens


“The View from Home Plate: A Homegrown Yankee Remembers,” by Miriam Cresswell


“A Passion for Puppies,” by John Chicoli

Student journalist covers Westboro Baptist protest on Ole Miss campus

Posted on: May 19th, 2013 by elwalke1
Photo by Jared Senseman. May 18, 2013.

Photo by Jared Senseman. May 18, 2013.

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

Mobile newsroom created for coverage of Double Decker Festival

Posted on: April 27th, 2013 by elwalke1
Journalism students take over High Point Coffee couches as a makeshift newsroom at the Double Decker Festival.  Photo by Deb Wenger.  April 27, 2013.

Journalism students take over High Point Coffee couches as a makeshift newsroom at the Double Decker Festival. Photo by Deb Wenger. April 27, 2013.

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 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.”

Mission Ole Miss: Journalists and ROTC team up for learning

Posted on: April 26th, 2013 by elwalke1
Embedded journalists cover the ROTC final field exercise.  Photo by Maggie McDaniel.  April 25, 2013.

Embedded journalists cover the ROTC final field exercise. Photo by Maggie McDaniel. April 25, 2013.

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.

How to build sources as a journalist

Posted on: January 25th, 2013 by elwalke1

LekithaA 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.


Student projects feature alternative voices

Posted on: December 12th, 2012 by elwalke1

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.

Saadiah Brennan

Amy Mark

April Conversion Project

Travels to Togo: Meek School student and prof cover engineering initiative

Posted on: November 1st, 2012 by elwalke1

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

From Millionaire Businessman to Magazine Founder

Posted on: October 25th, 2012 by elwalke1

Roy Reiman, who started 14 national magazines in his career, looks on as new magazine founder Jeramy Pritchett describes his publication Blindfold at the ACT Experience, Oct. 25, 2012. Photo by Deb Wenger.

Imagine making millions of dollars and just walking away from it all one day. That’s what Jeramy Pritchett, co-founder of Blindfold Magazine, says he did with no regrets.

“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 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.

Social Media Boot Camp Kicks Off Meek Week Events

Posted on: October 10th, 2012 by elwalke1

Journalism students “tweet” the Meek Week presentation on social media as part of a project in the Journalism Innovation class. Oct. 8, 2012. Photo by Vince Davis.

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.”