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Have lunch with the Billion Dollar Buyer: Tilman Fertitta to speak at UM Pavilion May 5

Posted on: April 21st, 2017 by ldrucker

In today’s fast-paced, media-rich society, it’s easy to brand someone a celebrity. Success can rise and fall in an instant, and celebrities disappear as quickly as they emerge. Roller coaster reputations are common, on the top one day and plunging into relative obscurity the next.  Not so, for the man who has become known as “The Billion Dollar Buyer.”

Tilman Fertitta’s rise to fame might have appeared instantaneous, but in reality, the journey was arduous and intense.  What began near the beaches of Galveston, Texas, took years of dedication and determination to garner the attention of the media moguls of Madison Avenue.  One thing’s for certain, everywhere he goes, Tilman Fertitta leaves an indelible impression with his rare blend of sarcasm and success.

Grab your popcorn and fill your glasses, the “Billion Dollar Buyer’ is coming to Oxford and Ole Miss. Thanks to the invitation from lifelong friend, Blake Tartt, III, the highly sought after celebrity will be the keynote speaker for an event at The Pavilion on the Ole Miss campus on Friday, May 5th.

Most recognizable for the instant success of his MSNBC television show, in his real life, Tilman Fertitta is the Chairman and CEO of Landry’s, Inc.  With a host of concepts flourishing across the nation and around the world, Landry’s, is a symphony of success on all fronts, and the “conductor” takes great pride in the mark the company has made in the marketplace.

As a group, Landry’s owns and operates more than 500 properties, including more than 40 unique brands such as Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s and the Rainforest Cafe. The hospitality conglomerate is built on a combination of good, fresh food, unparalleled service and marvelous locations.

When you add five Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino locations to the mix, along with numerous hotel properties and other entertainment destinations, Landry’s has vaulted into position as one of America’s leading dining, entertainment, gaming and hospitality groups.

Golden Nugget Casino

Topping the success of last year’s program, featuring internationally prominent urban development visionary, Joel Kotkin, would be a challenge for the Ole Miss Real Estate School Alumni Board. Co-sponsored by the Business School, Ole Miss Athletics and the Meek School of Journalism & New Media, last year’s event garnered national media attention for Kotkin’s insightful and entertaining message on the importance of planning urban environments and creating quality of life in dense development settings.

“We wanted to top last year with a personality who was both entertaining and enlightening. Who better to captivate our audience than a market leader with a perspective that no one else has,” noted board chairman and Ole Miss aficionado, Blake Tartt, III. “I’ve known Tilman since childhood and have worked with him on real estate developments for over 30 years.  He’s a rare blend of creativity and candor, vision and veracity.  Our audience will be entertained and inspired by his story of success that arose from incredibly humble beginnings to international prominence and celebrity.”

With a reported net worth of nearly $3 billion on Forbes’s list of the “world’s wealthiest people, Fertitta is a self-made success.  He learned the food business in Galveston, where he worked at his father’s seafood restaurant after school.  He began selling Shaklee vitamins before following his dream of owning restaurants.

The second youngest inductee into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, Fertitta began as a partner in the first Landry’s restaurant in 1980 and bought the controlling interest in the company in 1986. Landry’s went public in 1993, and he took it private again nearly 20 years later in a $1.4 billion deal.

Landry’s Seafood House

Dedicated to the value of higher education, Fertitta is the Chairman of the University of Houston’s board of regents, where he recently donated $20 million to renovate the basketball arena to the Fertitta Center.

“He’s no stranger to Oxford.  His son, Michael is a graduate of the IMC Meek School and son Patrick began his college career at Ole Miss.” Tartt is quick to point out.  “Though Tilman’s headquarters is in Houston, he loves Ole Miss and travels here frequently.  I’m eager for our community to have the opportunity to experience Fertitta’s rare blend of wit and wisdom.  Quite frankly, he’s a development genius.”

Beginning at 11:30, admission to the May 5 event is free with the first 1000 attendees receiving a free lunch as well due to the generosity of sponsors Renasant Bank, Evans Petree, P.C. and White Construction.

In Tartt’s inimitable style, he said, “I can’t think of a better way to cap the last day of classes than to have lunch with “The Billion Dollar Buyer.”

This story was originally published on HottyToddy.com.

Dennis Moore awarded Silver Em and Best of Meek journalism students honored

Posted on: April 6th, 2017 by ldrucker

From left, Debora Wenger, Dennis Moore and Will Norton Jr.

In 1975, the Memphis Commercial Appeal asked the University of Mississippi to nominate two students for potential internships. Dennis Moore was one. He traveled to Memphis and survived an odd interview with the managing editor, who asked a variety of strange questions, such as “Name the countries you fly over when traveling from Memphis to Antarctica?”

“Despite the bizarre nature of the interview, he demonstrated an ability to be removed from the chaotic nature of questioning and keep his wits,” said Will Norton Jr., Ph.D., professor and dean of UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “He has followed a similar pattern throughout his career. His achievements demonstrate that, while the Meek School has more prominence today than it had 40 years ago, its graduates have always had national stature.”

Moore was honored Wednesday night as the 58th recipient of the Samuel S. Talbert Silver Em award at the Inn at Ole Miss on the UM campus. The Silver Em is UM’s highest award for journalism. Recipients must be Mississippi natives or have led exemplary careers in the state.

Moore began his journalism career as an intern at The Germantown (Tennessee) News. He later directed breaking news coverage for USA Today, the nation’s largest circulation newspaper, on stories such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; the spread of Ebola from Africa to the United States; and the trial of one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Earlier at USA Today, he was managing editor of the Life section, which put him in contact with Mick Jagger, John Grisham, Steven Spielberg and and many other notable people.

Moore said his favorite entertainment interview was with Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her role in “The Help,” a book that became a movie written by fellow UM graduate Katherine Stockett set in Jackson, where Moore began his professional reporting career at The Clarion-Ledger.

Moore is now co-editor of Mississippi Today, a news website, with Fred Anklam, also a USA Today and Clarion-Ledger veteran, Ole Miss graduate and Silver Em recipient.

“When I found out I was going to receive the award, I thought I don’t measure up to the previous recipients,” Moore said Wednesday during his acceptance speech. “I don’t think my accomplishments are as stellar as theirs.

“I’ve never endangered myself and my family for editorializing about a social issue. I’ve never revealed government malfeasance. I’ve never helped the community overcome a major natural disaster. I spent most of my career covering entertainment, movies, television, music, and the slightly higher respectability chain, books.”

However, Moore said he believes the staffs he’s worked with over the years have applied the same enthusiasm, vigor and aggressive newsgathering that people on other beats did while covering the entertainment industry.

“We just had more fun,” he said.

Moore said he likes to think he’s helped people understand the importance of critical thinking. “I believe if you look insightfully, if you look aggressively at popular culture, you can find out as much about society as if you write a news story,” he said.

Moore said he’s concerned about the lack of critical thinking in modern journalism. He said journalists must present facts and provide information to defend them because, in a “fake news” era, the public questions the media.

“They don’t have the confidence,” he said. “I believe we can do that by reporting and providing context. By context, I don’t mean let’s interpret for people. Let’s get enough facts so that we can speak confidently, authoritatively and can address issues in a way that can’t be questioned.

“If there’s a problem, we can possibly offer alternatives. We can treat the people we deal with on our beats with respect. Hold them accountable, but don’t present them with our agenda. I think that’s what a lot of news organizations are starting to do now.”

While Moore is concerned about the state of journalism today, he said he’s also encouraged, because he thinks journalists are on a good path.

“We have to report with depth, insight, and then we may be able to affect change,” he said.

Moore credited several people with his success, including Norton, who he described as “inexhaustible” and a “genius.”

“He will very humbly describe himself as making connections, when actually what he does is he creates character and careers,” said Moore. “The Meek School would not be the Meek School without Dr. Norton.”

Norton said he went through issues of The Daily Mississippian from 1973 to 1975 to look at some of Moore’s work as a student journalist. He found several stories, including one titled ‘Dorm Hunting, the night I kicked my leg through the wall, I decided it was time to move.’ Moore wrote light and serious pieces for the college newspaper, including stories about UM applying again for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and voting issues.

“Whether it was about shoddy campus housing, lack of freedom for faculty members or voting rights, tonight’s honoree always seemed to focus on important news,” said Norton, who gave attendees an update about the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

“During the 1974-75 academic year, the Department of Journalism had fewer than 100 majors, and an accreditation team made its first site visit to the campus,” he said. “The endowment of the department was less than $50,000.

“Today, the Meek School has more than 1,500 majors in Farley Hall and the Overby Center, and is raising funds for a third building that will be situated in the parking lot between Lamar Hall and the Overby Center, and the accreditation team called the Meek School a destination – and one of the elite programs in the nation.”

Norton said the endowment today is more than $13 million with a major estate committed to the future.

“The Meek School is prominent nationally now, if not globally,” he said. “Clearly, media education at Ole Miss has gained a great deal of exposure. Several times over the last few weeks, the chancellor has called the Meek School one of the two best schools on the campus. That exposure is based on the strong foundation established in 1947 by Gerald Forbes, the founding chair. He was joined by Sam Talbert and Dr. Jere Hoar. They produced outstanding graduates.”

Hoar was one of the event attendees Wednesday night, and he was recognized for his contribution to the school.

The Silver Em award is named for Talbert, the professor and department chairman, who believed a great department of journalism could be an asset to the state of Mississippi. An “em” was used in printing. In the days of printing with raised metal letters, lines of type were “justified” by skilled insertion of spacing with blanks of three widths – thin, en and em. The Silver Em blends the printing unit of measure with the “M” for Mississippi.

“The award has been presented annually since 1948 as the university’s highest honor for journalism,” said Debora Wenger, associate professor of journalism. “The requirements are that the person selected be a graduate of the University of Mississippi, who has had a noteworthy impact in or out of the state, or if not a graduate of Ole Miss, a journalist of note who has been a difference-maker in Mississippi.”

Meek journalism students were also honored during the event, which featured the Best of Meek awards ceremony.

Students who received Taylor Medals include Rachel Anderson, Katelin Davis, Hannah Hurdle and Ariyl Onstott.

The Kappa Tau Alpha Graduate Scholar was Stefanie Linn Goodwiller.

The KTA Undergraduate Scholar was Ariyl Onstott.

Graduate Excellence winners were Mrudvi Parind Vakshi and Jane Cathryn Walton.

The Lambda Sigma winner was Susan Clara Turnage.

Excellence in Integrated Marketing Communications winners were Austin McKay Dean and Sharnique G’Shay Smith.

Excellence in Journalism winners were Maison Elizabeth Heil and John Cooper Lawton.

Who’s Who winners were Rachel Anderson, Ferderica Cobb, Austin Dean, Elizabeth Ervin, Leah Gibson, Madison Heil, Cady Herring, Rachel Holman, Amanda Hunt, Hannah Hurdle, Amanda Jones, John Lawton, Taylor Lewis, Ariyl Onstott, Meredith Parker, Susan Clara Turnage, Sudu Upadhyay and Brittanee Wallace.

The Overby Award was given to Susan Clara Turnage.

Kappa Tau Alpha inductees include Brandi Embrey, Elizabeth Estes, Madison Heil, Rachael Holman, Hannah Hurdle, Tousley Leake, Taylor Lewis, Jessica Love, Hailey McKee, Olivia Morgan, Ariyl Onstott, Alexandria Paton, Natalie Seales and Zachary Shaw.

Dean’s Award winners include Madeleine Dear, Lana Ferguson, Kylie Fichter, Jennifer Froning, Dylan Lewis, Emily Lindstrom, Sarah McCullen, Dixie McPherson, Anna Miller, Rashad Newsom, Hannah Pickett, Kalah Walker, Brittanee Wallace, Kara Weller and Anna Wierman.

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media was founded in 2009 with a $5.9 million gift from Dr. Ed and Becky Meek, Ole Miss graduates with a long history of support. It is housed in Farley Hall, with a wing for the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Today, the Meek School has 1,570 students in undergraduate and graduate studies working toward degrees in journalism and IMC.

For more information, email meekschool@olemiss.edu.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor

Meek School students win top awards at regional Society of Professional Journalists conference

Posted on: April 4th, 2017 by ldrucker

From left, Lana Ferguson and Clara Turnage.

University of Mississippi students brought home six first-place wins and 14 awards total in the Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 Mark of Excellence annual awards contest.

The Daily Mississippian won first place for best daily newspaper, and NewsWatch Ole Miss won first place for best television newscast.

Clara Turnage, Daily Mississippian editor-in-chief, won two first-place writing awards. Ariel Cobbert, DM photo editor, won a first-place photography award. NewsWatch’s Payton Green and Lauren Layton teamed up to win first place for television breaking news.

Ole Miss, which competes in categories against other large colleges, won more awards than any other university in the Region 12 competition.

“I cannot remember Ole Miss students doing better than they did in this year’s contest,” said Will Norton, dean of the Meek School of Journalism & New Media. “It is an amazing statement about the kind of work the Student Media Center has distributed this year. The M
eek School congratulates students who were honored and expresses our gratitude and respect to those faculty who worked with them. We are proud of each of you.”

Region 12 includes universities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. SPJ selects one winner and two finalists in each category. The awards – for work published, broadcast or posted in 2016 – were announced at the regional conference on April 1 in Knoxville, Tennessee. First-place winners move on to compete against the first-place winners in the other 11 regions for national awards. National winners and finalists are expected to be announced in late spring, and honored at the SPJ national convention in September in Anaheim, California.

In the best newspaper category, entries must include three issues. The Daily Mississippian’s winning entries were April 21, October 27 and November 17.

DM Editor-in-Chief Clara Turnage not only led her staff to the best newspaper awards, but also won first place for general news reporting for “Confronting the Trust Deficit,” an article published in spring 2016 examining the university’s relationship with the IHL board, and first place for feature writing for “They Never Stopped Searching,” an article published during her summer 2016 internship at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock. Turnage also won a finalist award in feature writing for “A beautiful multitude: The ordination of Reverend Gail Stratton” published in the DM in fall 2016.

In the best television category, one newscast is entered. The winning show for NewsWatch was broadcast on April 18, when Payton Green was manager. Green also teamed with Lauren Layton for the first-place TV breaking news award for a package headlined “ASB Resolution,” and he was a finalist for online feature reporting for “Coming Out in the Christian South.”

DM Photography editor Ariel Cobbert won the breaking news photography competition with a photo from the “Occupy the Ole Miss Lyceum” protest in fall 2016.

Other finalist awards went to:

theDMonline.com, best affiliated website.

Daily Mississippian staff, online news reporting, “Ole Miss Lyceum Protest.”
Lana Ferguson, non-fiction magazine article, “Taking Care of Their Own,” from the Mississippi Miracle depth report.

The Mississippi Miracle depth report publication, student magazine.
Brian Scott Rippee, sports column writing, “Kelly leaves a legacy as one of the best.”
Jake Thrasher, editorial cartoons.

“What a spectacular year for our student journalists,” said Patricia Thompson, Meek School assistant dean for student media. “Our students have been honored so often in the past few weeks, it has been hard to keep track. The awards covered a wide range of content – news, features, sports, visuals, television, radio, multimedia. Students work many hours each to week to provide information for the campus and community, and they are getting great experience that has helped them land great jobs and internships.”

New Course: J353 Drone Journalism course offered during May Intersession

Posted on: April 4th, 2017 by ldrucker

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media will achieve new heights this spring when it offers the new May Intersession course Journalism 353 Drone Journalism, Section 1.

“This course will examine how journalists can use drones in a safe and responsible way to craft messages for a mass audience,” said professor Ji Hoon Heo, who will lead the course. “News stories and content can benefit from the aerial perspectives that drone mounted cameras can provide.”

Heo said the course will explore Federal Aviation Administration regulations, local regulations, drone operations and techniques, and drone use ethics. Students will take the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification at the end of the course.

“They will produce one journalism story using drones,” Heo said. “I am hoping that students will learn that drones, while fun and cool, are a tool we can use to enhance our journalism stories. Safety is a requirement, and it is important for us to abide by regulations and law so that we can continue to utlize this amazing tool.”

For more information, contact Ji Hoon Heo at 662-915-7643 or jheo1@olemiss.edu.

Mississippi high school students attend Mississippi Scholastic Press Association State Convention at Meek School

Posted on: March 31st, 2017 by ldrucker

Taylor Dancer, 18, stood in the hallway on the second floor of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media Friday morning waiting for a journalism session to begin during the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association State Convention.

Taylor Dancer.

Dancer, who attended the event with Madison Central High School classmates, was one of more than 500 Mississippi high school students who came to learn more about journalism. She said her school has a broadcast journalism class, a newspaper and a yearbook program. She works for the yearbook and enjoys designing pages and taking pictures.

“I had to take the intro to journalism class first,” she said. “It really helped expand my writing, and I love writing a lot more now than I did before. Doing that and the photography and layout is my favorite thing, and I’ve entered some competitions with my photography.”

Dancer credits her high school instructor with the program’s success. “We really try to be firm on deadlines,” she said, “and create a good book for everyone to see. It goes out in our community, and we want that to reflect us well. That’s kind of like the main goal throughout the classroom, and we all know that, so we are held to a high standard.”

Dancer said she wants to become a pediatric dentist, but she’s not ready to give up her yearbook activity. “I’ve talked to some people here (University of Mississippi), and I’ve thought about being on the yearbook staff here, because that’s something I’ve done throughout high school. I would really like to continue in college. I’ve heard that it’s really fun, and you can go to some cool events, and possibly get paid for your pictures.”

MSPA is the Mississippi high school journalism organization. The association works with high school staffs all across the state in four areas – school newspapers, including online-only publications, print publications and news magazines; yearbooks, which almost every school has; broadcasts, which have doubled in the last two years; and awards and sessions for literary magazines for creative writing students.

R.J. Morgan, MSPA director, said the organization includes about 80 high school member publications. Web only is a small part. Most are newspapers, yearbooks or broadcasts. He said high school journalism teaches students how to organize their thoughts and express them clearly and concisely. It teaches them how to communicate, talk to their peers and strangers, and interview someone.

“It teaches them the importance of deadlines, the importance of design, and the way you structure things for maximum utility,” Morgan said. “High school journalism teaches them to question society, to look at things around them, and to look at what is being presented to them on the surface and critique it, whether that is their school policy on dress code, or whether that is a bigger community issue.”

The convention offers skills workshops and education to help students better serve the communities in which they live and work. They also hold a number of journalism contests to honor and validate students and teachers.

Bill Rose and John Baker, Meek School of Journalism and New Media professors, led a session called “Enemies of the American People.” They discussed the idea that the media has been under attack and the journalism movie, “Spotlight,” about a group of Boston Globe journalists who broke a story about Catholic priests sexually assaulting young boys. He said the reporters began “knocking on doors and getting people to tell their stories.” Change happened when the truth was exposed.

“It came as a result of some journalists getting together and pursuing a story,” Rose said. “Was it easy? Did they run into resistance? Did the church use its political connections to try to shut them down? All those things happened.”

Rose believes it’s a great time to be a journalist despite polls that may indicate otherwise.

“When you’re attacked, if you don’t fight back, you go down in popularity for a while,” he said. “The interesting thing about this whole attack of the press is it comes because newspaper reporters are doing their job.”

The keynote speaker was essayist and Jackson native Kiese Laymon, who attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College, a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio. He earned a master’s degree in fine arts in fiction from Indiana University and is now a professor of English and African American studies at the University of Mississippi.

Laymon is author of the novel Long Division and a collection of essays called How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016. He has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications, including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony and Guernica, according to his bio at kieselaymon.com. He has two books in the works, including a memoir called Heavy and a novel called And So On, expected in 2017 from Scribner.

“He’s a native Mississippian, who has gone on to be a highly respected and published voice,” Morgan said. “He’s so nuanced and really does a good job of articulating a point of view.”

Laymon led a session called “The Joy of Failure.” The point was, you can’t learn if you don’t fail. He shared a story from his youth when he won a second place statewide award for an essay he wrote in 11th grade for his school newspaper. But when Laymon recently reviewed it for the first time in years, he realized how poorly he had written it.

“…When they asked me to come and talk to you all, I went back and read that thing,” Laymon said, adding that he couldn’t find one usable sentence in the essay that he wouldn’t edit now. That’s because he’s grown as a writer, a reader and a person, he said.

“What I want you to do is look forward to writing trash,” Laymon said. “You can’t write anything great unless you write trash first.”

Keywanna Rogers

Keywanna Rogers, 18, is a Tupelo High School journalism student who was found in the Meek School lobby between journalism sessions Friday. She said her school has a variety of journalism programs, and she is the sports editor of the school newspaper.

“We do a lot of writing,” she said. “If we’re not writing, we’re going out looking for stories. I mostly do sports, but I also write some opinion (columns).”

Rogers said she wants to major in journalism and minor in communications. She aspires to be a newspaper reporter. “I haven’t really had any experience with broadcasting yet, but I plan to, just to see how it’s different,” she said.

Jalysia Coleman

Jalysia Coleman, 17, also from Tupelo High, plans to join the Air Force after high school, but she’s now part of the school’s newspaper staff and enjoys writing stories.

“My English teacher last semester was a kindergarten teacher forever, and she became an 11th grade English teacher,” Coleman said, recalling one of the stories she wrote this year. “And my U.S. history teacher got Teacher of the Year, and I wrote about that.”

Connor Murphy, 17, of D’Iberville High School, said his school recently added a journalism program. Murphy is the student director of the school’s broadcast journalism class, WDHS. Broadcasts can be found on YouTube. Students also produce a weekly podcast called “Campus Connection” that can be downloaded from iTunes.

Connor Murphy.

“We have 17 in the class at the moment,” said Murphy, who wants to major in journalism. He hasn’t decided which college he’ll attend, but the decision is between the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi.

Braxton Stone, 16, of Starkville High School, also attended the MSPA State Convention. He said he loves his high school journalism program and his teacher.

“She’s really interactive with our program,” he said. “Our yearbook staff editors know exactly what they are doing.”

Braxton Stone

Stone said this is his second year to be part of the program. He joined because he was interested in English and writing, and he wants to study broadcast journalism in college.

Reagan Leeper, another Madison Central student, said Madison Central journalism students are a team. “We all work together,” she said. “We use pictures in stories, and we share them so everybody has stuff. We try to support each other getting stories and articles. We usually come here and learn more about what we can do, what other schools do, and the best ways to do them.”

Corvokseya Jones, 18, of H.W. Byers High School in Marshall County, is a student journalist. “We’re still trying to get more people (involved),” said Jones, who is interested in attending the University of Mississippi.

Sarah Jent.

Sarah Jent, 17, another Madison Central student, said she’s always loved taking photos. “As I got through middle school, I realized I really enjoyed writing and was good at it. Yearbook was a way for me to combine those two (interests), design pages, express myself and put my creativity into a page.”

Jent plans to study speech pathology in college and become a speech therapist for children with special needs, and she wants to minor in psychology.

When MSPA started in 1947, Morgan said the convention was similar to a camp. The role of school publications has changed a lot in the past 70 years, and the convention has been a one-day event since the 1970s.

“We are one of the older scholastic press associations and one of the best attended scholastic press associations in the country,” said Morgan. This is his fourth year to direct the convention, and he said students teach him more than he teaches them regarding language evolution and technology.

“This generation – they are really innovative storytellers,” he said. “I don’t think they necessarily see themselves that way, but the way they communicate with themselves and their peers through social media and print – through broadcast, shorthand, longform – there are so many different ways they can communicate and get information to their audience. They really just amaze me.”

Morgan’s goal for every conference is to give students seeds of knowledge in new areas.

“When they get back to their schools,” he said, “it is then up to them, their communities and their teachers to foster the growth of those seeds, to the extent that we, in five and six hours, can open their mind to a new way of doing things, a better or more professional way of handling themselves, covering an event or telling a story.”

To read more about the event and see a full list of awards, visit the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association website. 

You can view photos and posts about the event on Twitter using the hashtag #MSPA17. Follow @MeekJournalism on Twitter and Instagram. You can “like” @MeekSchool on Facebook.

If you are interested in establishing a journalism program at your high school, Contact R. J. Morgan for more information at morgan@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7146.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor

Meek School wins big at Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Competition

Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi won big at the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Competition.

Patricia Thompson, assistant dean of Student Media at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and assistant professor of journalism, said the Meek School had a great showing at the recent awards banquet in Jackson. UM students won a total of 25 awards, including 13 first-place awards and two “Best of Show” awards.

Here are the highlights, along with some of the judges’ comments for first-place winners:

The Daily Mississippian won first place for newspaper general excellence. Judges said of the DM’s three newspapers entered for this category: “This defines general excellence. Great content, strong design throughout. Excellent investigative piece, as well as a fun festival guide. Great job!”

The Daily Mississippian won first place for best website, and first place for breaking/spot news, for its coverage of “Occupy Lyceum.” Judges said the website is “clean, easy to navigate, plenty of quality content, clear winner.” Judges said of the breaking news protest entry: “Multi-media elements, including photos, video and embedded social media posts were used to effectively convey how this story quickly developed. The reporting was thorough, well-sourced and balanced.”

NewsWatch Ole Miss won first place for sportscast or news program for its show previewing the football game against Alabama.  “Pretty impressive presentation for a collegiate entry,” judges said.

The documentary class production about the election won first place for documentary TV. Judges said: “A good mix of interviews. The multiple angles were well presented.”

Clara Turnage not only led the DM staff to several first-place awards, but also won two individual first-place awards, and a Best of Show top award for newspapers. Judges said her entry that won first-place in the enterprise/investigative category, “Confronting the Trust Deficit,” which examined the relationship between Ole Miss and the IHL board, was “a clear winner. Heads above all the rest in terms of depth and sophistication.” Her feature entry was described as “understated but emotionally powerful. Good topspin to move the story along. Tight but revealing bites. Strong, evocative verbs.”

Rebel Radio correspondent Billy Rainey took Best of Show top award for radio, and won one first-place, one second-place, and one third-place award. Judges said his first-place news entry is “a terrific example of taking such a sensitive topic as sexual assault and making it vital for a college campus.”

Other first-place winners: Cameron Brooks; Brian Scott Rippee; Jake Thrasher; Italiana Anderson; Sara McAlister.

Here’s the list of everything Meek School/SMC students won:

Best of Show, newspapers: Clara Turnage
Best of Show, radio: Billy Rainey
First place, College General Excellence: The Daily Mississippian
First place, College Web site: Daily Mississippian staff
First place, College Breaking/Spot News: The Daily Mississippian staff, “Ole Miss student’s viral comment leads to community protest”
First place, College Sportscast or Sports Program: NewsWatch Ole Miss, “Ole Miss Beat Bama”
First place, College Documentary: Meek School documentary class, “Election”
First place, College Radio Documentary: Italiana Andereson, Rebel Radio, “UM breast cancer research”
First place, College Enterprise/Investigative: Clara Turnage, The Daily Missisissippian, “Confronting the Trust Deficit”
First place, College Feature: Clara Turnage, The Daily Mississippian, “A beautiful multitude: The ordination of Reverend Gail Stratton”
First place,  College Sports Enterprise/Feature: Brian Scott Rippee, The Daily Mississippian, “Ole Miss basketball: A team that spreads across the map”
First place, College Personal Columns: Jake Thrasher, The Daily Mississippian, “You are no less of a man for having been assaulted”
First place, College Sports Photos: Cameron Brooks, The Daily Mississippian, “Rebels dominate Sugar Bowl in the Big Easy”

First place, College Radio News Story: Billy Rainey, Rebel Radio, “Rebels Against Sexual Assault”
First place, College Radio Sports Story: Sara McAlister, Rebel Radio, “Ole Miss vs. Georgia”
Second place, College Newscast: NewsWatch Ole Miss

Second place, College Feature Photos: Ariel Cobbert, The Daily Mississippian, “Tory Lanez performs at the Lyric”
Second place, College Radio Feature Story: Billy Rainey, Rebel Radio, “Baton Rouge flooding efforts”
Second place, College Radio News Story: Italiana Anderson, Rebel Radio, “New vice chancellor of diversity”
Second place, College Radio Sports Story: Riley Mueller, Rebel Radio, “Rebels keep their heads up”
Third place, College Newscast: NewsWatch Ole Miss, “9/26/2016”

Third place: College TV News Story: Chandler Morgan and Payton Green, “Racial Unity Awareness Week”
Third place, College Radio News Story: Billy Rainey, Rebel Radio, “Chancellor’s investiture”
Third place, College Radio Sports Story: Megan Peoples, Rebel Radio, “Baseball spring training”
Third place, College Radio Feature story: DeAndria Turner, Rebel Radio, “Everybody’s Formal”

There were 36 college categories and nearly 300 entries from 10 colleges. There were 96 awards were handed out. Nine universities won awards in college newspaper categories; five universities won awards in the college television categories; and three universities won awards in the college radio categories. First-place winners were awarded plaques, and the six Best of Show winners each received $250 scholarships. Second- and third-place winners received certificates.

This is the first year the Louisiana-Mississippi AP Media Editors and the Mississippi AP Broadcasters have conducted a joint college contest for both states, and also welcomed Louisiana broadcast students to compete for the first time. LSU’s Tiger TV won best TV newscast, and Southeastern Louisiana won best radio newscast.

Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson attended the awards luncheon at the Hilton Jackson on Saturday, April 25, with six students: Madison Heil, NewsWatch Ole Miss manager; Lauren Layton, NewsWatch anchor/correspondent and a member of the documentary project class; Abby McIntosh, NewsWatch video producer, co-sports director and NewsWatch manager for 2017-2018; Billy Rainey, Rebel Radio news correspondent; Jake Thrasher, DM editorial cartoonist; Clara Turnage, DM editor-in-chief.

We will soon find out how we did in the annual regional SPJ Mark of Excellence contest, competing against colleges in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana.

To read more, here’s The Daily Mississippian story about the winners.

It Starts With MEek week of events set for April 19-25

Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by ldrucker

Just pause. That’s what we’re asking you to do for five days.

Pause before you assume you know everything about someone based solely on one factor, such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, age, etc.

Welcome to It Starts With MEek, five days of events from Wednesday, April 19 to Tuesday, April 25 designed to remind students that one factor does not define who we are.

“For example, women once were stereotyped as only being qualified for secretarial, teaching or nursing jobs,” said Robin Street, University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media, senior lecturer and It Starts With MEek chair. “Once we quit stereotyping women, look at how much has changed.

“Even Mississippians are often stereotyped by people from other areas of the country, and look at how many outstanding Mississippians we have.”

Street said we often fall into an easy trap of stereotyping people based on their outward presentation without bothering to discover the many things we share in common with that person.

“Please join us as we all seek to understand together how to approach each person with understanding, dignity, respect and inclusion. We all have more in common than you know.”

There’s also a journalism and marketing competition happening with an April 7 deadline. You can read more here.

Here’s a lineup of speakers and events for the week:

Wednesday, April 19
“It” Starts today!

10 a.m. Opening Ceremony

Welcome from Robin Street, senior lecturer in IMC.  Introduction of committee. Announcement of competition winners. Debut of video.

Welcome and remarks from:

Charlie Mitchell, Ph.D., associate dean and professor of journalism, Meek School of Journalism and New Media

Don Cole, Ph.D., assistant provost and associate professor of mathematics

Shawnboda Mead, director, Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement

Recognize: Katrina Caldwell, Ph.D.,vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement       

11 a.m Other Moments: A Class Photography Exercise in Honoring Difference at Ole Miss Mark Dolan, Ph.D., associate professor of journalism and new media, and his students.

1 p.m. Making a Difference by Engaging With Difference Jennifer Stallman, Ph.D., instructor and academic director of racial reconciliation, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

2 p.m.  Tell Me a Story: Mastering the Primary Building Blocks of Diversity and Inclusion Katrina Caldwell, Ph.D., vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.


Thursday, April 20
A Day in My Life

The joys and challenges of the lives of students and faculty members in diverse publics at UM

Throwback Thursday: Faculty members will be posting throwback photos of themselves.

9:30 a.m.  From James Meredith to Millennials: Race Relations at Ole Miss

A panel of UM students discuss at the state of race relations on campus and their hopes for the future.

Moderator:  Shawnboda Mead, director, Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. Panel members:  Bianca Abney, IMC major; Brittany Brown, broadcast journalism major; Terrius Harris, outgoing president, Black Student Union; Tysianna Marino, president, UM chapter of NAACP.

11 a.m.  Red, Blue and Rainbow: An Inside Look at Being LGBT at UM

A panel of UM students, faculty and staff members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender discuss their life at Ole Miss.

Moderator: Rachel Anderson, journalism major and ISWM events co-chair.  Panel members: Danica McOmber, general manager, Gear Gaming; Dylan Lewis, IMC major; Mykki Newton, videographer/editor, Meek School; Susannah Sweeney-Gates, project coordinator, Center for Continuing Legal Education, with her spouse, Hayden Gates

1 p.m. Building Trust Within Professional and Personal Communities: A Workshop Dr. Jennifer Stollman, instructor and academic director of racial reconciliation, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

2:30 p.m. Sometimes I Feel Invisible: The Experience of Living with a Disability

Moderator: Kathleen Wickham, Ph.D., professor of journalism. Panel members:  Stacey Reycraft, director of student disability services; Adam Brown, sports editor, Hotty Toddy.com; and students Jessie, Trenton, Timber, Martha-Grace, Josh and Jeremy.

5:30 p.m. Spoken Word performance A relaxing night of spoken word expressing stories, thoughts, and aspirations on stereotypes, respect and inclusion from members of the Ole Miss community.

Friday, April 21
Bringing it All Back Home Day
Alumni return to share their perspectives

10 a.m. Race in America: A Journalist’s Perspective, Jesse Holland, Associated Press race and ethnicity reporter

11 a.m. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. A panel of Black Meek School  alumni discuss their experiences at Ole Miss and as professionals  (This panel repeats at 1 p.m. )Moderator: Jesse Holland, Associated Press race and ethnicity reporter. Panel members: Gabe Austin, video editor, Mississippi Today; Ashley Ball, communications associate, Siemens Corporations; Poinesha Barnes, news producer, WREG; Kim Dandridge, attorney, Butler Snow; Selena Standifer, deputy public affairs director, Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Noon:  Private luncheon for panel members, committee members & faculty

1 p.m. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Session II. A panel of Black Meek School alumni discuss their experiences at Ole Miss and as professionals.  Moderator: Rose Jackson, manager, Global Citizenship, FedEx Services. Panel members:  Gabe Austin, video editor, Mississippi Today; Ashley Ball, communications associate, Siemens Corporations; Poinesha Barnes, news producer, WREG; Kim Dandridge, attorney, Butler Snow; Jesse Holland, AP race & ethnicity reporter; Selena Standifer, deputy public affairs director, Mississippi Department of Transportation.

2 p.m. Red, Blue and Rainbow Alumni: A panel of LGBT Meek School  alumni discuss their experiences at Ole Miss and as professionals  Moderator: Shepard Smith, Fox News chief news anchor. Panelists: Martin Bartlett, PR strategist, Barracuda Public Relations; Hayes Burchfield, attorney, Burchfield Law Firm, PLLC; Kells Johnson, assignment editor, WZTV Fox 17 Nashville; Sid Williams, senior enrollment representative, SCAD.

3 p.m. My Journey from Farley Hall to Major News Events around the world Shepard Smith, Fox News chief news anchor.

4 p.m Reception for all speakers and Meek students.

Monday, April 24
Mind, Body & Spirit Monday

9 a.m.  Normal Does Not Exist, Mental Illness Does, Mary Beth Duty, licensed professional counselor and owner, Soulshine Counseling and Wellness, as well as an alumnus of the Meek School.

10 a.m. From the Bible Belt to Baghdad: what today’s IMC and Journalism professionals need to know about the world’s major religions.  Dr. Sarah Moses, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion.

11 a.m.  Keeping the Faith:  Members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths discuss their religion and the challenges they are facing in 2017. Moderator: Dr. Will Norton, dean, Meek School.  Panel members: Dr. Mahmoud A. ElSohly, research professor and professor of pharmaceutics; Dr. Richard Gershon, professor of law; Katherine Levingston, president, Hillel.

1 p.m. Mental Health and Me: Panel Discussion on Personal Experiences with Mental Health Issues  Moderator: Debbie Hall, instructor in IMC. Panel members: Lindsay Brett, doctoral student, School of Education; Mary Beth Duty, owner, Soulshine Counseling and Wellness; Justin Geller, child and youth outreach coordinator, Communicare; Hailey Heck, IMC major; Tysianna Marino, public policy major; Abby Vance, journalism major.

 2 p.m. Role of Individual and Institutional Accountability in Doing Diversity and Equity Michèle Alexandre, professor of law and Leonard B. Melvin, Jr., lecturer.

3 p.m. Keeping it Real on Social Media: Guidelines for Handling Diversity Issues, Ryan Whittington, assistant director of public relations for social media strategy.

4 p.m.  Unity in Diversity: Fashion show and entertainment. Weather permitting, fashion show will be in Farley front yard. Rain location: Overby Auditorium.

6 p.m.  Racial Politics in Memphis   Otis Sanford, former managing editor,  The (Memphis, Tennessee) Commercial Appeal, now holder of the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis.

Tuesday, April 25
Farley Festival Day

Journalism students are asked to wear purple and Journalism faculty and staff to wear ’60s outfits today to show their support for the It Starts with (Me)ek campaign.

10:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m Farley Festival.

Join us on the front lawn of Farley Hall for entertainment, information, prizes and fun. The festival celebrates the ’60s because of the many movements that gained strength that decade, such as civil rights, gay rights and women’s rights. Rain location: Inside Farley Hall.

Students wearing purple to the tent get a free Chick-fil-A treat. Students bringing a program stamped with at least two events they attended get a free T-shirt.

 During Diversity Rocks events, if you require special assistance relating to a disability, please contact Paula Hurdle at phurdle@olemiss.edu.  Some accommodations, such as ASL interpreting, will require advanced notice to arrange so please request such services at least one week before an event.

Students gain broadcast journalism experience working at Rebel Radio

Posted on: March 24th, 2017 by ldrucker

Rebel Radio is a student-run organization that broadcasts throughout much of North Mississippi and enables students to gain broadcasting experience by becoming volunteer interns.

Just like any other radio station, anyone can tune in and listen to sports, music, local or world events and news.

Hernando native Aaron Isom, a University of Misissippi junior majoring in broadcast journalism, is also a former Oxford Stories reporter. He is from Hernando and attended Northwest Community College two years before transferring to UM.

FullSizeRender (1)Isom became interested in broadcasting when he was young. “I always thought broadcasters had a cool job, even when I was little,” he said.

In high school, he was a part of the student news team. “The show came on every morning, and it proved to me that broadcasting was something I was very interested in,” he said.

Isom continued his journalism career at Northwest Community College, where he worked at the local newspaper distributed throughout Tate County while attending Northwest.
He became involved in Rebel Radio because of a family connection. “My brother’s girlfriend knew the manager, so she told him about my interest in radio,” he said. “I love to talk, so radio has just kind of seemed like a good fit for my personality.”

On Mondays at 5 p.m., Isom is on the air for an hour. On Thursdays at 8 p.m., he works for two hours.

“I do enjoy working at Rebel Radio, especially on Mondays, because that is when I get to talk,” he said. “During Thursday’s broadcast, I pretty much just play music. I mostly play a wide variety of hiphop on Thursdays.”

Isom said he’s not sure a lot of people realize how far-reaching Rebel Radio is. The station even airs in the Memphis metro area.

Although one cannot see Isom’s face when he is on air, he believes working at Rebel Radio will lead to bigger broadcasting opportunities. Isom said he wants to become a broadcaster at a big sports network.

Jackson Maddox, 21, is originally from Houston, Texas. He worked at Rebel Radio last semester and  switched his major to broadcast journalism before the beginning of the fall semester of 2016. Maddox discovered Rebel Radio last summer.

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Jackson Maddox. Photo by Jack Newsom.

“I am glad that I worked at Rebel Radio last semester,” he said. “It was a great experience, and I would definitely be open to being involved with Rebel Radio again.”

Maddox had two segments each week at Rebel Radio on Tuesdays and Fridays.

“On Tuesdays, I had a co-host, and we would talk about current events and pop culture,” he said. “I really wasn’t too knowledgeable about pop culture, and I don’t think she was that interested in current events, so sometimes it made for an awkward combination.”

On Thursdays, Maddox played his own music. “I really loved picking music for people to listen to,” he said.

Maddox said he didn’t have time to work at Rebel Radio this semester. “My schedule is kind of hectic this semester,” he said, “so I just didn’t want to commit to anything and then have to back out later. Even last semester, it could be hard to come to work, but that was because I worked both days at two in the afternoon, so it was sort of in the middle of the day.”

Maddox said he job was fun, and he would encourage any student to become involved.

Story by Jack Newsom, Oxford Storiesjsnewso2@go.olemiss.edu.

David Crews’ Mississippi quotes featured in next Overby Center program Monday, March 27

Posted on: March 22nd, 2017 by ldrucker

Oxford resident David Crews will be the next featured speaker at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. During the event set for 6 p.m. Monday, March 27, Crews will speak about his collection of intriguing and sometimes odd quotes from Mississippians.

In a conversation with the center’s chairman, Charles Overby, Crews will elaborate on his recently published The Mississippi Book of Quotations in the fourth of a spring series of programs dedicated to Mississippi during the celebration of its 200th anniversary of statehood.

“David collects quotes the way some guys collect baseball cards,” said Overby. “Mississippians are great at talking, and David has put together comments that are inspiring, outrageous and funny. The stories he tells behind the quotes are fascinating.”

The event, which will be held in the Overby Center Auditorium on the Ole Miss campus, is free and open to the public. A reception will be held afterward, and arrangements for parking have been made for the lot adjacent to the auditorium.

Over the years, Crews saved quotes from politicians and writers, as well as musicians and athletes, dozens of which have become favorites, such as: “It’s hard to remember the truth when there’s so much truth to remember.”

“It was uttered by a witness during a federal trial in my court,” said Crews. “That is a line that is simultaneously true, amusing, and bordering on perjury. What’s not to like about a line that incorporates truth, humor, and perjury.”

Crews is now the chief clerk for the U.S. District Courts in North Mississippi, but enjoys a statewide reputation as a raconteur and an authority on many things “Mississippi.”

After graduating from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., he taught American history for a year and worked for two years as a newspaper reporter. In the early 1980s, he was a young, yet valuable aide to Gov. William Winter while informally doubling as an adventurous traveler and student of literature. He developed friendships with most of the prominent writers in Mississippi’s modern history.

While living in Jackson, Crews made stealthy deliveries of the daily New York Times to the doorstep of Eudora Welty to save her the trouble of finding the newspaper at her neighborhood grocery. (Determined to find who was responsible for the magic, she caught him in the act one morning.) As a child, he even encountered William Faulkner – after the Nobel Prize-winning novelist spotted him stealing apples from an orchard.

Crews was a buddy of the late Willie Morris. He was also part of a cast of characters who banged about China and beyond 30 years ago. Fellow Mississippian, Stuart Stevens, a travel writer and political analyst, wrote about their trip in his book, Night Train to Turkistan.

Crews has hiked all 450 miles of the Natchez Trace and climbed the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. More recently, he produced a documentary that won a regional Emmy Award.

His father, the late John Crews, was a popular English literature professor at Ole Miss. His wife, Claire, is a teacher in the Oxford School District. They are the parents of twins.

To round out his unconventional profile, he carried a gun for nearly eight years while tracking down fugitives as the chief U.S. marshal in North Mississippi during the Clinton administration.

Of his varied background, Crews says: “My brother contends all of this is evidence that I can’t hold a job.”

Meek School set to welcome magazine industry leaders to the ACT 7 Experience April 25-27

Posted on: March 22nd, 2017 by ldrucker

Speakers during the ACT 6 Experience last year.

If you are a magazine leader who is still publishing like you did 10 years ago, you should rethink your business strategy.

“I tell people if you are still publishing your magazine as if it is still 2007, there is something wrong with the picture,” said Samir Husni, Ph.D. “We have to reinvent our content. We don’t have a problem with magazines or newspapers as an income paper entity. We have a problem with what we are putting in those entities and the business model.”

That is one of the issues the ACT 7 Experience will address this year. The 2017 theme is Magazines Matter, Print Matters.

Husni, who is known internationally as “Mr. Magazine™,” is a professor with the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media and director of the Magazine Innovation Center

The MIC was founded in 2009 at UM. It is an international collaboration linking the best thinkers in publishing, marketing, printing, advertising and distribution. The MIC works to ensure a thriving future for magazines, magazine media and the print industry. It also introduces future industry leaders (students) to  current industry leaders (magazine and magazine media makers).

Future and current industry leaders will meet April 25-27 during the ACT 7 Experience at UM. ACT stands for amplify, clarify and testify about the future of print in a digital age. The number of attendees is limited to 100 in addition to speakers and students who are part of the Experience. One student will individually shadow each speaker and sponsor during the entire event.

The ACT 7 Experience will feature a variety of speakers who will discuss three major themes: magazine launches, magazine reach and power, and the future of magazine distribution.

Panelists and speakers will share stories of new magazine launches. Information will be provided for those who want to start a magazine, and organizers will offer a look at magazine launches throughout history.

The Experience will also focus on ways to ensure that magazine leaders continue to make money in print. The third theme will imagine magazine distribution and newsstands in 2020. Industry leaders will discuss the old ways, new ways, what is working, what is not and offer solutions.

Husni

“Some magazines are still making a lot of money,” Husni said, “and they are finding new ways to make money. We know the business model is broken. We know the distribution model is broken. So what can we do?”

Despite the fact that many magazine leaders have been forced to rethink business strategies, Hunsi said print is not dead.

“Some of them are still publishing as if it’s 2007,” he said. “And that’s why we hear that their sales are going down, and that they are dying. But you know how many television programs have come and gone? Did you ever hear anybody saying ‘TV is dead.’ If a magazine dies, no matter how big the magazine is, it doesn’t necessarily mean the industry is dead or there is something wrong with the platform.”

The first ACT Experience was held in 2010 just after the MIC’s 2009 creation. Husni, who is responsible for organizing the entire event with assistant Angela Rogalski, said the first ACT Experience was a great success and continues to be.

“We have more magazine media and industry leaders in one place paying their own way than any conference I know of,” he said. “That’s why we don’t call it a conference. We call it an Experience because of the engagement with current industry leaders and future industry leaders. What differentiates this conference from all other conferences and experiences is to integrate the two groups of industry leaders – the students and the ones who are actually working.

“I’ve heard from more than one CEO telling me the reason they enjoy this conference more than anything is that when they see these future industry leaders, they let down their guard, and they start telling people things that they don’t talk about when they go to other industry conventions.”’

Throughout the year, Husni works to secure funds for the ACT event and the MIC. When magazine executives come to Oxford, Husni said they experience magazines, Mississippi and music.

“We go to the Delta for half a day, and the students have an opportunity of a lifetime sitting next to a CEO on a charter bus for an entire half a day,” he said. “I tell the students if you can’t leave an impression on a magazine publisher, editor, advertising director, or CEO of a marketing group in two and a half days, you should quit the industry. You don’t belong.”

Husni said the ACT Experience usually results in many jobs and internship opportunities for students. It’s also about finding solutions for magazine industry issues. One of those is a shift from an advertising-driven business model, where 90 percent of the revenue comes from advertisers, to a circulation-driven business model that depends on paid subscribers.

“The majority of the new magazines that are coming to the marketplace are charging a very high cover price for them to get money from their customers rather than the advertisers,” Husni said. “We see now that the norm in new magazines, the average cover price, is almost $10. As you know, for $10, you can get a whole year from some of the established magazines.”

In the process of reinventing the business model, Husni said he’s seeing much creativity among industry leaders. He’s also noticed a trend in recent years with the popularity of food, crafts and hobby magazines.

“There has been a steady increase in the number of titles devoted to food,” he said. “Food has become the sex of the 21st century. There are so many titles out there.”

Husni said Brian Hart Hoffman, of Hoffman Media, will talk about his new magazine Bake from Scratch. Husni also recently interviewed the editor and chief of Cooking Light magazine that has been published for 30 years.

“I tell all of my clients ‘audience first,’” he said. “Do not fall in love with the platform. Fall in love with the audience. We are all about the audience. The minute we forget about our audience, the minute it’s our downfall …

“The first assignment I give students in any of my classes is to humanize your magazine. If you tell me you are in the content business, that’s not enough because anybody who can put out 140 characters can be in the content business. We have to go beyond content and become experience-makers. The journalist of the future must be an experience-maker.”

Husni said journalists must give their audiences a reason to read a publication.

“How are you going to engage me?” he said. “A lot of our magazines have no content. Are you kidding me? You are asking me to pay $12, and you don’t give me anything to chew on. You want to fill me up with the appetizers and desserts.”

The ACT 7 Experience will begin Tuesday evening, April 25, with a gala opening dinner in the Ole Miss Ballroom.

On Wednesday, three CEOs will talk about adding value to your brand before you sell it, and they will discuss making more money for magazines. In the afternoon, the group will travel to the Delta and visit sites including the B.B. King Museum, Dockery Farms Historic District, the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, and they’ll dine at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.

Thursday is devoted to distribution. Speakers will talk about new ways to put magazines in the hands of the audience. Many people who started new magazines last year will speak Thursday.

“Whether you are a CEO, whether you are a publisher or an editor, the ACT Experience is not an appetizer or a dessert,” Husni said. “The ACT Experience is the whole meal.”

Husni said his ultimate goal is to help students secure an internship or a job. “I don’t care what they take away, as long as they actually create a relationship that will lead them to a job,” he said. “… I tell the students, this is their golden opportunity. This is their golden ticket in the Wonka’s chocolate bar.

“Even if you are working for Hearst, chance are you are not going to be able to speak with the president. Chances are you’d never interact with that person, yet you have access to that person for two and half days. If you don’t use this and benefit from it, you don’t belong in our business.”

Husni offers the following tips to students who plan to attend the ACT 7 Experience:

  1. Research the speakers and industry leaders.
  2. Be yourself. Be honest with them. Tell them you are seeking advice. Tell them you are a future industry leader in the making. Ask them for tips.
  3. Make the other person feel more important than you, and make sure you are appreciative that they are offering their time.

Space is limited to 100 people. All the lectures are free for students on a first come, first serve basis. Meals and other activities are not. You must be a registered or invited guest.

“I’ve never looked at my job as a job,” said Husni. “I’ve never looked at my students as students. They are journalists. I don’t care if you are in journalism or IMC, you have to learn everything from a journalism point of view. And the first thing you learn as a journalist is audience first. Falling in love with the audience is what we need to do.”

To see the full schedule of the ACT 7 Experience, visit http://www.maginnovation.org/act/agenda/ 

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor