The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Media Center 2017-2018 student managers reflect on their year in charge

Posted on: March 12th, 2018 by ldrucker

Daily Mississippian: Lana Ferguson

Lana Ferguson says working at The Daily Mississippian taught her valuable lessons.

“Some of the most important things I’ve learned are how to find a news hook on just about any story and the importance of not always being first, but being right,” Ferguson said. “Readers won’t always remember who published it first, but they’ll remember who was right.”

Ferguson is from Mechanicsville, Virginia, a small town near Richmond. She was editor of her high school newspaper for two years, and when she came to Oxford as a freshman in 2014, she joined the staff of The Daily Mississippian as a writer.

 “I remember being excited to get back into the swing of reporting and writing. My first article was at the top of the front page. It was about the uptick in people selling their student IDs for football tickets. Ever since, I was hooked.”

She was promoted to news editor, then managing editor, and for 2017-2018, she is editor-in-chief.

“It feels natural to me to take charge, and it has been a goal of mine since freshman year to one day oversee The Daily Mississippian,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson has won awards for news writing, feature writing, magazine writing and coverage of breaking news.

Lana Ferguson on a depth reporting trip in Zimbabwe, Africa, in May 2016.

“Lana can do it all,” said Patricia Thompson, assistant dean for student media and faculty adviser for The Daily Mississippian. “She can quickly put a story together for the website on a tight deadline, and she also has the talent to craft a beautifully written profile. I was especially impressed with Lana’s success at ratcheting up the DM’s social media presence. Any media company would be lucky to have her.”

The DM staff is made up of students with different backgrounds and political views – just like the audience for the newspaper and website.

“No matter where you stand politically, you have to be ready to cover the campus, be confident and accurate in what you’re reporting, and know that you’re never going to make everyone happy,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson is majoring in journalism with minors in Southern studies and digital media studies. During her time at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, Ferguson has traveled to Oklahoma, Texas, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Sri Lanka to write articles for depth reports and The Daily Mississippian.

“I love the experiences I get to have from going out and reporting or representing The DM,” Ferguson said. “There’s no other job that would reward and cure your curiosity like that.”

When The Daily Mississippian switched from publishing in print five days a week to four days a week in fall semester 2017, Ferguson said initially she was nervous. But the staff had more time to provide original online content, completely revamp its social media efforts, create a new logo, and produce more videos and podcasts.

“I think I’m most proud of stepping up to the challenge of the digital shift the journalism industry is moving toward, and leading my team to produce quality work,” she said.

Ferguson has had two summer internships, one at the Calhoun County Journal in Bruce, Mississippi, and last summer for RVA magazine in Virginia.

After she graduates in May, she hopes to continue traveling and telling stories.

“Writing is the goal. I got into journalism to tell stories that matter. Whether it’s internationally or locally, I would be ecstatic to see my hard work pay off.”

Blake Hein at work in the Student Media Center

Advertising Sales: Blake Hein

Working as the advertising sales student manager for the Student Media Center was the natural next step for senior business administration and integrated marketing communications double major Blake Hein.

Hein, a native of Naples, Florida, was introduced to the SMC by a few friends already employed on the sales staff. Under his leadership in 2017, The Daily Mississippian’s back-to-school edition – one of the biggest sources of advertising money for the Student Media Center each year – saw a 55 percent increase in revenue compared to the previous year’s section. And Hein has the staff’s second-highest monthly individual sales total, according to records kept for the past four years.

“Blake has been terrific as sales manager,” said Roy Frostenson, student media assistant director for advertising. “He was one of our top sales reps prior to taking over the manager’s job and has just made a seamless transition. He’s what you look for in a manager. He’s mature, responsible and dedicated, always focused on the task at hand, and improving himself and his team.”

Hein said he couldn’t have accomplished his goals without the help of his staff of four other students, and described them as ambitious, motivated and hard-working.

“I really strive to maintain a team atmosphere with my staff. Everyone always puts forth great efforts to reach our sales goals.”

Hein has sales in his blood. His mother worked in commercial real estate sales, and his older sister is in sales. He enrolled in several advertising classes at the university and enjoyed them.

“Sales is the pillar in any job, whether you are dealing with a service, product, or yourself, you are always selling,” Hein said.

The student staff works daily with advertising clients for The Daily Mississippian, for Rebel Radio and for websites.

“Ultimately, we are in college to gain experience to prepare us for our careers,” Hein said. “Working with the sales department, I’ve gained knowledge of my field, and I know that I can be successful.”

Hein’s career goal is to be successful in whatever he does. Long term, he wouldn’t mind being the next Robert Herjavec, a businessman and investor.

“I admire Robert because of how he launched his very successful career starting as an IBM salesman,” Hein said. “I like how he built successful businesses and authored multiple books. Also, it is pretty cool that he is featured on the television show “Shark Tank.”

“I want to make it big, but at the same time, maintain a work-life balance. I also wouldn’t mind having my own business with an office and a secretary.”

Rebel Radio: Austin Hille

Austin Hille is a junior integrated marketing communications major from northern California. He came to the Student Media Center looking to meet people and to be part of an after-school program.

“I thought being a DJ would be fun. I never realized how much real-world experience I would gain,” Hille said.

Hille (pronounced Hill-ee) auditioned for a DJ spot his freshman year.

“It’s funny, they asked me if I liked bluegrass, and I had little knowledge of it,” Hille said. “Next thing I knew, I landed the show and was playing bluegrass music.”

In his sophomore year, he switched gears and was a DJ for an electronic dance music show, and he also worked daily as Rebel Radio’s music and programming director. This year, he is student manager of the entire radio station, supervising a music director, a news director and a marketing director.

Austin Hille covering the Republican National Convention in summer 2016.

Roy Frostenson, student media radio adviser, said Hille’s passion and vision have made him a strong manager.

“Austin has been involved with the radio station almost from the day he stepped on campus,” Frostenson said. “He’s been a great manager for Rebel Radio. He’s passionate about music and making Rebel Radio the best it can be. He has a great vision for Rebel Radio and works hard every day to make it happen.”

Throughout Hille’s time with the SMC, he has treated Rebel Radio as if it were a professional job. He wanted an out-of-classroom experience that would give him practice for the real world.

“My biggest accomplishment as student manager is getting Rebel Radio on the Radio FX app and going mobile,” Hille said. “RadioFX represents a major modern push for Rebel Radio and separates us from most college radio stations across the country. Not only does it keep us relevant, but puts us ahead of the pack in so many ways.”

RadioFX has enabled Rebel Radio to make significant gains in its listening audience. The station also airs more student news packages than in previous years, and Hille’s staff has already won several regional awards this year for news coverage and commercials. They continue to be actively involved with Thacker Mountain Radio and live remotes.

Hille’s time at the SMC includes writing for The Daily Mississippian. He covered news, wrote music reviews and, in one of his most memorable assignments, The Daily Mississippian sent him to cover the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in the summer of 2016.

“RNC was an incredible experience,” Hille said. “My favorite story happened on my first night in Cleveland. It was a highly contentious time in the country overall – attacks in Nice had just happened, as well as the shooting in Dallas – and Trump’s polarizing campaign really made the convention feel like a target.

“James Comey stated in Congress the day before I left that he was ‘very concerned’ about the safety of those in Cleveland. I was waiting for a delegate to get out of the convention for an interview, and it was getting dark. Police presence was so excessive it’s hard to describe.

“I was sitting in Public Square – which is where the majority of the protests were taking place – working on a story I was going to send off that night. I heard some commotion and peeped my head up to find what looked to be about 30 police officers in full bomb squad gear, running in my direction. So, I closed my computer, left the area, and called an Uber to get back to my Airbnb. The interview just had to wait until the next morning.”

Hille is ready for the next stage in his career. He has had an internship with a marketing agency in Tupelo, and he’s looking forward to pursuing a career in the marketing field.

“I feel confident about the future of Rebel Radio,” Hille said. “The staff is the reason the radio station works, and they’ve always done way more than I’ve ever asked. They’re great and the station is in good hands.”

Abbie McIntosh on assignment in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

NewsWatch Ole Miss: Abbie McIntosh

As a senior in high school, Abbie McIntosh first learned about the Student Media Center when she came to campus and took a tour.

“As soon as I saw it, I knew this is was the next step, and right where I needed to be,” McIntosh said.

McIntosh is a junior broadcast journalism major from Cypress, Texas, with a minor in political science. In high school, she was the first female sports editor of the student newspaper, and its first media editor.

She quickly got more familiar with the SMC her freshman year, working for The Daily Mississippian as a staff writer and NewsWatch as a weather anchor.

One year later, McIntosh landed the role as a sports anchor and video producer for Newswatch. She enjoyed having the access that student media press credentials provided.

Abbie McIntosh in the NewsWatch Ole Miss studio.

“I really enjoyed being on the field, or in a press box, getting to report for the Rebels,” McIntosh said. “My favorite game was the 2016 Egg Bowl.”

Currently, McIntosh is student manager for Newswatch and has fallen in love with the job. She said that because she spends so much time at the Student Media Center, she has jokingly been told she should pay rent to the SMC instead of to her apartment complex.

Nancy Dupont is professor of journalism and NewsWatch Ole Miss adviser, and works with McIntosh every day.

“Abbie constantly amazes me,” Dupont said. “She is a natural leader who has the respect of all the students she supervises.”

McIntosh said working for the SMC provides invaluable experience that will help her get a job. She dreams of becoming a television show producer or working for the Houston Astros.

“I want to work for the Astros because they’re my childhood team,” McIntosh said. “Some of my best memories are going to Astros’ games.”

Through student media, she got a chance to travel last semester to her home state of Texas as a correspondent, as one of the students covering an Oxford church’s efforts to help rebuild a community after Hurricane Harvey.

Recently, McIntosh won first place for television news reporting in the annual Southeast Journalism Conference Best of the South contest, and the daily newscast has also won awards already this year.

McIntosh said she’s most proud of her NewsWatch Ole Miss staff for its December newscast about the NCAA ruling on the Rebels football team.

“The show was a beast and we crushed it. We really worked like a team and I am so proud of the work we did that day. “

Dupont is confident McIntosh’s future career will be very successful due to her hard work and tenacity.

“Her skill set is perfect for her position, and she always wants to improve. I expect her to get any job she wants and to have a great career,” Dupont said.  “She’s headed for the top.”

Over the last few years, McIntosh has developed a thick skin. She knows that you must leave mistakes behind, learn from them and move forward.

“This sounds cliché, but I love knowing people. I know all my staff and have strong relationships with everyone,” McIntosh said. “I also enjoy being able to call the shots. It’s great when we all work together, because everyone relies on us to get the news out.”

Marisa Morrissette at the Southeast Journalism Conference in February.

 The Ole Miss Yearbook: Marisa Morrissette

After attending Mississippi Scholastic Press Association conferences, and working as managing editor and editor-in-chief of her high school yearbook, Marisa Morrissette knew she wanted to work on The Ole Miss yearbook staff.

Morrissette, a senior integrated communications major, is an Oxford native and was familiar with the Student Media Center before enrolling at the university. Since her freshman year, she has worked as a yearbook designer and for The Daily Mississippian as a design editor.

“I love being involved in every step of the process and seeing it all come together as one cohesive book.” Morrissette said.

As she started her position as The Ole Miss editor-in-chief in 2017, Morrissette had big goals. She wanted to set the 2018 yearbook apart from past years’, while maintaining the yearbook’s brand.

Marisa Morrissette.

“I wanted the book to be diverse,” Morrissette said. “We highlighted stories from the most known people on campus, to people who would have never thought they would be in their college yearbook.”

Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson has worked regularly with Morrissette over the past few years.

“Marisa is a talented designer and a newsroom leader, and we knew she’d be the perfect editor for the 2018 yearbook,” Thompson said. “I really like the vision she had for this year’s theme. I know students will be impressed when yearbooks are distributed in late April.”

Morrissette’s dream job is to be a designer for an NBA team, or to create editorial designs for a sports outlet.

Thompson said she isn’t surprised to hear those are Marisa’s career goals.

“Everybody here likes and respects her so much, and we enjoy teasing her about two things: I think she’s the only vegan in the newsroom, and she knows more about sports than anyone else here,” Thompson said.

In addition to her yearbook leadership role, Morrissette is also president of the Meek School chapter of the Society for News Design. She has won regional design and journalism awards, and she was one of the students who traveled to Sri Lanka in August for a depth reporting project.

Darren Sanefski, assistant professor of journalism, is the adviser for the SND chapter.

“I admire Marisa’s work ethic and the fact that she always strives for excellence in her designs and infographics,” Sanefski said. “She stays abreast of the industry and its leaders, and when we attend Society for News Design events, it’s fun to see her have fan-girl moments when she meets someone whose work she knows and follows.”

Morrissette said her vision of the yearbook could not have been completed without her hardworking staff.

“I never have to micromanage my staff. They all have initiative, self-leadership, and great communication with each other,” Morrissette said. “I couldn’t be more appreciative of the teamwork.”

You may also view this story on the Ole Miss Student Media Center website.

This article was written by IMC major Kelly Fagan. Photos of Ferguson and Morrissette are by journalism major Ariel Cobbert.

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