The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Archive for the ‘Alumni News’ Category

Former CEO of Meredith Group magazine publishing division to sign copies of poetry book ‘Mississippi’ Thursday, Oct. 11

Posted on: October 10th, 2018 by ldrucker

James Autry will sign copies of his new book Mississippi during a reception at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 in the Overby Center lobby.

MISSISSIPPI is a collection of 77 poems from James A. Autry’s Nights Under A Tin Roof and Life After Mississippi. The author, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, newspaper reporter, national magazine editor and Fortune 500 executive, returns to his Mississippi roots to examine the forces which shaped him.

The book is published by Yoknapatawpha Press.

Check out this review of the book by HottyToddy.com Book Editor Allen Boyer.

“Autry was editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, and later CEO of Meredith Group in charge of the publication of 16 major magazines,” said Yoknapatawpha Press Publisher Larry Wells. “He arranged for the Meredith Group to sponsor a magazine feature writing program at the School of Journalism. He is a member of Ole Miss Hall of Fame. Autry is an inspiration for Ole Miss students. His legendary career is proof that the sky’s the limit for our j-school grads.”

It’s rare that a CEO writes poetry recalling lessons learned under a tin roof. Autry, then president of the Meredith Group magazine publishing division, wrote verse whenever and wherever he could—in board rooms between meetings, in hotel lobbies, on airplanes, in limos and taxis. Poetry would not leave him alone.

In his preface to Mississippi, Autry calls his verse “pieces” of recollections because “their shape comes to me as stories and then as pieces of a larger story.” His poems achieve a remarkably dense texture of memory forming what John Mack Carter has called a bridge of “kinship” between poet and reader.

This collection of 77 poems from Autry’s Nights Under A Tin Roof and Life After Mississippi focuses on the rhythms of rural Southern life, an odyssey of country funerals, weddings, church revivals, family reunions, and courtships drawn from a unique American heritage.

The book is illustrated with 66 black and white photographs of the rural South taken by WPA photographers and the author’s step-mother, Lola Mae Autry.

Bill Moyers believes Autry is one of America’s leading contemporary poets and featured him in two PBS specials devoted to American poets. Moyers says of Autry’s verse, “We all need the shelter of the tin roof today against the storms raging in our world.”

Autry is the author of 14 books, a poet and consultant whose work has had a significant influence on leadership thinking. His book, Love and Profit, The Art of Caring Leadership, a collection of essays and poetry, won the prestigious Johnson, Smith & Knisely Award as the book that had the most impact on executive thinking in 1992. Love and Profit also has been published in Japanese, Swedish, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian, and is still in print in paperback.

In addition, Autry has written the introductions to several books, and his writings have appeared in many anthologies and magazines. In 1991 the Kentucky Poetry Review published a special James A. Autry issue. He is a founder of the Des Moines National Poetry Festival.

He received considerable national attention when he was one of the poets featured on Bill Moyers’ special series, “The Power of the Word.” Moyers featured him again in 2012 on Moyers & Company on PBS. Garrison Keillor has featured his work on “The Writer’s Corner” on public radio. Autry is also featured in three videos, “Love and Profit,” which won a “Telly” award, “Life and Work,” and “Spirit at Work.”

In 1998, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the Humanities from Iowa Humanities Board and Foundation. He was also the founding chair of the Claremont Graduate University’s Humanities Center Board of Visitors.

Autry was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Mississippi and was elected to the Alumni Hall of Fame. He fulfilled his military service as a jet fighter pilot in Europe during the cold war and rose to the rank of Major in the Iowa Air National Guard.

Before taking early retirement in 1991 to pursue his present career, Autry was senior vice president and president of the Meredith Group, at the time a 500 million dollar magazine publishing operation with over 900 employees.

Autry lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife Sally Pederson, the former Lieutenant Governor of Iowa.

Meek School alumnus Ewert to conduct sports reporting workshop next week

Posted on: October 4th, 2018 by ldrucker

Meek School alumnus Terry Ewert will conduct a sports reporting workshop next week at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Students interested in participating in Ewert’s workshop are asked to attend an interest meeting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 in Farley 126. The will be asked to commit to covering the Oxford High School football game Friday, Oct. 12, and meeting again early Saturday afternoon. Ewert will share full details at the interest meeting Thursday.

Ewert is a television executive and producer who has received 13 national Emmy Awards; two national Headliner Awards for journalism; and one CINE Golden Eagle for long-form documentary production, according to his LinkedIn bio. As a senior production executive, he oversaw the $100-million production of Olympic Games and an entire network broadcast sports division.

“He loves Ole Miss, sports journalism and our students – not necessarily in that order,” said Dr. Debora Wenger, assistant dean. “He has an expertise that our students crave, and he is generous enough to give up his time. We hope Terry’s advice builds on the instruction students already receive in their classes and allows them to get mentoring from someone other than their professors.”

Ewert is the creator of a documentary series for the Discovery Channel called FutureCar. As an EP and producer, he successfully ran a company that has created and/or produced series and specials for Discovery, Live College Sports for the Big Ten Network, the Olympic Bid Committee for Chicago 2016.

He has directed specials for the Big Ten Network, ABC, NBC, Golf Channel (Michael Douglas & Friends Celebrity Golf) and FSN. The company has also produced digital marketing and promotional videos for clients of Porte Advertising, an ad agency in NYC.

For more information, contact Wenger at drwenger@olemiss.edu.

Crisis management expert says: “Humans first, business second”

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018 by ldrucker

Today, it’s more important than ever for businesses and organizations to have a crisis management plan. And though no one likes to relive a crisis, you can learn from doing so.

In 1982, consumer research specialist Leslie Westbrook was in the “war room” during the Tylenol poisoning scandal that became a textbook case in the field of crisis management. What she learned is still important today. When dealing with controversy, it’s important to put humans first, business second.

Q. Can you take us back to the time of the Tylenol controversy? Where were you working? What was your job position at the time? When did you first hear about this controversy?

A. In 1982, at the time of the Tylenol poisoning, I had already created my consulting firm, Leslie M. Westbrook & Associates, Inc. After graduating from Ole Miss in 1968, I worked for Procter & Gamble for three years, where I was trained in classic consumer research. I then worked for a nationally prominent new product consulting firm for nine years. In 1980, I founded my consulting firm. I am a consumer research specialist/marketing strategist working with primarily Fortune 500 companies.

Joe Chiesa, then president of McNeil Consumer and makers of Tylenol, had been my client at another J&J company. I watched Jim Burke, then CEO of J&J Worldwide and the parent company of McNeil, announce on television that J&J would no longer make capsules (Too easy to tamper with. Who knew?)

All Tylenol capsules were being pulled off the shelves. Seven people had died as a result of Tylenol, which had been tampered with, and J&J did not want any more harm to their customers. They were cooperating with authorities, shutting down Tylenol capsule plants, interviewing employees . . . until the mystery was solved.

I was so impressed, so touched that the CEO of a major international consumer company was willing to lose millions in order not to hurt any more people. I wrote to Joe Chiesa to volunteer my services in any way needed. I volunteered to do their consumer research to help Tylenol, no charge. They had already done so much. I was summoned to Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania, McNeil headquarters, for a meeting with the director of market research.

I was hired (they never accepted my offer to volunteer) to be the consumer specialist to work with the Tylenol Team (the war room) to stage a Tylenol comeback. I worked with R&D as they began to develop safety packaging for current Tylenol tablets (capsules were gone) and future Tylenol line extensions to replace the Extra Strength Capsule: what it must look like, how it should be described and named … to develop trust and confidence.

R&D also was charged with replacing the much-preferred capsule form vs. tablets for Extra Strength. (They) preferred it to be shaped like a capsule for swallowability, but it must be pure white like tablets (compressed powder) to visually communicate that it “cannot be tampered with.” (Decisions had to be made about) form, nomenclature, how to motivate capsule purchasers to buy Extra Strength Tylenol again … in this new form. The caplet form was born, along with Triple Safety Sealed packaging. It changed the consumer landscape forever.

Q. For those who may not be aware of what happened, can you give us a bit more background?

A. In September 1982, seven people in the Chicago area mysteriously died. It was discovered that each of the seven (random, not related) had taken Tylenol Extra Strength capsules. Police and FBI confiscated the Tylenol from all seven homes and the stores where these were bought.

Forensics discovered that the capsules had been tampered with: capsules opened, active ingredient powder removed and replaced with cyanide powder. J&J ran full-page ads not only in Chicago papers but in all major papers around the country.

Read the recent New York Times article about the Tylenol controversy.

Tylenol Extra Strength Capsules were pulled off every retail shelf around the country. All Tylenol Extra Strength Capsule manufacturing plants were shut down and scrutinized. All Tylenol ES capsule packages were sent to a central location for tedious examination to see if any other capsules were tainted. There was a massive manhunt, search for a “madman” who was behind the poisonings.

Q. What were some of the strategies that you helped implement to turn this controversy around? It seems it took strategic thinking to prevent the company from being distrusted after the controversy? Can you talk a little bit about your team’s action plan?

A. Burson-Marstellar PR Agency, founded by our own Harold Burson (another Ole Miss graduate), was already working for several J&J companies. The firm was hired to handle what is now called “crisis management.”

Jim Burke, J&J CEO, worked closely and directly with the agency. He set the parameters: totally transparent, no waffling, only straight talk. Key was also to promote the actions: All Tylenol capsules removed from all retail shelves … $100 million loss in one day.

Consumers were to take any Tylenol ES capsules to any local grocery/drug to turn in (back to J&J for examination) and given a choice:

1. Refund (no sales receipt necessary), which was given as a coupon for store credit to buy anything (or)
2. Full bottle of Tylenol ES Tablets (white compressed powder/no tampering)

The news coverage was all positive due to the unfathomable humanitarian non-profit-oriented approach taken by J&J. I tested various approaches/ads/PR articles to guide J&J and Burson in the selection of the most positive, most reassuring and viable.

I was working closely with R&D on a fast-track to get the new form (caplet) and new Safety Seal Packaging in the market. I conducted focus groups in the Chicago area first, three months after the poisonings, to assess consumer attitudes toward Tylenol, J&J.

Trust was building. Consumers responded very favorably to the company’s open, transparent, humanitarian approach. We eventually conducted these focus groups around the country.

Q. The Tylenol controversy is now a textbook case for marketing and public relations classes. What do you think marketing executives learned as a result of this problem that they now teach students about?

A. Crisis management is now an industry. Crisis management is taught in universities. Crisis management agencies have proliferated. In my experience, and in my observation of corporations, when a consumer crisis occurs (and there have been many over the 36 years since Jim Burke was a human being first), no one has even attempted to follow Jim Burke. The vast majority of corporations only focus on the Bottom Line … profit, stock prices, no transparency. It is shameful.

Jim Burke was a human first, a businessman second.

In the end, Tylenol staged an unprecedented comeback and went on to far surpass the original profit projections for Tylenol ES capsules. So, J&J won on all levels.

It is heartbreaking for me to see how all subsequent CEOs of J&J have not followed the “Burke Playbook” for crisis management.

Q. What did you learn personally or take away from your experience of being involved?

A. First, I was privileged to see from the inside how dedicated all of J&J and McNeil were to the Johnson & Johnson Credo … Putting the people we serve first (www.jnj.com/credo) … Shareholders (profit) last.

>Jim Burke became and still is my hero. I have never met, worked with or read about any corporate head with his integrity and beliefs. It was an honor to work with him, the Tylenol team.

For years, I worked with the J&J family of companies. I was recommended by my clients at McNeil to other J&J companies. When I began to experience a change in the mentality/work ethic/attitudes of various J&J company management persons … less humanistic, less ethical … I stopped taking J&J clients.

Ms. Westbrook’s responses were lightly edited.

By LaReeca Rucker

UM journalism graduate perfects skills behind the scenes of ESPN Network

Posted on: September 27th, 2018 by ldrucker

Born and raised an Ole Miss fan, 2016 graduate Catherine Carroon followed generations of family members to Rebel Nation before beginning her career in the world of sports through the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media.

Although she was not 100 percent set on Ole Miss, she said she decided to attend the university due to its impeccable journalism program.

Carroon embarked on her journalism journey her freshman year; however, she quickly switched her major to the school’s integrated marketing communications program.

The decision to switch career paths came from her passion for sports. She said she knew she didn’t want a career in sports writing, but since the school did not offer sports marketing, IMC became the best decision.

“I thought [IMC] would be the closest thing to get me near that track,” Carroon said.

While attending the university, Carroon had her first taste of experience through ESPN as a “runner” for College Gameday. That behind-the-scenes experience influenced her to hone in on sports operations.

“ESPN was one of those things I always thought ‘there is a one-in-a-million special person’ who would get the job there,” Carroon said. “I never thought it would be obtainable.” Photo courtesy of Carroon.

Carroon furthered her skill set in sport operations by working in the university’s control room—an operations sports program run by ESPN for a majority of SEC universities.

Upon graduation, Carroon said she was unsure what her next steps would be. However, one of the coordinating producers, Meg Aronowitz, sent a mass email to all the SEC control rooms regarding an operations internship in Bristol, Connecticut.

One of the ESPN control room contacts informed Carroon and encouraged her to apply, she said.

“ESPN was one of those things I always thought ‘there is a one-in-a-million special person’ who would get the job there,” Carroon said. “I never thought it would be obtainable.”

Now as a operations coordinator in her third year at the network, Carroon said she can link the framework of her success back to her Ole Miss experiences.

Although her classes in sports and journalism taught her educational information she uses day to day, Carroon credits her time at the university’s control room for her hands on experience in sports. From interacting with producers to handling film, the experience gave her a bird’s eye view on how to work in sports operations.

Carroon has covered a plethora of sports since her stint at ESPN. From the Sunday night MLB package to working on Olympic Sports, there aren’t many sports the young journalist hasn’t covered.

By Talbert Toole, lifestyles editor of HottyToddy.com. 

Meek School professor and grad featured on MSNBC

Posted on: September 17th, 2018 by ldrucker

Check out this video of Curtis Wilkie, a Meek School of Journalism and New Media Overby Fellow and associate professor of journalism. Meek School graduate Adam Ganucheau, who is now a reporter at Mississippi Today, is also featured.

Link: https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/curtis-wilkie-i-resent-trump-s-attacks-on-the-media-1320532547611?v=railb&

Meek School professor meets with Ethiopian leaders in Washington, D.C.

Posted on: September 6th, 2018 by ldrucker

Dr. Zenebe Beyene, a Meek School of Journalism and New Media instructional assistant professor and coordinator of international programs (second from left), is pictured with Dr. Oyvind Aadland, a representative of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, and Ethiopian leaders at a meeting on nation-building in the Charles L. Overby Boardroom at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Participants were primarily from the East Coast: New York, Virginia, Maryland and D.C. with one each from Memphis, Atlanta and North Carolina. They are lawyers, IT experts, software developers, political scientists, economists, a graphic designer, theologians, etc.

The  Meek School is grateful to the Freedom Forum for making the boardroom available. The boardroom is named for Charles Overby, a graduate of Ole Miss.

Meek School students head to Atlantic City to cover Miss America pageant

Posted on: September 5th, 2018 by ldrucker

It’s one of the nation’s biggest public speaking jobs, and two contestants with Meek School of Journalism and New Media ties will be competing for the title of Miss America this week.

Three Meek School students and a professor will also be reporting live from the pageant that will air Sunday, Sept. 9, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Read Miss Mississippi Asya Danielle Branch’s Miss America profile.

Read Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson’s Miss America profile.

Read the profiles of all Miss America 2019 contestants.

They’ll be rooting for Miss Mississippi Asya Branch, a University of Mississippi junior, who is a current Meek School student; and Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson, 22, who attended the Meek School as a broadcast journalism major. While at Ole Miss, Williamson was a news anchor for NewsWatch.

Dr. Iveta Imre, a professor of visual storytelling, is taking three students to Atlantic City to cover the event.

“The three students, Brian Barisa, Bryanna Bynum, and Sara Doan, will be working on stories about the girls for The Daily Mississippian, Newswatch, and Hotty Toddy,” Imre said.

The Meek School group left on Wednesday, and they will be staying through Saturday covering all activities leading up to the main pageant on Sunday.

“We applied for and received press passes, and we are planning to cover the preliminaries, other activities such as the Shoe Parade on Saturday, as well as create stories about road Rebs who are going to Atlantic City to support Asya,” Imre said.

Imre said she hopes the students learn from the experience.

“I am hoping that the students will experience reporting under pressure and on deadline as we will be Skyping live for Newswatch every night, as well as creating stories to meet DM’s and Newswatch’s daily deadlines,” she said. “We are trying to anticipate and prepare for the events, but many decisions will have to me made once we arrive on location.”

Imre said she hopes the students will create contacts with other journalists covering the pageant, and learn from observing.

“I think that it is phenomenal and pretty unusual, and I am happy this is happening as I am starting my first semester as a professor at Meek school,” Imre said. “No matter what happens on Sunday, I think this is already a great success for our girls.”

Meek School leaders are also helping lead a Miss America watch party sponsored by the Student Activities Association. The pageant will air at 8 p.m. CST on ABC. The watch party will be held at the same time inside the Student Union ballroom. All are invited.

Debbie Hall, a Meek School instructional assistant professor, said the watch party will give UM students a way to celebrate the Meek School’s two Miss America contestants. Refreshments and games will also be offered.

“When we first started talking about the Meek School sponsoring a watch party, it was to be sure that we honored the two Ole Miss contestants,” Hall said. “However, we did not want to compete with a campus-wide event. Therefore, we are encouraging our students and faculty to attend the SAA event.

“We are especially excited that the two contestants represent the Meek School. Miss Tennessee Christine Williams graduated in May as a broadcast journalism major. Asya Branch is a current IMC major.”

Hall said the Meek School’s Event Planning class will be conducting a fundraiser for the two contestants’ platforms as a way of recognizing and honoring them.

“Asya’s platform is Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents,” Hall said, “and Christine’s is the Alzheimer’s Association. We will be seeking donations to split between the two platforms.”

Hall said the class will use the hashtag:  #MeekMissAmerica. Donations can be made for one platform or the other, or both platforms. Donors will be given a “Team Christine” or “Team Asya” sticker to wear.

“What are the odds?” Hall said, that two Meek School students are in the pageant. “More seriously, I think this is just a further indication of the quality students we have in our Meek School programs.”

Meek School students attend NABJ convention in Detroit

Posted on: August 3rd, 2018 by ldrucker

Assistant Dean Pat Thompson and students Erin Pennington and Ethel Mwedziwendira are representing the University of Mississippi Association of Black Journalists at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Detroit from Aug. 1-5.

They are attending workshops and panels, meeting with media job recruiters, and networking with alumni. Here they are with alumnus Jesse Holland on Thursday, following his participation on a luncheon panel titled “The Power of Black Panther and Creating Positive Images in the Media.”

Highlights of the convention include a newsmaker plenary on Journalism Driven by Technology and Innovation; a panel on When Arts Meets Activism featuring movie actresses, directors and entertainment editors; a town hall on diversity; a “master class” on entrepreneurship and branding with Tyler Perry; workshops on data reporting, social media in the newsroom, covering the migration crisis, visual journalism, sports journalism, digital content; professional training sessions by CNN, CBS and other media; interviews with authors of books just released; screenings of new films and TV shows; awards ceremonies.

NABJ with Chance the Rapper

Recruiters from all major media are recruiting students and professionals for jobs and hosting receptions. Jemele Hill of ESPN’s The Undefeated is NABJ’s Journalist of the Year.

Meek School journalism professor featured on ‘Hardball’ with Chris Matthews

Posted on: May 30th, 2018 by ldrucker

University of Mississippi journalism professor Ellen Meacham recently appeared on “Hardball” with Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GckzdnAkPSE

In the video, Meacham details Robert F. Kennedy’s visit to the Mississippi Delta in 1967 in her new book Delta Epiphany: RFK in Mississippi.

Meacham’s book, published by University Press of Mississippi, examines the history, economics and politics of the Delta and how those factors influenced the lives of people whom Kennedy met there during that visit.

The book was inspired by a description from fellow journalist Curtis Wilkie’s memoir of Kennedy in a dark shack trying to speak to a toddler who was paying more attention to crumbs on the floor.

“I wondered about the impact it had on Kennedy, because it’s mentioned as an important moment in all of his biographies,” Meacham said. “The next question I had was, ‘What happened to the baby?’”

After seven years of searching, Meacham found and interviewed children from the four families Kennedy encountered on his visit, including that toddler.

“As I got into the research, I realized pretty quickly that there was a big part of the story that had not been told,” she said. “Most of the contemporary news accounts and later historians had only looked at RFK on the stage. The people who were living the lives that moved him so were more of a ‘poverty stage set.’”

Meacham wanted to tell the stories of those people.

“It became very important to me to bring those families into the light and find out how they came to be in that place at that time, what struggles they faced and their accomplishments since,” she said. “I think it brings more balance.

“It’s not just a story of a hero or a saint, it’s about a real person meeting real people.”

The book also features about a dozen photos, including the cover, that are published for the first time.

“The photographs were essential to telling this story,” Meacham said. “They brought such a vivid realism that showed the impact of the visit on Kennedy in a powerful way.”

A working journalist for more than two decades, Meacham used her experience as a newspaper reporter in Mississippi, which gave her access to contacts within both politics and journalism in the state, putting her in a unique position to tell these stories.

“Ellen Meacham is a talented and perceptive journalist who recognized, nearly a half-century after the fact, the great impact of Robert Kennedy’s brief trip to the Mississippi Delta in 1967,” said Wilkie, a UM associate professor of journalism and fellow of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

“It was a mission that changed his life, the tortured history of that region and the nation’s attitude toward hungry people in America. Though Ellen was not old enough to have been there, her investigation of the story has brought it back to life, and it is an example of her valuable work.”

Note: Most of this article was written by Christina Stuebe, from University Communications.

Street speaks to members of College Public Relations Association of Mississippi

Posted on: May 24th, 2018 by ldrucker

Senior Lecturer in Public Relations Robin Street spoke to members of the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi May 21 at Holmes Community College – Ridgeland. PR staff members from all four-year and community colleges in the state can join.

Street spoke about the It Starts with (Me)ek anti-stereotyping campaign she and 30 students put on at the Meek School. Street’s former students and other Meek School alumni were well represented. Alumni Mary Margaret Turner Busby and Barin von Foregger organized the conference.

From left are UM alumni with Street in the college where they work as communication specialists. Front row: Steve Diffey (Holmes), Donna Thomas (ICC), Street and Julie Bauer (NWCC).

Second row: Natalie Davis (Co-Lin), Mary Margaret Busby (Holmes), Pam Starling (Ole Miss), Barin von Foregger (Holmes). Third row:  Nell Luter Floyd (Millsaps), Cathy Hayden (Hinds) and Sarah Sapp (Ole Miss).