The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

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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

Alumni Update: Selena Standifer (’01)

Posted on: November 29th, 2016 by jheo1

Meek School alumnus Selena Standifer, deputy director of public affairs at the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) in Jackson has been selected as one of the Mississippi Business Journal’s top “50 Leading Business Women.”

Standifer, a resident of Brandon, will be featured by the publication in the September 30 issue and profiled as one of Mississippi’s leading women making a difference in business and community. As a part of the Class of 2016, she will be honored in February at the “Business Women of the Year” luncheon at the Hilton Conference Center, Jackson.

“I am thrilled to see Selena representing MDOT through this important recognition,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “For someone who displays such strong professional character and commitment to the agency and the state she serves, this recognition is well deserved.”

standifer_selena_headshotIn her job with MDOT, Standifer works with employees throughout the state including District Engineers, the Mississippi Transportation Commission and Education Outreach Programs on litter prevention and safety. As Deputy Public Affairs Director, she assists with audits, budget, human resources and facilities management for the Public Affairs Division, and coordinates activities for Civil Rights and Emergency Preparedness.

A native of Smithville, Standifer is involved in planning and managing special events for the agency and works with other state agencies, businesses, cities and counties on collaborative projects and publications. She supervises three Public Affairs departments: Media Production, Map Sales and Customer Service.

“We are proud of Selena for receiving this career achievement and appreciate the Mississippi Business Journal acknowledging her hard work and service to the citizens of Mississippi,” said Jarrod Ravencraft, public affairs director.

Standifer received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Mississippi in Oxford and has 14 years of experience in communication, public relations and marketing. She has worked in tourism, health care, non-profit and state government. Her key career accomplishments include marketing a new $20 million Women’s Center in Amory and serving as a spokesperson on The Weather Channel for the American Red Cross, Washington, D.C.

Standifer has been honored with awards for her work from the Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF), Public Relations Association of Mississippi(PRAM) and the Mississippi Hospital Association. She is a member of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Subcommittee on Communications, SPRF, PRAM, Young Professionals Alzheimer’s Advocates and United Way.

For more information, visit http://msbusiness.com/digital-magazines/50-leading-business-women-in-mississippi-digital-magazin/.

Careers in Non-Profit Communications

Posted on: November 29th, 2016 by jheo1

Four alumnae of Meek School classes spoke on a panel about their careers in non-profit communication to the PR Case Studies class taught by Robin Street on Nov. 3.

Pictured, left to right, are: (front row) Kate Rosson, communications manager for staff and volunteers with The American Cancer Society Global Headquarters; Laura Doty, marketing and communications manager for the Memphis Zoo; Susan Christensen, PR director for the Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, Miss.; (back row) Street; and Jane Lloyd Brown, liaison for strategic partnerships at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

non-profit-panel

The women presented examples of projects they have worked on, then talked generally about their jobs. In the final portion, they answered questions from students on topics ranging from what salary they make to what challenges they have faced and what career advice they could offer.

Brown, Rosson and Doty are all Street’s former students. Rosson and Christensen have B.A. degrees in journalism. Rosson also has a master’s degree from Ole Miss in leadership in higher education. Brown and Doty hold B.B.A. degrees in marketing communications. Doty also has a master’s degree in advertising and public relations from the University of Alabama.

Recent Graduate Clancy Smith Returns to The Meek School Shares Insights into Career in Government Relations

Posted on: November 1st, 2016 by jheo1

Communicating is hard enough. But try communicating on behalf of 122 different personalities.

That’s the situation facing Clancy Smith, a 2015 graduate of The Meek School of Journalism and New Media, in her new job as House Information Officer for the 122- member Mississippi House of Representatives.

Smith returned to campus Oct. 20 to speak on working in government communications to the Public Relations Case Studies class taught by her former instructor Robin Street.

 “Clancy is one the best students I have ever taught,” Street said.  “She excels in journalism and communication skills. The Mississippi Legislature is lucky to have someone with her talents.”

 Smith, who was a print journalism major with a PR emphasis, uses her journalism degree daily in her job. She may take a photo and send it to a representative’s local newspaper, write a news article, or compile a digital newsletter for the internal public of representatives.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t make use of the writing and communications skills I acquired at Ole Miss,” Smith said. “Applying those skills in my role as House Information Officer allows me to be more confident and effective in my job.” 

She provides information to members of the Capitol Press Corps, responds to local news outlets on matters relating to legislation, sets up news conferences for representatives and writes weekly summaries of legislative proceedings.

clancy-and-robin

Clancy Smith (left), a 2015 graduate of The Meek School, returned to campus to speak to Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s (right) public relations class about her job as House Information Officer for the Mississippi House of Representatives. Photo by Taylor Lewis.

By Taylor Lewis

Alumni Update: Laura Beth Lyons Strickland (’08)

Posted on: September 22nd, 2016 by jheo1

laura-beth-lyons-stricklandMeek School graduate Laura Beth Lyons Strickland, communications manager at the Vicksburg, Mississippi Convention and Visitors Bureau, was named Mississippi Tourism Association Member of the Year for 2016 recently.

Strickland has been an integral leader in the rebranding of Vicksburg as The Key to the South, says a news release from the MTA. She has overseen the building and design of Vicksburg’s new responsive design website, launched a weekly blog and grown social media platforms to record levels. She also served as chair of the 2015 Mississippi Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

Her former public relations instructor, Robin Street, fondly recalls Strickland in the classroom and has kept up with her as a public relations professional.

“Laura Beth is a special young woman who puts her heart into her work, whether it was in the classroom or now in her professional work,” Street said. “It also says a lot about her that she remained in her Mississippi to put her talents to use in bettering her hometown and home state.”

Strickland graduated in 2008 with B.A. in both journalism and English, along with a specialization in public relations. She joined the Vicksburg CVB in 2009 and has worked there ever since.

Her work has been recognized multiple times with awards for websites, special events and branding from the Public Relations Association of Mississippi. She has also been named to the Vicksburg Post’s list of the “Top 20 under 40.”

Alumni Update: Alex Cox Shockey and Rachel Hammons (’10, ’14)

Posted on: September 21st, 2016 by jheo1

robin-and-students-one

Just who is behind all those clever social media posts from FedEx? Two Meek School alums, of course. Alex Cox Shockey (pictured left ) and Rachel Hammons (pictured right), both communication specialists with FedEx, plan, create and oversee much of the social media for that company.

The two graduates returned to campus on Sept. 13 to speak to the same public relations techniques class they took with Robin Street, senior lecturer(pictured, center).
Shockey graduated with a degree in print journalism with an emphasis in PR in 2010. She joined FedEx in 2012 after working as a digital communications specialist for Pinnacle Airlines,  now called Endeavor Air,  for two years.

Hammons earned a degree in IMC in May 2014, then completed a master’s degree in IMC at Northwestern while also interning at FedEx.  Following her graduation from Northwestern, she began working fulltime at FedEx in January 2016. (photo credit: Hailey Heck)

Alumni Update: Madisen Theobald (’16)

Posted on: September 21st, 2016 by jheo1
madisen-theobald

Madisen Theobald at Condé Nast corporate headquarters.

Madisen Theobald is coordinator for digital advertising and product monetization for Condé Nast Publications in New York City. She works on all 16 of the company’s brands: Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Allure, Glamour, The New Yorker, Pitchfork and nine more. Her day-to-day duties include working with the corporate team’s directors and managers to execute and create digital advertisements and grow overall digital revenue. She also facilitates video interviews and production work for Condé Nast’s The Scene.

Madisen graduated Magna Cum Laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, a minor in graphic design and an emphasis in magazine services. While at the Meek School, she was Ole Miss Yearbook Design Editor, Daily Mississippian designer, and president of the Society for News Design chapter.

“It has been my dream to work for Condé Nast for as long as I can remember,” Theobald says “But it didn’t come easy. During my senior year at the Meek School, I worked five journalism-related jobs, strived for straight As, joined as many clubs in the Meek School that I could, found life-long mentors that saw my strengths when I saw weaknesses, and took classes that I didn’t even need to graduate just so I could learn more. The Meek School was more than the school that gave me an education and my dream job. It was my family that pushed me to be the best version of myself.”

Alumni Update: Ashley F. G. Norwood (’16)

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by jheo1

ashley-norwoodI was awarded a masters in journalism last May. The next month, I was hired as a beat reporter for Mississippi Today, the state’s only non-partisan and non-profit digital news organization.

What began as a Master’s thesis project has now earned national attention receiving more than 15,000 views since its summer debut online. It will now continue as a documentary series that details the black experience.

“The Fly in the Buttermilk,” a short documentary on the history, perception, and purpose of black Greek-lettered organizations at Ole Miss is now airing in the national Capitol, Washington, DC, on DCTV.

The film has screened in Detroit during the inaugural African World Film festival last month. I was among 15 filmmakers, and the only one from Mississippi. I joined filmmakers from South Africa, London, Cameroon and other nations.

The “fly in the buttermilk” will be screened in New York this October at the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora’s Annual Film Festival and Lecture Series. Films by women directors of color known around the world will be screened.

The lecture will feature the short film, and I will lead a panel of researchers in comparing the roles of BGLOs on college campuses during the Civil rights and black lives matter movements.

View the project here: https://vimeo.com/167185018

Alumni Update: Browning Stubbs (’16)

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by jheo1

browning-stubbsBrowning Stubbs, former NewsWatch Station Manager, Daily Mississippian Writer, Rebel Radio Sports Host, and 2016 Meek School Graduate, recently accepted a position with ESPN at its headquarters in Bristol, CT. He is in the production department. During the summer, Browning interned with ESPN Los Angeles, where he helped produce SportsCenter. Browning had the opportunity to produce segments, edit sound bites and video content, write graphics and scripts and create the top plays of the night. Browning also received experience in the field, helping to produce the ESPYS, the Golden Spikes Award, the CrossFit Games, and a Rams vs. Cowboys NFL Preseason game. In Bristol, Browning will continue to produce content that will air on all of ESPN’s digital and television platforms.

Alumni Update: Clancy Smith (’15)

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by jheo1

clancy-smithClancy Smith (’15) is House Information Officer for the Mississippi House of Representatives. Smith will provide information to members of the Capitol Press Corps, respond to local news outlets on matters relating to legislation, set up news conferences for representatives and write weekly summaries of legislative proceedings.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with leaders of the state of Mississippi to help facilitate the legislative process and keep the public informed,” Smith said. “The Meek School of Journalism gave me the tools I needed to be ready for this position and great mentors who helped me believe I could get there.”

Smith, a native of Saltillo, Miss., earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in political science and an emphasis in public relations from The University of Mississippi before earning a master’s degree in public relations from The University of Alabama in 2016.