The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Archive for the ‘Alumni News’ Category

Alumni Update: Madisen Theobald (’16)

Posted on: September 21st, 2016 by jheo1

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:

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.

Alumni Update: Mark Ray (MA, ’90)

Posted on: March 2nd, 2016 by ewrobins

Mark Ray HeadshotThis July will mark my 18th year of fulltime freelancing—mostly writing but also some editing and a little project management. It’s been quite a run, especially considering that I’ve been able to thrive on referrals and a small amount of networking.

Over the years, I’ve done regular work for The Cobb Group/Element K Journals, Humana, the Courier-Journal, Culler Media, the United Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church (USA), but the Boy Scouts of America has become my major client. Especially recently, the BSA has kept me extremely busy (although I think that work is going to level out some going forward). In the last two years, I’ve edited/rewritten the Bear Handbook, the Webelos Handbook, and the Boy Scout Handbook, edited a new three- volume resource called Program Features for Troops, Teams, and Crews, and written the new two-volume Troop Leader Guidebook, among other projects. I also continue to sell a couple of self-published titles for Scout leaders, The Eagle Court of Honor Book and The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook.

I haven’t abandoned magazines, however! Since 2009, I’ve written the Roundtable section for Scouting magazine (circulation 1 million), which includes six articles per issue and has a strong service-journalism component, as well as contributing the occasional feature to the magazine. Since 2005, I’ve also written most of the National Eagle Scout Association magazine, now called Eagles’ Call (circulation 138,000), typically including one or two features and 10 or 12 briefs. The strong focus in Eagles’ Call is on profiles, and I’ve profiled everyone from astronauts and Olympians to politicians and CEOs. (It’s interesting to go from interviewing a 16-year-old Eagle Scout who doesn’t answer questions in complete sentences to interviewing a 78-year-old member of the Baseball Hall of Fame!)

Although I lost my pica pole somewhere along the way, the skills I developed in the master’s program at Ole Miss continue to pay dividends. With my books, I’ve done everything—writing, editing, design, layout, production, and marketing—and on other projects I’ve been able to effectively edit both my own work and the work of other people.

Alumnus Burnis Morris chosen as a History Hero

Posted on: January 29th, 2016 by ewrobins

Meek School alumnus Burnis Morris (’72) was selected as a 2016 History Hero for his work with the Carter G. Woodson Foundation.  Read the article at

Alumni Update: Amber Lynn Murphy (’15)

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by ewrobins

Amber Lynn MurphyI’m Amber Lynn Murphy (’15) and I recently took a job working for The Alliance Agency. Our agency works with many athletes and entertainers. At this point, I thought I was done with journalism, but I have been using my creative abilities more than ever. Everyday I use what I learned in the journalism program to help our company grow differently from other companies in our industry.

I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, where my choosing Ole Miss was a shock. My whole family went to Louisiana State University. At first it was hard for them to understand why, but when I started Ole Miss, I gave them a reason to understand. Needless to say, they all are Ole Miss fans, now. Thanks to the community, university, faculty and higher administration for making this journey possible.

While at Ole Miss, I held a sports anchor and reporter position with News Watch99. I had a broad range of duties from editing my own stories to anchoring a live show. I believe my experiences have enabled me to have the flexibility to excel in any tasks that are given to me now. I further refined my skills when I interned at FOX8 and WGNO in New Orleans. During these internships, I attended editorial meetings and performed research. I also prepared for presentations by writing scripts and cutting corresponding film. No story was too tough to tackle and no deadline was too quick. I worked extremely hard, and I loved having a plan and being organized. I always try to get better with each assignment, and I look forward to using these skills in any field of work.

During the academic year, I was involved in 12 student activities, while taking 21 hours and working part-time. My strong work ethic and time-management skills allowed me to successfully understand what it takes. The journalism professors provided me with constructive feedback to better my skills. Additionally, my experience as a student leader of various organizations has prepared me to make quick decisions when difficult situations arise.

I am very interested in using my talents in communication that I learned at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Meek School alumnus David Magee to lead new Alabama Media Group initiative

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by ewrobins

David Magee.VenturesAlabama Media Group has named award-winning journalist and author David Magee to the new executive position of vice president, Ventures.

In this role, Magee will serve as executive producer of Amazing Alabama, an original documentary series under development, and as publisher of Birmingham magazine.

Magee came to Alabama Media Group in 2013 and has served in roles across the print and digital content teams, most recently as the company’s senior director of content. He is the author of a dozen non-fiction books, including profiles on some of the world’s most prominent CEOs and brands, worked as a top editor at print and online publications in New York and Mississippi, and is a former advertising agency executive and business owner.

His new role will help position Alabama Media Group as an even stronger player in the media landscape, Bates said in announcing the appointment.

“David’s background in both business and journalism make him a fantastic choice to collaborate with our sales and content executives to expand our company’s portfolio,” Bates said. “With Amazing Alabama we have an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate the richness and vibrancy of our state. With Birmingham magazine, we have the chance to build on decades of leading our community.

“This is real demonstration of our commitment to tell stories across all platforms, and connect with businesses who want to be part of our state’s unfolding story.”

Magee assumes his new business duties immediately. The company will begin a search for an experienced, hands-on digital leader to run the day-to-day operations of news and sports teams, reporting to Vice President of Content Michelle Holmes as Magee did in his previous role.

“David has been an incredible factor in our success over the last few years,” said Holmes. “His contributions to audience growth and to high-quality, award-winning storytelling has been enormous. We’re committed to carrying on that vision and serving as the pre-eminent home of great Alabama journalism, supported by David’s success in his new role.”

Ole Miss alumnus picked to lead Jackson TV station

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by drwenger

Michael L. Neelly, a longtime Hearst Television news executive most recently serving as a news director in Cincinnati and Louisville, has been promoted to president and general manager of WAPT-TV, the Hearst Television ABC TV affiliate serving the Jackson, Mississippi, market.

The appointment, effective January 1, 2016, marks a return to Jackson for Neelly, an Ole Miss alumnus who was a photojournalist and producer in Jackson during the early 1990s. He succeeds Stuart Kellogg, who recently announced his year-end retirement after serving as WAPT’s president and general manager since 1991.

“For the last fifteen years, Mike has successfully led two Hearst Television news operations to new heights, building award-winning newscasts, increasing audience, and launching new digital products,” said Jordan Wertlieb, Hearst Television’s President. “His accomplishments, coupled with his strong leadership style and deep Mississippi roots, make Mike an excellent successor to carry on the overall growth and commitment to the local community that has been a hallmark of the WAPT team during Stuart Kellogg’s tenure.”

Neelly has served since 2012 as news director at WLWT-TV, the Hearst Television NBC affiliate in Cincinnati. While there, he helped establish “Making a Difference for Our Youth,” a multi-platform initiative spotlighting issues facing young Cincinnatians, the resources available to them and how viewers can help. He also led a rejuvenation of the news operation, overseeing staff expansion and creating an investigative unit. In recent ratings periods WLWT has ascended to the top of Cincinnati newscast ratings in key demographics and earned a 2015 Regional Emmy Award for Special Achievement: News Excellence – the market’s first station to receive the award.

The Meek School of Journalism & New Media would like to add its congratulations to Neelly and say, “Welcome home!”

Alumni Update: Karen Crenshaw Swenson (’78)

Posted on: December 1st, 2015 by ewrobins

Karen SwensonAfter being away from Ole Miss for almost 40 years, I returned last month to visit my alma mater and the journalism program that was so dear to me from 1974 through 1978. As I was walking around campus, I was continually reminded of a poem written about an Atlanta suburb that says, “Some of the past is gone. Some of the past remains.”

My returning to the university and embracing what the school stands for had been a gradual process. In 2002 I tuned in to a weeklong broadcast on NPR detailing changes that had taken place since James Meredith was admitted.

For my visit to Ole Miss, I intentionally parked across the street from what was previously the tiny, white, one-story Brady Hall that housed the journalism department; this is where I had a part-time $2.80-an-hour reporter job a few hours each week at The Daily Mississippian. My mentor and former adviser, Dr. Will Norton, now the first dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, took me on a brief tour of the campus.

More than the many beautiful new buildings and landscaping, I was surprised by the diversity and larger crowds of students who passed by me as we walked from the Journalism School to the spacious, modern S. Gale Denley Student Media Center, named for one of my professors. We stopped at the James Meredith statue, walked through the Paris-Yates Chapel and Johnson Commons, visited the Student Union Starbucks and went back to the Journalism School. I later learned that the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement would move into the renovated Student Union.

I had wondered for years, deep within me, how much had really changed at Ole Miss. I have looked at the university website weekly for the last eight years. I was thrilled a few years ago to see that an African-American woman had been elected ASB president, the same year that two black women had been chosen Homecoming Queen and Miss University. “Could it really be that different?” I had asked myself.

I was told by those with first-hand experiences with minority students at Ole Miss that there are still some cruelties communicated to them through social media, more so than verbal insults of yesteryear. Two persons I visited said that what had happened at Missouri could have happened at Ole Miss. I knew that in the last 10 years there had been several forums at the university with open and ongoing communication among persons of all backgrounds and cultures. These were led by forward-thinking students, professors and administrators — definitely a step in the right direction.

I also visited the Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center in Oxford. The two tour guides told me that, for them, Oxford was “worth coming home to.” They had returned from New York and Washington, DC, to a place they now call “a gem of a city in the state of Mississippi.”

In the last three months I have read Robert Khayat’s book The Education of a Lifetime and Ronald Farrar’s Powerhouse: The Story of the Meek School at Ole Miss. In 1974 and 1975, I had ridden to the Society of Professional Journalists meetings in Jackson with Dr. Farrar, my former news reporting professor, and Dr. Ed Meek. This is how I knew them best — through humorous and interesting stories I overheard as I dozed alone in the back seat of the car.

Many Ole Miss professors and former students have published books and written for noteworthy newspapers. I have read the book The Hit by Dr. Jere Hoar. During our visit to Oxford, my sister and I looked at Ed Meek’s book Riot: Witness to Anger and Change with Larry Wells, the book’s co-editor, and publisher of Yoknapatawpha Press. I have read the writings of former Daily Mississippian staff writers Fred Anklam and Dennis Moore, previously at USA Today; Stephanie Saul and Greg Brock, formerly at the New York Times; Mac DeMere, formerly automobile reviewer at Car and Driver; as well as Susan Puckett, formerly food editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. My pride in the then-journalism department and today’s journalism school students and professors abounds.

While driving from Atlanta to Oxford, I was listening to John Grisham’s Gray Mountain, a book about strip mining in Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia. This book reminded me of the story in the annually student-published Ole Miss Magazine in 1978 about strip mining in Mississippi. And I remembered the article that I wrote about the then-newly built Lamar Law Center in that same publication; now the Robert Khayat Law School is open. I experienced another change with my ADPi sorority sisters — with several minority members — during our visit to their new house.

I had attended public and independent high schools in the early 1970s when desegregation took place throughout the South. Through Dr. Andy Mullins (my former history teacher at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Jackson and former Chief of Staff to Chancellors Robert Khayat and Dan Jones), I learned about the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

As a child in Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1960s, I would watch television each night and read The Clarion Ledger each day, establishing the roots of my love of journalism and writing. Occasionally, having viewed (on television) the police and dogs attacking the black people who were being forcefully hosed away from restaurants and shops, I would wake up in the middle of the night terrified that “those mean white people” might come get me because I, a white girl, empathized with what the black people were experiencing. Deep down, I truly admired them.

Fortunately, my childhood bad dreams of race riots stopped, about 37 years ago, near the time when the first African-American man, “Gentle Ben” Williams, was elected then-Colonel Rebel. This was the same time period I attended journalism school with Rose Jackson Flenorl.

As a former journalist, then hospital public relations manager and, now, librarian for the last 25 years, I have used the skills I learned at the Department of Journalism every day and in every avenue of my life. I am pleased with the changes and growth at Ole Miss. I also am proud of the minority students’ continued courage and perseverance, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities and knowledge I’ve gained through it all.

Karen Crenshaw Swenson,