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Retired New York Times journalist named Overby Center senior fellow

Posted on: October 16th, 2018 by ldrucker

Veteran journalist Greg Brock, whose 43-year-career included positions at some of the country’s largest and most respected newspapers, has been named a senior fellow at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi.

His appointment was announced by Charles Overby, chairman of the Overby Center, an institute devoted to creating a better understanding of the media, politicians and the role of the First Amendment in our democracy.

Brock recently retired from The New York Times, where he worked for 20 years in a number of leadership capacities. He was senior editor for standards, news editor of The Times Washington bureau, news editor on the international desk and deputy political editor for the 1996 presidential campaign.

“Greg Brock has had a career filled with accomplishments,” Overby said. “He will bring his insights and experience to Ole Miss in a way that will benefit students and all who come in contact with the Overby Center.”

Before joining The Times, Brock spent almost a decade at The Washington Post, where he had several editing positions, including night city editor and a news editor for the front page.

He began his career in Florida at The Palm Beach Post. He later worked at The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, The San Francisco Examiner and the Louisville (Ky.) Journal.

Brock was a 1994 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and later served on the foundation’s advisory board for 10 years.

A native of Crystal Springs, Brock graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. While at Ole Miss, he worked for The Daily Mississippian as a reporter, news editor and managing editor. He was president of the student chapter of Sigma Delta Chi/Society of Journalists and was chosen by the faculty as the Sigma Delta Chi Outstanding Graduate in Journalism.

In 2012, the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss awarded him the Sam Talbert Silver Em Award, given to a Mississippi-connected journalist whose career has exhibited “the highest tenets of honorable, public service journalism, inside or outside the state.”

In addition to his work at the Overby Center, Brock is an adjunct instructor at the Meek School.

Meek School assistant professor will be keynote speaker at State Arts Conference

Posted on: October 15th, 2018 by ldrucker

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Arts Commission, and Meek School Assistant Professor Alysia Burton Steele is one of three keynote speakers.

You are invited to “Come As You Art” to the event Thursday, Oct. 18 at the Mississippi State Capitol building. The free, daylong conference is described as an opportunity for artists, arts organizations, arts educators and arts enthusiasts to learn, share and network.

“Featuring compelling speakers, helpful workshops and fun activities, conference participants will leave inspired and ready to greet the next challenge with creative solutions,” the Mississippi Arts Commission website reports.

Casual and creative dress is encouraged. After the conference, attendees can celebrate MAC’s 50th birthday at a reception hosted by MAC’s Board of Commissioners at the Mississippi Museum of Art.

To learn more, visit: msstateartsconference2018.sched.com to see the conference agenda, speakers and other details as they emerge.

Meek School student’s documentary ‘American Hate’ shown in Overby Auditorium

Posted on: October 10th, 2018 by ldrucker

Brittany Brown, a senior Meek School broadcast journalism senior from Quitman, Mississippi, was recently awarded a News21 national investigative reporting fellowship for student journalists.

The documentary she helped create, “American Hate,” was shown Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Auditorium. It was sponsored by the School of Journalism and New Media’s Common Ground Committee. Pizza was served following the film.

Read our Q & A with Brown below.

Q. Tell us about your University of Mississippi experience. Are you involved in student media?

A. I have been involved in the Student Media Center since my freshman year. I’ve written for The Ole Miss yearbook and The Daily Mississippian. I’ve also been a reporter and anchor for NewsWatch Ole Miss. Last year, I was the digital content producer for NewsWatch Ole Miss, and I am currently an assistant news editor at The Daily Mississippian.

Q. Describe the fellowship you won. 

A. News21 is a national investigative reporting fellowship for student journalists. This summer, I spent a few months in Phoenix, Arizona at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University reporting on hate crimes, hate groups and their victims.

The program included a semester-long seminar (January to May) learning investigative reporting techniques and researching incidents across the U.S. I spent the summer mainly reporting on the African American community and doing video storytelling. I helped team-produce the “American Hate” documentary, helped co-write “A Violent Legacy,” traveled on a nationwide road trip and produced interactive storytelling.

Q. What did you learn or take away from the fellowship?

A. I learned that this is something that I want to do for the rest of my life. It was such a great experience working in such a collaborative newsroom and working alongside such talented journalists and editors. I sharpened many of my technical skill, such as my efficiency in Adobe Premiere Pro, but I also learned how to properly research and build for an in-depth story.

Q. What do you hope others learn from the documentary you helped produce?

A. I hope that others realize how relevant the issue of hate is, still, in America today. It is not a thing of the past, and it is something we need to face as a country. I just hope this project expands people’s views of the world.

You can view the documentary trailer here: https://vimeo.com/284232784

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.

Chicago Bulls sports announcer encourages future broadcasters at Meek School

Posted on: October 9th, 2018 by ldrucker

If you have ever been told you cannot play a sport because you are not big enough, or you would not be good at somethinglet Chuck Swirsky be your motivation. 

Swirsky, the play-by-play voice of the Chicago Bulls, has faced many challenges to achieve his dream career. But with help and support from others, hard work, dedication and goals, Swirsky remains energetic, focused, disciplined, and passionate about life.   

I was a horrible athlete,” Swirsky said recently as a guest speaker at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “I got cut from every game.”

But he still wanted to be a part of sports. “In a make-believe world, I’d love to be an NBA player,” Swirsky said, “but when you’re vertically challenged like me and a poor athlete, a sports announcer is the next big thing.” 

The four people who influenced Chuck’s sports announcing career are Vince Bagli, Ernie Harwell, Joe Tait, and Pete Gross. Swirsky spent many summers with Bagli, a sports announcer, and his family job shadowing him from age 12 to 21. 

Pete Gross, a former broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks, was also a mentor. Swirsky loved Pete’s work ethic.   

The video is a highlight of Swirsky’s first NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and the Atlanta Hawks. 

Swirsky said negativity from others can sometimes drive a person to accomplish great things. “The news director at NBC Radio told me that he did not like my voice, and that I will never make it,” he said.

This negative comment gave Swirsky the motivation needed to become a professional sports announcer. And during his junior year at Ohio University, he received an internship with NBC Radio in Cleveland, Ohio.

He recalled another moment when someone told him he would not be a successful sports announcer. He said he cried to his grandmother, who said, “You need to get these negative thoughts out of your system, and tomorrow you are going to prove to everyone and to yourself that you are worthy of this career.”

Swirsky said his grandmother’s speech has been the driving force in his life and every decision he has made. He said the people he surrounded himself with are the reason he has the skills and qualities necessary to succeed in this career field.

“You must be passionate, have a great attitude, and be enthusiastic,” he said. “With these three traits, you can accomplish anything.”  

Swirsky said you must be prepared, have a good work ethic and stay focused. With any job or career, you will have celebrations and challenges, he said.  

He said being a sports broadcaster is a tough and competitive industry. One must never give up, bring it when the time comes, and always be on time for everything.

“You never go into sports broadcasting or anything for the dollars and cents,” he said. “Because you are going to start at the bottom, and I mean the bottom. You are going to have to work your way up.”

In his first job in the sports broadcasting industry, he said he saved money by eating McDonald’s, pizza, and Chinese food. 

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Chicago Bulls sports announcer Chuck Swirsky.

Swirsky said he practiced being a successful sports announcer. “I would go into my room with a little tape recorder,” he said. “I would rewrite the newspaper (The Seattle times), and I would do the sportscast into my microphone, and I would listen, listen, and listen again.” 

When he was at Ohio University, he said the school had a 11:15 a.m. sportscast during the weekend. No one else wanted the job because of the time slot. Swirsky volunteered.

Swirsky has accomplished much as a sports announcer. He did not give up on his goals and dreams. When he feels like he has done all he can, he said tries to do more or better. 

“Those insecurities in my DNA drive me everyday to be better,” he said, “but the question I have is: How bad do you really want it, to be a sportscaster? Are you willing to pay the price?”

Swirsky has influenced, mentored, and motivated many journalists. “At this point in my career, I have probably done everything that I had hoped to do. However, there is still a window of opportunity, because I never shut the door on opportunities.” 

Swirsky said his career choice was a major goal in his life, and he thanks God for the opportunity.  

By J.T. Butts

Why Ethical Business Is Good Business: Hearst TV leaders speak at Meek School

Posted on: October 4th, 2018 by ldrucker

Fred Young and Hank Price, two past and present top Hearst TV leaders, spoke Monday, Oct. 8 in the Overby Center auditorium. Young discussed “Why Ethical Business is Good Business.”

According to Hearst.com, Fred I. Young, was the senior vice president of News for Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., before retiring after a distinguished 46-year career. Young served in an advisory and consulting role with the company and its television stations.

He oversaw news operations at Hearst-Argyle TV stations in 26 markets throughout 22 states, according to Hearst.com, as well as the Hearst-Argyle Washington, D.C., News Bureau, which services the company’s television news departments. He had served as vice president of news upon Hearst-Argyle’s formation in August 1997 through the combination of Hearst Broadcasting and Argyle Television, Inc.

In March 2002, Young received a First Amendment Service Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation.

Hearst.com reports that Young joined Hearst Broadcasting in October 1962, serving for 25 years at WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh, as vice president and general manager, news director, and in other news management positions. “During his years there, WTAE-TV received numerous local and national awards for quality programming and community service. He was also instrumental in the original campaign to admit television cameras into Pennsylvania courtrooms,” the website reports.

Young is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, from whom he received a Broadcaster of the Year Award. He is also past chairman of the Telecommunications Advisory Committee of Pennsylvania State University, and is a member of the Radio-Television News Directors’ Association. A graduate of Duquesne University, he is also a past president of the Congregation Brothers of Israel in Trenton, New Jersey.

Hank Price is president and general manager of WVTM 13, the Hearst Television NBC affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama. He also serves as director of leadership development for the Meek School of Journalism & New Media.

Before moving to WVTM 13 in January of 2015, Price was president and general manager of WXII 12, Hearst’s NBC affiliate in Greensboro/Winston-Salem, North Carolina. During Price’s tenure, WXII 12 became the region’s dominant source of news and information on all platforms, including television, web and mobile. From 2000 until 2015, Price was also senior director of Northwestern University’s Media Management Center. He is co-author of Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First (Sage, 2015).

Prior to joining Hearst and Northwestern, Price was vice-president and general manager of WBBM-TV, the CBS-owned television station in Chicago. During that time, he was named a “Fifth Estater” by Broadcasting and Cable Magazine for innovative leadership in local news.

Before WBBM, Price spent 12 years with the Gannett Company in a variety of positions, including president and general manager of KARE 11 in Minneapolis, president and general manager of WFMY-TV in Greensboro, N.C., and vice-president for programming, marketing and research at WUSA-TV in Washington, DC.

Price, a native of Gulfport, Miss., worked his way through college at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he is a member of the School of Mass Communications and Journalism Hall of Fame.

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

Dr. Ed Meek released this statement on Saturday, September 22, 2018.

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018 by jheo1

Today I have asked the University of Mississippi to remove my name from the School of Journalism and New Media. This past week I made a post on Facebook that reflected poorly on myself, the School and our University. It was never my intention to cast the problems our community faces as a racial issue. I do not believe that to be the case. I heartily apologize to all I have offended. I particularly apologize to those depicted in the photographs I posted. I was wrong to post them and regret that I did so.

I have spent my life in service to the Oxford-University community and have prided myself that I was a proponent of integration and diversity at all times. I helped to transform the department of Journalism into a School because of my passion for a free press, free speech, and an independent student media. My desire then and now is for the School of Journalism to be a global leader in Journalism education. I recognize that the attachment of my name to the School of Journalism is no longer in the best interest of that vision. I love Ole Miss too much to be one who inhibits the University and the School from reaching the highest potential and it is with that in mind that I make this request.

-Ed Meek

The faculty of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media released this statement on Friday, September 21, 2018.

Posted on: September 21st, 2018 by jheo1

Whereas the faculty of the School of Journalism and New Media, as an academic unit in the University of Mississippi, and in the language of our creed “is dedicated to nurturing excellence and intellectual inquiry and personal character in an open and diverse environment;” and whereas a Facebook post published by the school’s namesake, Ed Meek, violated the fundamental values of the school and the university; and whereas this post is endemic of a larger culture and history of exclusion that has harmed and continues to harm students and the entire university community; and whereas faculty condemned this behavior, therefore we ask Dr. Ed Meek to request within three days that his name be removed from the School of Journalism & New Media; and therefore we invite Dr. Ed Meek to be part of a conversation about charting a path forward that speaks to our core values and should guide our future relationships with all constituents.

Ole Miss School of Journalism and New Media Response

Posted on: September 20th, 2018 by jheo1

Dean Will Norton Jr. with the support of the faculty released this video statement on Thursday, September 20, 2018.

Ole Miss School of Journalism and New Media Response

Dean Will Norton Jr. with the support of the faculty released this video statement on Thursday.

Posted by Meek School of Journalism and New Media on Thursday, September 20, 2018