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Janet Brown, director of presidential debates, speaks at Overby Center

Posted on: April 6th, 2018 by ldrucker

Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates who was instrumental in bringing the first 2008 debate to the Ole Miss campus, was the featured guest in a discussion Tuesday, April 10, at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics about the merits of holding the high-stakes political confrontation.

The program was the fifth of the spring season at the Overby Center. All Overby Center functions are free and open to the public.

Brown served as a guest lecturer for two weeks at the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at Ole Miss, but she has a longer history with Mississippi and the university. Her grandparents were residents of Como, and she has frequently visited the state.

Ten years ago, she was the key force behind the debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, a dramatic moment during the campaign when McCain, the Republican nominee, threatened to pull out of the encounter in order to pay more attention to an economic crisis.

She spoke about her experiences over the past 30 years as head of the non-partisan commission and her thoughts about the value of presidential debates in a discussion with Charles Overby, chairman of the center, Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie, who is teaching the Honors College class on presidential debates with Brown, and Tom Oliphant, a former political columnist for The Boston Globe. As journalists, Overby, Wilkie and Oliphant covered many of the debates after they became a regular practice in 1976.

“Janet is the country’s presidential debate czar,” said Overby. “She has overseen the evolution of the debates. She knows the inside stories of these historical events.”

The Overby Center season will conclude April 17 with an appearance by Tucker Carrington, director of the Innocence Project at the Ole Miss law school, and Radley Balko, an investigative reporter for The Washington Post. Carrington and Balko are authors of a new book, “The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist,” an exposé about misbehavior by Mississippi officials which led to the convictions of innocent defendants.

Knight Foundation writes about local news study co-authored by Meek School professor Wenger

Posted on: April 6th, 2018 by ldrucker

The Knight Foundation’s Beyond “Live at Five”: What’s Next for Local News? summarizes research the organization commissioned from Meek School of Journalism and New Media Assistant Dean Debora Wenger and Professor Emeritus Bob Papper of Hofstra University.

Local TV News and the New Media Landscape” focuses on the competing forces currently shaping local television news. With a decline in broadcast news ratings, local news leaders are trying to engage audiences on social media and other digital platforms.

The article reads: “Knight Foundation is supporting television news journalists and leadership by investing $2.6 million into efforts around digital transformation, diversity, audience engagement and investigative reporting. Today, we are complementing that effort by publishing new research on the state of the industry and its future.”

The article notes some key findings from the study Local TV News and the New Media Landscape, co-authored by Wenger and Papper. They include:

  • TV is a key source of news, but audiences are slowly shrinking.
  • While newspapers have lost employees to layoffs and industry changes, TV news employment is up.
  • Television stations are primarily innovating on digital platforms rather than on the air.
  • Social media engagement boosts television ratings.
  • Most local television news leaders believe newscasts must fundamentally change if they expect to survive into the future.

The Knight Foundation is a national foundation that invests in journalism, the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Its goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, believed to be essential for a healthy democracy, according to their website.

View the work of the Lens Collective focusing on civil rights stories in the Mississippi Delta

Posted on: April 5th, 2018 by ldrucker

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media hosted the Lens Collective – an annual multimedia workshop that involved collaborations with mentors, students and eight universities – March 28-31. The 2018 focus was stories about Civil Rights in the Mississippi Delta.

“The Lens Collective is fun and intense,” said Alysia Burton Steele, assistant professor of the Meek School. “We have incredible mentors helping students and sharing their inspiring work.”

Three distinguished guests mentored students and presented their work. They are Smiley Pool, a Pulitzer-Prize winning photojournalist from The Dallas Morning News; Eric Seals, a nine-time regional Emmy Award-winner from the Detroit Free Press; and Josh Birnbaum, an award-winning photojournalism professor at Ohio University and author of the newly released coffee table book Dream Shot: The Journey to a Wheelchair Basketball National Championship.

Students took a bus tour in the Delta, enjoyed dinner with the people they documented and premiered student work on the last night of the program.

Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, partnered with the Lens Collective to provide a civil rights heritage tour of the area. The educational tour included the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden in Ruleville, the historic black town of Mound Bayou, and a Mississippi Delta soul food experience at The Senator’s Place restaurant in Cleveland.

Dr. Herts, Lee Aylward, and Sheila Winters of The Delta Center organized the tour and connected the Lens Collective with Delta residents whose stories were documented.

“We are pleased to host for a second year this group of talented students and mentors from across the country,” said Herts. “They are documenting and preserving important Mississippi Delta stories.”

This is also the second year the Meek School has partnered and will sponsor all other events. It was an opportunity for participants to build their resumes and portfolios.

“Universities that can provide immersive field experiences to their students like the Lens Collective are taking their education seriously,” said Charles Mitchell, assistant dean of the Meek School. “They understand that classroom alone is not sufficient for a media practitioner. They find out how much fun it can be, and their college work is better because seeing what it’s really like being out in the field inspires them.”

To see the Lens Collectives work, visit the website.

By Bobby Steele Jr., Meek School of Journalism and New Media

Morgan wins SIPA Elizabeth B. Dickey Distinguished Service Award

Posted on: April 3rd, 2018 by ldrucker

COLUMBIA, S.C. – R.J. Morgan, director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association at the University of Mississippi, is the recipient of the Southern Interscholastic Press Association’s Elizabeth B. Dickey Distinguished Service Award at the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

The award was presented during the advisers Saturday luncheon at the annual SIPA convention March 2-4.

“He is an encourager of others, loves students and works well with both students and adults,” Beth Fitts, former MSPA director, said. “At the same time, he is a self-starter who gets things done – all with great flair and an engaging sense of humor.”

R.J. Morgan, center, during the recent Mississippi Scholastic Press Association annual conference at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.

Morgan is recognized for going above and beyond to get students the education and opportunities they need to grow as journalists and people. But what really sets him apart is his availability and his dedication to the students. Whether it be answering a text message or an email about a small question or renting buses to ensure students have the opportunity to make it to the SIPA conventions, he is always around for help.

“He frequently goes above and beyond his normal director duties,” Diala Chaney, Oxford High School journalism adviser, said. “He stays in constant communication with the journalism teachers throughout the state. He makes all the arrangements, travel plans and only collects a portion of the cost from the students who are interested in attending [the SIPA convention].”

D’Iberville High School yearbook adviser Mandy Mahan agrees and says Morgan leads students and advisers to participate at the state, regional and national level

“Because of the opportunities that R.J. creates through MSPA, my students have built impressive resumes filled with speaking engagements and awards. He truly believes that scholastic journalism should be student led, so my students have presented at our state conferences and have had the opportunity to submit work and win awards in the numerous competitions that he readily advertises.  He encourages them to think outside of the box and makes himself available whenever they need him. My broadcast group has even asked him to come down here to be a featured guest on their weekly podcast.”

This award is presented at the Southern Interscholastic Press Association’s annual convention the first weekend each March. The recipient usually has at least seven years of experience advising one or more award-winning school publications. He/she also has an influence in scholastic journalism beyond the walls of the school in state, regional and national scholastic press associations and shows leadership at SIPA conventions.

For more information contact Leslie Dennis at 803-777-6146 or read the full article online.

The Southern Interscholastic Press Association is a not-for-profit organization of public schools, including middle, junior and senior high schools, and independent schools. Its purpose is to encourage a high degree of professionalism in scholastic journalism and mass communications in the Southeast. Founded at Washington and Lee University in 1926, SIPA moved to the University of South Carolina in 1972.

Take a virtual tour of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: March 20th, 2018 by ldrucker

Have you ever wanted to take a tour of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Here’s your chance!

Link to video.

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

Posted on: March 12th, 2018 by ldrucker

Daily Mississippian: Lana Ferguson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blake Hein at work in the Student Media Center

Advertising Sales: Blake Hein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebel Radio: Austin Hille

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

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

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

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

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

Austin Hille covering the Republican National Convention in summer 2016.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abbie McIntosh on assignment in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

NewsWatch Ole Miss: Abbie McIntosh

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

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

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

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

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

Abbie McIntosh in the NewsWatch Ole Miss studio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marisa Morrissette at the Southeast Journalism Conference in February.

 The Ole Miss Yearbook: Marisa Morrissette

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

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

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

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

Marisa Morrissette.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Measure of Progress: The Clyde Kennard Story

Posted on: March 8th, 2018 by ldrucker

A new documentary on the life of a civil rights pioneer who sought to desegregate higher education in Mississippi is the result of a collaborative research effort by a group of faculty members at The University of Southern Mississippi. The film was produced by University
of Mississippi journalism and integrated marketing communications professors Alysia Steele and Bobby Steele, Jr.

“Measure of Progress: The Clyde Kennard Story” will premiere at the University of Mississippi, Overby Center Auditorium Tuesday, March 20, 2018, from 6-8 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. There will be a panel to answer questions after the premiere. Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell, who was interviewed in the film, may attend the event.

Southern Miss Freedom50 Research Group, an interdisciplinary group of scholars in the USM Departments of English, History, and School of Mass Communication and Journalism researching racial progress occurring at the university over the last 50 years, reached out to University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism professors Alysia and Bobby Steele to produce the 15-minute documentary. Project funding was provided by the Mississippi Humanities Council.

A native of Hattiesburg, Clyde Kennard made several attempts to enroll at then Mississippi Southern College, now The University of Southern Mississippi, but was denied entry by college, state and local officials. Although his efforts were obstructed, Kennard persisted until he was falsely accused and convicted of multiple crimes, then ultimately sentenced to seven years at Parchman Farm, now the Mississippi State Penitentiary. While there, Kennard was diagnosed with cancer, but was denied proper medical treatment until he was critically ill. He was released on parole in January, 1963 and died July 4, 1963, at the age of 36.

On March 30, 2006, Kennard was declared innocent in Forrest County (Miss.) Chancery Court – the same court where he had been convicted decades earlier – after subsequent investigations showed he had been framed.

To atone for its role in this injustice, USM in 1993 renamed its student services building Kennard-Washington Hall in honor of Kennard and Dr. Walter Washington, the first African American to earn a doctorate from the university. USM also honors Kennard’s legacy through a scholarship program that bears his name, which to date has benefited more than 40 of its students.

Members of the Freedom50 Research Group include Dr. Sherita Johnson, associate professor of English, director of the USM Center for Black Studies and organizer of Freedom50; Dr. Cheryl Jenkins, associate professor of mass communications and journalism and assistant director for the Center for Black Studies; Dr. Rebecca Tuuri, assistant professor of history, and Dr. Loren Saxton Coleman, assistant professor of mass communications.

As the Freedom50 Research Group evolved, Dr. Coleman said it became clear it needed to focus its work on Clyde Kennard, because “his story is paramount in this university’s journey to desegregation and racial progress,” and engaged producers Alysia Burton Steele and Bobby D. Steele, Jr. to turn their idea for a documentary on Kennard’s life into reality. Meek School of Journalism and New Media professor Ji Hoon Heo assisted as camera operator and drone photographer.

“It has been our goal to share his story of triumph, not just tragedy, with the university and greater Hattiesburg community,” Coleman said. “We want each student that walks on this campus to know the Kennard story, understand his sacrifice and see themselves as part of his legacy,” said Dr. Coleman.

Dr. Jenkins described the project as “a labor of love for both the producers and the research group.”

“We wanted to make sure Mr. Kennard’s legacy would be the highlight of our work, and that his determination to receive an education would be an inspiration to all,” Dr. Jenkins said.

Meek IMC student wins first place in annual Speaker’s Edge competition

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ldrucker

After a rare snow day pre-empted the final day of the 15th annual Speaker’s Edge competition at the University of Mississippi, the School of Business Administration recently got participants back together to present awards and wrap up the event.

Nearly 100 students participated in this year’s edition of Speaker’s Edge, which was dominated in the awards by three students from the on-campus Master of Business Administration program.

In the Ethical Dilemmas category, Ferderica Cobb, one of the Meek School’s top IMC students from Canton, took first place, followed by Jonathan Dowell, of Port Gibson, in second, and Corey Price, of Birmingham, Alabama, in third. In this category, participants presented their best solutions to workplace challenges where suggestions of sexual harassment, bribery, appropriation of intellectual property, plagiarism, per diem abuse and inappropriate office behavior were presented.

MBA students Corey Price (left), Ferderica Cobb and Jonathan Dowell swept the awards at the annual UM Speaker’s Edge competition. Price took third place in the Ethical Dilemmas and Marketplace Pitch categories; Cobb grabbed first in Ethical Dilemmas and second in Marketplace Pitch, as well as the overall championship; and Dowell took second in Ethical Dilemmas and first in Marketplace Pitch. UM Photo by Stella Connell

In the Marketplace Pitch completion, Dowell came in first, followed by Cobb and then Price. These presentations were persuasive arguments regarding technology, innovation productivity, leadership and strategy. Dowell’s winning pitch advocated using battery technology to close the performance gap between renewable energy and fossil fuels.

Cobb’s stellar performance in both categories earned her the title of overall winner for the competition, which includes a $1,000 prize.

“Speaker’s Edge was a great experience – receiving feedback from the coaches, moving from room to room, presenting our speeches to judges, competing with classmates – I enjoyed the intensity of it all,” Cobb said. “The event challenged me in new ways, and I will take those skills with me into the professional world.

“Everyone’s ideas were so interesting, and I knew there were strong presentations from my classmates. I did not expect to win. I was humbled, and it is a huge honor to be the 2018 winner.”

Cobb’s success may be attributed, in part, to the active role she played in the university’s Student Media Center.  She was very involved in Rebel Radio during her undergraduate career.

This year’s edition of Speaker’s Edge kicked off Jan. 11, featuring 97 students from the UM School of Business Administration and Patterson School of Accountancy. More than 50 judges from all over the Mid-South volunteered their time to help at the event.

“Speaker’s Edge provides students an opportunity to develop the communication and presentation skills that are vital to success in business and other leadership settings,” said Walter Davis, faculty adviser to the MBA program. “Students often point to the Speaker’s Edge experience as a highlight of their MBA or Master of Accountancy program at Ole Miss.”

Plans called for a new Team Pitch category at this year’s event, but snow and ice across much of north Mississippi forced the cancellation of the final day of competition, including the Team Pitch presentations.

“It is disappointing that Mother Nature prevented us from the opportunity to review these presentations, but this something to look forward to in next year’s competition,” said Ashley McGee, director of the MBA program.

The Speaker’s Edge competition was started by Ole Miss alumni in 2003. The event brings together industry professionals, retirees, working alumni and students, requiring students to adapt their message to different audiences.

In preparation, participants spent a week-and-a-half working with volunteer communication coaches to discover the strengths and weaknesses of their own personal presentation style in front of multiple judges.

“One great thing about Speaker’s Edge: When you see a student move through fear and become the confident speaker they will be for the rest of their lives,” said Joan Andrews, a Speaker’s Edge coach from the College of East Texas.

The annual event helps students find their own voice and grow more confident in their presentations, said JoAnn Edwards, speech instructor, director of forensics and special projects manager at the UM Lott Leadership Institute.

“The outcomes are beyond valuable – they are vital,” Edwards said. “The act of teaching, guiding and coaching that process is, for me and for all the coaches and judges who give of their time and talents, pure joy.”

The Speaker’s Edge competition is a critical program that helps Ole Miss students position themselves for success as they move into the professional world, said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration.

“The competitive nature of the program allows our best student presenters and speakers to get even better while honing the skills of those students who are less confident in this environment,” Cyree said. “We greatly appreciate the dedicated coaches, instructors and judges who are involved in making this an exceptional opportunity for our students.”

By Stella Connell

UM students win Southeast Journalism Conference championship

Posted on: February 18th, 2018 by ldrucker

University of Mississippi students won 25 awards in two major regional contests this past weekend, and were named the 1st Place Journalism Champions for the on-site competitions.

The Southeast Journalism Conference 32nd annual convention was Feb. 15-17 at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. SEJC has more than 40 member universities in seven southeastern states, and sponsors two contests.

The Best of the South contest recognizes the best student journalist work published or broadcast in 2017. In this year’s contest, there were 412 entries from 30 universities. Each UM entry consisted of several examples of student and staff work, from The Daily Mississippian, NewsWatch Ole Miss, Rebel Radio, internships and published projects.

The on-site competitions are held during the conference, and students in attendance compete against one another to produce content on deadline in 15 separate categories. Harding reported that 170 students competed in the on-site competitions this year.

Meek School of Journalism and New Media students won five first-place awards. In the on-site competitions, first places were won by Devna Bose for arts and entertainment writing; Marlee Crawford, for sports photography; and Ethel Mwedziwendira, for current events.

In the Best of the South contest, Abbie McIntosh won first place for Best TV Hard News Reporter, and Thomas DeMartini and Austin Hille teamed to win Best Broadcast Advertising Staff Member.

Other awards won by UM students:

Second places in Best of the South: Lana Ferguson, Best News Writer; Lana Ferguson, Best Feature Writer; Madison Heil, Best Journalism Research Paper; Erin Pennington, Best Radio Hard News Reporter.

Second places in the on-site competitions: Hayden Benge for newspaper design; Clifton Carroll for public relations; Marisa Morrissette for media history/law/ethics.

Third places in Best of the South: Jake Thrasher, Best News-Editorial Artist/Illustrator; DeAndria Turner, Best Radio Journalist; NewsWatch Ole Miss, Best College TV Station. NewsWatch is a live, daily newscast, compared to some others in the competition, which are weekly recorded and edited shows.

Third places in the on-site competitions: Matthew Hendley for TV anchoring; DeAndria Turner for radio reporting.

In the Best of the South contest, some of the categories – especially the newspaper categories – attract more than 30 entries each, and awards are given out up to 10th place. Other UM students/staffs who placed in Best of the South: The Daily Mississippian, a daily newspaper competing against student newspapers published weekly or semiweekly, won fourth place for Best College Newspaper; Marlee Crawford won fifth place for Best Press Photographer; NewsWatch Ole Miss won fifth place for Best College News Video Program; Devna Bose won sixth place for Best Arts and Entertainment Writer; Ethel Mwedziwendira won seventh place for Best Newspaper Page Layout Designer; Hayden Benge won eighth place for Best Newspaper Page Layout Designer; Grant Gaar won eighth place for Best TV News Feature Reporter; Liam Nieman won eighth place for Best Opinion-Editorial Writer.

Fifteen UM students traveled to Arkansas to participate in the on-site categories, accompanied by Meek School Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson, who oversees all of the Student Media Center.

“Year after year, our students excel in both the Best of the South and the on-site competitions,” Thompson said. “Some of them are in our newsroom for many hours each day, five days a week. They use what they learn in classes to produce outstanding work, and they do so not just to gain practical experience for internships and jobs, but also because they are passionate about keeping the campus and community informed about events and issues.”

This is the sixth time in the past eight years that UM students have won SEJC’s on-site journalism grand championship award. University of Mississippi students were ineligible to compete in the on-site contest last year because the Meek School of Journalism and New Media was the host for the 2017 conference in Oxford.

SEJC’s Friday night awards banquet speaker was Sonia Nazario, who won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing and other national awards for “Enrique’s Journey” when she was a Los Angeles Times staff writer and is now an author, activist and frequent New York Times contributor.

The conference did not have an overall theme, but it included workshops and panels focused on digital content, engaging audiences, broadcast storytelling, yearbook journalism, how to cover campus hazing issues, photojournalism, design, and a look back at the Little Rock Nine and the role journalists play in documenting stories about marginalized people.

Husni partners to help magazine students with financial needs pursue dreams

Posted on: February 9th, 2018 by ldrucker

For many college students, the idea of working in the magazine industry is a dream, but not a reality. That’s because many can’t afford to work for free and don’t have money to cover expensive housing costs in New York City, even if they were awarded an internship.

Dr. Samir Husni, professor, Hederman Lecturer, and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, is trying to change that. Husni’s Magazine Innovation Center has teamed with the MPA: Association of Magazine Media to create an endowment to help magazine students with financial needs pursue their dreams.

“We are teaming to start an endowment to help send students on internships and jobs,” Husni said. “We called it the Magazine Innovation Center/MPA Endowment.”

Dr. Samir Husni speaks on stage at the American Magazine Media Conference 2018 on Feb. 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for The Association of Magazine Media)

Husni recently shared the idea with magazine executives during the American Magazine Media Conference in New York City Feb. 6. “I was humbled and proud at the same time standing on that stage and talking about the University of Mississippi and our school of journalism,” he said.

The endowment will start with $25,000 from the MPA: Association of Magazine Media Foundation. Husni will also work to raise funds through sponsorships from the ACT Experience, his Magazine Innovation Center’s annual magazine industry event. Part of the sponsorship funds are used to help students.

“It will mainly be aimed at talented magazine media students who are in financial need to go places like New York City or Los Angeles,” he said. “So it will level the playing field among those who have and those who don’t if they share the same love and talent of the magazine media.”

Husni said he’s always felt that some students didn’t have equal access to magazine internships that can be very costly considering all expenses involved.

“I’ve always felt the inequality of the internships, especially today,” he said. “Very few people pay for interns. So not only do the students have to pay to register for the course, they have to pay for their travel. They have to pay their living expenses. So it’s really a lot if you don’t come from a hefty financial background. This is just a little effort in balancing or leveling the playing field.”

Husni has a busy season ahead of him with magazines. He is currently preparing for the ACT 8 Experience, an event organized annually by the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism set for April 17-20 in Oxford. The 2018 theme is Print Proud, Digital Smart.

And Newell Turner, one of Husni’s former University of Mississippi magazine students, who rose to become the Hearst Design Group editorial director, will be presented the Silver Em, the University of Mississippi’s highest award in journalism, at a campus event during the ACT 8 Experience April 18. The event will be held in the Overby Auditorium in Farley Hall on the UM campus at 5:30 p.m.

The Silver Em award dates to 1958, and recipients must be Mississippians with notable journalism careers or journalists with notable careers in Mississippi.

If you are interested in donating to the endowment or learning more about it, contact Husni at 662-915-1414, 662-832-6247 or samir.husni@gmail.com.