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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.

Husni names The Magnolia Journal as 2017 magazine Launch of the Year

Posted on: February 9th, 2018 by ldrucker

In the hit HGTV series “Fixer Upper,” Chip and Joanna Gaines own and operate Magnolia Homes, a remodeling and design business in Waco, Texas. The show chronicles their adventures turning dilapidated houses into showplaces while helping revitalize neighborhoods throughout central Texas.Houses aren’t the only thing that have benefited from the duo’s magic touch. The couple’s magazine, The Magnolia Journal, won the 2017 magazine Launch of the Year Award at the American Magazine Media Conference in New York City Feb. 6.

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, presented the award along with the MPA: The Association of Magazine Media.

From a field of 212 new magazines launched with a regular frequency between Oct. 2016 and Dec. 2017, Husni said they selected 20, then carefully chose 10 finalists for the top honor.

What made The Magnolia Journal stand out? Husni said the magazine will launch its spring issue Feb. 13 with a $1.2 million rate base.

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 06: Doug Olson and Samir Husni speak 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)

“It’s been a long time since a magazine has generated as much buzz in the marketplace as The Magnolia Journal has,” Husni said. “The connectivity of the content and the design made, and continues to make, this magazine fly off the shelves. Under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief Joanna Gaines, this print product creates a very interactive experience for readers. All in all, The Magnolia Journal burst onto the scene, and in less than a year, floated to the top, deserving the Launch of the Year Award – an honor well-deserved.”

Husni said the magazine has had amazing success on newsstands. The first issue sold out immediately, and Meredith Corp. had to issue a second printing. “It’s rare in that industry that takes place,” Husni said.

He said one reason the magazine has been successful is because of the couple’s strong connection to their fans. “People who watch their television program always tell me how close they are,” he said. “You feel like you are just talking to them. So the magazine was just an extension. It brought the pixels-on-the-screen-experience to something you can actually hold in your hand. Only print can give you that experience.”

Chip and Joanna Gaines, who serve as the editor-at-large and editor-in-chief, respectively, sent a video response about the award that played during the award ceremony. Joanna Gaines said they were honored that the Waco, Texas-based title won the 2017 Launch of the Year Award, and they thanked Husni.

“For us, this has been such an amazing journey watching these issues come to life,” Joanna Gaines said. “We’ve loved every minute of it … We are really excited about what’s to come with The Magnolia Journal.”

The event was held during the American Magazine Media Conference, the largest magazine media conference in the country. Among the top 10 finalists were titles such as Airbnbmag, Alta, Bake it up!, goop, MILK Street, The Golfer’s Journal, The National, The Pioneer Woman and TYPE Magazine.

“Almost every major magazine publisher published at least one new magazine last year,” Husni said. “That’s why I called 2017 the Year of the New Magazine. He said that’s evidence print magazines are not a dying medium.

Doug Olson, president of Meredith Magazines, accepted the Launch of the Year Award from Husni. “We’re super excited about it for lots of reasons,” Olson said in a video. “Number 1, it was a huge team effort starting with Chip and Joanna Gaines and their vision and our execution on that. Second, Meredith doesn’t win very many of these awards, so we are super excited and very much appreciate the recognition.”

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 UM 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. The event will be held held April 18 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.

CONTACTS:

 Dr. Samir Husni | 662-915-1414, 662-832-6247 | samir.husni@gmail.com

Meek School alumnus Jesse Holland Jr. Pens ‘Black Panther’ Superhero Novel

Posted on: February 1st, 2018 by ldrucker

University of Mississippi alumnus Jesse Holland Jr. was tapped by Marvel to reintroduce the world to the 1960s “Black Panther” superhero franchise through a new novel ahead of this weekend’s release of the blockbuster film about T’Challa, ruler of Wakanda.

Holland, a Holly Springs native who graduated from the university in 1994 with a degree in journalism, was tasked in 2016 with retelling the story through a 90,000-word origin story novel based on material in six comics. The goal was to create a new world for the main character, T’Challa, set in modern times.

The novel was released last fall as part of efforts to promote the new $200 million movie, which stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, and features Forest Whitaker and Lupita Nyong’o. Rap megastar Kendrick Lamar produced the soundtrack.

Jesse Holland Jr.

Being asked to write the novel, “Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?” was a dream come true, Holland said.

“I’ve been reading comic books my entire life,” Holland said. “When I was at Ole Miss, me and my friends would drive from campus all the way to Memphis to comic book shops on Wednesday or Thursday nights when the new ones came out and pick them up.

“I told Marvel I’d love to take it on and they offered to send me some Black Panther comic books for research, and I said, ‘Don’t bother. I already have them all in my basement right now.”

The movie is poised for a majorly successful box office opening weekend. Drawing attention as one of the first superhero movies to feature a person of color as the main character, it follows the release of “Wonder Woman,” which featured the first female superhero star on the big screen.

Audiences are clamoring for something different from traditional Hollywood superhero movies, and there’s a much broader appeal than normal that is driving the high expectations, Holland said.

“This is not a recycled superhero story,” he said. “It is not the third different actor playing the same character. This is something that is completely new, completely different as far as superhero movies go.

“One of the things we are going to see behind the success of this character is that we as Americans don’t need to see the same story over and over. We are accepting of new heroes and new mythologies, and in fact we’re more accepting of heroes of all colors and genders. America is ready for a different type of hero.”

In the film, T’Challa returns home to the isolated, but technologically advanced, African nation of Wakanda to succeed the throne that was recently vacated when his father, the king, died. The country is able to be technologically advanced because it’s the only source of an advanced metal known as vibranium.

UM alumnus Jesse Holland Jr. has written a novel for Marvel to reintroduce its 1960s superhero ‘Black Panther,’ the main character in a new blockbuster film.

When another nation attempts to invade Wakanda to take the ultrarare material, T’Challa is forced into a role as his nation’s protector.

He is a complicated character, Holland said.

“When people ask me about T’Challa, I tell them to imagine if the president, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the pope were all the same person,” Holland said. “On top of that, he’s a superhero.

“His superhero outfit is bound with vibranium, which makes him almost indestructible. He also takes a special herb that gives him super powers.”

“Black Panther” is drawing high marks from critics. The New York Times called it, “A jolt of a movie,” and said it “creates wonder with great flair and feeling partly through something Hollywood rarely dreams of anymore: myth. Most big studio fantasies take you out for a joy ride only to hit the same exhausted story and franchise-expanding beats. Not this one.”

Over six months, Holland wrote the updated origin story based on a 2005 version.

“It’s actually pretty cool to not have to start from scratch and to take a storyline by an absolutely great writer like Reginald Hudlin,” Holland said. “He based his work (in 2005) on the great work that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby started with.

“To be able to take that work and make it your own and be able to add and subtract and mold it to something you’re happy with is just fabulous.”

Doing this kind of work is nothing new for Holland. Disney Lucasfilm Press commissioned him to write the history of the Star Wars franchise’s newest black hero, “Finn.” He told his story in the 2016 young adult novel “Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Finn’s Story.”

He’s also penned award-winning nonfiction. His book “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slavery in the White House” (Lyons Press, 2016) won the 2017 silver medal in U.S. History in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

He teaches creative nonfiction writing as part of the Master of Fine Arts program at Goucher College in Townson, Maryland. He is also a race and ethnicity writer for The Associated Press.

Holland recently saw a screening of the movie, which he said is “fabulous.” He expects the release will create a major payday for everyone involved.

“From everything we’re seeing – all of the sold-out movie theaters, pop-up bars, pop-up art shows and pop-up screenings, it seems like this is going to be a record-breaking weekend for Marvel, and maybe the movie industry,” Holland said. “It’s going to be amazing to see the final numbers.”

By

UM crowd stands with Parkland following Florida school shooting

Posted on: February 1st, 2018 by ldrucker

After 17 people were killed at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, Ole Miss senior Alexa Johnson held a march for the victims. From the steps of Farley Hall, she spoke to a crowd of about 100 people.

Alexa graduated from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2014 and wanted to honor her former school here in Oxford.

“The community of Oxford and the community of Parkland are so similar,” Johnson said. “They’re close-knit, friendly and kind communities, and I know that if something like this happened in a place like Oxford or elsewhere in the nation, I know that Parkland would be there doing the same exact thing.”

After a speech on the Farley steps, the crowd made its way to the Walk of Champions and marched through the Grove and to the Lyceum. Cameras were rolling, and a video of the march was sent to Ty Thompson, principal of Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, to show support.

The event was supported by the Meek School of Journalism and New Media with many of its teachers and staff present. IMC Instructional Assistant Professor Debbie Hall was one of many to march through the Walk of Champions.

“I’m proud of our young people for doing this and taking a stand,” she said, “not just in favor of doing something to make our schools safer, but to show support for the students at Parkland.

“We have two students who were directly affected by that. They both have been to school there, but one of them actually had a younger sister in the building. I just think its great to show support for those students who are hurting.”

The march started at 7 p.m. as rain began to fall. Hall was pleased with the number of people, despite the weather. “When its raining, people are not going to get out and walk, and yet they did,” she said. “As I heard one person say, it’s the least we can do.

“I want to encourage young people to stand tall. I came from a generation where young people made a difference in the Vietnam War, and we can make a difference in keeping our schools safe.”

Ole Miss senior Alexandra Morris was one of many students who participated.

“I’m so glad people showed up despite the rain,” she said. “I thought Alexa’s words were very powerful and moved everyone there. I hope it brings joy to [the victims] knowing the Ole Miss family and the Oxford community are standing with them”

With staff, students, and locals demonstrating support from the University of Mississippi and the Oxford community, the crowd chanted “We stand with you” on the Lyceum steps for the video that will be sent to victims. Students returned to class in Florida Wednesday, and Johnson wanted them to feel as comfortable as possible.

“They are going back to school for their first day,” she said, “and walking in those doors after the massacre happened, they need as much support as possible. I wanted my second family at Ole Miss to support my first family, and they did 100 percent tonight, and I couldn’t be any happier about this event.”

Johnson had apprehensions about the turnout, but she was pleasantly surprised at the number who attended.

“It’s definitely more than I thought,” she said, “and I’m so grateful for each and every one of them. Like I said, these people are my family. I don’t know them, but they are still my family for coming here tonight and just being there for a community that they might not even know of, but they’re still here showing support for the victims and the students and faculty, so I am so grateful for that.”

Classes have resumed at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, but the freshman building, where the shooting took place, will remain closed indefinitely.

Photos and story by Brian Barisa, Oxford Stories.

‘Black Panther’ writer Jesse Holland to speak tomorrow at MSPA Convention

Posted on: January 26th, 2018 by ldrucker

The author of Marvel Comics’ graphic novel reboot “Black Panther” will encourage high school students from around the state as the keynote speaker for the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association’s 2018 spring convention and awards ceremony.

High school student journalists from around Mississippi will have a chance to advance their skills and hear from “Black Panther” graphic novel writer Jesse Holland Jr. during the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association’s annual spring conference being held at the University of Mississippi Oxford campus March 27.

.PDF OF CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Over 500 students representing their school newspaper, television program, yearbook, literary magazine, and social media outlets will also have the opportunity to compete in the “Best of Mississippi” awards and hear from professionals in their respective fields.

Jesse Holland, Jr., the author and University of Mississippi School of Journalism alumnus, returns to his alma mater to headline the event being held on the Oxford campus on Tuesday, March 27.

“Jesse is a guy who not too long ago was sitting right where these students are, and now he’s a part of something big,” MSPA Director and UM Journalism faculty member R. J. Morgan said. “He’s someone with a broad range of skills who has honed his craft and found a sweet spot.”

UM alumnus Jesse Holland Jr. has written a novel for Marvel to reintroduce its 1960s superhero ‘Black Panther,’ the main character in a new blockbuster film.

A native of Holly Springs, Holland is an award-winning journalist himself who earned his bachelor’s degree from UM in 1992 before going on to write for the Associated Press. Last year his non-fiction book “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slavery in the White House” won the silver medal in U.S. History at the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

 

“It’s exciting to give high school journalists access to someone who’s so in demand in his career right now,” Morgan said.

Now in its 71st year, the annual MSPA convention is the largest gathering of high school journalists in the state. The association works to equip area high school students to research, write, and share true stories through journalism.

Professional journalists, photographers, videographers, and educators from across the southeast will be training students in a variety of skill and roundtable sessions slated for the day’s event. Students also find out who the coveted “Best of Mississippi” award winners will be for 2018.

“Attending MSPA as a sophomore confirmed my decision to pursue a career in graphic design,” Tupelo High School Senior Sawyer Tucker said. “The classes offer a variety of learning opportunities for me and my classmates to better ourselves and our publication. The competition aspect provides an environment that makes us strive to do our best work all year long.”

Tupelo High School Sports Information Director and Student Media Adviser Braden Bishop said that since most of his students love social media, taking those skills and honing them into a journalistic approach is something students are finding both exciting and challenging.

“The MSPA classes are hands-on and interactive,” Bishop said. “As an adviser, I enjoy talking to my staff in the days following the event. They bring back great new ideas that we can implement.”

Director of Communications at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison, Terry Cassreino, recently said that he felt participation in student media gave his students an edge in both college and career preparation.

“Regardless of what mediums students ultimately study in college, they will leave a strong high school media program with the skills they need to be successful college students and productive adults.”

Research conducted by Jack Dvork, a professor at Indiana University’s School of Journalism compared academic achievements and scores on the ACT college entrance exams of students who were on the staffs of high school newspapers and yearbooks with those who did not have those journalism experiences.

His research found that almost 20 percent of students involved in student media achieved higher grade point averages in high school, scored better on the ACT, and demonstrated better writing and grammar skills in college than students who did not have those journalism experiences.

“The skills learned through student journalism are essential tools that are transferrable to any career,” Morgan said. “Learning how to organize your thoughts, meet deadlines, and communicate effectively in verbal and written communication is key, no matter what field a student may pursue.”

For more information on the 2018 Mississippi Scholastic Press Association spring convention at UM please visit outreach.olemiss.edu/mspa2018.

By Pam Starling

Meek students attend viewing of “The Post” and offer reviews

Posted on: January 19th, 2018 by ldrucker

A group of Meek School of Journalism and New Media students recently gathered for a viewing of “The Post.” The crowd arrived at the Malco theater on Jackson Avenue in Oxford to watch the film starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.

Streep portrays Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper – The Washington Post. Graham and Editor Ben Bradlee put everything on the line and make a tough decision to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets related to the Vietnam War.

Meek student Madison Stewart, who attended the group viewing, said she enjoyed learning more about history from the film. “Having Meryl Streep as the owner of a newspaper company during that time really showed how women were treated and how times have changed,” she said. “… They showed how many men made up a lot of those newspaper companies back then.

A scene from the film.

“The Meek School (has) a ton of women students and professors, so it really shows how women have evolved in the journalism industry. The movie illustrated how important journalism is to the world. I think a lot of people do not think it is necessary sometimes. Without journalism, many people would not know what is going on in the world if journalists were not there to report on it.”

Meek student Leah Davis also attended the event.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Davis, adding that Graham’s wisdom proved to be what the paper needed. Davis said she liked the movie because it demonstrated the battle between “saving oneself and following moral standards.”

The Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, though going against the government’s wishes, was guided by the burden and responsibility of the press to accurately inform the people instead of hiding behind the government,” she said. “One line that stuck out to me from the movie was, ‘The press serves the governed, not the governors.’ I think this quote sums up the job of journalists and the importance they have in society.”

To read more about journalism movies, check out this recent NewsLab.org post.

Meek School launches first Mississippi Capitol Press Corps class

Posted on: January 8th, 2018 by ldrucker

After discussions with professors at the Michigan State University School of Journalism and the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism in Indiana, who provided advice about how to launch a state government reporting class that live publishes stories, the first Mississippi Capitol Press Corps class was launched during the wintersesssion at the University of Mississippi.

Organized and led by UM professor LaReeca Rucker and Fred Anklam, co-editor of Mississippi Today, the class was designed to give Meek School of Journalism and New Media students hands-on experience as state government reporters.

Reporters spend part of their week at the University of Mississippi and the rest at the state capitol interviewing state leaders about important issues. They write and file stories that are published on OxfordStories.net, a statewide student news wire service, and Mississippi Today. The columns and stories are made available for publication in statewide newspapers.

Class members include Briana Florez, Thomas Goris, Terrence Johnson, Kristen Bentley, Savannah Smith, Savannah Day, Deandria Turner and Davis McCool. Link to bios.

Follow our Mississippi Capitol Press reporters adventures @meekjournalism on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can read their work at OxfordStories.net and on the Mississippi Today website.

Norton faces last Freedom Forum board meeting

Posted on: December 14th, 2017 by ldrucker

For his last meeting with board members of the Freedom Forum in Washington, D.C., Meek School Dean Will Norton Jr. was greeted by all the other members hoisting Will Norton paddles.

Norton has served 20 years on the board of the organization that actively promotes freedom of expression around the globe through many initiatives and is the principal fund source for the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington and the Newseum Institute.

Meek Journalism instructor Ellen Meacham’s writing featured on Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity website

Posted on: December 6th, 2017 by ldrucker

Meek Journalism instructor Ellen Meacham’s article Mississippi Braces for Massive Cuts to Children’s Health Insurance is featured on the Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity website. To read the article, click here.

State Human Rights Campaign director speaks to public relations classes

Posted on: November 22nd, 2017 by ldrucker

Rob Hill, third from left, is the Mississippi Director for the Human Rights Campaign. This is the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.

Hill spoke to Robin Street’s Public Relations Case Studies class Nov. 16 about the HRC’s efforts to change attitudes about the LGBTQ public in Mississippi.

Pictured with Hill and Street are IMC students in the class, Amanda Hunt, far left, and Madison Stewart, far right. Photo by Kendrick Pittman.