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Harold Burson, ‘Father of Public Relations,’ Named to SPR Hall of Fame

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ldrucker

Harold Burson, a University of Mississippi alumnus known as the “Father of Public Relations,” was inducted Friday (July 21) into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame in recognition of his decades as a giant figure in the industry he helped invent.

Burson, a 1940 Ole Miss graduate who has been described by PRWeek as the 20th century’s “most influential PR figure,” founded the powerhouse public relations firm Burson-Marsteller with Bill Marsteller in 1953. The firm created the concept of total communication strategies, which became the industry standard for decades.

Will Norton, dean of UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, was among those who wrote a letter supporting Burson ’s nomination to the Hall of Fame. Norton notes Burson has had a long and exceptional career and brought honor to the profession. He’s also made enormous contributions to the success of the Ole Miss journalism school.

“We have worked with Harold to initiate the integrated marketing communications degree program at Ole Miss that now attracts nearly 1,100 majors to the Meek School,” Norton said. “His sage advice in developing the curriculum and his interaction with faculty and students have been crucial for the program’s gaining recognition from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.”

“Without the guidance of Harold Burson, the Meek School would not be what it is.”

A Memphis native, Burson was an exceptional student, so much so that he entered Ole Miss at age 15. When he was 19, he served as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army, and in 1945, he worked as a reporter for the American Forces Network and was assigned to cover the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

After leaving the military, he used a connection he had forged with an engineering firm, which became the first client of his new PR company. Later, Burson-Marsteller was born.

The PR business grew from there and for many years, Burston-Marsteller was one of only two major PR firms in the world. In 1969, Burson’s firm was making about $4.4 million a year, according to PRWeek, but by the early 1980s, revenue was about $64 million, and Burson was head of a firm with 2,500 employees in 50 offices worldwide.

In 1983, it officially became the world’s largest PR firm, with regional headquarters in New York, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong and London.

His firm handled several major accounts.  For example, it  help ed Johnson & Johnson with its response to the deaths of  eight  people who had taken Tylenol in 1982. The company was not faulted, but it assumed responsibility and took the product off the market and halted advertising.

Representatives showed complete transparency and openness and made themselves available at all times to answer questions. The  response to the Johnson & Johnson case led to Burson being credited with creating the template for crisis management.

The British government called on Burson-Marsteller ’s help  during  an epidemic of mad cow disease. He also counseled Union Carbide, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant after a famous meltdown in 1979 and BP after its Torrey Canyon oil tanker sank .

The Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame is co-sponsored by the Southern Public Relations Federation and Mississippi State University’s Department of Communications. The names of the Hall of Fame members adorn the walls in the Mitchell Memorial Library at MSU.

Inductees must have 25 years of professional experience that brings honor to the profession and show strong contributions to their organization, city, state or region, among other criteria.

Burson’s son, Mark, is an adjunct instructor in integrated marketing communication at UM. He accepted the recognition on behalf of his father, who could not attend the ceremony Friday.

Scott Fiene, director of the school’s integrated marketing communications undergraduate program, said it’s fortuitous for Ole Miss that the “father of public relations” got his start here.

“He’s counseled royalty and shaped the image of many top global brands , but he’s always remained involved and partnered with the university on so many projects,” Fiene said. “His influence on the profession isn’t just what he has accomplished, but on the lives he has touched and the students he has mentored.

“The seeds he has sown will live for generations to come.”

Rick Dean and Kristie Aylett, agency principals with The KARD Group, a PR and marketing firm based in Mississippi, also  were among those writing letters in support of Burson’s nomination .

“Kristie and I have studied and respected Harold’s contributions to our industry since we were students and, as professionals, we continue to use things learned from him,” Dean said. “To have played a role in Harold’s well-deserved nomination and induction into the Hall of Fame was our honor.”

Story by Michael Newsom

 

More than 300 graduate from Meek School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: May 14th, 2017 by ldrucker

Saturday was a beautiful day to see more than 300 University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media students in cap and gown congregate inside the Tad Smith Coliseum to receive diplomas during commencement exercises.

Meek School Dean Will Norton Jr., Ph.D., spoke to the audience of proud family members and graduates Saturday afternoon.

“We are delighted today to join with you in recognizing your loved ones,” he said. “332 students were eligible to participate in today’s festivities, but many completed their requirements in December, and some will complete their work in August. They may not be in the ceremony today.”

Norton also recognized Meek School faculty before introducing guest speaker J. Steve Davis, who Norton described as a “major player in the culture of the United States.”

Davis, who has worked in the world’s highest levels of marketing and advertising, has worked for powerhouse brands such as Crest toothpaste, Pampers, Dawn detergent, Scope mouthwash, Bounce fabric softener, Gillette Trac II razor blades and Tropicana premium orange juice.

“Make no mistake,” said Norton. “He is not Don Draper, one of the executives of the ‘Mad Men’ television series who worked and played at one of New York City’s most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s.

“Our speaker today is not (only) a great business man with great knowledge, he is a spiritual man, a man of wisdom. He grasped the great desires and needs of American people. His professional career has been exceptional. He is known worldwide as an uncommonly astute strategic marketing professional. He is revered at the highest levels of integrated marketing communications.”

Davis decided in 2002 to found and fund his own private equity consulting business in San Francisco. In the spirit of sticking his neck out, he named the company “Giraffe.”

The Nebraska native was a double major who earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Nebraska College of Journalism (with an emphasis in advertising studies) and the Department of Sociology.

He later became president of J. Water Thompson’s flagship Chicago office. The agency worked to brand Sears Die Hard and Craftsman products, created the Oscar Mayer Bologna and Hot Dog campaign, and the Kibbles and Bits campaign.

Steve was named Adweek’s Adperson of the year in 1995. Today, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Each of us were designed to serve, not to be served,” Davis said Saturday, as he talked about America’s selfie culture.

“Did you know there are over 2 billion Facebook users, who on average, spend over an hour a day on the site,” he said. “He or she checks her Facebook account, again on average, 47 times a day. How much of this truly connects us? How much separates us?”

Davis encouraged students to practice gratitude and set goals for their lives.

“Be uncommonly grateful,” he said. “It seems to be that, in spite of our collecting blessings and successes in this great country, we tend to be short on gratitude. I saw this time and again in my career.”

Davis believes gratitude is a habit one can cultivate instead of “some magnificently bestowed character of greatness received by a few souls.”

“Habit begins with practice,” he said, challenging the students to begin a daily exercise. “… Take out a blank piece of paper and write down 10 things that you are especially grateful for each day for a month. You’ll be amazed at just how easy it is to reach 300 things you’re grateful for in just a month. And if you aren’t sufficiently grateful now, you’ll be on the road to forming the habit of gratitude to carry through your life.”

To read more about where some of our Meek School of Journalism and New Media students are headed, check out this story.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker

Meek School students prepare for graduation and the real world

Posted on: May 11th, 2017 by ldrucker

Insecurity, worry, tranquility, acceptance, and excitement. What do all these adjectives have in common?

They are the series of emotions college seniors feel leading up to graduation.

Most college seniors are often unsure about where they will go and what exactly they will do once they’re thrown out into the real world with only a diploma to prove their worth. Over the course of their four, or maybe five years, at Ole Miss, seniors have learned who they are as people and who they want to be once they enter the professional world.

In the days leading up to graduation, seniors are getting ready to walk across the Grove stage where they have spent so much time to receive their diplomas and officially become Ole Miss alumnae.

Elise Jones.

“I can’t believe how fast it has all gone by,” said Elise Jones, an upcoming Meek School of Journalism and New Media integrated marketing communications graduate. “It seemed like yesterday that I was being dropped off at my dorm by my parents and was first feeling some type of freedom.”

Ashley Quagliaroli.

Ashley Quagliaroli, an upcoming Meek School graduate from Atlanta, Georgia, is graduating with a double major in IMC and political science. As she gets ready to leave Oxford, she has decided to take a different route than immediately entering the work force. Quagliaroli will have a gap year between graduate school so that she can gain more experience in her field before pursuing a law degree.

“I’m so excited to be able to pursue my love for journalism and also be able to pursue my other love of law,” she said. “I have always struggled deciding between the two before I realized that maybe I am just meant to do both and find the happy medium later.”

Rachel Reimers.

Another upcoming Meek School graduate, Rachel Reimers, who is graduating with a degree in journalism, will continue her education at the University of Georgia before joining the workforce. Many college seniors are choosing to continue their education after gaining their undergraduate degree, hoping to find better paying jobs or higher ranking positions in their field.

“I’m hoping that by gaining my MBA, I will become more valuable to the professional world,” Reimers said, in regard to pursuing her MBA.

Elise Jones, an upcoming Meek School graduate with an IMC degree, has decided to move to Dallas, Texas, after graduation. Jones will be working as a marketing coordinator for an insurance company.

As Elise gains real world experience in Dallas, she hopes to become an entrepreneur.

“I’m extremely excited to make the move to Dallas,” she said. “I’ve loved my time here, but I’m ready to put everything I’ve learned to real use. This is a completely new chapter in my life, but I know I’m ready.”

Murphy Butler.

Murphy Butler, an upcoming Meek School IMC senior, has also decided to join the workforce. The New Jersey native will begin an internship with a travel lacrosse program in his home state.

“I’m excited to put my degree to use and combine my two passions, sports and marketing,” Butler said. “Before I begin my internship, I am going to relax for a little while and visit with friends and family.”

As Butler gains more experience in his field, he hopes to start a travel lacrosse program and become an entrepreneur like his mother, Chris Murphy.

“I’ve grown up with my mother having her own successful business and my father finding success in the sports world,” he said. “I’m hoping to one day be able to find a way to bring these two things together for myself.”

Chloe Riley, an upcoming Meek School graduate with a degree in journalism and a specialization in public relations, has decided to move to New York to become a business analyst. Though Riley’s degree is in journalism, she has found that her career path may not always completely align with her college degree.

Chloe Riley.

“I’m so excited to work with this company,” she said, “although what I’ll be doing is not quite journalism.”

As she begins to pack her belongings and say her good-byes, Riley is starting to realize how quickly her time at Ole Miss as gone by.

“I can’t believe that I’m about to be in the real world,” she said. “Leaving Ole Miss is so scary, because so much is changing in my life right now. I’m excited, but all this change is intimidating,” Riley said about her upcoming move to New York.

As college seniors graduate and move on to their next project in life, many are left in awe by how quickly their time at Ole Miss has gone by. From spending their first Saturdays in the Grove, to staying up all night for finals, upcoming graduates look back with fond memories of their time in Oxford.

As  Riley gets closer to her move, she offers words of wisdom to fellow Meek students: “Enjoy your time here because it’s fleeting,” she said. “Talk to your professors and really get to know them. Find an internship doing something you’re passionate about, and try not to stress too much about the future, because I promise everything will turn out the way it should.”

For more information about graduation, visit the University of Mississippi Commencement web page. 

  • Story by Nancy Jackson

UM students take top awards from Public Relations Association of Mississippi

Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by ldrucker

Photo caption: University of Mississippi public relations students were the only college students in the state recognized in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi Prism student competition recently. Pictured from left to right, are seven of those student winners: (front row) Rachel Anderson, a journalism and Spanish major from Chesapeake, Virginia; Christina Triggs, a marketing and corporate relations major from Sugarland, Texas; Emma Arnold, a journalism major from McKenzie, Tennessee; Hannah Pickett, an integrated marketing communications major from Houston, Texas; (back row) Alex Hicks, an IMC major from Meridian; Sarah Cascone, a journalism major from Thomasville, Georgia; and Cassidy Nessen, an IMC major from Katy, Texas. Not pictured is journalism graduate Maggie McDaniel from Columbus, Georgia. Photo by Stan O’Dell.

University of Mississippi public relations students won every award presented in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition recently, and one student was named the best public relations college student in the state.

Journalism and Spanish major Rachel Anderson from Chesapeake, Virginia, was named PRAM’s 2017 Student of the Year, competing with nominees from five other universities in the state.

“Rachel was selected for her impressive record of excellence and drive in all areas such as her academic honors, PR-related organizations and experience, and for her activities on campus and in the community,” said Kylie Boring, PRAM’s director of student services. “She has acquired a skill set of talents that will help propel her into the public relations industry, and I am confident she will represent this industry to the highest standard.”

Anderson also won an award for her student work, as did five other students and one alumna. The awards were presented at the PRAM state conference in Hattiesburg April 24.

Students entered public relations campaigns they produced in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s advanced public relations class. Each campaign required multi-media skills, including writing news and feature articles, shooting video and photos, creating digital media, planning creative events and conducting research.

“I was so proud that every student award presented went to one of our students,” Street said. “Our students demonstrated that they excel in the diverse set of skills needed in PR. That is a tribute to the preparation they received from all the faculty members at the Meek School.”

Awards were given at three levels, based on the number of points judges award each entry. The top award is the Prism, followed by the Excellence and Merit awards. Multiple students can win in the same category if they earn the required number of points.

Hannah Pickett, an integrated marketing communications major from Houston, Texas, won a Prism.

“Students from the University of Mississippi once again proved their knowledge and understanding of the public relations practice through their entries in the Prism Awards,” said Amanda Parker, PRAM’s vice president for awards. “The judges praised Prism Award winner Hannah Pickett for having an extremely creative and well-planned project, making it an excellent campaign all around.”

Excellence winners were Anderson; Emma Arnold, a journalism major from McKenzie, Tennessee; and Christina Triggs, a marketing and corporate relations major from Sugarland, Texas.

Merit winners were Sarah Cascone, a journalism major from Thomasville, Georgia; Cassidy Nessen, an IMC major from Katy, Texas; Alex Hicks, an IMC major from Meridian; and Maggie McDaniel, a journalism graduate from Columbus, Georgia, who now works as an account manager at Communications 21 in Atlanta.

For more information on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit their website at http://meek.olemiss.edu or email MeekSchool@olemiss.edu.

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith speaks about his Meek School of Journalism roots and life

Posted on: May 3rd, 2017 by ldrucker


As the chief news anchor and managing editor of Fox News Network’s breaking news division, Shepard Smith has seen it all. He covered the 1997 death of Princess Diana. He was on the scene five minutes after planes deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center on 9-11.

He covered the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire on their classmates before taking their own lives. He was there when Hurricane Katrina destroyed parts of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, making sure the nation understood the severity of conditions that ravaged the region, transforming the lives of its residents.

At one time, Smith worked the Pentagon, the White House, Los Angeles and London, all in the same week, and he has been on the frontlines of American and international news helping write a first draft of history.

Smith is a Holly Springs native, a New Yorker of 20 years, a Mississippian, a former University of Mississippi journalism student, and a devoted Ole Miss Rebels fan.

Because of all of those factors, he was a featured speaker at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s “It Starts With MEek” conference last week, an event that promotes diversity and inclusivity. He is also gay. Smith believes his sexuality is a piece of his personal story, but not the most defining factor.

In the fall of 1979, broadcast journalism was added to UM’s journalism program. Meek School Dean Will Norton said the department was filled with print professors, but after three years of searching, they hired the late professor Jim Pratt, Ph.D., who had spent 40 years with CBS.

“He was a great man who worked hard with students outside and inside of class, and one of his first students was Shepard Smith,” Norton said. “He immediately identified Shep as this young guy who would have a great future.”

Smith left Ole Miss during his junior year of college for a Florida internship. When the school year began again in the fall of Smith’s senior year, he made a decision that caused Pratt to remark to Norton: “Shep decided to stay in Florida and take the job. He’s not going to graduate.”

“So my immediate response was: ‘Well, he’ll never amount to anything,’” Norton said.

The crowed laughed Friday afternoon as Norton spoke about Smith’s career, a journey that took him to Gainesville, Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando and Los Angeles before establishing himself in New York City.

“His reporting has been a trademark of the Fox News channel,” Norton said. “He anchors most primetime news presentations provided by Fox News. He was like so many of you (journalism students) in the 1980s. He was this energetic young guy carrying equipment around everywhere, thinking that he could make a difference, and he has.

“Through the years, we have watched him develop into this smooth, sophisticated television personality who represents the best of the profession. In the process, we have become so proud of the journalism values that Shep Smith espouses and truly grateful for his promotion of his roots on this campus.”

Smith said he’s carried many fundamental lessons learned in Mississippi throughout his career. Some came from working at a fast food restaurant, one of the most important things he said he ever did.

“I really learned about little things,” he said. “Like if you (give customers) two and three napkins instead of two napkins, you’re just screwed if that happens over, and over, and over again,” he said. “If you give them three ketchups for every (order of) fries, you’re going to go broke. So you learn these little things in life. They really translate to everything else.”

He also learned fundamental journalism lessons at Ole Miss and took a job in Panama City, Florida, in 1987 without graduating from the UM journalism program, citing an economic recession as his reason for staying with the company.

“All the time, I’m just kind of chasing ambulances and trying to find out what is going on, going to city council meetings and trying to make it relatable at a time when television is how people are getting their news,” he said. “It felt important to me at the time … I wanted to operate in the public interest … and I wanted to be their eyes and ears, and let them know what’s happening, so they could decide what they think about what’s going on in the world.”

Smith was bitten by the news bug as a child while sitting at the breakfast table. His family often disagreed about the Vietnam War.

“All that time, I was thinking, if I could just get over there and find out what’s happening, and let mom and dad know, we could avoid these discussions,” he said. “You know? (I was a) little kid.”

He was also influenced to become a reporter by Memphis news media. At the time, Smith said Channel 5 had the first live truck in Memphis.

“Memphis is the greatest, biggest city in the world if you are coming from Holly Springs,” Smith said, as he recalled watching the live broadcast of Elvis Presley’s funeral. “We had never ever, ever, ever seen this (a live truck broadcast.) No one had ever seen this. I mean, we’d seen something from somewhere with Eric Sevareid or someone, but nobody local had ever been live in my world.

“And I’m immediately like, ‘Oh s—. Now I can actually do this. I might be able to get over there and find out what’s happening in Vietnam, and let the parents know about it. I really might. And that’s when I decided this is what I want to do.’”

Smith said Pratt helped professionally mold him. One of his first assignments – investigating how long the burgers were left sitting out at the Union Grill. “I think some heads rolled over that, if I remember,” he joked.

After working in Florida, he landed a job at “A Current Affair,” a self-described “disaster.” Overwhelmed by work and never home, he rarely spent a night in his apartment for a year and a half after moving from Los Angeles to New York.

“I was still getting carded when I came into my own building,” he said. “So I’m just traveling, traveling, traveling and popping up all over the world, because we didn’t have enough people. And other people needed to get home. They needed to get home to their dog, or their children, or their wife, or their husband. And I didn’t need to do that. I needed to sort of escape what my own reality might have been, because I wasn’t answering my own questions, or even posing my own questions to myself about what it is that is different about me.

“I’m really not different. I really like all the same stuff y’all boys like. All of it. But I am different.”

Smith hadn’t questioned his sexuality at the time.

“That’s sort of how I rolled,” he said. “And that’s why it wasn’t until seven, or eight, or nine years ago, I started living my truth. I grew up in Holly Springs. I went to the First Methodist Church. I went to Ole Miss. You know what we do. We wear khakis and startched white shirts, and we all do what everybody else does. And Hotty Toddy!

“That’s exactly what we do. Y’all wear dresses. We wear khakis. We are drunk by 10 p.m.,” he joked. “‘I’m not making that 8 o’clock (class). What are you doing on Friday?’ I didn’t get it. And on top of that, I was also trying to avoid what having a normal social life is. I didn’t need to go home and find my girlfriend or boyfriend, I just cut it off (and said): Where do you want me? Next plane?”

Because of that, Smith witnessed much of modern history. He even missed his sister’s wedding to cover convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s execution by lethal injection.

“Nobody was going to outwork me, and no one did,” he said. “If they wanted me to shoot it, I’d grab the camera and shoot it. I worked hard and kept going, and going, and going.

“I really hit it hard, and I was crushing everybody. My bosses were really so astounded. They were like how can you do this? … At one point, they were like: ‘You have to sleep. You can’t continue to stay up.’”

Smith said he never hid his sexuality. He just avoided the question. There were too many consequences.

“A. You’re going to hell for it,” he said, listing the reasons he avoided the subject. “B. You’ll never have any friends again. C. What are you going to tell your family? And by the way, you’re on television on the craziest conserative network on Earth,” he joked.”That will probably put you in front of a brick wall. Of course none of that was true, but that’s how it felt.”

One day, he decided to confront his fears. He talked with his closest friends, and began to live his truth.

“Someone asked me if Roger Ailes (founder and former chairman and CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group, who resigned in July of 2016 following allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues) had been abusive to me, and I said, ‘No. He was always good to me,’ and that was the truth. And when I told the truth, I guess it was considered that I outed myself. I didn’t even think about it, because I didn’t think I was in.”

Smith said his sexuality is both important and a non-issue.

“I don’t think about it,” he said. “It’s not a thing. I go to work. I manage a lot of people. I cover the news. I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I’m in love with. I come home to my family.”

He joked that he’s moved on to more important battles, like Ole Miss sports.

“Now, I just want to win on Saturdays,” he said, receiving applause from the audience. “That’s all I want to do. I don’t even care about the bowl. I just need to beat LSU. ‘Go to hell LSU.’ My dad likes that,” said Smith, whose father was sitting on the front row in the Overby Center auditorium.

Because diversity and inclusivity is the focus of “It Starts With MEek,” Smith addressed the issue of stereotyping others.

“The big black guy in the back is not always the criminal, and the little white girl in the front is not always the victim,” he said, again receiving applause from the audience. “That’s really ingrained in us.”

He said goth kids who wore trenchcoats were unfarily stereotyped after the Columbine shootings.

“Dylan and Eric,” he said. “They were different kids who were stereotyped. I am in no way making excuses for them. They ruined lives. They changed my life … But a lot of kids who kind of like the goth thing or might think it’s cool to wear a trenchcoat, had to suffer after that.”

Muslims are now being stereotyped because of 9-11.

“They didn’t do that,” he said. “People who bastardized that religion brought that thing down, and started this conflict. It’s not about religion, but we’re turning it into that because that’s what they want us to do.”

Smith rejects any personal stereotypes people may assign him. On the weekends, he said you’ll find him at Vaught Hemmingway.

“I’m not playing your stereotypes,” he said. “I’ll be there. And later, I need to watch ESPN the rest of the day. And tomorrow, I need to think about it.”

Concerned about Jackson’s leadership, Smith said he’s glad UM is setting a progressive example for the state. “We have a special responsiblitiy as people from this place to go out and show the world with our deeds and our actions that we are very inclusive, and we want everyone who is good to be here, and the rest of y’all can go,” he said, receiving applause. “…We’ve done a fantastic job. It’s not easy. This place is littered with landmines. Yet, they’re getting it done.”

He’s embarrassed by the Confederate emblem on the state flag and believes the flag should be retired to a museum.

“You can’t be much of an activist when your job is to report the news,” he said, “but you can remind people what happened under that flag. … So it’s got to go. Put it in the museum. Don’t get rid of it. Make it part of your curriculum. Talk about it. But get it out of the stadium. Get it out of the grove. Get it out of my state.”

Smith later answered audience questions, including what’s your best advice for getting a job in New York City. His answer: Get a job somewhere else first, because New York City is different.

“We operate faster, and we speak different,” he said. “… Everything about life has a way, and no one tells you what it is. And if you’re real polite, (they) hate you, because it gets in the way. There’s no time for it … ‘No, I’m not going to look you in the eye.’”

Those are foreign ideas to most Mississippians and Southerners, he said.

“You have to work somewhere else where they don’t care about you first,” he said. “… It’s not that we don’t like each other. We’re just very busy, and in a really big hurry. We’ve got to get to that train. We’ve got to get to that elevator. Back on that train. Back on the elevator.”

He believes there are advantages to living in Mississippi.

“There are plenty of things that we’re just ruling on,” he said. “And that’s one of the reasons I’m so proud of this place. Because one of the things that Ole Miss has done through all their struggles is give our kids a chance. We’re educating our children here, and some of our children are willing to stay here and make our state a better place. And I think I can say really without bias, more as an observation, people who come out of this place tend to do really well.”

Smith said he wrote in his high school yearbook that he wanted to have a journalism career in Nashville, but they kept turning down his audition tape. He had never been west of Texas or north of the Carolinas when he graduated high school, but his inexperience didn’t hinder or confine him. It gave him a unique life perspective.

“I felt like my Holly Springs upbringing … we had it great,” he said. “But it wasn’t like we were rolling in dough or traveling around the world anymore than anyone else was … I didn’t realize it until I got to New York that all my friends were Ivy League kids, and they’re all millionaires, and they all know governors and … I was like: ‘Holy crap. I’ve led a deprived life,'” he laughed.

He said never let a small town limit your dreams.

“If you are from Eupora, or Iuka, or Mount Pleasant, or Hickory Flat – you can do whatever you want, and what you’re supposed to do is go do it and bring some of it back here, because this really is our only hope,” he said. “Our institutions are our only hope. Our government is regressive, and our institutions are progressive.”

Smith has accomplished a lot in his journalism career, but he said he’s always been grounded by Mississippi.

“I sort of kept my Mississippi/Ole Miss sensibilities about myself,” he said. “I didn’t (think) I had become something because I moved away from here. I think I was something because of the foundation I got here … (There’s) something about … home … that we kind of know that other people don’t. Right? I think we get that in ways other people don’t.”

You can also read The Clarion-Ledger version of this story here.

 – Story by LaReeca Rucker

ACT 7 Experience at Meek School is a magazine industry success

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by ldrucker

John Harrington @nscopy shares what he learned in his 40 years of single copy sales #MICACT7.

The magazine business has changed radically over the past two decades, and John Harrington has learned a lot.

Harrington, a partner of Harrington Associates, and the former editor/publisher of The New Single Copy, spoke Thursday afternoon in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s Overby Center auditorium on the topic: “Why I’ve Learned: A Personal Perspective.”

“Everyone here knows that magazines (industry) have undergone a shocking transformation in the last decade,” he said. He said leaders who work in traditional magazines now seem focused on developing new forms of media other than print.

“Their mission is to find ways to exploit, leverage .. their valuable magazine brands on these new media formats, and or platforms, such as mobile, video and other forms of apps,” he said. “Truthfully, as indicated, I am unqualified to offer predictions or guidance in any of those areas. However, all of these expanded magazine extensions will contain content, editorial, and hopefully that content will contain journalism.”

Harrington was one of more than 50 speakers who shared his thoughts about the magazine industry during the ACT 7 Experience at the University of Mississippi.

The conference, hosted by the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media from Tuesday to Thursday (April 25-27), focused on the revival of the magazine industry in terms of publishing, advertising, creating content and distribution. The event also allowed students to network with industry professionals.

Inside the Act 7 Experience.

Posted by Meek School of Journalism and New Media on Thursday, April 27, 2017

Created in 2010 by Samir Husni, Ole Miss journalism professor and Magazine Innovation Center director, the conference featured more than 50 speakers and 50 other attendees, including CEOs of major magazine and marketing companies, publishers, editors-in-chief and other industry leaders. Students were paired with industry professionals throughout event to learn directly from them.

Harrington addressed students at the conference:

“To the students, as your careers unfold, many of you will not necessarily be involved in writing in journalism contained in the future’s many multimedia formats, whether it be print publications like magazines and newspapers, or internet, … sites, apps or even presently unimaginable platforms,” he said. “However, whether you are in sales, in production, or in audience development, a.k.a. circulation and distribution, you will still be involved in journalism, which is what I always felt I was involved in for the past 40 years – first as the leader of a trade group, then as a publishing consultant, then as the publisher of a newsletter about the business.

“An ethical journalist acts with integrity and ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists,” he said. “The guidelines should not just be the goal of those who are essayists, writers, novelists, or writers of any kind. It should be a standard of all of you to be part of the machinery that produces the journalism and makes it available to the public.”

In this age of challenges, such as the blurring of church and state, political spin, alternative facts and fake news, Harrington said future journalists face enormous challenges.

“I would like to think that I followed this concept during my 40 years involved in magazines, but I also admit that it is not always easy,” he said. “The pressures and choices are not always clear. Often, they are very subtle. And few of the veterans of this experience can say we were always pure.

“However, let me praise the Magazine Innovation Center, the ACT 7 Experience, and magazine journalism students,” he said. “ACT has done much more than educate future generations of journalists. By exposing me to the creativity and energy of its students, it has given me a greater recognition of the significant role that our business, no matter what our contribution to it is, plays in a free society in our democracy, and in our responsibility to be true to its values. For that, I think the school and the students as well.”

Husni said there is no other event that involves this collection of experts with future industry leaders, our students.

“When they see students in the audience, they tell us stuff from the heart, and it creates an intimate atmosphere,” Husni said in a news release. “CEOs and freshmen students are on the same level of communication.”

All conference lectures were in the Overby Center Auditorium. They were free and open to the public, thanks to the support of industry leaders and their sponsorships.

Husni tells his students to leave an impact on the industry professionals they shadow, and some have.

At last year’s conference, Austin Dean, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Hammond, Illinois, shadowed Jim Elliott, president of the James G. Elliott Co. By the end of the conference, Dean was offered an internship at the company and spent his summer in New York working in the industry.

“For me, the benefits have been spending one-on-one time with publishers, editors and distributors, getting to know them and making reliable connections with them,” Dean said in a news release. “Dr. Husni does a great job at putting together this collective group of people and makes sure each of his students have someone they want to shadow.”

Ashlee Johnson, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Monticello, Arkansas, enjoys the intimate aspect of learning from both the guest speakers and Husni.

ACT 7 Experience attendees talk before the next presentation begins.

“Even people that work with these professionals don’t get to know them like we do,” Johnson said in a news release. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s good for professional development.

“Another great part of this conference is watching Dr. Husni interact with the speakers. He is so well-respected in the industry. He’s a hidden gem in Mississippi, and we’re lucky to have someone who cares so much about their students as a mentor.”

Students accompanied guest speakers on a trip through the Delta to experience magazines, music and Mississippi. The group traveled to the B.B. King Museum, Dockery Farms Historic District and Delta Blues Museum before ending the evening with dinner at the Ground Zero Blues Club.

Dinner on the Meek School grounds #MICACT7 serving the famous Taylor Grocery catfish.

“When I started the Magazine Innovation Center, it was at a time when everyone was saying print is dead and new media is in,” Husni said in a news release. “It’s not an either/or situation. Print, broadcast, digital, mobile, social media – it’s all journalism. The necessity will never change, regardless of the platform.”

“When magazines hire, they want writers,” he said. “The other stuff is great, but journalism is still what’s important.

“Magazine industry leaders are experience-makers. Reading a magazine is unlike reading something online. It’s an experience packaged together in your hand.”

To see a Storify of some of the event’s social media activity visit: https://storify.com/lareecarucker/act-7-experience/ 

Envisioning the future of media: How would you design a Farley Hall addition?

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by ldrucker
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The relaxation room at Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida. Photo by Benjamin C. Watters, Saint Leo University.

In the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media J101 Introduction to Mass Communications class this semester, also known as The Media Rewind, students have been learning about the history of media and envisioning its future through a number of classroom exercises.

Today, they were asked to envision the future of a new journalism/media building. Farley Hall, the campus journalism building, will be expanding, and architects are currently meeting with faculty members to solicit ideas about how a new addition to the building could be efficiently designed to meet the needs of future student journalists and integrated marketing communications majors.

Students were asked to share a couple of ideas for architects. While they offered a variety of responses – adding a cafeteria or food service component to the building and making a larger, 24-hour study space were two recurring suggestions.

Here are 50 student ideas. Do you have a suggestion we could add to the list? Comment below.
1. New good coffee place that isn’t Starbucks.
2. A common area to supplement for the Union closing.
3. A lab that is open all the time with someone there to help me with Adobe.
4. More bathrooms.
5. Lecture halls on an incline and a better mic system.
6. Chairs with outlets.
7. An auditorium for press releases, presentations and other uses. This is a central location in campus, and an auditorium would greatly help centralize performances and take the pressure off of the Ford Center and Fulton Chapel.
8. More bathrooms.
9. Extra computer lab that isn’t used as a classroom strictly for working purposes.

10. More offices for professors.
11. I’d allow the new building to serve as a 24-hour resource for students to study. I can’t stand studying in the library. I love exam time because Lamar is open 24/7.
12. I would add a POD (Provisions on Demand store) to it.
13. Have more artistic creations in it.

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From cdn.home-designing.com

14. I would not make the classroom like this one (second floor auditorium). It is very uncomfortable to take notes.
15. I would make the new building like Lamar because it has a big waiting area.
16. Include a lot of free printers because the campus lacks these.
17. Make things more modern looking, and add rooms geared toward broadcast journalism.
18. A charging station for phones/laptops.
19. A room of napping pods. It’s a real thing. Google “St. Leo napping pods.”
20. Reclining chairs
21. I like the idea that we have several screens viewing news channels. I think broadening that would be cool.
22. Having a newscast studio for all Meek School members would be helpful.
23. Make the building similar to this one, but add more small rooms for classes, because I like having small class sizes.
24. Make a bigger study area, one that’s a little more separated and definitely bigger. It would also be nice to have a designated study area with computers.
25. Have at least one glass wall or a wall of all windows. I appreciate the open.
26. A place where it’s a community and people are brought together.
27. Maybe adding a Starbucks would be nice. Journalists always have coffee.
28. Auditoriums with a middle lane open.
29. A large 24-hour study center where students can do homework, tutoring and use expensive software like Adobe Premiere.
30. I think there could be more hands-on resources in the classroom.
31. I would add more study rooms, because there are not enough places to meet up with kids in class.
32. New bathrooms.
33. More decorations. It could be more colorful to wake up students.
34. Seating on levels, so no one is in the way of the board.
35. Windows from the ceiling, not sides.
36. I would add a cafeteria/cafe to the new journalism building. This would attract students to the journalism department and make the department more expansive.
37. Add several more studying and resting areas, much larger than the lobby in Farley.
38. Add a room big enough for a large class like this auditorium with actual desks for more room.
39. Add a newsroom, a darkroom and a video production room/studio.
40. Make it more bright with the color scheme, since it is a creative school and brightness sparks creativity.
41. Technology training rooms.
42. More parking for journalism/IMC majors.
43. Workroom with computers accessible anytime for students.
44. Maybe a walk of notable journalists that are from here.
45. A newspaper floor, TV station floor, and production learning room.
46. Classrooms set up like a newsroom.
47. Look to the Honors College for what should be added on. Consider an area for congregating.
48. A bigger, less dark common area.
49. Rooms full of printers. When you want to print, it can be hard to when class is going on.<
50. Visit Apple or Google offices for design inspiration.

By LaReeca Rucker, support journalism instructor, Oxford Stories editor

Opinion: What the ‘It Starts With MEek’ campaign taught me

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by ldrucker

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It Starts With MEek is a campaign that affects every student on and off campus. Behind each talk is an obstacle every human being faces at least once – racism, sexism, homophobia.

The first event I attended was led by Jennifer Stollman, who spoke about about how difference is good when building a healthy community. I was more than thrilled to hear about her talk of cultural difference, since I come from a mixed background.

Being from the Dominican Republic with an Italian mom and an American dad and ending up in Mississippi is not entirely easy. However, Stollman’s talk made me realize it is not supposed to be easy. Instead, it has to be challenging, and it’s an opportunity I am lucky to have.

What are we without culture? Without difference? These are questions I have never dared to ask myself until now. I realized that without diversity I am not myself. Diversity is what makes me, and I am what makes diversity.

Everybody on campus has difference in them. That can be in the way they talk, think, dress, and even eat. We are all different in different ways. Without it, as Stollman said, we become “bored, ill and depressed.” Imagine if everybody had the same ideas or thought the same? How boring would that be?

“Welcome to the world! Nobody is the same,” Stollman said proud and loud. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. “You interact with people different then you everyday,” she said.

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Jennifer Stollman giving her speech on cultural difference. Photo by Jessica Duffield.

I thought about these words for a long time. I came to the conclusion that we tend to not see this anymore because we have become such a selfish world where change scares us. We run away from people and things that don’t look, think and talk like us. We want everything to feel like home. Safe. Comfortable.

From my personal experience, nothing is going to feel like home, but that is OK. I can try as hard as I want to make Mississippi my home, but it is not. I, instead, adapt to it. I live it. I learn from it. And I promise, if you do this, you will survive, you will make it, and you will learn much more than you ever will in your home.

If it feels like home, you are doing it wrong.

The biggest challenge we face as a community is to listen. “How can we learn about difference if we do not listen?” Stollman asked.

If we do not listen to others about how they have lived, then we do not get to judge them.

I have been told,”You don’t have an accent,” or “You don’t look Dominican,” or even, “Are you sure you were born in the Dominican Republic?”

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MEek campaign slogan, photo by: Jessica Duffield

Listen to me. Don’t stereotype me. You listen to Spanish music. You eat Spanish food, but you don’t listen to me.

Stollman said: “Put yourselves in other people’s shoes, not your shoes on somebody else.”

We have to try to understand other people before they can understand us. Live their story, understand their thoughts, and most importantly, listen to them. If you do this, if you engage in other ways, then they will engage with you.

Stollman said that by sharing stories, people are “not trying to fix you, but share with you.” They are not trying to convert you to think the same way they do.

I am not trying to convert you to think the same way my culture taught me to. I just want to share with you. Don’t be afraid. It is not scary to realize that people live life differently from you. Stollman taught me that my culture, my difference, my language, is my power.

Jessica Duffield is Meek School student and a reporter for Oxford Stories. She can be reached at jfduffie@go.olemiss.edu.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Meek School African American alumni discuss professional experiences

Posted on: April 26th, 2017 by ldrucker
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From left, Ashley Ball, Poinesha Barnes, Kim Dandridge, Kells Johnson, Selena Standifer and Jesse Holland speak during It Starts With MEek events. This panel of Meek alumni discussed their experiences as students and professionals.

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media recently concluded its “It Starts With Meek” campaign promoting diversity and inclusivity. Two panels were called “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” A panel of African American Meek School alumni discussed their experiences as students and professionals.

The first panel was moderated by Jesse Holland, an Associated Press race and ethnicity reporter. It featured panelists Gabriel Austin, a video editor for Mississippi Today; Ashley Ball, a communications associate for Siemens Corporations; Poinesha Barnes, a news producer for WREG; Kim Dandridge, an attorney for Butler Snow; Kells Johnson, an assignment editor for WZTV Fox 17; and Selena Standifer, deputy public affairs director for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

The second panel, featuring the same panelists, was led by Rose Jackson Flenoral, manager of global citizenship for FedEx Services.

Meek Journalism students who are part of the J102 Oxford Stories journalism class were asked to sit in on the panel and share their thoughts. Their responses are featured below.

Addis Olive
alolive1@go.olemiss.edu

The first question asked was how panel members thought Ole Miss has changed since they were students. Members agreed there are more conversations now acknowledging race issues.

They fullsizeoutput_435bdiscussed personal experiences of name, gender, political beliefs, and race bias in their own work spaces.

They also discussed and agreed that being a black minority today is celebrated. Black culture is being celebrated after being oppressed for so long, especially through social media, with hashtags like #blackgirlmagic and #blackboyjoy.

At the end, each member offered advice to students heading into the workplace. They said try to expose yourself to different cultures and experiences and be prepared for the unexpected. They said students should be go-getters and indispensable.

They suggested being open-minded and experiencing different spaces. They said “integrate, but don’t assimilate.”  Panelists also advised students to be versatile, step outside their comfort zones, and surround themselves with people who are aiming in the same progressive direction you are.

I thought this panel was very thought-provoking and stimulating. I loved listening to the panel member’s perspectives on race issues.

They gave extraordinary advice on how to handle indirect and direct stereotype issues. Their advice was very impactful and something everyone should hear. Being open-minded and stepping out into different spaces can change your perspective.

Nancy Jackson
nmjackso@go.olemiss.edu

This discussion focused on how fighting hate with love has helped members of the African American community through troubling times faced at the University of Mississippi. 

Multiple panelists said they have faced adversity in their current professions. Some said they had never faced blatant racism at Ole Miss, but did once they joined the workforce.

One story that stood out to me was how one man was told “You will always be able to find another job,” insinuating that he was only an “affirmative action” hire.

Walking away from this discussion, I felt more enlightened. Much of the discussion did not just focus on the inequalities faced by black men and women in the professional world; they emphasized that many of these same inequalities are experienced by white women in the professional world.

I had never thought about the fact that once I graduate and enter the professional world, my opportunities could be limited just because of my race. I felt that this discussion was thought-provoking and enlightening for anyone who listened.

Ashley Muller
anmulle1@go.olemiss.edu

What initially impressed me was the diversity of age and gender represented by the panel. Moderator Rose Jackson Flenoral introduced the group of men and women. The first woman to speak during this presentation was Kimbrely Dandridge, a former UM student and former Associated Student Body president.

What struck me immediately was Ms. Dandridge introducing herself as the first African American to be elected into this prestigious position. At first I found it mesmerizing to be given the opportunity to listen to this young woman speak, but I also thought to myself, “FIRST black ASB president? There wasn’t one sooner?”

I am aware of the racially segregated past of the University of Mississippi, but this moment made me realize that transitioning into a campus that consistently practices inclusion is still a challenge here. Black inclusion on campus is a more recent element of student life than initially assumed.

Ms. Dandridge, as well as other members of the panel, experienced moments of racism that they could have let bring them down. Luckily, because they were strong-minded and strong-willed,  these incidents became factors in their developing success.

An example of racism that Dandridge faced was when she joined a predominantly white sorority on campus, Phi Mu. Members of the sorority accepted her, but the study body did not. Racial slurs were thrown at her throughout campus, and she discovered an article that labeled the sorority a “joke” for accepting an African American young woman.

Another panelist spoke about his experiences with campus racism. When he began attending the University of Mississippi, he lived on a dorm floor as only one of five other black students. He made friends with the white students who neighbored him, and become closer with them over time. Choosing these friends also pushed him towards deciding to join a fraternity on campus.

This decision, however, became more controversial than progressive. He would be one of the first African American men to become a member in Ole Miss’ Greek system. Typically, an African American student would choose to join a black fraternity, and likewise for caucasian students because of the university’s history.

This young man’s bravery, whether he was aware of it at the time or not, set a path for the future success of university students from a variety of backgrounds. These situations, as well as the others discussed by the panel, are elements of the University of Mississippi’s history that provide constant hope and drive to create a more inclusive campus.

Lydazja Turner

This panel of black Meek School alumni discussed their experiences here at the university and in the workforce. This was such a great experience for me, because I am a black journalism student here, and even though I am just a freshman and have yet to start my career, I could relate to so much they have gone through.

I related the most to Poinesha Barnes when she started to speak about the situation with her name. I, too, have an ethnic name that is not considered common. Like she is named after her father, I am too am named after my grandmother, so I am extremely proud of my name. However, I am in fear of being judged by future employers because of this.

I could also relate to her being natural and the way people may stereotype me because of my hair. People often assume that I do not act like the average African American person because of the school I attend, so I am often called an “Oreo,” but then they assume that I’m “ woke” and a militant angry black girl.

Many times, I have been told that I would not succeed in an on-air position because of my hair in its natural state. Of course, hearing many comments like this makes me angry, but like many people on this panel, on many occasions, I have to stop and think about my future before I respond.

Hearing them talk about some of their experiences gave me so much hope that I could actually succeed in this industry. This panel helped me to better prepare myself for stereotypes I have to deal with during my college life and when I enter the workforce.

Madison Edenfield
meedenfi@go.olemiss.edu

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow featured a panel of black Ole Miss Meek School alumni. The panel discussed their experiences at the University of Mississippi, changes, or lack thereof, in race relations on campus, and how stereotypes have followed them into the professional world.

The mediator, Jesse Holland, started the presentation by asking the panel what it was like as an African American at Ole Miss. The panel was filled with recent graduates, but their stories made me feel as though race relations have not evolved over time.

The panelists reported almost unanimously the emotional and even physical abuse they endured as students. Even with stories of being threatened by dorm mates, unnecessary frisking by a police officer, and being harassed while walking on the Square, all of the panelists agreed that they would return to Ole Miss if they had the chance.

The panelists said that even though there were less than ideal situations, all the life lessons and good relationships made it worthwhile.

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Panelists posing for a picture.

Reagan Smith
rmsmith5@go.olemiss.edu

In the Overby Center on campus, seven Ole Miss alumni gathered to discuss some of the race issues they have faced on campus. The panel ranged in age, but all seemed to face the same difficulties at some points in their time here at Ole Miss.

UM 2013 graduate Ashley Ball said her Ole Miss experience was very normal, and she did not face direct racism. After graduation, she got a job working on the external communications team at Siemens USA. Ball was then only one of two black women who worked with the company, and she described her first direct encounter with racism. In the end, the panel gave the audience great advice: “Surround yourself with people who are going to bring you up, and get you to where you want to be in life.”

Grant Gibbons
gjgibbon@go.olemiss.edu

On Friday, I attended the “It Starts with MEek” panel discussion “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” The panel consisted of seven African American alumni of Ole Miss and was moderated by Rose Jackson Flenoral.

The panelists, most being very recent graduates, discussed what it was like in their time at Ole Miss and how the university has changed over time. Almost all of the panelists shared stories of times when they had been called a racial slur or had hateful things said about them, but they also stated that the climate is changing and trending in the right direction. They said a dialogue has started on campus, and it is helping the university combat this history of hate that has plagued Ole Miss for years.

The panel then shifted to issues faced in the workplace and what it is like being an African American in newsrooms and offices that are predominately white. It was clear to the audience that discrimination in the workplace was still an issue. One of the panelists brought up the term “microaggression” and said some people don’t even realize what they say is offensive. In little ways, whether it is meant as a joke or not, microaggressions still have an strong affect on whoever it was directed towards.

Towards the end of the discussion, the panel was asked to give advice to students in the audience who are heading into the real world, workplace environment. The biggest thing I took from this question was to surround myself with people who have similar goals as me and are going in the direction I want to go. This is something that I have been taught for years, and to hear it now from a different perspective made that advice so much stronger.

The discussion was interesting and entertaining. The advice they gave was not just centered around African American or minority students, but for everyone as a whole. The discussion opened my eyes about discrimination in the workplace and really gave me a sense of what it could be like in any of the panelists’ shoes.

Emily Wilson

On Friday afternoon, I attended the discussion panel led by Ole Miss alumni based on their experiences as African American people in both the journalism workplace and their experiences as an Ole Miss students.

I expected this event and panel to not really affect me much, based on the fact that I am not a minority. I was very wrong after only being there for a couple minutes when each panel member began telling their individual stories of being targeted in both the media workforce and as students at the University of Mississippi.

Certain stories that were told really affected me, such as the story about the one woman being the first African American member of a sorority. She became a member of Phi Mu, and many blogs and such were put up on social media to personally attack and assault her. This struck me as absurd, especially based on the fact that there are still minimal African Americans involved in the Greek community.

What I took away from this lecture is that it is important to push inclusion, especially in a place such as Mississippi where the history says otherwise. It was very beneficial to hear their stories and hear the way they have been treated, especially in the aspect of microaggressions. After this panel, it is a personal goal of mine to consider the way I talk to people and interact with them, because words are powerful and can hurt even when you don’t intend for them to.

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Angelica Pecha
akpecha@go.olemiss.edu

I was not sure what to expect from the Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow panel, but I was intrigued to hear what journalists had to say to aspiring journalists at the Meek School. Most of the questions asked had to do with race, gender, age, and the parts they play in being a journalist.

Being that I am a white female, I do not personally relate or experience some of the stereotypes and struggles that a black journalist would experience, so hearing a different perspective was beneficial.

Being a journalist on its own is a challenge and is a risk to take on considering the idea that the “starving artist” idea still lives today. Aside from the challenges and risks of taking on a career in journalism, I have a future of struggles within my career because of my gender and age.

As confirmed by the female panelists, there will be certain stereotypes, and people who think less of me and my intelligence because I am a woman. Also, it never occurred to me that my age and millennial status would affect my career. Young panelists spoke about the preconceived ideas that millennials are lazy.

“Millennials care about being happy,” said one female panelists. People love to criticize millennials for being lazy, lacking commitment, and having little concern for the outside world. Millennials face a lot of hate and doubt from their elders because millennials have a high turnover rate, but this is because if millennials are not happy, they will leave and begin anew regardless of the paycheck, which I find to be refreshing and hopeful. By the time I join the work force, the work place will be filled with even more millennials, so this will be an adjustment to the work force as a whole.

I was born a white female. I never had the same struggles a black male or female would face. Black female panelists talked about fighting the stereotype of the “angry black woman” or a the stereotype of a “black person that cannot take a joke.”

A black male panelist mentioned that many black journalists are assigned stories just to get a black point of view. This diminishes their talent and is unfair. The same man struggled with combatting black stereotypes. He didn’t write about topics he loved in fear that it would be too stereotypical.

He said black males typically write about sports, crime, or race issues. He did not want to be seen as a black reporter who “won’t talk about anything, but black news.” He wanted to simply be seen as a writer. These are struggles that I will never have to face, but these struggles are seemingly unfair and unjust.

I will have my own struggles to face in the work force. I have already experienced the stereotypes of being a blonde, fashionable, outgoing, white girl. In high school, the smart girls in the class were shocked to hear my name on the honor roll. They told me they thought I was just dumb and fun.

These same struggles will follow me in the work place. People will not take me seriously because of my appearance. People will doubt my intelligence and capability as a woman and as a writer. No one is free from judgement in the work place or, really, anywhere.

Dennis Moore awarded Silver Em and Best of Meek journalism students honored

Posted on: April 6th, 2017 by ldrucker

From left, Debora Wenger, Dennis Moore and Will Norton Jr.

In 1975, the Memphis Commercial Appeal asked the University of Mississippi to nominate two students for potential internships. Dennis Moore was one. He traveled to Memphis and survived an odd interview with the managing editor, who asked a variety of strange questions, such as “Name the countries you fly over when traveling from Memphis to Antarctica?”

“Despite the bizarre nature of the interview, he demonstrated an ability to be removed from the chaotic nature of questioning and keep his wits,” said Will Norton Jr., Ph.D., professor and dean of UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “He has followed a similar pattern throughout his career. His achievements demonstrate that, while the Meek School has more prominence today than it had 40 years ago, its graduates have always had national stature.”

Moore was honored Wednesday night as the 58th recipient of the Samuel S. Talbert Silver Em award at the Inn at Ole Miss on the UM campus. The Silver Em is UM’s highest award for journalism. Recipients must be Mississippi natives or have led exemplary careers in the state.

Moore began his journalism career as an intern at The Germantown (Tennessee) News. He later directed breaking news coverage for USA Today, the nation’s largest circulation newspaper, on stories such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; the spread of Ebola from Africa to the United States; and the trial of one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Earlier at USA Today, he was managing editor of the Life section, which put him in contact with Mick Jagger, John Grisham, Steven Spielberg and and many other notable people.

Moore said his favorite entertainment interview was with Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her role in “The Help,” a book that became a movie written by fellow UM graduate Katherine Stockett set in Jackson, where Moore began his professional reporting career at The Clarion-Ledger.

Moore is now co-editor of Mississippi Today, a news website, with Fred Anklam, also a USA Today and Clarion-Ledger veteran, Ole Miss graduate and Silver Em recipient.

“When I found out I was going to receive the award, I thought I don’t measure up to the previous recipients,” Moore said Wednesday during his acceptance speech. “I don’t think my accomplishments are as stellar as theirs.

“I’ve never endangered myself and my family for editorializing about a social issue. I’ve never revealed government malfeasance. I’ve never helped the community overcome a major natural disaster. I spent most of my career covering entertainment, movies, television, music, and the slightly higher respectability chain, books.”

However, Moore said he believes the staffs he’s worked with over the years have applied the same enthusiasm, vigor and aggressive newsgathering that people on other beats did while covering the entertainment industry.

“We just had more fun,” he said.

Moore said he likes to think he’s helped people understand the importance of critical thinking. “I believe if you look insightfully, if you look aggressively at popular culture, you can find out as much about society as if you write a news story,” he said.

Moore said he’s concerned about the lack of critical thinking in modern journalism. He said journalists must present facts and provide information to defend them because, in a “fake news” era, the public questions the media.

“They don’t have the confidence,” he said. “I believe we can do that by reporting and providing context. By context, I don’t mean let’s interpret for people. Let’s get enough facts so that we can speak confidently, authoritatively and can address issues in a way that can’t be questioned.

“If there’s a problem, we can possibly offer alternatives. We can treat the people we deal with on our beats with respect. Hold them accountable, but don’t present them with our agenda. I think that’s what a lot of news organizations are starting to do now.”

While Moore is concerned about the state of journalism today, he said he’s also encouraged, because he thinks journalists are on a good path.

“We have to report with depth, insight, and then we may be able to affect change,” he said.

Moore credited several people with his success, including Norton, who he described as “inexhaustible” and a “genius.”

“He will very humbly describe himself as making connections, when actually what he does is he creates character and careers,” said Moore. “The Meek School would not be the Meek School without Dr. Norton.”

Norton said he went through issues of The Daily Mississippian from 1973 to 1975 to look at some of Moore’s work as a student journalist. He found several stories, including one titled ‘Dorm Hunting, the night I kicked my leg through the wall, I decided it was time to move.’ Moore wrote light and serious pieces for the college newspaper, including stories about UM applying again for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and voting issues.

“Whether it was about shoddy campus housing, lack of freedom for faculty members or voting rights, tonight’s honoree always seemed to focus on important news,” said Norton, who gave attendees an update about the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

“During the 1974-75 academic year, the Department of Journalism had fewer than 100 majors, and an accreditation team made its first site visit to the campus,” he said. “The endowment of the department was less than $50,000.

“Today, the Meek School has more than 1,500 majors in Farley Hall and the Overby Center, and is raising funds for a third building that will be situated in the parking lot between Lamar Hall and the Overby Center, and the accreditation team called the Meek School a destination – and one of the elite programs in the nation.”

Norton said the endowment today is more than $13 million with a major estate committed to the future.

“The Meek School is prominent nationally now, if not globally,” he said. “Clearly, media education at Ole Miss has gained a great deal of exposure. Several times over the last few weeks, the chancellor has called the Meek School one of the two best schools on the campus. That exposure is based on the strong foundation established in 1947 by Gerald Forbes, the founding chair. He was joined by Sam Talbert and Dr. Jere Hoar. They produced outstanding graduates.”

Hoar was one of the event attendees Wednesday night, and he was recognized for his contribution to the school.

The Silver Em award is named for Talbert, the professor and department chairman, who believed a great department of journalism could be an asset to the state of Mississippi. An “em” was used in printing. In the days of printing with raised metal letters, lines of type were “justified” by skilled insertion of spacing with blanks of three widths – thin, en and em. The Silver Em blends the printing unit of measure with the “M” for Mississippi.

“The award has been presented annually since 1948 as the university’s highest honor for journalism,” said Debora Wenger, associate professor of journalism. “The requirements are that the person selected be a graduate of the University of Mississippi, who has had a noteworthy impact in or out of the state, or if not a graduate of Ole Miss, a journalist of note who has been a difference-maker in Mississippi.”

Meek journalism students were also honored during the event, which featured the Best of Meek awards ceremony.

Students who received Taylor Medals include Rachel Anderson, Katelin Davis, Hannah Hurdle and Ariyl Onstott.

The Kappa Tau Alpha Graduate Scholar was Stefanie Linn Goodwiller.

The KTA Undergraduate Scholar was Ariyl Onstott.

Graduate Excellence winners were Mrudvi Parind Vakshi and Jane Cathryn Walton.

The Lambda Sigma winner was Susan Clara Turnage.

Excellence in Integrated Marketing Communications winners were Austin McKay Dean and Sharnique G’Shay Smith.

Excellence in Journalism winners were Maison Elizabeth Heil and John Cooper Lawton.

Who’s Who winners were Rachel Anderson, Ferderica Cobb, Austin Dean, Elizabeth Ervin, Leah Gibson, Madison Heil, Cady Herring, Rachel Holman, Amanda Hunt, Hannah Hurdle, Amanda Jones, John Lawton, Taylor Lewis, Ariyl Onstott, Meredith Parker, Susan Clara Turnage, Sudu Upadhyay and Brittanee Wallace.

The Overby Award was given to Susan Clara Turnage.

Kappa Tau Alpha inductees include Brandi Embrey, Elizabeth Estes, Madison Heil, Rachael Holman, Hannah Hurdle, Tousley Leake, Taylor Lewis, Jessica Love, Hailey McKee, Olivia Morgan, Ariyl Onstott, Alexandria Paton, Natalie Seales and Zachary Shaw.

Dean’s Award winners include Madeleine Dear, Lana Ferguson, Kylie Fichter, Jennifer Froning, Dylan Lewis, Emily Lindstrom, Sarah McCullen, Dixie McPherson, Anna Miller, Rashad Newsom, Hannah Pickett, Kalah Walker, Brittanee Wallace, Kara Weller and Anna Wierman.

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media was founded in 2009 with a $5.9 million gift from Dr. Ed and Becky Meek, Ole Miss graduates with a long history of support. It is housed in Farley Hall, with a wing for the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Today, the Meek School has 1,570 students in undergraduate and graduate studies working toward degrees in journalism and IMC.

For more information, email meekschool@olemiss.edu.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor