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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.

Billion Dollar Buyer will offer business advice May 5 at the University of Mississippi Pavilion

Posted on: May 3rd, 2017 by ldrucker

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Attendees will eat free during an hour of power-packed wisdom from America’s “Billion Dollar Buyer” beginning at 11:30 a.m. May 5 in the University of Mississippi’s Pavilion.

Tilman Fertitta, chairman and CEO of Landry’s, is bringing his rare blend of sarcasm and success to the Ole Miss campus. The king of the restaurant world has become a media celebrity renowned for making tough deals. With more 500 properties and 60,000 employees, Fertitta leads a high-flying lifestyle that takes him all over the world where he makes deals regarding his restaurant, hotel and casino empire.

He’s very hands-on, closing multi-million dollar real estate transactions to buying the honey for his restaurants. He’s loves the details and art of the deal.

“It’s always just business,” for Fertitta, but for the companies that are successful in securing his favor, it’s a game-changer. “I’m in the gambling business. I know what it means to play the odds. But, at some point, you’ve got to go all in to make the deal.”

That’s  what Fertitta will do at the Pavilion. He’ll field audience questions. “I love to be in the spotlight,” Fertitta said. What better place to do it than at Ole Miss where Fertitta has strong ties?

“My family’s roots in Mississippi go back nearly 50 years, and I have a residence in Oxford,” he said. “My two oldest sons attended Ole Miss, as well as my niece, Kelli. The town Square was way ahead of its time, bringing boutique shops and interesting restaurants without losing the relaxed feel of a small Southern town. I believe in it so much that I’ve invested in it.”

Co-sponsored by the School of Business, Ole Miss Athletics and the Meek School of Journalism & New Media, Fertitta’s visit will feature Fertitta’s candor, humor and bravado, laced with four decades of wisdom in buying, selling and developing some of the premiere properties in the country. Don’t miss his nuggets of wisdom that will challenge even the brightest mind to go for the jackpot.

Admission to the event is free, and the first 1,000 attendees will get a free lunch thanks to the generosity of sponsors Renasant Bank, Evans Peter, PC and White Construction.

“I can’t wait for Ole Miss to experience Tilman’s wit and wisdom, noted Blake Tartt, III, who invited Fertitta to speak. “I’ve known Tilman since childhood and have worked with him on developments for over 30 years. I’m eager for our students and guests to see the king in the house and get a personal dose of his develop me                                                                                                        nt genius.”

Here’s a link to the UM Communications story about the event. 

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

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

Mississippi high school students attend Mississippi Scholastic Press Association State Convention at Meek School

Posted on: March 31st, 2017 by ldrucker

Taylor Dancer, 18, stood in the hallway on the second floor of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media Friday morning waiting for a journalism session to begin during the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association State Convention.

Taylor Dancer.

Dancer, who attended the event with Madison Central High School classmates, was one of more than 500 Mississippi high school students who came to learn more about journalism. She said her school has a broadcast journalism class, a newspaper and a yearbook program. She works for the yearbook and enjoys designing pages and taking pictures.

“I had to take the intro to journalism class first,” she said. “It really helped expand my writing, and I love writing a lot more now than I did before. Doing that and the photography and layout is my favorite thing, and I’ve entered some competitions with my photography.”

Dancer credits her high school instructor with the program’s success. “We really try to be firm on deadlines,” she said, “and create a good book for everyone to see. It goes out in our community, and we want that to reflect us well. That’s kind of like the main goal throughout the classroom, and we all know that, so we are held to a high standard.”

Dancer said she wants to become a pediatric dentist, but she’s not ready to give up her yearbook activity. “I’ve talked to some people here (University of Mississippi), and I’ve thought about being on the yearbook staff here, because that’s something I’ve done throughout high school. I would really like to continue in college. I’ve heard that it’s really fun, and you can go to some cool events, and possibly get paid for your pictures.”

MSPA is the Mississippi high school journalism organization. The association works with high school staffs all across the state in four areas – school newspapers, including online-only publications, print publications and news magazines; yearbooks, which almost every school has; broadcasts, which have doubled in the last two years; and awards and sessions for literary magazines for creative writing students.

R.J. Morgan, MSPA director, said the organization includes about 80 high school member publications. Web only is a small part. Most are newspapers, yearbooks or broadcasts. He said high school journalism teaches students how to organize their thoughts and express them clearly and concisely. It teaches them how to communicate, talk to their peers and strangers, and interview someone.

“It teaches them the importance of deadlines, the importance of design, and the way you structure things for maximum utility,” Morgan said. “High school journalism teaches them to question society, to look at things around them, and to look at what is being presented to them on the surface and critique it, whether that is their school policy on dress code, or whether that is a bigger community issue.”

The convention offers skills workshops and education to help students better serve the communities in which they live and work. They also hold a number of journalism contests to honor and validate students and teachers.

Bill Rose and John Baker, Meek School of Journalism and New Media professors, led a session called “Enemies of the American People.” They discussed the idea that the media has been under attack and the journalism movie, “Spotlight,” about a group of Boston Globe journalists who broke a story about Catholic priests sexually assaulting young boys. He said the reporters began “knocking on doors and getting people to tell their stories.” Change happened when the truth was exposed.

“It came as a result of some journalists getting together and pursuing a story,” Rose said. “Was it easy? Did they run into resistance? Did the church use its political connections to try to shut them down? All those things happened.”

Rose believes it’s a great time to be a journalist despite polls that may indicate otherwise.

“When you’re attacked, if you don’t fight back, you go down in popularity for a while,” he said. “The interesting thing about this whole attack of the press is it comes because newspaper reporters are doing their job.”

The keynote speaker was essayist and Jackson native Kiese Laymon, who attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College, a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio. He earned a master’s degree in fine arts in fiction from Indiana University and is now a professor of English and African American studies at the University of Mississippi.

Laymon is author of the novel Long Division and a collection of essays called How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016. He has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications, including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony and Guernica, according to his bio at kieselaymon.com. He has two books in the works, including a memoir called Heavy and a novel called And So On, expected in 2017 from Scribner.

“He’s a native Mississippian, who has gone on to be a highly respected and published voice,” Morgan said. “He’s so nuanced and really does a good job of articulating a point of view.”

Laymon led a session called “The Joy of Failure.” The point was, you can’t learn if you don’t fail. He shared a story from his youth when he won a second place statewide award for an essay he wrote in 11th grade for his school newspaper. But when Laymon recently reviewed it for the first time in years, he realized how poorly he had written it.

“…When they asked me to come and talk to you all, I went back and read that thing,” Laymon said, adding that he couldn’t find one usable sentence in the essay that he wouldn’t edit now. That’s because he’s grown as a writer, a reader and a person, he said.

“What I want you to do is look forward to writing trash,” Laymon said. “You can’t write anything great unless you write trash first.”

Keywanna Rogers

Keywanna Rogers, 18, is a Tupelo High School journalism student who was found in the Meek School lobby between journalism sessions Friday. She said her school has a variety of journalism programs, and she is the sports editor of the school newspaper.

“We do a lot of writing,” she said. “If we’re not writing, we’re going out looking for stories. I mostly do sports, but I also write some opinion (columns).”

Rogers said she wants to major in journalism and minor in communications. She aspires to be a newspaper reporter. “I haven’t really had any experience with broadcasting yet, but I plan to, just to see how it’s different,” she said.

Jalysia Coleman

Jalysia Coleman, 17, also from Tupelo High, plans to join the Air Force after high school, but she’s now part of the school’s newspaper staff and enjoys writing stories.

“My English teacher last semester was a kindergarten teacher forever, and she became an 11th grade English teacher,” Coleman said, recalling one of the stories she wrote this year. “And my U.S. history teacher got Teacher of the Year, and I wrote about that.”

Connor Murphy, 17, of D’Iberville High School, said his school recently added a journalism program. Murphy is the student director of the school’s broadcast journalism class, WDHS. Broadcasts can be found on YouTube. Students also produce a weekly podcast called “Campus Connection” that can be downloaded from iTunes.

Connor Murphy.

“We have 17 in the class at the moment,” said Murphy, who wants to major in journalism. He hasn’t decided which college he’ll attend, but the decision is between the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi.

Braxton Stone, 16, of Starkville High School, also attended the MSPA State Convention. He said he loves his high school journalism program and his teacher.

“She’s really interactive with our program,” he said. “Our yearbook staff editors know exactly what they are doing.”

Braxton Stone

Stone said this is his second year to be part of the program. He joined because he was interested in English and writing, and he wants to study broadcast journalism in college.

Reagan Leeper, another Madison Central student, said Madison Central journalism students are a team. “We all work together,” she said. “We use pictures in stories, and we share them so everybody has stuff. We try to support each other getting stories and articles. We usually come here and learn more about what we can do, what other schools do, and the best ways to do them.”

Corvokseya Jones, 18, of H.W. Byers High School in Marshall County, is a student journalist. “We’re still trying to get more people (involved),” said Jones, who is interested in attending the University of Mississippi.

Sarah Jent.

Sarah Jent, 17, another Madison Central student, said she’s always loved taking photos. “As I got through middle school, I realized I really enjoyed writing and was good at it. Yearbook was a way for me to combine those two (interests), design pages, express myself and put my creativity into a page.”

Jent plans to study speech pathology in college and become a speech therapist for children with special needs, and she wants to minor in psychology.

When MSPA started in 1947, Morgan said the convention was similar to a camp. The role of school publications has changed a lot in the past 70 years, and the convention has been a one-day event since the 1970s.

“We are one of the older scholastic press associations and one of the best attended scholastic press associations in the country,” said Morgan. This is his fourth year to direct the convention, and he said students teach him more than he teaches them regarding language evolution and technology.

“This generation – they are really innovative storytellers,” he said. “I don’t think they necessarily see themselves that way, but the way they communicate with themselves and their peers through social media and print – through broadcast, shorthand, longform – there are so many different ways they can communicate and get information to their audience. They really just amaze me.”

Morgan’s goal for every conference is to give students seeds of knowledge in new areas.

“When they get back to their schools,” he said, “it is then up to them, their communities and their teachers to foster the growth of those seeds, to the extent that we, in five and six hours, can open their mind to a new way of doing things, a better or more professional way of handling themselves, covering an event or telling a story.”

To read more about the event and see a full list of awards, visit the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association website. 

You can view photos and posts about the event on Twitter using the hashtag #MSPA17. Follow @MeekJournalism on Twitter and Instagram. You can “like” @MeekSchool on Facebook.

If you are interested in establishing a journalism program at your high school, Contact R. J. Morgan for more information at morgan@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7146.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor

New Course: Former UM student will teach students the psychology of sales in May

Posted on: March 30th, 2017 by ldrucker

Selling things involves psychology.

How do you get people to buy your product?

Why would they want to buy what you’re selling?

Those are two of the problems a new course offered by the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s Integrated Marketing Communications Department will address in May.

IMC 362 Introduction to Sales will be taught by special guest Joe George, who has worked with Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc., a global media consulting firm.

George said he wants students to learn “that sales is an admirable profession, and that selling is a part of our everyday lives. Also, I want them to learn that no one wants to be ‘sold’ anything. But everyone loves to buy. What they buy is what the course is all about.”

George, according to his Facebook page, attended North Panola High School (in Mississippi) and the University of Mississippi. In the past, he was a lecturer at the Tippie School of Business at University of Iowa. 

“He taught during intersession a few years ago to rave reviews, and is coming back to Oxford in May to do it again,” said Scott Fiene, program director and assistant professor of integrated marketing communications.

Fiene said the course will cover the selling process.

“It will focus on identifying the real problems in a sales situation and review how to bring the right skills to bear on those problems at the right time,” he said. “It will cover the ‘how to’ and the ‘why to,’ and is based on information generated by the behavioral sciences.

“In other words, it looks at why people do the things they do, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage when placed in a selling situation.”

George once worked with Frank N. Magid Associates, a leading research-based strategic consulting firm that helps clients become profitable by solving problems and helping them take advantage of opportunities.

According to the company website, Magid strives to bring unique frameworks for solving problems and seizing opportunities to each engagement.

“We are unique because, for 53 years, we have carefully studied human behavior and how communication affects it,” the website reads. “We possess an uncanny understanding of what and how marketing and communication will motivate people to behave in certain ways. This understanding provides us with a unique consumer lens through which we approach each engagement.”

Magid leaders say they use their “expertise to help clients develop and market products and services and make investment decisions that align with consumer attitudes and expected behaviors.”

The company has offices in Minnesota, New York, Iowa, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas.

George once worked as a lecturer at the Tippie College of Business at The University of Iowa. Tippie has 3,000 students and six academic departments, including accounting, economics, finance, marketing, management and organizations and management sciences. They have 48,000 alumni and are growing.

The Tippie College of Business was established eight years after the University of Iowa in 1847, according to the school website. The first “business” course offered there was Moral Philosophy, which examined the political economy, a subject that evolved to later include modern economics, finance, and commerce.

For more information about the IMC 362 Introduction to Sales course or other courses offered by the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, contact Fiene at safiene@olemiss.edu and visit the Meek School website at http://meek.olemiss.edu for more information about our programs.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor

New Course: ‘Documentary and Social Issues’ offered at Meek School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: March 29th, 2017 by ldrucker

One the areas that the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media takes pride in is its history of race, civil rights and social justice reporting.

Meek School professor Joe Atkins will be offering a new journalism course in the fall called “Documentary and Social Issues.” J580 will be offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 10:50 p.m. as a graduate elective course, but undergraduates in their junior and senior year are welcome to register for the course.

Atkins said the course “will look at the history of documentary making and its impact on major social issues of the day.”

“From Robert Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North” in 1922 and Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” in 1935, to Michael Moore’s films today, the documentary has brought important issues to the public’s attention and produced intense controversy,” Atkins said. “This course explores its central role in our media world past, present and future.”

Atkins said the course looks at the role – in print, broadcast, film or social media – the documentary has played in exploring and bringing light to key social problems and issues. Students will gain fuller insight into the role journalism and documentary film can play in the discussion and possible resolution of social problems and issues.

The course will improve their ability to think critically about journalism and documentary film and to write analytically, persuasively, and comparatively about film and related texts. Some of the films that may be shown in the course include:

“Nanook of the North,” by Robert Flaherty, 1922

“Triumph of the Will,” by Leni Riefenstahl, 1935

“Inside Nazi Germany,” by Jack Glenn, 1938

“Harlan County USA,” by Barbara Kopple, 1976, about coal miners.

“The Uprising of ’34,” by Stoney, Helfand and Rostock, 1995, about the bloody suppression of striking textile workers in South Carolina.

“I Am A Man,” by Jonathan Epstein, 2008, about the 1968 sanitation workers strike in Memphis.

A yet-to-be-determined film by Michael Moore.

Atkins has taught at the University of Mississippi since 1990. He teaches courses in advanced reporting, international journalism, ethics and social issues, media history, and labor and media.

He is the author of Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press, published by The University of Press of Mississippi in 2008, and editor/contributing author of The Mission: Journalism, Ethics and the World, published by Iowa State University Press in 2002.

He organized an international “Conference on Labor and the Southern Press” at Ole Miss in October of 2003. A statewide columnist and 35-year veteran journalist, Atkins was a congressional correspondent with Gannett News Service’s Washington, D.C., bureau for five years.

He previously worked with newspapers in North Carolina and Mississippi. His articles have appeared in publications, such as USA Today, Baltimore Sun, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Progressive Populist, Southern Exposure, Quill and the Oxford American. Atkins is also author of the novel “Casey’s Last Chance,” published by Sartoris Literary Group in 2005.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor

Meek School wins big at Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Competition

Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi won big at the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Competition.

Patricia Thompson, assistant dean of Student Media at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and assistant professor of journalism, said the Meek School had a great showing at the recent awards banquet in Jackson. UM students won a total of 25 awards, including 13 first-place awards and two “Best of Show” awards.

Here are the highlights, along with some of the judges’ comments for first-place winners:

The Daily Mississippian won first place for newspaper general excellence. Judges said of the DM’s three newspapers entered for this category: “This defines general excellence. Great content, strong design throughout. Excellent investigative piece, as well as a fun festival guide. Great job!”

The Daily Mississippian won first place for best website, and first place for breaking/spot news, for its coverage of “Occupy Lyceum.” Judges said the website is “clean, easy to navigate, plenty of quality content, clear winner.” Judges said of the breaking news protest entry: “Multi-media elements, including photos, video and embedded social media posts were used to effectively convey how this story quickly developed. The reporting was thorough, well-sourced and balanced.”

NewsWatch Ole Miss won first place for sportscast or news program for its show previewing the football game against Alabama.  “Pretty impressive presentation for a collegiate entry,” judges said.

The documentary class production about the election won first place for documentary TV. Judges said: “A good mix of interviews. The multiple angles were well presented.”

Clara Turnage not only led the DM staff to several first-place awards, but also won two individual first-place awards, and a Best of Show top award for newspapers. Judges said her entry that won first-place in the enterprise/investigative category, “Confronting the Trust Deficit,” which examined the relationship between Ole Miss and the IHL board, was “a clear winner. Heads above all the rest in terms of depth and sophistication.” Her feature entry was described as “understated but emotionally powerful. Good topspin to move the story along. Tight but revealing bites. Strong, evocative verbs.”

Rebel Radio correspondent Billy Rainey took Best of Show top award for radio, and won one first-place, one second-place, and one third-place award. Judges said his first-place news entry is “a terrific example of taking such a sensitive topic as sexual assault and making it vital for a college campus.”

Other first-place winners: Cameron Brooks; Brian Scott Rippee; Jake Thrasher; Italiana Anderson; Sara McAlister.

Here’s the list of everything Meek School/SMC students won:

Best of Show, newspapers: Clara Turnage
Best of Show, radio: Billy Rainey
First place, College General Excellence: The Daily Mississippian
First place, College Web site: Daily Mississippian staff
First place, College Breaking/Spot News: The Daily Mississippian staff, “Ole Miss student’s viral comment leads to community protest”
First place, College Sportscast or Sports Program: NewsWatch Ole Miss, “Ole Miss Beat Bama”
First place, College Documentary: Meek School documentary class, “Election”
First place, College Radio Documentary: Italiana Andereson, Rebel Radio, “UM breast cancer research”
First place, College Enterprise/Investigative: Clara Turnage, The Daily Missisissippian, “Confronting the Trust Deficit”
First place, College Feature: Clara Turnage, The Daily Mississippian, “A beautiful multitude: The ordination of Reverend Gail Stratton”
First place,  College Sports Enterprise/Feature: Brian Scott Rippee, The Daily Mississippian, “Ole Miss basketball: A team that spreads across the map”
First place, College Personal Columns: Jake Thrasher, The Daily Mississippian, “You are no less of a man for having been assaulted”
First place, College Sports Photos: Cameron Brooks, The Daily Mississippian, “Rebels dominate Sugar Bowl in the Big Easy”

First place, College Radio News Story: Billy Rainey, Rebel Radio, “Rebels Against Sexual Assault”
First place, College Radio Sports Story: Sara McAlister, Rebel Radio, “Ole Miss vs. Georgia”
Second place, College Newscast: NewsWatch Ole Miss

Second place, College Feature Photos: Ariel Cobbert, The Daily Mississippian, “Tory Lanez performs at the Lyric”
Second place, College Radio Feature Story: Billy Rainey, Rebel Radio, “Baton Rouge flooding efforts”
Second place, College Radio News Story: Italiana Anderson, Rebel Radio, “New vice chancellor of diversity”
Second place, College Radio Sports Story: Riley Mueller, Rebel Radio, “Rebels keep their heads up”
Third place, College Newscast: NewsWatch Ole Miss, “9/26/2016”

Third place: College TV News Story: Chandler Morgan and Payton Green, “Racial Unity Awareness Week”
Third place, College Radio News Story: Billy Rainey, Rebel Radio, “Chancellor’s investiture”
Third place, College Radio Sports Story: Megan Peoples, Rebel Radio, “Baseball spring training”
Third place, College Radio Feature story: DeAndria Turner, Rebel Radio, “Everybody’s Formal”

There were 36 college categories and nearly 300 entries from 10 colleges. There were 96 awards were handed out. Nine universities won awards in college newspaper categories; five universities won awards in the college television categories; and three universities won awards in the college radio categories. First-place winners were awarded plaques, and the six Best of Show winners each received $250 scholarships. Second- and third-place winners received certificates.

This is the first year the Louisiana-Mississippi AP Media Editors and the Mississippi AP Broadcasters have conducted a joint college contest for both states, and also welcomed Louisiana broadcast students to compete for the first time. LSU’s Tiger TV won best TV newscast, and Southeastern Louisiana won best radio newscast.

Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson attended the awards luncheon at the Hilton Jackson on Saturday, April 25, with six students: Madison Heil, NewsWatch Ole Miss manager; Lauren Layton, NewsWatch anchor/correspondent and a member of the documentary project class; Abby McIntosh, NewsWatch video producer, co-sports director and NewsWatch manager for 2017-2018; Billy Rainey, Rebel Radio news correspondent; Jake Thrasher, DM editorial cartoonist; Clara Turnage, DM editor-in-chief.

We will soon find out how we did in the annual regional SPJ Mark of Excellence contest, competing against colleges in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana.

To read more, here’s The Daily Mississippian story about the winners.

It Starts With MEek week of events set for April 19-25

Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by ldrucker

Just pause. That’s what we’re asking you to do for five days.

Pause before you assume you know everything about someone based solely on one factor, such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, age, etc.

Welcome to It Starts With MEek, five days of events from Wednesday, April 19 to Tuesday, April 25 designed to remind students that one factor does not define who we are.

“For example, women once were stereotyped as only being qualified for secretarial, teaching or nursing jobs,” said Robin Street, University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media, senior lecturer and It Starts With MEek chair. “Once we quit stereotyping women, look at how much has changed.

“Even Mississippians are often stereotyped by people from other areas of the country, and look at how many outstanding Mississippians we have.”

Street said we often fall into an easy trap of stereotyping people based on their outward presentation without bothering to discover the many things we share in common with that person.

“Please join us as we all seek to understand together how to approach each person with understanding, dignity, respect and inclusion. We all have more in common than you know.”

There’s also a journalism and marketing competition happening with an April 7 deadline. You can read more here.

Here’s a lineup of speakers and events for the week:

Wednesday, April 19
“It” Starts today!

10 a.m. Opening Ceremony

Welcome from Robin Street, senior lecturer in IMC.  Introduction of committee. Announcement of competition winners. Debut of video.

Welcome and remarks from:

Charlie Mitchell, Ph.D., associate dean and professor of journalism, Meek School of Journalism and New Media

Don Cole, Ph.D., assistant provost and associate professor of mathematics

Shawnboda Mead, director, Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement

Recognize: Katrina Caldwell, Ph.D.,vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement       

11 a.m Other Moments: A Class Photography Exercise in Honoring Difference at Ole Miss Mark Dolan, Ph.D., associate professor of journalism and new media, and his students.

1 p.m. Making a Difference by Engaging With Difference Jennifer Stallman, Ph.D., instructor and academic director of racial reconciliation, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

2 p.m.  Tell Me a Story: Mastering the Primary Building Blocks of Diversity and Inclusion Katrina Caldwell, Ph.D., vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.


Thursday, April 20
A Day in My Life

The joys and challenges of the lives of students and faculty members in diverse publics at UM

Throwback Thursday: Faculty members will be posting throwback photos of themselves.

9:30 a.m.  From James Meredith to Millennials: Race Relations at Ole Miss

A panel of UM students discuss at the state of race relations on campus and their hopes for the future.

Moderator:  Shawnboda Mead, director, Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. Panel members:  Bianca Abney, IMC major; Brittany Brown, broadcast journalism major; Terrius Harris, outgoing president, Black Student Union; Tysianna Marino, president, UM chapter of NAACP.

11 a.m.  Red, Blue and Rainbow: An Inside Look at Being LGBT at UM

A panel of UM students, faculty and staff members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender discuss their life at Ole Miss.

Moderator: Rachel Anderson, journalism major and ISWM events co-chair.  Panel members: Danica McOmber, general manager, Gear Gaming; Dylan Lewis, IMC major; Mykki Newton, videographer/editor, Meek School; Susannah Sweeney-Gates, project coordinator, Center for Continuing Legal Education, with her spouse, Hayden Gates

1 p.m. Building Trust Within Professional and Personal Communities: A Workshop Dr. Jennifer Stollman, instructor and academic director of racial reconciliation, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

2:30 p.m. Sometimes I Feel Invisible: The Experience of Living with a Disability

Moderator: Kathleen Wickham, Ph.D., professor of journalism. Panel members:  Stacey Reycraft, director of student disability services; Adam Brown, sports editor, Hotty Toddy.com; and students Jessie, Trenton, Timber, Martha-Grace, Josh and Jeremy.

5:30 p.m. Spoken Word performance A relaxing night of spoken word expressing stories, thoughts, and aspirations on stereotypes, respect and inclusion from members of the Ole Miss community.

Friday, April 21
Bringing it All Back Home Day
Alumni return to share their perspectives

10 a.m. Race in America: A Journalist’s Perspective, Jesse Holland, Associated Press race and ethnicity reporter

11 a.m. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. A panel of Black Meek School  alumni discuss their experiences at Ole Miss and as professionals  (This panel repeats at 1 p.m. )Moderator: Jesse Holland, Associated Press race and ethnicity reporter. Panel members: Gabe Austin, video editor, Mississippi Today; Ashley Ball, communications associate, Siemens Corporations; Poinesha Barnes, news producer, WREG; Kim Dandridge, attorney, Butler Snow; Selena Standifer, deputy public affairs director, Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Noon:  Private luncheon for panel members, committee members & faculty

1 p.m. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Session II. A panel of Black Meek School alumni discuss their experiences at Ole Miss and as professionals.  Moderator: Rose Jackson, manager, Global Citizenship, FedEx Services. Panel members:  Gabe Austin, video editor, Mississippi Today; Ashley Ball, communications associate, Siemens Corporations; Poinesha Barnes, news producer, WREG; Kim Dandridge, attorney, Butler Snow; Jesse Holland, AP race & ethnicity reporter; Selena Standifer, deputy public affairs director, Mississippi Department of Transportation.

2 p.m. Red, Blue and Rainbow Alumni: A panel of LGBT Meek School  alumni discuss their experiences at Ole Miss and as professionals  Moderator: Shepard Smith, Fox News chief news anchor. Panelists: Martin Bartlett, PR strategist, Barracuda Public Relations; Hayes Burchfield, attorney, Burchfield Law Firm, PLLC; Kells Johnson, assignment editor, WZTV Fox 17 Nashville; Sid Williams, senior enrollment representative, SCAD.

3 p.m. My Journey from Farley Hall to Major News Events around the world Shepard Smith, Fox News chief news anchor.

4 p.m Reception for all speakers and Meek students.

Monday, April 24
Mind, Body & Spirit Monday

9 a.m.  Normal Does Not Exist, Mental Illness Does, Mary Beth Duty, licensed professional counselor and owner, Soulshine Counseling and Wellness, as well as an alumnus of the Meek School.

10 a.m. From the Bible Belt to Baghdad: what today’s IMC and Journalism professionals need to know about the world’s major religions.  Dr. Sarah Moses, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion.

11 a.m.  Keeping the Faith:  Members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths discuss their religion and the challenges they are facing in 2017. Moderator: Dr. Will Norton, dean, Meek School.  Panel members: Dr. Mahmoud A. ElSohly, research professor and professor of pharmaceutics; Dr. Richard Gershon, professor of law; Katherine Levingston, president, Hillel.

1 p.m. Mental Health and Me: Panel Discussion on Personal Experiences with Mental Health Issues  Moderator: Debbie Hall, instructor in IMC. Panel members: Lindsay Brett, doctoral student, School of Education; Mary Beth Duty, owner, Soulshine Counseling and Wellness; Justin Geller, child and youth outreach coordinator, Communicare; Hailey Heck, IMC major; Tysianna Marino, public policy major; Abby Vance, journalism major.

 2 p.m. Role of Individual and Institutional Accountability in Doing Diversity and Equity Michèle Alexandre, professor of law and Leonard B. Melvin, Jr., lecturer.

3 p.m. Keeping it Real on Social Media: Guidelines for Handling Diversity Issues, Ryan Whittington, assistant director of public relations for social media strategy.

4 p.m.  Unity in Diversity: Fashion show and entertainment. Weather permitting, fashion show will be in Farley front yard. Rain location: Overby Auditorium.

6 p.m.  Racial Politics in Memphis   Otis Sanford, former managing editor,  The (Memphis, Tennessee) Commercial Appeal, now holder of the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis.

Tuesday, April 25
Farley Festival Day

Journalism students are asked to wear purple and Journalism faculty and staff to wear ’60s outfits today to show their support for the It Starts with (Me)ek campaign.

10:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m Farley Festival.

Join us on the front lawn of Farley Hall for entertainment, information, prizes and fun. The festival celebrates the ’60s because of the many movements that gained strength that decade, such as civil rights, gay rights and women’s rights. Rain location: Inside Farley Hall.

Students wearing purple to the tent get a free Chick-fil-A treat. Students bringing a program stamped with at least two events they attended get a free T-shirt.

 During Diversity Rocks events, if you require special assistance relating to a disability, please contact Paula Hurdle at phurdle@olemiss.edu.  Some accommodations, such as ASL interpreting, will require advanced notice to arrange so please request such services at least one week before an event.