New Albany High School students visited the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media Student Media Center Sept. 21. They watched the live NewsWatch Ole Miss newscast, sat in on the daily critique with NewsWatch faculty adviser Nancy Dupont, and had a Q&A with Daily Mississippian editors. Shane Sanford of Ole Miss Sports Productions arranged the visit.
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The Daily Mississippian sponsored a “Cookies, Coffee & Conversation” open house at the Student Media Center on Wednesday evening, Sept. 13. Chancellor Jeff Vitter and his wife, Sharon, were among the guests who stopped by and met with DM editors.
Pictured with the Vitters are DM Managing Editor Slade Rand, Social Media Editor Anessa Guess, Graphics Designer Emily Hoffman and Editor in Chief Lana Ferguson.
It was 55 years ago this month that the University of Mississippi campus was engulfed in a riot when James Meredith sought to enroll in the state’s flagship university.
Segregationists from around the South had descended on the campus and a riot ensued. More than 300 reporters traveled to Oxford to cover the story.
Some were beaten; others had their equipment damaged or set on fire. Agence France-Press reporter Paul Guihard was murdered, the only reporter killed during the civil rights era.
The issues then were as stark as they are today – as demonstrated by protests and demonstrations occurring in Memphis and across the nation regarding the existence of Confederate memorials on public grounds.
In today’s climate the emotions on both sides are as raw as when the monuments were installed, the beliefs as rigid and the hate as repulsive.
But at a time when claims of so-called “fake news” are used to undermine the press’s credibility, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the role of the press in reporting riots, protests and disturbances.
That role – granted by the First Amendment – is to monitor the actions of government and powerful people and institutions by providing a reliable source of information about how law enforcement, public officials and citizens react to events and protect people and property.
Attacks on the press for performing this work are an affront to democracy. Journalists report the news without fear or favor on behalf of the people.
The reporters who descended on Oxford in 1962 were doing just that. They were driven to seek the truth and inform the public about what was happening.
In my new book “We Believed We Were Immortal: Twelve Reporters Who Covered the 1962 Integration Crisis at Ole Miss“, I explore the crisis through the words and experiences of journalists who were there.
They include Sidna Brower, the Memphis reared editor of the student newspaper; Claude Sitton of The New York Times, known as the dean of the civil rights press corps, Dorothy Gilliam, also a Memphis native who was the first African-American woman hired by The Washington Post; Michael Dorman of Newsday, who explored the town’s attitudes as evidenced by the Faulkner family; and Tupelo-native Neal Gregory of The Commercial Appeal, who wrote about the mood of Oxford’s religious community.
Guihard’s unsolved murder is also a significant aspect of the book. Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, another reporter who came to Oxford in 1962, spoke at the 2010 dedication of a memorial marker for Guihard.
Rather observed that the job of a reporter is to bear witness and “be an honest broker of information. To take the viewers to the scene …to get as close to the truth as you possibly can, recognizing that most of the time you can’t get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Journalism is viewed as the first draft of history. It is through such drafts that truth emerges. Journalists speak for their communities and create public conversations, emboldened by the belief that their stories shed light on public affairs and can change the world.
Dr. Kathleen Wickham, a former Memphian, is a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi. She is scheduled to sign copies of her new book at 5 p.m. Sept. 12 at Square Books in Oxford, and at 6 p.m. Sept. 15 at Novel bookstore in Memphis.
This column was originally published in The Commercial Appeal.
After almost 20 years of serving as a resource for journalists and journalism teachers, NewsLab will undergo a change in structure to ensure that its mission of improving journalism will continue.
On Oct. 2, NewsLab will become part of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.
Launched in 1998 with a grant from the Park Foundation, NewsLab has been maintained since 2003 as an online training center by its founding executive director, Deborah Potter. Thousands of journalists, educators and students worldwide have benefited from NewsLab’s resources on reporting, producing, ethics, photojournalism and many other topics.
All current NewsLab resources will remain online at a new standalone site, hosted by the university. New material, including research projects and creative work, will be added by the Meek School.
“I’m delighted that NewsLab has found a university home,” Potter said. One of NewsLab’s early goals, she said, was to serve as a bridge between television newsrooms and educators to help working journalists discover and apply the lessons of academic research. “I can’t wait to see what NewsLab at Ole Miss will learn that will help journalists at all levels and in all media do better work.”
The Meek School of Journalism and New Media offers two undergraduate degree programs: Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications. Faculty in the school often work at the intersection of technology and content creation. Sustaining NewsLab will allow the school to share more widely the work of its faculty and students and to contribute to important conversations about media, communication and technology occurring around the world.
“Under Deborah Potter’s leadership, NewsLab developed a reputation for supporting quality journalism across digital platforms,” said Dr. Will Norton, dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “As part of our school, the site will build on that foundation and expand its mission to include a broader range of communication fields in keeping with the focus of our school.”
Potter may collaborate with the Meek School’s NewsLab on future journalism projects. For more information on the launch or to inquire about contributing to the new site, contact Mike Tonos at email@example.com.
Meek School students and University of Mississippi Association of Black Journalists officers Terrence Johnson and Brittany Brown, and Assistant Dean Pat Thompson attended the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans Aug. 8-13.
While there, they spent time with UM alumni, including Fred Anklam, Jared Boyd, Lynecia Christion, Jesse Holland, Rose Jackson Flenorl, Dennis Moore, Ashley Norwood, Norman Seawright III and Kayleigh Skinner.
Terrence and Brittany also participated in NABJ’s Day of Community Service helping to rebuild homes destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.
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.
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.”