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University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor’s TikTok assignment goes viral

Posted on: December 11th, 2019 by ldrucker

University of Mississippi School of Journalism student Ashley Watts created a TikTok video as an assignment in her J310: Social Media in Society class led by professor Brad Conaway, and it went viral.

“It has now been viewed by 7.4 million people, has 1.5 million likes, and has been shared 14,900 times,” Watts said. “Isn’t that crazy?”

You can view the TikTok video here or click the image below. 

Ashley Watts and family.

Ashley Watts and family.

We asked Conaway a little about the assignment and viral video.

Q. Can you tell me a little about the class you are teaching?

A. Journalism 310: Social Media in Society. The version I taught this semester was an online course… Each week, students were given articles, books, podcasts, movies, web videos, etc. to consume to do an assignment (either a quiz, essay, or something that specifically had to do with the lesson.) We tried to cover all of the latest, most important social media topics and themes. From shaming to privacy to influencers … We kept up all semesters with what was going on at Facebook the last few months.

Q. Can you tell me a little about the assignment you gave students?

A. The last section/unit was on “The Future of Social Media.” TikTok is an extremely popular app among under 20 year-olds (#1 most downloaded social media app worldwide last year), and the audience is growing up, and it is becoming a go-to place for digital marketing because of the demo and… well, it’s just fun – hypnotic and addictive.

The assignment was to watch “about an hour” of TikTok and then either make a video based on a current trend or write a paper about a current trend.

Brad Conaway

Brad Conaway

Q. What did this student do, in particular?

A. Produced a series of short, funny, sequential, videos staring her family that appeared as text messages on her phone… Used a great music sample from the app (Tricky by Run DMC) and delivered the message/punchline “Happy Thanksgiving.” Giving it a “now” angle that the app loves.

Q. The TikTok assignment went viral. Why do you think it went viral?

A. It was of the moment, with the Thanksgiving message (current)… The family is attractive and delivered the jokes like you’d want your own family to (relatable). It was funny in a goofy, corny way that kids love and relate to…. It wasn’t trying too hard to be cool. Mostly, the timing was impeccable… It gained a good following immediately, and apparently made it to the For You  page, (which is where content is featured and delivered to most users)… Then steady growth for a few days.

School of Journalism and New Media professor speaks at Nobel Peace Prize event Oslo Peace Days

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ldrucker

A School of Journalism and New Media professor traveled to Oslo to be part of a panel at a Nobel Peace Prize event called Oslo Peace Days.

Zenebe Beyene, Ph.D., a professor and director of international programs who is from Ethiopia, was invited by the Norwegian Peace Research Institute to participate in a Dec. 9 panel discussion about developments in Ethiopia and possible regional implications. The panel also discussed Ethiopia’s potential role as a regional peacemaker.

Beyene was joined by Hilde Frafjord Johnson, of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo; Dan Banik, of the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Oslo; and Kjetil Tronvoll, of Bjørknes høyskole & Oslo Analytica. The panel was chaired by Henrik Urdal, the PRIO director.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and for his work to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea, according to NobelPeacePrize.org. The prize is also meant to recognize all stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.

The panel discussion is part of this year’s Oslo Peace Days set for Dec. 5-12 co-hosted by the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Nobel Peace Centre, PRIO, the University of Oslo, and the City of Oslo.

Earlier, we asked Beyene a few questions about the event and his professional goals as a peacemaker.

The front of the Nobel Peace Prize website.

The front of the Nobel Peace Prize website.

Q. What are some of the things you hope to discuss during the panel about Ethiopia developments? What do you hope to share with others who attend?

A. I hope to use the platform to discuss the recent development in Ethiopia and its regional implications. There are a number of factors that could explain the current ethnic tension and political uncertainties in the country. For example, religious diversity is one factor that helps us understand what’s happening  in the country.

Ethiopia is one of very few countries in the world where Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc. have lived together for centuries. Due to religious extremism and the rise of terrorism, the social fabric that existed for a long time is weakening. As a result, Ethiopia has witnessed the killings of people based on their beliefs, while places of worship have been targeted by radical groups.

Unless the government, in collaboration with its international allies, does something, the situation can get out of hand any time. And that will have serious regional implications.

For a long time, Ethiopia has been known for its relative stability in the turbulent region. From Somalia in the East Coast to Senegal in the West, the belt of the continent is in trouble, and Ethiopia has served as a center of gravity.

If Ethiopia loses its stability, so does the region. Ethiopia can’t afford to fail. The international community should be aware of the danger posed by radical groups and should be behind the reform process the nation has embarked on.

In a nutshell, I will use the platform to shed light on the contemporary security challenges the country faces and regional implications of those challenges.

Zenebe Beyene, Ph.D.

Zenebe Beyene, Ph.D.

Q. Do you think peacemaking or peace-building is talked about enough in our world or country?

A. Here is a general assessment based on my personal observation. Humans tend to focus on what divides us instead of what unites us. That seems to be the case in today’s America, for example.

What we see in the current political environment here in the U.S. is focusing on the differences between Republicans and Democrats. If we only focus on their discourse, it seems as if the two parties had been from two totally different worlds, having nothing in common.

Each claim that it is the only savior of the nation while depicting the other as the enemy of the people. To that end, they create and manufacture narratives to back up their claims. As a result, what we read, watch or listen to is filled with negative stories.

Some may assume that is only America’s problem. It is not. From Brexit to the tension between populism vs. nationalism in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, etc., as well as the ethnic and religious tensions in Asia and Africa are testaments to a new reality the world is now facing.

As a result, conflict has become a norm and stories dealing with peaceful coexistence have become rare.  It is true that conflict drives stories, but life is not only about conflict.

I hope politicians, opinion leaders, activists, etc. will understand the implications of their narratives to local, national, regional and global peace security and pay more attention to what they say. The news media also needs to shed light on stories that inspire and unify rather than on stories that perpetuate divisions.

Q. Is there anything I didn’t ask that you think would be important to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my views about this honor with you. I have accepted the invitation to attend the award ceremony and take part in the panel to discuss current developments in Ethiopia, its regional impact and to add Ethiopia’s perspective to the conversation. However, the opportunity to attend such an important event will help me learn new perspectives that would strengthen and enrich my teaching at the University of Mississippi.

In his will, Alfred Nobel stated that the Nobel Peace Prize was to be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

My attendance in the event and interaction with people from various backgrounds will help me add new perspectives to my teaching. That, in turn, will help me inspire the new generation of leaders here at the UM to think big and bring the “greatest benefit to mankind” in line with Alfred Nobel’s will, vision and dream.

Beyene earned his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in political science in 2012. He specializes in media in conflict and post-conflict societies. He has taught, researched and provided training in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United States.

He has served as a consultant for InterNews Network, US Agency for International Development, United Nations Development Programme, Voice of America, Pennsylvania University/Carnegie Foundation, Oxford University and Oxford University/U.K. Embassy in Ethiopia and Aadland Consult/IDEA International.

He has published or co-published work about tolerance and online debate in Ethiopia; the role of TeleCourt in changing conceptions of justice and authority in Ethiopia; the role of ICT in peacebuilding in Africa; media use and abuse in Ethiopia; and From an Emperor to the Derg and Beyond: Examining the Intersection of Music and Politics in Ethiopia.

Books & Bears is back, and you can help

Posted on: December 5th, 2019 by ldrucker

It’s the time of year for giving. If you are seeking a charitable project to help with, you may want to consider Books & Bears.

Books & Bears is a holiday project that benefits University of Mississippi campus service workers, custodians, and landscape crews.

The program began more than 20 years ago under the leadership of Donald Cole, Ph.D. and Jan Murray, an art professor and associate dean of liberal arts.

Volunteers Kathleen Wickham, Ph.D. and Patricia Thompson, both professors in the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, are members of the Books & Bears committee.

In the beginning, organizers just hoped they’d have enough gift donations for custodians. Wickham said continued support has enabled the program to expand.

Now, about 200 custodians show up, and each is given a number. When their number is called, they pick out a stuffed animal, toy and a book. Usually, each person gets to go through the line at least twice, and anything left over is bundled up and raffled off at the end.

Wickham, Thompson and others on the B&B Committee help employees pick out age-appropriate gifts, organizing all the donations the day before. The “big prizes” – dozens of bicycles, super-large stuffed animals, etc. – are handled in separate raffles throughout the morning.

Student organizations and Athletics help with donations; toys were collected for B&B at a recent basketball game. Usually a few anonymous donors contribute money to buy dozens of bicycles for kids.

Jacqueline Certion in the FASTrack office is in charge of the event this year.

How can you get involved? Donate books, bears or money.

There is a box in the main office of Farley Hall in the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media where books for all ages and NEW stuffed animals can be dropped off. DO NOT donate wrapped gifts. They usually get plenty of gifts for young children. Young adult books for teenagers are needed.

Checks are accepted as monetary donations and are used to purchase bicycles. They should be written to Books & Bears. But they need them before Dec. 19 so toys/books can be purchased in time for the Dec. 20 event.

Those who make monetary contributions may give them to Wickham or Thompson.

For more information, contact Wickham at kwickham@olemiss.edu or Thompson at pthomps1@olemiss.edu.

Street takes PR students on a Memphis field trip to FedEx and St. Jude

Posted on: November 4th, 2019 by ldrucker

Students enrolled in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s public relations classes traveled to Memphis Oct. 29 to meet with public relations professionals, including several JNM alumni, at FedEx and St. Jude.

Assistant Dean Scott Fiene accompanied the group, along with adjunct instructor Bill Dabney.

 

An added bonus at FedEx was a visit from Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman PR. He was in town to meet with JMM graduate Jenny Robertson, who is FedEx vice president for corporate communications. Edelman briefly spoke to the students.

At FedEx in Memphis, Street found 10 of her former students in communication positions.

Pictured, from left, are Lillie Flenorl, communications specialist, FedEx Freight; Teresa Daniel, senior communications specialist, social media; Jenny Robertson, vice president, corporate communications; Natashia Gregoire, director of FedEx Freight communications; Street; Ed Coleman, communications advisor, internal communications (not a former student, but an alumnus); Caitlin Adams, communications principal, office of the president and COO; and Alex Shockey, manager of social media and content. Not pictured are Rachel Hammons Parks, senior marketing specialist, brand; Cacera Richmond, senior communications specialist, FedEx Freight; Janna Hughes, communications advisor, global citizenship; and Caitlin Berry, senior communications specialist, internal communications.

Photo credit: Bill Dabney

Documentary about Faulkner household set for Thursday, Oct. 24 in Overby Center

Posted on: October 21st, 2019 by ldrucker

Much has been written and broadcast about William Faulkner. But there has been nothing produced that talks about life in the Faulkner household from an insider’s point of view.

Thinking of Home: Falkner House and Rowan Oak is a 30-minute documentary featuring Oxford writer Larry Wells, who with his late wife Dean Faulkner Wells, lived at Falkner House, the home of Faulkner’s mother.

Wells and Bill Griffith, curator of Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak, narrate a video tour of both historic houses that includes historical photos, drone footage and Larry’s personal stories about the Faulkner family.

A black and white illustration featuring Faulkner's face with historic buildings in the background.

A black and white illustration featuring Faulkner’s face with historic buildings in the background.

The public is invited to the first open showing at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. The documentary was previously shown at the Faulkner Conference on campus last summer and in New Orleans at the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Birthday Bash in September.

Unlike Rowan Oak, Falkner House on South Lamar is not open to the public, thus the documentary provides a rare glimpse into the residence. (William’s parents spelled the name without the ‘u’). Virtually every day, Faulkner walked the half-mile from Rowan Oak to Falkner House to visit his mother, Maud Falkner. Her husband, Murry, died shortly after the house was built. In the 1920s Murry served as business manager at the University of Mississippi.

The Rowan Oak segment includes tales of family members staying at the home and incidents, such as when famed CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow phoned Faulkner. The fable about Judith, the family ghost, and her untimely death at the home is dramatized.

The documentary was produced by Dr. Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism in the School of Journalism and New Media, with videography by Mary Stanton Knight and Deborah Freeland, who also served as editor/director.

Drone footage was provided by Ji Hoon Heo, an instructional assistant professor at the School of Journalism and New Media. Music was recorded and performed by Diane Wang and Stacy Rodgers of the Ole Miss Department of Music. Archives and Special Collections, J.D. Williams Library, provided photographs.

Funding was provided by the School of Journalism and New Media and the Mississippi Film Alliance. The documentary will be donated to Rowan Oak. Plans call for it to be permanently available for viewing.

If you require special assistance relating to a disability, please contact Sarah Griffith at 662-915-7146 or via email at slgriff@olemiss.edu. Please request accommodations as soon as possible to allow time for arrangements to be made.

Former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith speaks at UM School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: October 20th, 2019 by ldrucker

A week after longtime Fox News anchor Shepard Smith unexpectedly announced his resignation from the cable network, he returned to the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media to speak to students about truth and lies.

Last week, Smith left Fox viewers with a final thought: “Even in our current, polarized nation, it’s my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.”

On Friday, he elaborated, telling students he understands why it has become difficult for some to distinguish between truth and lies, but he said history will reveal the liars and truth-tellers.

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

“I’ve been doing this since long before any of you were born,” he said. “So there is a body of work there. I am not proud of all of it, but I’m positive I never lied.”

Smith said he learned that truth is the foundation of journalism while pursuing his degree in journalism at UM. He also emphasized the importance of admitting and correcting mistakes.

“There’s no mistake you can’t undo,” he said. “You can correct every single mistake. You can stand up and be a human being about it and admit to those who count on you that you screwed it up. And you have to do the correction with the same fervor and emphasis that you made the mistake. Then you’re good. ”

Shepard Smith with Dean Will Norton Jr. spoke with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Shepard Smith with Dean Will Norton Jr. spoke with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Lies, though, are unforgivable, according to Smith.

“But the moment you realize you told a lie, you stretch the truth to make your story better, or you’ve taken the edge off of it because it’s a thing you care about, you’ve betrayed your audience. If you think it about that way, every day, you’re going to be fine.”

Smith said he attended the University of Mississippi on a music scholarship before studying journalism. He said his teachers emphasized journalism’s commitment to the public.

“You have a responsibility to people who rely on you to find out what in the world is going on,” he said, “and even if it’s just the car wreck, or the city council meeting, or the game you are writing about, you have responsibility to do as well as you can and tell the story as effectively as possible.”

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Smith said he took that approach at Fox News.

“It’s a huge responsibility to have a platform where millions of people are watching you every day,” he said. “It’s really a big responsibility, and I learned that in Farley Hall. It was pounded into my head that you are going to screw up, but you’ve got to correct it. And it’s much easier to just get it right the first time. If you’re not sure, just don’t say it.”

Will Norton Jr., dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said he sent Smith an email after he left Fox News. Smith responded, saying he would be in Oxford for the next game, and volunteered to speak to students.

“We asked him if he could be here in the morning,” Norton said, “and he left New York early and was in Oxford by 9:30 a.m. He was at Farley by 10:30 a.m. Many of my friends call him the best anchor on television.”

Norton said there were three key takeaways from Smith’s visit that he hopes students remember. They are:

  1. Being on this campus teaches students how to be social. This is crucial in getting the facts and in being able to relate to your audience.
  2. Your teachers know what they are talking about. Jim Pratt and Walt Hawver made a dffierence in my life.
  3. I made it, and I was in these same hallways. You can, too if you tell the story as accurately as you know how.
Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Debora Wenger, assistant dean for innovation and external partnerships, said she thinks Smith helped students understand how to tell a story responsibly.

“Through it all, you have to remember to respect every person you report on, every person you interview. If our students graduate with those sensibilities, we will have done our job,” she said.

In the end, Smith didn’t drop any bombshells about why he left a position he’s held at Fox News for 23 years.

“I left there because it was time for a change,” he said. “. . . I will go somewhere else at some point. In between then, I’m going to go talk to students, volunteer, and I don’t know, maybe write a book, corny as that sounds . . . I want to do longform stories, kind of like ‘CBS Sunday Morning.’ I love that show. I love Jane Pauley. I want to have a live component because I got pretty good at it. But I have a few good stories, and one of them starts right here.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker. For more information about the School of Journalism and New Media’s programs, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

Former CBS Sports executive producer teaches documentary film festival workshop

Posted on: October 20th, 2019 by ldrucker

A 13-time national Emmy Award-winning sports television producer recently returned to the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media to lead a 48-Hour Documentary Film Festival workshop.

Terry Ewert, former executive producer of CBS Sports, has won Emmys for writing and documentary filmmaking. He also led production for the coverage of three Olympic games at NBC Sports and the Atlanta Olympic Committee.

Hattiesburg native Lucy Burnam, 22, a journalism graduate student focusing on photography and video, was a member of the winning student team that included Allen Brewer and Andranita Williams. The aspiring novelist and photographer said the workshop required students to complete an intensive storytelling project.

Terry Ewert, right, speaks to a student. He recently led a workshop at the School of Journalism and New Media.

Terry Ewert, right, speaks to a student. He recently led a workshop at the School of Journalism and New Media.

“You have 48 hours to pitch an idea, get a green light for it, and then physically go shoot the whole thing before finally editing it all together,” she said. “So basically, it’s a fairly large task condensed into a short period of time that’s do-able, but every second counts.”

Burnam said Thursday night involved pitching the story idea and creating shot lists and a production schedule. Students captured video around Oxford Friday and edited Saturday.

“It was extremely intense, but I recommend people do it to test their limits, because you might end up surprising yourself,” said Burnam, whose favorite part was working with others to edit the stories by deadline.

“Editing anything, especially video, is one of the most nit-picky processes,” she said, “and being under such a looming deadline was stressful. But the professors involved, as well as my team and the other students, really made it a day I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. We all just sat in the same room and laughed together, maybe cried a little too, until it was all finished. Quite the bonding experience.”

Burnam’s project was about a teammate’s father, who began experiencing shortness of breath during the summer, before learning he had two heart blockages.

Professor Michael Fagans, who helped lead the workshop, said he hopes students learned the important elements of creating a documentary and some lessons about themselves.

“(I hope) they learned where their growing edges are, the level of effort that it takes to see a project to the end, how they can apply these skills to their final class projects in other courses,” he said.

Burnam said students enjoyed the camaraderie.

“I bonded with my team and really learned how to acclimate to a group setting quickly,” she said. “Personally, I hope we all learned that we can accomplish a lot under a short period of time if we really put our minds to it.

For more information, contact Assistant Dean Debora Wenger at 662-915-7146 or dwenger@olemiss.edu.

Journalism professor featured in two-part international podcast about unsolved civil rights murder

Posted on: October 7th, 2019 by ldrucker

Parts 1 and 2 of an international podcast distributed by Agence France-Presse on the unsolved 1962 civil rights murder of AFP reporter Paul Guihard at Ole Miss has been released featuring University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor Dr. Kathleen Wickham.

Guihard was shot in the back from a foot away during a riot that accompanied the enrollment of James Meredith. The murder remains unsolved.

Part 1 of the two-part podcast, Who Killed Paul Guihard?, was released Sept. 30, the 57th anniversary of his death.

Journalism Professor Kathleen Wickham in front of the plaque honoring Paul Guihard and the 300+ reporters who covered the 1962 integration crisis.

Journalism Professor Kathleen Wickham in front of the plaque honoring Paul Guihard and the 300+ reporters who covered the 1962 integration crisis.

Both podcast episodes are about 30 minutes. Part 1 is titled Who Killed Paul Guihard? Part 2 is called Beneath the Mississippi moon, somebody better investigate soon, as a reference to Bob Dylan’s song Oxford Town.

Part 1 of the podcast has been published on the AFP Correspondent blog and is available to listen to at this link: https://correspondent.afp.com/who-killed-paul-guihard-part-1-podcast

Here is Part 2 of the podcast: https://correspondent.afp.com/who-killed-paul-guihard-part-2-podcast

Dr. Wickham was interviewed for the podcast in the spring while teaching at the University of Rennes in Brittany.

Guihard spent his teenage years in St. Malo on the Brittany coast while the city was under German occupation during WWII. He is featured in her book We Believe We Were Immortal: Twelve Reporters Who Covered the 1962 Integration Crisis at Ole Miss.

Wickham is joined on the podcast by Sidna Brower, the 1962 Mississippian editor; Alain Guihard, Paul’s brother, and Hank Klibanoff, co-author of The Race Beat. Jeffrey Reed, sound engineer for Thacker Mountain Radio, provided background audio.

The Ole Miss student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists installed a memorial bench in honor of Guihard in 2009. It is located between Farley Hall and the Honors College. The following year, SPJ named the Ole Miss campus a national historic site in journalism. At the time, Dr. Wickham was chapter adviser.

The podcast aired or was posted by Mississippi Today, Mississippi Public Radio and will air on the campus radio station WUMS 92.1 at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9.

To listen to a link of the podcast trailer on SoundCloud, click this link: https://soundcloud.com/user-650603822/who-killed-paul-guihard-trailer

Four recent graduates and faculty member honored by Southern Public Relations Federation

Posted on: October 6th, 2019 by ldrucker

Four recent graduates and a faculty member have been honored for their public relations projects by the Southern Public Relations Federation.

The 2019 SPRF Lantern Award competition was for work completed in 2018, and the student work was judged along with professionals. The awards were presented Oct. 1 at the SPRF annual conference in Orange Beach, Alabama.

The graduates submitted public relations campaigns produced in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s advanced PR Techniques class. Each campaign was designed to increase awareness on a topic of their choice.

“The students had to create a complete public relations plan that included researching, event planning, writing mass media materials, creating effective social media and using photography and video and multiple other communications,” Street said. “Their awards demonstrate the excellent training they received in these skills from all the faculty members at the JNM School.”

Recent graduates from the School of Journalism and New Media public relations specialization and their teacher took home awards in the Southern Public Relations Federation Lantern competition. Pictured are Senior Lecturer Robin Street and IMC graduate Aleka Battista looking over their and the other gradates’ awards. Battista won an Excellence Award, as did Journalism graduates Hailey McKee and Kendall Patterson. IMC graduate Davis Roberts and Street won Merit Awards. The students entered PR campaigns they created in Street’s Advanced PR Techniques class. Photo by Stan O’Dell

Recent graduates from the School of Journalism and New Media public relations specialization and their teacher took home awards in the Southern Public Relations Federation Lantern competition. Pictured are Senior Lecturer Robin Street and IMC graduate Aleka Battista looking over their and the other gradates’ awards. Battista won an Excellence  Award, as did Journalism graduates Hailey McKee and Kendall Patterson. IMC graduate Davis Roberts and Street won Merit Awards.  The students entered PR campaigns they created in Street’s Advanced PR Techniques class. Photo by Stan O’Dell

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media Assistant Dean and Director of the Integrated Marketing Communications program Scott Fiene praised the graduates.

“Once again, our students guided by Robin Street, have won high praise for their outstanding work,” Fiene said. “The fact that these students were judged against professionals in the public relations industry make this all the more special.”

Multiple entrants can win in the same category if they earn the required number of points as scored by the judges. Awards are given at three levels. No awards were given in the highest category, called the Lantern. The Excellence Award is the next highest award, followed by the Merit Award.

Aleka Battista, an IMC May 2018 graduate, won an Excellence Award for her campaign “Soar Over Summer,” designed to increase awareness of the importance of continuing learning during the summer for K-12 students.

“I feel honored to be recognized alongside so many amazing public relations professionals across the South,” said Battista, who now works at Red Window Communications, an IMC agency in Oxford. “The class gave me an in-depth knowledge of public relations through hands-on experience and made me feel well prepared to not only complete a full public relations campaign but to continue on successfully in my career field.”

Hailey McKee, a May 2019 Journalism and Public Policy graduate, also won an Excellence Award for her campaign “Gauge the Wage” to increase awareness of the gender wage gap.

“I was overjoyed to see that I’d won something because it gives validation to the work I am so passionate about,” said McKee, now a public relations graduate student at Boston University. “Ms. Street’s class was essential in learning and incorporating the skills needed to earn this award and taught me so many PR tools that I still use in my graduate class and at my internship.”

Kendall Patterson, a May 2019 Journalism graduate, also won an Excellence Award for his campaign “A Person Alone Could Be A Person Lost,” on the detrimental effects of loneliness and how to overcome them.

“I am blessed to be winning an award,” said Patterson, now a staff writer at the Chester County Independent newspaper in Henderson, Tennessee. “It’s a satisfying feeling to know that the work I did before I even started my career is being recognized on a regional level. The class allowed me to understand the massive amount of research and planning required to complete a public relations campaign.”

Davis Roberts, a May 2019 IMC graduate, won a Merit Award for his campaign “EATS (Emphasize Awareness Trash the Stigma) Like a Man” about eating disorders in men.

“I’m extremely honored to receive an award from SPRF,” said Roberts, now a graduate student in IMC at Northwestern University. “Awards and honors aside, I am just happy that I was encouraged and supported in school while creating a campaign focused on a topic that is so important and personal to me. Ms. Street forced us to step into the shoes of a PR professional by assigning us to create our own campaigns from scratch.”

Street also won a Merit Award for feature writing.

For more information on the School of Journalism and New Media, visit https://jnm.olemiss.edu/.

Mississippi Scholastic Press Association establishes endowment to invest in youth

Posted on: September 23rd, 2019 by ldrucker

More than 500 aspiring teenage writers, publishers and journalists from all corners of the state shared their work and learned from high-profile communicators last spring at the 72nd Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Statewide Spring Convention, hosted by the University of Mississippi.

Now MSPA Director R.J. Morgan hopes the association’s recent $60,000 gift establishing the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Endowment will ensure that these students and more like them will continue to enjoy robust annual conventions and other strategic support from MSPA for years to come.

“This endowment is a historic moment for us, and it comes at a critical time for both journalism and education in our country,” Morgan said. “We are hoping to build a financial foundation that will allow us to continue meeting the needs of our current members while better positioning us for long-term growth and success deep into the distant future.”

High school students attending the 72nd Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Statewide Spring Convention, hosted by UM, receive awards for their outstanding work.

High school students attending the 72nd Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Statewide Spring Convention, hosted by UM, receive awards for their outstanding work.

MSPA was founded in 1947 to support, promote and nurture journalism and marketing communications programs in the high school setting. It achieves its goals through workshops, competitions and conventions and by providing ongoing assistance and advice for teachers and students involved in producing their schools’ student publications.

With a current membership of 110 publications from 67 different schools, MSPA is open to any Mississippi school that has a newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, online publication, broadcast and/or journalism or marketing class.

MSPA hosts two statewide student conventions each school year — at UM and the University of Southern Mississippi — and a three-day institute each summer for teachers who advise student publications.

“The conventions are great opportunities for Mississippi high school students to get a taste of life on a college campus,” said Morgan, an instructional associate professor in the UM School of Journalism and New Media. “They learn a lot while they’re here — practical ideas they can take home to improve their school publications.

“But the conventions also serve as a rallying point and pep rally for many students, because often they are not praised as highly as, for example, their football team or marching band,” he continued. “We want students to know this is something they should feel proud of, something they can hang their hat on.”

The spring convention’s Pam Hamilton Keynote Address was delivered by Ronnie Agnew, an Ole Miss alumnus and director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Agnew is a veteran of the newspaper and news industry, previously serving as the executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.

Other past speakers include longtime anchor and reporter Howard Ballou of WLBT in Jackson, award-winning author Kiese Laymon, Mississippi Today’s Marshall Ramsey, and Lori Oglesbee-Petter, a nationally recognized newspaper and yearbook adviser who serves as an advocate for First Amendment rights.

At the convention, the MSPA awards student work in over 100 categories, including statewide publications of the year, Mississippi High School Journalist of the Year, the Orley Hood Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism and other portfolio-based All-Mississippi recognitions. Between the fall and spring conventions, more than 1,000 individual pieces of work were submitted for consideration.

“The awards are really what the kids get most excited about,” Morgan said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than working extremely hard behind the scenes on designing a yearbook, shooting a killer football hype video or chasing a juicy news story and then having your audience absolutely love it. But then to get recognized for that work at the state level? It just positively reinforces the skills they’ve learned and justifies a lot of long nights in the editing room.”

Will Norton, dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, holds the MSPA’s work in high regard.

“One of the overarching goals of the University of Mississippi is extending excellence to the state’s communities through the programs we sponsor. The MSPA is the cream of the crop in this capacity, truly the best of the best,” said Norton. “I am truly proud of the work MSPA leaders are doing, investing in the youth of our state.”

The MSPA Endowment accepts gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, mail a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the endowment’s name in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online at https://give.olemiss.edu.

To support the School of Journalism and New Media, contact Nikki Neely Davis, executive director of development, at 662-915-6678 or nlneely@olemiss.edu.

This story was written by Bill Dabney and Justin Whitmore and first appeared on the University of Mississippi Foundation website.