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Films of five UM School of Journalism students will be shown at Oxford’s Burns-Belfry

Posted on: January 11th, 2019 by ldrucker

The films of five UM School of Journalism and New Media students will be shown during an upcoming event called Mississippi Movie Mondays at the Belfry on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Oxford Film Festival and Southern Foodways Alliance will partner with Oxford’s Burns-Belfry Museum & Multicultural Center and Lens Collective to host a special movie screening and panel discussion at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21 in Oxford’s Burns Belfry at 710 Jackson Avenue. The event is free and open to the public.

It will feature the work of UM students Devna Bose, Ariel Cobbert, Natalie Seales, Gracie Snyder and Maddie Beck.

Alysia Steele, a UM School of Journalism and New Media professor and coordinator for Lens Collective, a multimedia storytelling conference, said she was pleased and encouraged that student work will be shown at the event.

“The students work incredibly hard, with such short deadlines, to produce these stories,” she said. “In fact, from documenting to producing, students have less than 24 hours turnaround time. So, it demonstrates to me that, not only are students learning, but they’re applying those practical skills in thoughtful, quality projects.”

Steele said this lets students know they can do great work on tight deadlines and take pride in what they have accomplished.

“It is quite rewarding to see their smiles when they watch their work on the big screen,” she said. “It becomes emotional for many of us, and that’s a good thing.”

This is the UM School of Journalism and New Media’s second year to offer Lens Collective. Steele said she hopes more students will see value in participating in special projects.

“It’s not easy work, but it’s quite rewarding,” she said. “Students are having fun, bonding with students from other universities, and learning from award-winning photojournalists. The mentors take time off from work to help, and they do it because they care – just like the professors who volunteer their time.”

Steele said this is a networking event that provides skill sets that will help in any journalism or integrated marketing career. And she said multimedia skills – highlighting audio/video and photography – are applicable to many career fields. It’s also a great confidence booster.

“The mentors care, the students care, and the professors care, so it doesn’t get any better than that,” she said. “We appreciate the journalism administrators valuing these out-of-classroom experiences, such as Lens Collective. We are producing great work from diverse opportunities, and I hope students will take advantage of what’s being offered here at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media. Learning outside of the classroom is just as important, and life-changing, as being in a classroom. Real world experiences, right here, right now.”

The series of short films provided for free to the community will include:

Bright at Night – The Sunday evening experience at Foxfire serves up a slice of life in Marshall County, Mississippi, where culinary and musical traditions have always been closely interwoven.

Counter Histories Jackson – In this piece, attendees will hear from Colia Clark, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Bill Minor, Daphne Chamberlain and the Rev. Ed King about the historic sit-in at the 1963 Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi.

Country Platter – Jimmy Williams has been the owner of Country Platter in Cleveland, Mississippi since 1994. In its history, Country Platter was previously Lilley’s Soul Food Cafe, a meeting place during the Civil Rights Movement for many influential figures, including Dr. Martin Lather King Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Amzie Moore. Today, Williams works to give back to his community, remembering his past to influence his present.

Delta Dreams – A look at the music of the Delta and the new Grammy museum.

Faith, Hope, & Inspiration – Members of the Clarksdale, Mississippi community reflect on the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King’s visit to First Baptist Church during their civil rights struggles in the 1950s and ’60s.

Otha Turner – In the late 1950s, fife and drum legend Otha Turner began hosting annual Labor Day picnics at his property in Gravel Springs, Mississippi. Turner would butcher and roast goat, pork, and fish, drawing neighbors with the smell of his cooking and the sounds of his fife and drum.

Signs – A short documentary examining the ongoing vandalism of signs marking Emmett Till’s brutal murder.

Vishwesh Bhatt: The South I Love – Vishwesh Bhatt is a Southern chef using flavors from his childhood to add to the lexicon of Southern Food. A short film by Southern Foodways Alliance summer documentary intern Nicole Du Bois.

A full-length trailer of the upcoming Oxford Film Festival will also be played.

Je’Monda Roy, a UM MFA student will serve as Q&A facilitator with special guests including filmmakers and subjects of the films.

Memphis Public Relations Society Chapter Names UM School of New Media alumnus Otis Sanford 2018 Communicator of the Year

Posted on: January 9th, 2019 by ldrucker

Otis Sanford, Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis, has been selected by the Memphis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America as its 2018 Communicator of the Year.

The organization will honor him at its monthly luncheon Thursday, Jan. 10, at 11:30 a.m. at the University Club.

“I am so humbled to be recognized as the PRSA Memphis Chapter’s 2018 Communicator of the Year,” said Sanford. “This is quite a surprise and an honor to receive such a prestigious award.”

Sanford, a Mississippi native and 1975 graduate of the University of Mississippi, began his professional journalism career at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. He joined The Commercial Appeal in 1977 and was part of the reporting team that covered the 1977 death of Elvis Presley, rising through the newsroom to become managing editor and editor of opinions and editorials, before moving into academia in 2011.

Screenshot from otissanford.com

Sanford now serves as the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis, and is the author of the critically acclaimed book, From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics. Sanford also writes a weekly political column for the Daily Memphian online news site and serves as political analyst and commentator for WATN-TV Local 24 News.

This will be the 42nd year that the Memphis Chapter of PRSA will honor its Communicator of the Year. The award is given to a member of the community who exhibits the ability to communicate effectively to general or specific publics; has public visibility and is a respected member of the community, who invests his or her time and talent conveying a specific message.

“In choosing Sanford, PRSA Memphis recognizes his ability as a communicator to raise public awareness concerning the challenges that have affected Memphis over the last 40 years,” said Sarah Sherlock, president of the Memphis Chapter of PRSA.

A nationally recognized speaker on journalism ethics, education, and the First Amendment, Sanford is also the recipient of the Silver Em Award from his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, and the annual print journalism award at the University of Memphis was named in his honor. He is past president of the Associated Press Media Editors and past board chairman of the Mid-America Press Institute. In 2014, he was inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame.

The Communicator of the Year award was established in 1976 with Bud Dudley, founder of the Liberty Bowl, its first recipient. The list of honorees includes, Ron Terry, Cecil Humphreys, Fred P. Gattas, Olin Morris, D’Army Bailey, Judith Drescher, Fred Jones, Gerry House, Dr. Scott Morris, Arnold Perl, Linn Sitler, W.W. Herenton, John Calipari, Beverly Robertson, Bob Loeb, Toney Armstrong, Dr. Todd Richardson, PhD, and Mauricio Calvo.

Tickets to the luncheon are free for PRSA members, $25 for non-members, and $15 for students. For more information or to register for the award luncheon visit: www.prsamemphis.org.

Computer science and UM School of Journalism and New Media researchers combat health disinformation

Posted on: January 9th, 2019 by ldrucker

Two UM professors received an interdisciplinary research grant to develop an automated method for identifying health disinformation in the news.

Naeemul Hassan, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Computer Science and Information Department, and Kristen Swain, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Journalism and New Media, received one of the first Big Data Flagship Constellation seed grants in January.

“Even though trusted, reliable media outlets do spread health misinformation, most intentional health disinformation originates from unreliable media sources,” Swain said. “There is little existing research on health disinformation patterns in social media. We hope to uncover how health news framing is exploited to spread disinformation and then develop algorithms to help journalists, readers and news providers differentiate credible health news from disinformation.”

In their one-year project, “CHORD: Combating Health Oriented Disinformation,” the professors plan to build and analyze a large-scale repository of print and broadcast health news stories that appeared on social networking sites. Then they will analyze media content patterns across reliable and unreliable stories and identify network characteristics and engagement patterns among readers in different age groups. Finally, they will conduct reader surveys and focus groups to identify health disinformation challenges.

The project synthesizes applied natural language processing, big data, network analysis and media content analysis, Hassan said. The team ultimately hopes to develop a computer program that can automatically identify health disinformation, as well as recommendations for new policies to discourage health hoax propagators.

Kristen Swain, Ph.D.

The team initially will develop a scraper program to automatically collect articles from media sources’ websites, automatically separate health-oriented news articles from non-health articles, and gather social media engagement metrics, such as comments, shares and likes for each article. Algorithms also will identify story characteristics including headlines, bylines, leads, captions, video and other images, topics, sourcing patterns, factual and opinion statements, and quote types.

Reliable sources will include CNN Health, Cancer.gov, WebMD, etc., and unreliable sources will include sites like REALfarmacy.com and HealthNutNews. Unreliable story characteristics include disease mongering, vague sourcing, and failure to identify financial conflicts of interest.

Previously, Hassan developed a data collection program that curated about 66,000 news articles from 27 reliable media outlets and 20 unreliable outlets. The preliminary findings helped him design the new project.

“We hope to identify new recommendations for journalists who cover health topics and develop a computer application to provide instant feedback on their draft stories,” Swain said. The new computer application also could help commercial third-party news aggregate applications such as Yahoo News, Flipboard and Bundle News automatically flag health disinformation that should be removed from news feeds.

Naeemul Hassan. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

After completing the content analysis, the team will model reader behaviors by interviewing young people and seniors who read, share and engage with health stories, Hassan said. To explore whether age, gender, education level and news consumption behaviors predict susceptibility to health disinformation, the team will conduct focus groups of readers younger than 18 and seniors 65 and older. They will use the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing service to collect feedback about the middle-range readers ages 18-64.

“We hope our findings will inform development of new media literacy educational materials to help people of all ages learn how to identify health disinformation,” Swain said.

The 2019 seed grant will support a computer science graduate assistant in spring 2019 and a journalism graduate assistant in fall 2019. In 2020, the team plans to produce conference presentations, scholarly articles, and an external grant proposal.

The Flagship Constellation initiative, now in its second year, supports interdisciplinary research projects at UM and UMCC that focus on big data, community wellbeing, disaster resilience and brain wellness. In November 2017, UM alums Thomas and Jim Duff contributed $1 million, which supports the constellation grant competitions.

“If our study can reduce the number of people believing in health disinformation, this could improve the overall health condition of people throughout Mississippi and the U.S.,” Swain said.

Students, faculty spending winter break on a reporting trip in Puerto Rico

Posted on: January 8th, 2019 by drwenger

Journalism and New Media continues to offer students extraordinary reporting opportunities outside the mainland United States. A group of students and faculty are in Puerto Rico for Winter Intersession on a multimedia reporting trip to interview island residents about the impact of Hurricane Maria.

Students used social media tools to identify sources before the trip, and while they are in Puerto Rico, they are using social media to post frequent updates. They are getting quite a following. One student has even been invited to join media professionals on a documentary project in Puerto Rico later this year; they are impressed with the content she is posting from this trip.

As of January 6, the group has already visited four different cities and villages for interviews and will visit several more before they head back to Oxford later this week. Their content – articles, photos, video, audio, graphics and more – will be produced for a website and available for other platforms.

You can follow some of the students on social media: @devnabose (Twitter) and @isthatbritt (Twitter and Instagram).

 

University of Mississippi journalism professor’s Black Mirror Project mentioned in Harvard Political Review

Posted on: January 1st, 2019 by ldrucker

Last week, Netflix dropped the first feature film released by the popular, science fiction anthology series “Black Mirror.” “Bandersnatch” is the story of a “programmer creating a video game based on the fantasy novel of an unhinged genius,” Mashable reports.

This is exciting to fans and some University of Mississippi students because the UM School of Journalism and New Media has its own class that incorporates episodes of “Black Mirror.”

Harvard Political Review recently mentioned The Black Mirror Project created by a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism professor that envisions the future of media through the lens of the science fiction television series.

After learning about the history of media, professor LaReeca Rucker asks students in Journalism 101 to envision the near future of media after watching several specific episodes of the series. They are asked to use their imagination to write a synopsis of their own “Black Mirror” episode. The most creative and original responses are published on The Black Mirror Project website: https://blackmirrorideas.wordpress.com/

“Black Mirror” is a British science fiction television anthology series set in the near future that explores the potentially dark consequences of technology and social media. Each episode has a different cast with a unique story and, like most science fiction, it offers a speculative warning about what could happen if we lose control and allow technology to control us.

The show, created by Charlie Brooker, was first broadcast on British television in 2011. It is now a Netflix original series, and some have called it a modern day “Twilight Zone.” Recognizing its potential for the discussion of modern and future media, some colleges and universities across the country have incorporated “Black Mirror” into their journalism and communications classes.

 

Harvard Political Review recently published the article Primetime Paranoia that mentions Rucker’s “Black Mirror” Project. The article explores “Black Mirror” and modern anxiety.

It reads, “At the beginning of most Black Mirror episodes, viewers enter a near-future world with a technology that appears novel, even benign. Then this technology goes horribly, unpredictably wrong. In this chaos are echoes of our paradoxical anxiety, which grows worse and worse in a world becoming better and better. Black Mirror has resonated. The series has earned huge ratings, prestigious awards, and praise from figures ranging from Jordan Peele to Stephen King.”

The School of Journalism and New Media also plans to offer a different, but similar “Black Mirror” class this summer as an elective. Those who are interested may email Rucker at ldrucker@olemiss.edu.

Read the Q & A with Rucker about “Black Mirror.”

Q: What is the Black Mirror Project? Why did you get involved with it, and what results has it borne?

A: The Black Mirror Project is a website I created and an ongoing assignment I give my mass communication students each semester. After they spend most of the semester studying the history of media, we shift the focus to the future of media. I assign four specific episodes of “Black Mirror” for them to watch and ponder.

I have always been a fan of science fiction, and when this series came out, I thought it was mind-bending. I also liked that the first season of the series focused a lot on social media usage and offered some scary episodes regarding social media that seemed very plausible. I like that the show is set in the near future – not hundreds of years away. I think that makes it more frightening and relevant.

As a result of starting this project, I have been contacted by people from several different states and countries who have used “Black Mirror” in their college and high school classes. Some have reached out asking if they can submit their students’ Black Mirror Reflections to be published on our website, and I have encouraged them to do that. I love collaborating with others.

 

Q: How have you integrated Black Mirror into your teaching, and what does it add to your classroom?

My students are asked to write a Black Mirror Reflection by thinking about the episodes of the show they have been assigned while pondering technology and social media in the near future. Then they are asked to research the future of technology by Googling and reading several articles on the subject, and talking to friends, family and professors to get ideas.

They are asked to imagine that they’ve just been hired as a writer for the show. It’s their job to come up with a storyline for their own episode, but they only have a week to do it or they (fictionally) get fired. They are told to imagine it will be featured in the next season of “Black Mirror.”

Students write a one-page, double-spaced report describing their episode and the characters they imagine starring in it. They discuss what technology is used and how? They think about a scenario involving technology and social media, and take that idea to an extreme. That’s the story.

I read them and select the best ones to publish on our Black Mirror Project website. You will find a collection of creative “Black Mirror” responses there. I think the exercise helps students begin to think about their personal relationship with technology, social media and electronic communication. Some have said it was “eye-opening.”

Q: In what way is Black Mirror a “modern day Twilight Zone,” as the Black Mirror Project website says? Does the show diverge from the Twilight Zone in any noteworthy ways?

I think one of the differences is that “Black Mirror” seems to be set in the near future. To me, that makes it more frightening and plausible because many of the episodes involve scenarios that we are on the verge of experiencing now. While some of “The Twilight Zone” episodes were like this, many were set many years in the future and were often more fantastical than reality-based.

I wanted to show students several episodes of “The Twilight Zone” that could be compared and contrasted with “Black Mirror,” hoping in my research I would find some “Twilight Zone” episodes from more than 50 years ago that had envisioned the future spot on, but I had difficulty finding episodes that I thought would be a good fit. However, the Harvard Political Review article does offer up a lot of interesting points about what the “The Twilight Zone” has meant to our culture.

I do show one “Twilight Zone” episode called “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” that is about the idea of beauty and perfection, which is still very relevant to viewers today.

I think the scenarios that “Black Mirror” presents are warnings about the near future in the same way “The Twilight Zone” warned us about our world. They both were important shows with confrontational, yet helpful messages that we should pay attention to.

Science fiction is prophetic vision.

UM School of Journalism faculty plan for Media Workshop 2.0 in fall

Posted on: December 3rd, 2018 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media introduced a new workshop this semester. The Media Workshop was held for nine Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. with a goal of introducing first and second year students to technology, software and instructors of upper level classes.

Brad Conway talked about social media. Darren Sanefski presented on InDesign and demonstrated how to make a logo quickly and Photoshop cut-outs. Emily Bowen-Moore taught students how to prepare resumes.

Deb Wenger, Ph.D., taught social media video. Iveta Imre, Ph.D., led a session on Premiere Pro and basic sequencing. Ji Heo led a virtual reality and 360 video session.

Mark Dolan, Ph.D., covered iPhone photography techniques and apps, and Michael Fagans led a visual communicating and Instagram session.

“I hope they (students) were introduced to faculty they would like to work with in the future as well as software and technology that they will utilize later in their time in our school,” said Fagans, one of the workshop organizers.

He said a good mix of journalism and IMC students attended the workshop.

“One of our other ‘secret agenda’ items is to start expanding our culture of working at the school so they are not just banking hours,” he said. “Students who did participate in the workshop were also offered the opportunity to volunteer at a sporting event that was needing social media savvy. So there was a direct experiential moment because students participated.”

Fagans said they aren’t planning to offer the Media Workshop again in spring, but hope to lead one next fall.

Students are encouraged to get involved.

Books & Bears is back, and you can help

Posted on: November 27th, 2018 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 about 22 years ago under the leadership of Donald Cole, Ph.D., now an assistant provost and assistant to the chancellor; and Jan Murray, an art professor and associate dean of liberal arts,” said volunteer Kathleen Wickham, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

She and Patricia Thompson, executive director of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, assistant dean for student media, and assistant professor of journalism 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.

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

There is a box in the main office of the University of Mississippi School of journalism where books for all ages and NEW stuffed animals can be dropped off.

Checks are accepted as monetary donations and used to purchase bicycles. They should be written to Books & Bears.

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

Volunteers who want to are welcome to assist in the Books & Bears distribution from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in the Union Ballroom, Friday, Dec. 14.

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

Jaz Brisack named University of Mississippi’s 26th Rhodes Scholar, first female Rhodes winner

Posted on: November 17th, 2018 by ldrucker

Jaz Brisack is the 26th Rhodes Scholar and the first female Rhodes winner in University of Mississippi history. She is a general studies major who plans to study public policy during her time at the University of Oxford.

In April, she was named the university’s 15th Harry S. Truman Scholar. The junior was one of three UM finalists selected for the coveted scholarship. UM Communications reported that Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter told the Oxford native and Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College student about her win.

“Jaz Brisack is upholding our strong and distinguished tradition of student excellence and public service,” Vitter said in the news release at the time. “We are so pleased to offer programs and learning opportunities that prepare our students to be competitive on a national stage.”

Joe Atkins, professor of journalism, 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.

Atkins has taught Brisack in six courses, including Honors 101, Honors 102, Honors 399 (feature film and social issues), Journalism 580 (documentary and social issues), Journalism 301 (media history) and Honors 391 (conversations on social issues). He is also advising her and chairing her committee for her honors thesis.

“She is one of the most amazing students I’ve met in my nearly 28 years of teaching,” he said. “She visited me before I ever taught her, asking if she could get in my already closed Honors 101 course. She had researched me and my labor interests, and in our discussion, I was so impressed with her that we opened the class for her.”

Atkins said Brisack arrived at UM with a deep knowledge of labor and social history and a deep commitment to social justice issues, which she has demonstrated in a wide variety of activities, ranging from teaching in the Mississippi Delta to working with the United Auto Workers in the Nissan campaign in Canton.

“She has amazing intellectual breadth and a razor-sharp mind that I’m sure has helped her greatly in her debate sessions,” he said. “She has all the promise of being a true leader on a national and even international level.”

Atkins noted Brisack’s excellence in the classroom, fine writing skills, and commitment to a wide range of important activities beyond the classroom.

“She has boundless energy as well as a quick intellectual grasp of issues backed up by research and much reading,” he said. “She’s also engaging and good in working with people, proving herself again and again in her labor and political campaigns, working with American Indians in the Midwest and the poor in the Mississippi Delta. How she finds time to do all the things she does I don’t know, and I’m sure the Truman Scholar judges wondered about that, too.”

Curtis Wilkie, Meek School Overby fellow and an associate professor of journalism, has taught Brisack in three courses. Last semester, she was enrolled in Wilkie’s Honors College course on presidential debates. Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates who was instrumental in bringing the first 2008 debate to the Ole Miss campus, has been the guest lecturer for the past two weeks.

“Jaz not only gets high grades and is active in extracurricular interests,” Wilkie said, “but I found her to be one of the best-read students I’ve had in 17 years teaching at Ole Miss. That came across in the first class she had with me, when it was apparent she had already read so many of the books I mentioned. That was impressive.

“She’s also the kind of student who will drop by my office just to talk about current events or her political efforts outside the classroom. As you may know, she was home-schooled. I think she’s an extraordinary student, and I’m very proud of her accomplishments while at Ole Miss – whether its filling the Lyric for a rally for Jill Stein in the fall of 2016 or the unpopular (in Mississippi) causes she supports on behalf of laborers or American Indians or Palestinians.”

UM Communications reports that Brisack’s honors include having an article, “Organizing Unions as Social Policy,” published in the Global Encyclopedia of Public Policy, being a winner in the Creative Nonfiction division of the Southern Literary Festival and receiving the UM Outstanding Freshman award.

Brisack is also a National Merit Scholar finalist, a member of the UM debate team, and a recipient of the Honors College Extraordinary Research Funds and the Penny Leeton Service Award, UM Communications reports. She is also an Opinion columnist for The Daily Mississippian, the campus newspaper

Brisack told UM Communications her plans include earning a master’s of fine arts degree in creative writing and working with a small and independent union or network of unions to help empower workers to bring democratic processes to their workplaces.”

“I want to help create a network of independent locals with self-determination that retain nationwide leverage while maintaining a decentralized approach,” Brisack said in the news release.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is highly competitive scholarship of up to $30,000 given to college juniors who have leadership potential and a commitment to public service. It was created in 1975 in honor of the 33rd president.

For more about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, visit http://www.honors.olemiss.edu.

The UM Communications news release mentioned in this post was written by Edwin Smith.

National politics and Mississippi’s senate runoff analyzed

Posted on: November 12th, 2018 by ldrucker

Two veterans of Mississippi’s politics — a Republican and a Democrat  reviewed the results of the Nov. 6 election and offered commentary on the extraordinary runoff for a U.S. Senate seat during the final program of the fall season at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Austin Barbour, who held prominent roles in past Senate campaigns of Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran, joined Brandon Jones, a former member of the state House of Representatives and co-founder of the Mississippi Democratic Trust, in an hour-long discussion with two former national political reporters, Charles Overby, chairman of the center, and Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie.

A focus of the program was the Nov. 27 runoff between Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican appointed to fill a seat vacated by Cochran’s resignation, and Mike Espy, a former Democratic congressman from Mississippian who served as President Clinton’s secretary of agriculture. Hyde-Smith and Espy both won more than 40 percent of the votes in the midterm election, but because neither topped 50 percent, it triggered a rare runoff to determine who would take the remaining two years of Cochran’s term.

The panel also discussed the state of politics in the rest of the country and what the mid-term elections will mean to the 2020 presidential campaign.

“The end of the midterm elections signals the beginning of the presidential race,” said Overby before the event. “We will talk about the ramifications of the midterms in Mississippi and beyond.”

Barbour comes from a First Family of Republicans in the state. His father, Jeppie Barbour, became one of the first members of the GOP to serve as a mayor in Mississippi when he was elected to the post in Yazoo City nearly 50 years ago. Former Gov. Haley Barbour is Austin’s uncle. As a result, Barbour has worked in and around campaigns all his life.

He is managing partner of the Clearwater Group, a regional public affairs firm in Jackson, and also a partner in Strategic Partners & Media, a national advertising group based in Annapolis, Maryland.

Jones is an attorney with Baria-Jones, a law firm with offices in Jackson and Bay St. Louis. (His partner, David Baria, ran unsuccessfully against Wicker for the other U.S. Senate seat at stake this month.)

Jones has also worked as an advisor for Democratic candidates in a number of other state and local campaigns in Mississippi.

IMC students use research skills to improve The Meridian Star’s marketing strategy

Posted on: November 12th, 2018 by ldrucker

As our capstone course for the integrated marketing degree program at Ole Miss, we are applying our skills of marketing and research to boost new objectives of The Meridian Star. We have analyzed the company needs and what the organization could do to grow its business.

The Meridian Star is positioned uniquely, and we intend to identify ways the organization can preserve this uniqueness. By understanding audiences and sharing ideas in class, we are gaining a more detailed understanding to help The Meridian Star realize these objectives for their daily business.

Ole Miss students (from left) Darby Frisbie, Kedrick Smith, Molly Chain and Hayley Day are simulating an integrated marketing communications agency, gaining real-world experience by developing a promotional plan for brand awareness and expanded services of The Meridian Star.

For our generation, the ways people get news and information is different from how they did in the past. We have come up with different ideas and strategies for making it easier for people in the Meridian area to access relevant information at their convenience.

We also want to figure out the type of information people want to read about and recommend how The Meridian Star can put more of that information out there. We also want to learn what kind of services might add value. We have provided surveys for residents and businesses to gain this information. By the end of this class, we hope to help The Meridian Star reach as many people as possible by using this information to develop effective marketing recommendations.

With closer research and proper surveying, we believe we will be able to accomplish the repositioning of The Meridian Star. We hope to gain insights that haven’t been brought to light such as: “What is preventing local residents from engaging with The Meridian Star?” and “What would make the publication and its services the most attractive to Meridians?”

We have assumed that the lack of visibility of staff in the Meridian community and the dated design and delivery of the paper are a few problems that have resulted in these issues. Luckily, we will be able to clearly see through our research if these hypotheses are actually contributing to the main issues of The Meridian Star. Once we identify the root problems, we can then recreate the brand image of The Meridian Star by taking the right steps toward a specific solution.

By Darby Frisbie, Kedrick Smith, Molly Chain and Hayley Day. They are students in the Integrated Marketing Communications program at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. For more information on this project, contact Alexander Gould, publisher of The Meridian Star. This piece was originally published on the Mississippi Press Association website.