School of Journalism and New Media

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UM School of Journalism and New Media establishes scholarship in professor’s name

Posted on: September 13th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has established a scholarship in the name of a journalism professor who spent almost three decades teaching media law and educating students about the First Amendment.

Jeanni Atkins, Ph.D. said the school’s dean gave her the good news. “I’m very honored that Dr. Norton wanted to establish a permanent endowment fund in my name that will help Honors College students pay for their education,” she said.

Atkins said Will Norton Jr., Ph.D. was very supportive of her as a faculty member, and she appreciates his friendship and encouragement.

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She said the scholarship has been created as a University of Mississippi permanent endowment fund of $25,000 that will increase over time. Full-time students in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College majoring in journalism or integrated marketing communications will be the recipients.

A committee in consultation with the dean determines who receives a scholarship. The amount of the grant each year depends on interest earned and additional contributions. Former students are among the contributors.

Norton said the scholarship committee will decide how much money to provide. There could be more than one scholarship awarded annually.

“Dr. Atkins was the intellectual strength of the graduate program here for decades,” he said. “She taught courses with rigor, and outstanding students graduated with her as mentor. There are leading media professionals who will tell you that she is the reason they have done so well in the business. The scholarship is in honor of a dedicated teacher who made a difference in students’ lives for decades.”

Atkins earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from Maryville College in East Tennessee, where she grew up. She worked as a full-time secretary at the college while taking courses part-time.

She earned a master’s of arts degree and a doctorate from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. While there, she worked full-time as an office manager/researcher for Professor Paul Fisher, executive director of the Freedom of Information Center, a national FOI clearinghouse in the journalism school. Fisher influenced her career path, she said.

“My dissertation was a comparison of the development and legal interpretations of open meetings laws in the 50 states,” she said.

The positions Atkins held between her master’s degree and Ph.D. gave her valuable research experience. She worked as the chief of research for Legis 50/The Center for Legislative Improvement in Colorado.

She worked as a research assistant to the director of the Communication Research Division for the Young & Rubicam Advertising Agency in Chicago. And she was the editor of two media law newsletters: Access Reports/FOI and Access Reports/ Privacy based in Washington, D.C.

She was also a research analyst for the Shook, Hardy & Bacon Law Firm in Kansas City.

After noticing an advertisement in the Kansas City Star for a Graduate Professional Opportunities Fellowship funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for women and minorities to pursue a Ph.D. in journalism at the University of Missouri, Akins applied. The fellowship and a graduate assistantship enabled her to begin a career as a teacher.

“Samir Husni, a friend in the Ph.D. program with me, was hired by Ole Miss Department of Journalism Chair Dr. Will Norton to start a magazine program,” she said. “Samir told me about a faculty position opening, and I was hired in 1986.”

Atkins has presented many peer reviewed research papers at regional, national and international conferences of journalism, intercultural and mass communications associations.

Her articles on government secrecy, open meetings and public records laws have been published in the University of Missouri Freedom of Information Center FOI Digest and Center Reports. Others that have published her work include Access Reports/FOI and Access Reports /Privacy, FOI Spotlight and various newspapers.

“My experience at the Missouri FOI Center national clearinghouse led to a passionate interest in the First Amendment and the public’s right to know,” she said. “Teaching media law and educating people about their rights of access to government meetings and records and the problems secrecy poses through the work of the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information (MCFOI) made it possible to continue to indulge that passion at Ole Miss.”

In 1998, Atkins said Mississippi Press Association president and Oxford Eagle Assistant Publisher Dan Phillips appointed a committee of a diverse group of journalists, attorneys, representatives of government agencies, and journalism academics to discuss establishing an organization to further more open government in the state.

“I served on the founding committee and wrote a proposal for the Ole Miss Department of Journalism to monitor and report on problems of access to government information,” she said. “MPA awarded Ole Miss a contract to handle administrative tasks and write and distribute a newsletter. I served as editor and publisher of the FOI Spotlight for 15 years and also as executive director.”

Atkins said her teaching philosophy has been to assist students in preparing for life after college, not just for a job. That means helping students broaden their horizons and develop better understanding of others with different life experiences and diverse cultural backgrounds. In addition to media law, she taught classes in media ethics, history, research methods, mass communications theory, public opinion and advertising copy writing.

“During 17 years of serving as graduate program director/student advisor, I chaired 29 committees and was a member of 25 others,” she said. “This position offered opportunities to get to know students on a personal level and learn from their research.”

Atkins said student feedback has been essential to understanding which teaching approaches facilitate their learning and growth. Even though she struggled with how much to push students and how demanding to make courses, she said she has learned good students welcome a challenge. And teaching has helped define the meaning of her life.

“Teaching is an incredibly challenging enterprise and a privilege,” she said. “Seeing the spark of interest and understanding in students whose minds are opened to knowledge and insights that helped them see people and the world in a different light and in the process know themselves better was a great source of pleasure.

“Following the career paths of former students and seeing their achievements continues to be rewarding. So many wonderful and interesting students—many I count as friends—enriched my life over the course of 29 years of teaching, and for that I am grateful.”

Atkins said she hopes the scholarship will help students achieve their goals.

Since I worked my way through college and graduate school, I know how much scholarships can mean to students who can’t afford to further their education without this kind of assistance,” she said. “But a scholarship means more than financial aid because it helps to relieve the stress financial worries impose and bolsters confidence in oneself. My hope is that it will help enable outstanding students to attend Ole Miss.”

To request an interview about the scholarship, contact Assistant Dean Debora Wenger at 662-915-7912 or drwenger@olemiss.edu.

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Reese Colaluca

Posted on: August 2nd, 2019 by ldrucker

Reese Colaluca is a native of Allen, Texas, about 10 minutes from Dallas. She attended a large high school that provided many opportunities, including earning 24 hours in college credit classes.

“I really love the city I grew up in, not only because of how much it had to offer, but also because it was so close to a major city,” she said. “It gave me even more opportunity to do and see things not everyone gets the opportunity to experience living in smaller towns.”

Reese shows her school spirit.

When she chose to attend the University of Mississippi, Colaluca said she wanted to get away from the rush of life and attend a school where she could meet people who weren’t from the area  in which she grew up.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do job-wise in the future,” she said, “so choosing a major was really hard. Once I started classes, my advisor said I should take an Introduction to IMC course to test it out and see if it would be something I was interested in. After completing that course last semester, I realized I had a real passion for marketing, advertising and communications, so integrated marketing communications was perfect for me.

“The University of Mississippi gave me this amazing opportunity by offering this unique major, that allows me to excel in many different areas of marketing, advertising and communications.”

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student George Young

George Young studied integrated marketing communications at the University of Mississippi with a business minor. The Madison, Mississippi native began his freshman year at the University of Mississippi undeclared and eventually chose IMC as his major.

He knew he was interested in journalism, art, and music, but wanted to find a major that would include all his interests and still give him a competitive marketing and business edge. He realized that with an IMC degree, he could one day have a career outside the conventional desk jobs.

His eyes were opened to how broad the journalism and marketing fields are and how they both connect in ways he could personalize to his interests. After taking a few classes, he said he began to see the world around him differently. He knew he had a special eye for recognizing what people want and figuring out how to get it to them.

Young is a member of the music and artist group Dreamland Gateway, and he performs under the moniker Harvey. Dreamland Gateway includes four hip-hop musicians and other contributing artists.

Dreamland Gateway has performed in Oxford four times over the past year. They have played at local house shows and at Proud Larry’s. Young’s music has inspired his degree and career path.

He wants to use his degree to get a job with Spotify or iTunes helping curate suggested music for subscribers. He hopes he can make a difference in the music industry and make the streaming experience more enjoyable for subscribers with his marketing expertise and music passion.

– By Miranda Waddell

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism student Alicia Watts

Tupelo native Alicia Watts moved to Oxford to pursue her bachelor’s degree at the University of Mississippi. She is majoring in English and minoring in journalism. Before becoming a Rebel, she attended Itawamba Community College in Fulton for two years.

“I was a mathematics major for a year and a half until I realized that English was my calling,” she said. “I hope to get my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Ole Miss, and then I plan to become an English professor at a community college on the East Coast.”

Watts said she’s known she wanted to become a teacher since she was little, but it wasn’t until her sophomore year of college that she realized her career path.

“Writing and reading are two of my passions, and I could not imagine doing anything else with my future,” she said. However, she wasn’t sure what her minor would be.

“I knew that I wanted to do something that involved writing because I wanted to do something that would benefit my major. My brother was a journalism major, and he currently works for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. I did not want to copy my brother, but I decided I should at least take a journalism class to see if I enjoyed it.

“The journalism class taught me so much about writing and inspired me, so I decided to officially make journalism my minor. All of my school assignments now involve writing, but I would not have it any other way. Choosing journalism was the best choice for me and my education.”

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Maggie Bell

Columbia, South Carolina native Maggie Bell grew up in Atlanta, where she attended a Catholic school from kindergarten until senior year. After kindergarten, she said her parents sent her to a pre-first grade school, so she is a year older than many of her peers, which has its perks.

Bell said she was inspired to major in integrated marketing communication by her sister, who graduated from the University of Georgia.

“She majored in public relations and now works as a sales representative for radio stations in Atlanta,” she said. “Since I watched her graduate from college and work during the summers before I even graduated high school, I always thought her job seemed very cool.”

Bell said she enjoys interacting with others and knew she didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day.

“She taught me some about her major, PR, which is very similar in my eyes to IMC,” Bell said. “I picked IMC because it also relates to journalism. In high school, I grew to enjoy writing. Communication is essential to personal and career success in order to understand yourself and others around you.”

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Perk Swift

Perk Swift, a native of a small town in South Georgia, followed his older brother to the University of Mississippi.

“I realize now Ole Miss was my blessing in disguise,” said Swift, who came to UM without knowing anyone other than his sibling and started a new life.

Instead of studying business or accounting like many friends and family members, Swift chose to study integrated marketing communications, or IMC, hoping to someday work in television.

 

“My dream job would have to be directing commercials,” said Swift, who said he’d also enjoy working in news or film production.

“The storyline matters, but what’s even more interesting to me is the shot,” he said, referring to his favorite movie, “Good Will Hunting.”

Swift said he hopes to one day work in front of or behind a camera.

  • By Talley Bass

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Talley Bass

Talley Bass moved from a small town in South Georgia to an even smaller town in North Mississippi before becoming a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student.

“I now see the irony in this,”she said. “I was tired of my small town life in Georgia and wanted something new. I picked the farthest college I could think of that was within my most tolerable driving distance, and I went.”

Bass enrolled in UM as a business major with a minor in art, but switched to IMC because she said it is a good combination of both fields.

“I love hearing people’s stories and getting to know their background,” she said. “When people are interviewed, they feel a sort of importance that they matter in the big picture. I enjoy making people feel important because I believe everyone plays a part of importance to society, offering different insight and thoughts.”

Bass said she supports the expression of individuality. “I am known in my circle of friends for being the one that could be fine for the rest of her life with no one else but myself,” she said. “I always wanted to be the person that did something no one else has, or does the crazy thing, because I grew up in such a predictable town.

‘I believe independence is important for a person because, at the end of the day, only you look at yourself in the mirror. You get to decide if you like what you see or not.”

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student Kenlea Barnes

Oxford native Kenlea Barnes is one of our many students who made Farley Hall part of her world while enrolled in elective classes. Even though she majored in general studies and minored in English, history and education, she chose to take some of the classes taught in the UM School of Journalism and New Media.

Raised in Desoto County, mostly in Southaven, Barnes said her favorite hobbies are watching Harry Potter and YouTube videos; playing with her three adorable cats, Renlea, Rory and Riley; and singing and hanging out with friends.

“The wizarding world of Harry Potter always made me feel like I was destined for greatness, like I could and would do anything,” she said. “This movie series (I do plan on reading the books. I just haven’t gotten the chance) has helped me to realize that Harry, just like myself, is “exceptionally ordinary” as Luna Lovegood would say. So, greatness is something a person becomes, something anyone can achieve.”

Although she didn’t major or minor in journalism, Barnes said the field is a big part of her life.

“YouTube, especially, is a huge form of communication,” she said, “and vlogging is like having an open diary of sorts,” she said. “… Journalism and communication shape the society in which we all live in today, and I, for one, am grateful.”

The School of Journalism and New Media welcomes anyone who has an interest in journalism or IMC classes to enroll in a course or get involved in some of our many clubs and organizations.

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism student Caroline Nihill

Freshman Caroline Nihill, 19, spent her days in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before deciding to move to Oxford for a change of scenery at Ole Miss. Nihill also has family residing in Oxford, and desired the warmth of the South.

She originally started college as an English major before discovering journalism was the best fit for her. “I enjoy writing about the things currently happening in our society,” she said. “Not only that, I’m a very curious person who thoroughly enjoys research and finding the truth. I realized that journalism is something that would help me satisfy my curiosity and spread the truth on current events.”

Additionally, Nihill fell in love with the Ole Miss journalism program. She enjoys writing and loves investigating and discovering more about a topic.

“I just thought about where I could see myself in 10 years, and I can see myself being a journalist,” she said.

Nihill is working on a minor in political science. She understands politics and enjoys learning about government. She said the “nice, down-to-earth” people of the School of Journalism and New Media are her favorite aspect of the major, describing it as a community with commonalities. “I could read something interesting, and someone would sit down and dissect it with me,” she said.

She is also an ambassador for the School of Journalism, and noted the openness and genuineness found in that group. Nihill said fellow students are always open to discuss current events, offer advice, or simply talk.

Nihill knows the value of journalism and communication. “Communicating to a larger audience about the things that are or could be affecting them is a necessary thing for the world to function,” she said, adding that communication is the basis of who we are as humans and how we interact with one another.

“Journalism is the people who consume it, considering they decide what to read and how they want it accessible to them,” she said.

Nihill was part of the Oxford Stories journalism class this semester, and she won the Editor Award at the end of the semester, evidence that she has demonstrated leadership skills and quality work.

She aspires to become an investigative print journalist to satisfy her hunger for truth. “Journalism is what I consider myself good at, and it feels like second nature,” she said.

– By Chloe Baker

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism student Chloe Baker

Olive Branch native Chloe Baker, 19, was raised just an hour north of Oxford on the Tennessee line. She is the fourth of five children.

“When I was younger, I spent my days listening to music, playing soccer, and watching sports (especially football and baseball) with my family,” she said. “One day while watching football, I realized that I could become a sideline reporter, just like those women I watched on television and admired. That sparked the idea of studying journalism, which I kept in mind as I went through high school.”

Chloe Baker

As a sophomore, Baker joined her school’s news broadcast program and loved it. She worked as an anchor, reporter, director, producer, photographer, and more.

“When senior year arrived, I was torn between the University of Memphis and Ole Miss,” she said. “However, when I visited Ole Miss, I just knew this was home. The amazing journalism department happens to be a fantastic plus.”

Baker said journalism is important.

“Though many conflicting opinions arise when discussing media, one thing rings true – it is a necessity,” she said. “Without journalism and communications, people would have no way of learning about the world around them.

“The job of a journalist is extremely important and unique, as they get to learn about the world, then share it with the world. It is a beautiful thing to have the ability to be a storyteller and promote truth and awareness for various topics.”

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Cam Achord

Achord, 20, is an integrated marketing communications major from Olive Branch, Mississippi near Memphis. He said he chose to attend the University of Mississippi because it is located far enough away from his hometown to give him independence, but he’s still within driving distance of his family, who he enjoys visiting and spending time with.

“I chose to pursue a degree in integrated marketing communications because I felt that is was geared towards certain aptitudes of mine,” said the National Merit Finalist. “I find the coordination of different elements of advertising very interesting, and I like to think from an advertiser’s point of view.”

Originally a psychology major with plans to attend medical school, Achord said he learned he wasn’t as passionate about the career field as he thought he would be.

“I did, however, very much enjoy studying psychology,” he said. “I believe that there is a strong element of psychology associated with marketing, as one must understand the tendencies of the human mind to effectively advertise and persuade people.”

Achord also believes communication is important. “Without communication, the spread of information would be extremely limited, and we would not be able to enjoy many of the accomplishments made by humanity,” he said.

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Parker Blaylock.

Blaylock, 20, is a University of Mississippi junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing communications with a specialization in public relations and a minor in general business.

The Eupora native was originally a biochemistry major, but after hearing from friends about the School of Journalism and New Media’s IMC program, he decided to make the switch during his freshman year at Ole Miss.

Blaylock quickly fell in love with the program and all the potential career options, saying it has taught him how to think critically and creatively.

“Before I became an IMC major, I was lost,” he said. “I really did not have a sense of direction for what I wanted in life.”

Blaylock said his personal skills are best utilized in the world of marketing and sales. He is proud of his communication skills and sees value in those skills for his daily life and future career path.

“Communication is one of the most important skills a person can have, in my opinion,” he said. “There aren’t many scenarios in life where you won’t have to communicate with someone.”

After he finishes school, Blaylock plans to pursue a career at an advertising agency working in the creative department. He sees himself living in a larger city, specifically New York or Nashville.

Ideally, he would like to create social media content and do copywriting, but he is also interested in conducting research for campaigns.

Blaylock said he would also love to work for a greater cause at a nonprofit organization, such as the Human Rights Campaign or the Advertising Council.

– By Ali Arnold

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Allie Allen.

Allen, 20, is a University of Mississippi sophomore majoring in integrated marketing communications. The Jacksonville, Florida native moved to Memphis at age 6 because her dad took another job.

“In 2013, my life took a turn when I was diagnosed with brain cancer,” she said. “After my first brain surgery, I became a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. One of the reasons I chose to come to Ole Miss was because it is far enough, yet close enough to my house and St. Jude if I ever need to go there for treatment or scans.”

Allen said the past six years of her cancer journey have made her realize how much she wanted to work for the hospital that saved her life.

“As much as I would love to be a doctor, I do not feel that I am fit for that job,” she said, “but there are many different jobs that work directly with the hospital that I am interested in working with in the future.”

The fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is called ALSAC, an acronym for American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities.

“ALSAC specifically has jobs that deal with integrated marketing communications,” said Allen, “and this is a big part of why I chose IMC as my major. I feel that integrated marketing communication is important because it is more than just marketing.

“It takes all the aspects of marketing communications and combines them together using different approaches for a specific customer. Even if I do not end up working for ALSAC or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I wish to work for a company that gives back. I plan to take everything I have learned from this major and apply it to my future career.”

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Shelby Bickes.

The Saltillo native, 22, who is majoring in integrated marketing communications, said she chose IMC because she enjoys creative thinking and how IMC requires you to create and design, yet also involves business, marketing and communications.

As a senior, Bickes has been very involved on campus. Since her freshman year, she has worked with the Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist campus ministry. She served on the entertainment committee for the Student Activities Association, providing campus entertainment and opportunities for student involvement in programming.

She was also a member of the advanced ceramics group, The Mud Daubers, and she participated in an internship with the Oxford Arts Council.

“IMC is about meeting all of the ever-changing generations in their way of effective communications and marketing,” she said.

A look at the School of Journalism and New Media’s IMC and journalism programs

Posted on: June 4th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has produced notable alumni and continues to inspire students to dream big.

In 2009, the university’s journalism department became a school of journalism. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC).

IMC was created in 2011, allowing students to learn about the integration of communication tools, such as marketing, advertising, direct marketing, public relations, sales promotions, etc. The major includes a minor in business administration in which students study business management and learn the essentials of marketing a business. The IMC program is offered at the university’s Oxford, Tupelo, and Southaven campuses.

“What made me choose IMC was the diverse possibilities it offered for jobs,” said Caroline Waller, who has studied IMC. “I always knew I wanted to do something with communications, marketing or journalism. I liked that IMC provided a background for all of those and I could decide and narrow it down later. Every aspect of this program is so interesting, and I don’t think students can go wrong with any of the paths.”

Sydney Patterson said she learned many things about marketing and communication in the IMC program including different platforms used to target certain demographics effectively. “I have learned to perform an in-depth analysis of a client and create a strategic campaign based on research,” she said. “I have been certified in Google AdWords, taken a class on the Adobe program, learned how to write an effective news release, etc. The point is this major covers every aspect of marketing across different platforms.”

The IMC program also gives students the choice to further their knowledge by adding a specialization to their majors. Some specialization options include Magazine Publishing and Management, Media Sales and Management, Public Relations, and Sports Communication and Promotion.

Patterson selected Media Sales and Management. “Media Sales is mainly focused on the idea that in order to reach your audience, you need to know who your audience is,” she said. “The idea of this specialization is to help students become more aware of how to target people as if they were working for an agency. It is big on research, covering platforms from radio, television, newspapers, magazines, digital, mobile apps, etc. It is all about how to sell their media product and what is the most effective way to do so on the right platforms.”

Waller, a Nashville native, said she would recommend the program to anyone. “My biggest takeaway from the time I’ve had in this program is learning the value of hard work,” she said.

In the beginning, The IMC program had a total of 51 undergraduates enrolled in the fall of 2011. Since then, the enrollment increased exponentially, with 964 undergraduates in the fall of 2016.

Students who want to continue their studies in IMC after graduation have the opportunity to earn a master of arts degree in journalism with an emphasis in IMC. Students can earn the master’s degree at the Oxford, Tupelo, and Southaven campus locations.

Due to high interest and popularity, the School of Journalism and New Media has launched an online IMC graduate degree. The 36-hour course credit enables students to complete the IMC graduate degree in two years during the fall, spring and summer. Those who work full-time jobs and cannot make the move to Oxford have the choice to take the same courses as those who are attending the program in person.

This article was originally written by Madison Stewart for OxfordStories.net. To learn more about our programs, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

UM School of Journalism and New Media trains three new drone pilots

Posted on: May 27th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has trained three new certified drone pilots.

Professors Iveta Imre, Ph.D., Bobby Steele and Michael Fagans all took professor Ji Hoon Heo’s class, then passed the test to become certified drone pilots.

Heo said UM has trained around 30 to 40 drone pilots who have passed certification. That number will likely increase to 50 after the last class completes the test, he said.

“When I first developed the course, I wanted to teach it the way I wanted to learn,” Heo said. “When I first studied for the test, I had to read 300 plus pages of the study guide that the Federal Aviation Administration had put out. It was dry. So I lecture half the class, and the other times, we go out in groups of three or four in the intramural field, and we practice flying.

“We do cone drills to develop their flying skills and also learn the types of shots you can use with a drone. We take a lot of practice quizzes and tests to get them ready for the FAA Part 107 test, which is what you need to get the certification.”

Imre, who completed Heo’s last class, is an assistant professor of visual storytelling at the UM School of Journalism and New Media.

“I wanted to become a drone pilot because I think having that skill can be very useful for teaching my broadcast journalism classes,” she said. “It was also a challenging goal I set for myself, and the more I got into studying for the exam, the more I actually enjoyed the process and flying drones. I think footage you can capture using drones can be extremely useful and can provide a unique visual perspective. “

Imre said having a license to professionally fly drones will allow her to work with students on visually compelling stories.

“The students will be able to fly drones under my supervision, get the experience and create amazing stories for their portfolios,” she said.

If you are interested in learning how the UM School of Journalism and New Media can help you become a certified drone pilot, email our school at jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

UM School of Journalism and New Media professor wins Vicki Mahan Ally of the Year Award

Posted on: May 8th, 2019 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor has been recognized for her work to make UM more inclusive for all students.

Alysia Burton Steele, assistant professor of journalism, has been named the recipient of the Vicki Mahan Ally of the Year Award. The award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make the university a welcoming, accepting, and inclusive place for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff.

We asked Steele a few questions about the award.

 

Q. How did you feel when you were named as a winner of the award?

I was surprised and excited by the awards. Kevin Cozart, Deb Wenger, Bobby Steele and Brittany Brown created a fake reason for me to come on campus that day, and I came because I thought Brittany was receiving an award. So, they lied to me – but for a good reason. I had no idea I was nominated, and it’s quite an honor.

Q. For those who don’t know, what is the award?

The Vicki Mahan Ally of the Year Award is an award where faculty members are honored for their contributions and dedication to inclusiveness regarding the LGBTQ community. It appears a former student from five years ago, Sha Simpson, nominated me for helping her stay focused with her studies, and I encouraged her to get counseling. I assured her there was nothing wrong with getting help, and I wanted her to know that I was always going to be there for her.

When her family cut ties with her after she came out, it broke my heart to see her struggling, and after all these years, I can’t believe Sha wrote to Kevin Cozart and nominated me. When I heard Kevin reading her letter, I thought it sounded like Sha, but I wasn’t sure. At that point, I didn’t know the award was for me. I burst into tears when my name was called because the letter was touching, and well, I love Sha like a daughter.

Q. Why were you told you won the award?

I am a big supporter of people being true to themselves – no matter how they identify. I do not judge people based on sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity – everything that comes with diversity, I am supporting it. I am biracial, and come from a very welcoming, loving family.

From childhood, my mother Stella Duncan always instilled me in me to accept people for who they are – that we have no reason to judge. I want every student to know that my office is a safe space, and I am always willing to help. That is just who I am as a person, but I’m honored to be recognized for that.

Diversity is in everything I do, so no matter what class I teach, what scholarship I create, what service I pledge, I will always include diversity – it’s what makes this world a better place. So, I’m just going to keep being me.

UM students sweep awards from Public Relations Association of Mississippi

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ldrucker

One student named Outstanding PR Student in the state

University of Mississippi public relations students swept the awards in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition recently, including one student being named Outstanding PR Student in the state.

Students and recent graduates from the School of Journalism and New Media won 16 of the 19 student awards presented for public relations projects at the PRAM state conference in Vicksburg on April 12.

In addition, IMC major Davis Roberts from Grenada was named Outstanding PR Student in Mississippi. He was selected from 13 nominees from statewide colleges for the award that came with a $500 scholarship. Journalism major Hailey McKee and IMC major Hayden Benge were also recognized as nominees for the award.

For the competition for PR projects, the students entered public relations campaigns they produced in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s advanced PR class during 2018.  Each student created a campaign to increase awareness or change opinion on a topic of their choice. Topics included prescription drug abuse, the detrimental effects of loneliness, the importance of registering to vote, equal pay for women, eating disorders in men, sex trafficking, suicide prevention, the physical and emotional health benefits of having a pet, the dangers of e-cigarette use, autism, and the dangers of bullying among teenagers.

School of Journalism and New Media Students and their instructor at the Public Relations Association of Mississippi Student Prism Awards Luncheon April 11 awaiting the results. Pictured are: counter-clockwise from far left are Kendall Patterson, Davis Roberts, Hayden Benge, Ally Langston, Anna Bess Pavlakovich, Barrett Climer, Senior Lecturer Robin Street, Melanie Wierzbicki, Hailey McKee, Holly Lasker, Madison Stewart and Chloe Parrish.

Each campaign required multiple aspects including writing news articles, shooting video and photos, planning creative events, conducting research and creating online and social media posts.

“Today’s communication specialists require skills in research and planning, as well as in all forms of communication including writing, designing, photography, video, social media and website creation,” Street said. “These students demonstrated that they excel in this diverse skill set. Their awards are a tribute to the preparation they received from all the faculty members at the School of Journalism and New Media.”

University of Mississippi public relations students and recent graduates swept the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition recently, winning 16 of the total 19 awards presented for PR projects. In addition, IMC major Davis Roberts was named Mississippi Outstanding PR Student. Pictured, left to right, are some of those winners: Front row: Hayden Benge, Chloe Parrish, Maggie Crouch, Senior Lecturer Robin Street, Anna Bess Pavlakovich and Aleka Battista. Second row: Samantha Metz, Calyn Hoerner, Kendall Patterson, Hailey McKee, Holly Lasker and Ally Langston. Third row: Davis Roberts and Melanie Wierzbicki. Not pictured are Barrett Climer, Caroline Hewitt and Madison Stewart. Photo credit: Stan O’Dell

Comments from the judges, who remain anonymous, on the students’ entries included “solid research and planning,” “very thorough and impressive,” “exceptional,” “very creative,” “comprehensive and well done,” “thoughtful campaign to bring awareness and assistance to a difficult topic” and “creative and thought provoking.”

Davis Roberts, an IMC major from Grenada, was selected as Outstanding PR Student by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi from nominees representing colleges around the state. Here, he is congratulated by his nominating professor, School of Journalism and New Media Senior Lecturer Robin Street.  Davis was previously named a winner of the Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medal, the university’s highest academic honor. Photo credit: Stan O’Dell

Matt Martin, PRAM vice president for awards, commended the students’ entries.

“The award-winning work submitted by the students of the University of Mississippi is notable for its creativity and solid understanding and use of the public relations process,” Martin said. “While their awards will add stars to their resume, it’s their mastery of these fundamentals that will lead to successful careers as PR practitioners.”

Multiple students can win in the same category if they earn the required number of points as scored by the judges. No awards were given in the highest category called the Prism. The Excellence Award is the next highest award, followed by the Merit Award.

Winning Excellence Awards were Benge from Tulsa, Oklahoma; Calyn Hoerner, an IMC graduate from Houston; Holly Lasker, an IMC major from Seattle; and McKee, from Dyersburg, Tennessee. Street also won an Award of Excellence in the professional media writing category.

Winning Merit awards were Aleka Battista, an IMC graduate from Tupelo; Barrett Climer, an IMC graduate from Jackson; Maggie Crouch, a journalism major from Westmont, Illinois; Caroline Hewitt, a journalism graduate from Covington, Louisiana; Ally Langston, a journalism major from Dallas; Samantha Taylor Metz, a marketing and corporate relations major from Hernando; Chloe Parrish, an IMC graduate student from Germantown, Tennessee; Kendall Patterson, a journalism major from Corinth; Anna Bess Pavlakovich, a journalism major from Denver; Roberts; Madison Stewart, an IMC graduate from Dallas; and Melanie Wierzbicki, a double major in Spanish and marketing and corporate relations from Waxhaw, North Carolina.

For more information, contact Robin Street at rbstreet@olemiss.edu.

Journalism and engineering professors hope to shape energy policy

Posted on: April 1st, 2019 by ldrucker

Journalism and engineering researchers at the University of Mississippi are teaming to identify gaps in media coverage, public understanding and policymaking about carbon capture, utilization and storage.

Journalism associate professor Kristen Swain and chemical engineering professor Wei-Yin Chen won one of the first Disaster Resilience Flagship Constellation research grants titled Communicating about Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Innovations to Policymakers and the Public.

The project will explore how CCUS innovations have been communicated from the scientific community to the public and policymakers over the last 20 years. With the help of journalism graduate students this summer, the team will conduct systematic content analyses of CCUS research, news stories and policy documents.

“I imagine that most CCUS innovations and tradeoffs have been invisible to the public and policymakers,” Swain said. “Ultimately, we hope to learn more about how scientific discoveries can be communicated to the public more effectively, to inform critical policy decisions.”

Chen developed innovative techniques for fixing the carbon in CO2 emissions onto biochar, a type of charcoal, to reuse carbon’s energy content. “We burn biochar with the carbon from CO2, to recover more energy than the raw biochar had,” he said. “Then we convert the treated biochar into synthetic gas.”

Chen leads UM’s Sustainable Energy and Environment Group (SEEG), which has worked with scientists around the world to pioneer several CCUS methods. These include carbon gasification and carbon activation for CO2 capture and wastewater treatment. His current National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant focuses on CCUS innovations in the sustainable food/energy/water nexus.

Swain said CCUS especially interests her because “it’s a rising-star strategy, a viable way to suck carbon out of the air whereever carbon emissions are released. Independent reports show that the world cannot avoid dangerous climate consequences without using it on a much wider scale.”

Media professionals mentor students at Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Day

Posted on: March 27th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi is lucky to have so many media professionals who want to help mentor our students.

Broadcasters from around the state came to meet broadcast journalism students Wednesday in the Student Media Center.

This was the 6th annual Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Day at Ole Miss.

Radio and television professionals met the students, viewed their work and offered good career advice.

Derek Rogers, general manager of WCBI-TV and college representative to MAB, said the broadcast students at the School of Journalism and New Media always set the bar high.

“The Ole Miss broadcast and journalism students are always prepared and have good quality work to share with us,” Rogers said. “The videography was particularly strong this year, and the storytelling was of higher quality as well.

“Our overall impression on the students was that many of them are ready to join a station right out of school.  Many of the students are aware of meeting daily deadlines, and that is such a major hurdle for recent graduates.”

UM journalism professor to receive Community Engagement Honor Roll certificate

Posted on: March 25th, 2019 by ldrucker

In recognition of their new health communication work in the Mississippi Delta, Kristie Swain, of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism, and Angela Green, of the Writing and Rhetoric Department, will each receive a Community Engagement Honor Roll certificate at the university’s 2019 Celebration of Service on April 10.

Their competition submission, “Team Safe Sex Learning through Safe Reflection and Storytelling,” is also funded by a 2018-2019 Community Wellbeing Flagship Constellation research grant.

In the fall, Swain’s research methods class conducted a focus group study of African American women in collaboration with Catherine Moring, executive director of wellness for the James Kennedy Wellness Center in Charleston, Mississippi. They asked the women to talk about what puts local teens at risk for STDs and teen pregnancy and what might prevent these outcomes.

Students in Kristie Swain’s IMC 585-Health Communication class design role-play activities for Delta teens.

This semester, Swain’s IMC 585-Health Communication class is conducting a focus group study and pilot intervention of African American youth in Charleston to explore their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors related to safe sex, Swain said.

Health Communication students recently designed a community health campaign, as well as roleplay and reflective writing games for a pilot intervention, she said. In one game called “Origami Fortune Teller,” teens will discuss different hypothetical safe-sex situations, she said. Small groups of teens will each pick a number and one of four colors.

“A moderator will move the four-corner, origami fortuneteller back and forth the number of times they pick, and then pose a question or scenario that corresponds to a number between 1 and 8 next to the color they selected,” Swain said. “Then the teens will read the scenario and work though the decision making process.”

A follow-up activity will involve matching different colors of Starburst candies with different hypothetical situations, she said. After each teen group selects a Starburst, a moderator will challenge them to write and act out a skit to show how kids might react to the situation. Then, UM students will create informal videos of the skits to use in social media outreach.

Cade Smith, UM’s assistant vice chancellor for community engagement, cited the significance of the project as one of its strengths in the community engagement competition.

“The scope and impact of the submitted projects were tremendous,” he said. “We look forward to sharing and learning about the life- and community-changing work that UM and UMMC scholars are co-leading with their community partners.”

By the end of this year, Swain, Green and Moring hope to use their findings to identify barriers and inroads in preventing HIV, STDs and unplanned pregnancies among African American adolescents in the Mississippi Delta, Swain said. The results will inform a NIH grant proposal, in collaboration with UMCC researchers, to support behavior change research in rural faith communities.

A Winter Week in Puerto Rico: Journalism students visit island to produce hurricane recovery report

Posted on: March 20th, 2019 by ldrucker

For a week during winter break, University of Mississippi journalism students Brittany Brown and Devna Bose traded the comforts of home for waking up each morning at the first sign of light on an island they had never visited.

They were struck by the juxtaposition between the beauty provided by Puerto Rico’s mountains, beaches and rainforests and the lingering effects of one of history’s worst natural disasters.

But, the two Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College students in the university’s School of Journalism and New Media did not visit the island to see the views.

Brown and Bose were part of a group that went with a mission: to tell stories of recovery 16 months after Hurricane Maria. The hurricane is linked to 3,000 deaths and shook the infrastructure of the United States territory to its core.

UM student Brittany Brown (left) interviews artist Raúl Ayala at his shop in Loíza, Puerto Rico. Photo by Jasmine Karlowski

“Puerto Rico was of interest because, after doing some initial research, we knew that there were still good stories to tell about how its residents were coping after the two hurricanes that devastated the island, particularly in impoverished areas and in communities of color,” said Patricia Thompson, assistant dean for student media. “We also found ties between Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts and Mississippi students, residents and companies.”

For Brown, the trip was not solely for educational purposes. Her father is Puerto Rican, and she wanted to further understand her ancestry by visiting his family’s homeland.

“I really don’t know a lot about the Puerto Rican culture,” said the senior print journalism major from Quitman. “So, it was very much a personal reason I wanted to go to Puerto Rico, and with this opportunity I thought, ‘Why not go there while also doing something I love, which is journalism and reporting.’”

They packed so much work into the short winter intersession trip that not much spare time was available for sightseeing.

“We traveled all over the island,” Brown said. “We covered as much ground as we could. Every day we were up with the sunrise driving to the ends of the island. We were there to work – to talk to people and tell stories.

“We really got to dig into the culture of Puerto Rico. We were embedded into small communities and building relationships with everyday Puerto Ricans who are living with the effects of the hurricanes still.”

The Ole Miss multimedia team included journalism student Christian Johnson, photojournalism mentor and recent graduate Ariel Cobbert, and M.F.A. graduate student Jasmine Karlowski, who also is a Study Abroad staff member. The project was led by Thompson and assistant professor Iveta Imre.

The trip was an opportunity for students to stretch their legs journalistically and put the lessons they are learning to the test in a practical environment. Weeks of phone calls and emails before the trip, along with the interviews, photographs and video from the week in Puerto Rico, will be used to produce multimedia stories that will be published this semester.

“(Once it’s published) I’m going to feel like we really accomplished a lot,” said Bose, a senior journalism major from Philadelphia. “I feel like I was pushed on the trip and I gained a lot as a reporter and as a person. It really forced me to learn how to communicate.

UM student Brittany Brown (left) interviews Minerra Ramos-Osorio in Loíza, Puerto Rico. Photo by Jasmine Karlowski

“This is going to be the only clip I have like this, where I have a hand in the photos, the video and graphics that are being made. It’s one of the most thorough pieces I’ve written. So, I’m going to feel like I put to use all the skills that I’ve learned here at Ole Miss.”

Bose and Brown said they were inspired by how the residents of Puerto Rico welcomed them, the hospitality of the people, and their passion and vigor for life despite traumatic experiences.

“Many people are still hurting,” Brown said. “Some literally have PTSD, and if it rains too hard or the wind blows too hard, it can be scary. But the people of Puerto Rico are still so passionate and they refuse to sit in pity and wallow about their situation. I would describe them as resilient.”

Bose’s project will focus on the mental and emotional impact the storms had on residents.

“I am looking at how the people were affected and what’s being done to improve mental health on the island since the hurricane,” she said.

Bose said the residents were open and hospitable to them as reporters, and they seemed to embrace having their stories told instead of viewing the students with skepticism.

“We were really careful to make sure we weren’t exploiting anyone’s tragedy or taking advantage of their situation,” she said. “But no one seemed to think like that. It didn’t seem to cross anyone’s mind. They were just so eager to share their voice, which was amazing to me.”

Some of the students spent time examining recovery and the impact of the hurricanes on Loíza, a small, majority Afro-Puerto Rican town in the northeastern part of the island. In a few ways, Loíza drew comparisons to Mississippi in terms of the Magnolia State’s relationship to the rest of the United States.

“The story I’m working on shows a lot of parallels between Loíza and Mississippi,” said Brown, who aspires to one day be a documentary filmmaker. “Loíza has one of the highest percentages of black Puerto Ricans; Mississippi is one of the states with the largest percentage of African-Americans.

“It is one of the poorest cities on the island; Mississippi is one of the poorest states. But there is a resilience and a will to keep moving despite not having access to many resources, living in poverty and family members leaving the island. We deal with those things here, too.”

In more rural locations on the island, English becomes less commonly spoken. Brown said her ability to speak Spanish was tested during interactions in parts of the island, and she was glad she was able to get out of her comfort zone and practice her Spanish.

“This was my first time really reporting in Spanish,” she said. “My minor is Spanish, and I feel confident in my ability to report in Spanish, but this was the first time I’ve really put the pedal to the metal and really tested myself.”

Thompson said the students represented the university exceptionally well on the trip.

“Watching our students expand their storytelling skills as they explored other cultures (was most memorable for me),” she said. “Several sources complimented our students on their interviewing skills, saying they were as good or better than national media who had interviewed them.”

Bose said she is grateful to Thompson for her leadership and work to make this opportunity possible for students.

“It amazed me that she pulled this trip together in such a short timeframe,” Bose said. “We never would have been able to do anything that we were able to do without her guidance, so I’m just really grateful to her.”

The School of Journalism and New Media works with the university’s Study Abroad Office to offer students a variety of reporting trips to locations around the globe.

This story was written by Justin Whitmore of UM Communications. If you are interested in learning more about our programs or becoming a student, please email umjourimc@olemiss.edu.