School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

The Delta Project Offers Students Field Experience in Journalism

Posted on: January 14th, 2010 by alysia

OXFORD, Miss. – The Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi is pushing a select group of students out of the classroom and onto the beat.

Read More Former Miami Herald national correspondent Bill Rose is serving as lead professor of the two-semester course, an experiential learning opportunity called The Delta Project. Students receive detailed instruction in depth reporting, use of statistics, interview techniques, handling reluctant sources and mining public records, just to name a few topics, he said.

“We are bringing in professional journalists from throughout the nation to share their experiences and advice with the students,” Rose said. “We’re also using on-campus experts for instruction on everything from race relations and slavery to the sociology and history of poverty.”

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While Rose is leading the editorial side of the course, New York Times video journalist Sean Patrick Farrell and his father, Michael Farrell, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications production manager, have aided in the broadcasting instruction. UM faculty members Charles Ross, chair of African-American Studies; Charles Eagles, Winter professor of history; and Susan Glisson, director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, are among those also assisting with the endeavor.

The Delta Project is slated to dispatch a dozen students along Highway 3 and Highway 49 to towns such as Tutwiler, Rome, Sumner, Marks, Clarksdale and Lambert to report on poverty and its problems as well as people and their dreams. Nineteen-year-old UM sophomore Caroline Lee anticipates the experience will improve her storytelling capabilities.

“As journalists, our job is to share the stories of those that they can’t tell themselves,” said Lee, of Montgomery, Ala. “We’re to bring attention to the things that people often overlook, and to shed light on those that bear the most weight on their communities.”

Culminating this spring, The Delta Project is aimed to set high standards and provide quality opportunities for students, said Will Norton, UM journalism dean.

“If they do good work, if they excel, these students could be a part of something special,” he said.

A native of the Delta town of Shelby and a 1969 UM journalism graduate, Rose retired in August as managing editor of The Palm Beach Post. An employee of The Daily Mississippian in college, Rose started his career at the Delta Democrat Times in Greenville. In 1975 he joined The Miami Herald, where he later became a national correspondent and led a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning staff.

Joining Rose in teaching the class are several UM journalism faculty: Garreth Blackwell, Keith Kimmons, Mykki Newton and Patricia Thompson. The multimedia project includes students who specialize in print, photo and broadcast journalism.

For more from the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, click here.