A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student who grew up in Holly Springs and became a leading network news anchor is the latest recipient of the school’s prestigious Silver Em award.
Shepard Smith, who spent more than 20 years anchoring FOX News before leaving the network last year, will receive the award during a ceremony Wednesday, April 1 at 6 p.m. in the Jackson Avenue Center.
“Shepard Smith embodies what a journalist should be — for decades, he has reported the news without fear or favor,” said Debora Wenger, assistant dean for innovation and external partnerships and professor of journalism. “Because he got his start in journalism here at the University of Mississippi, we feel extraordinarily proud of all he has accomplished. With this award, we hope to let him know how much he matters to our school and to a profession that many of us consider the foundation of our democracy.”
Dean Will Norton, Jr. said it was evident early on that Smith was going to be a dedicated journalist.
“When Shep Smith was in school, he always seemed to be in a hurry, carrying a big camera with lots of equipment trying to get to his next appointment,” Norton said. “As he looks back at those years, he credits journalism professor Jim Pratt, Ph.D. with preparing him for the profession.”
Norton said Smith worked tirelessly for the live student news program that Dr. Pratt began in the newsroom that is now Farley Hall Room 105.
“When viewers watch Shep today, they see someone devoted to the facts,” Norton said. “That same enthusiasm was so evident every day in those early years when he was on campus.”
A week after Smith announced his resignation from FOX News, he returned to the UM School of Journalism and New Media to speak to students. He said he learned truth is the foundation of journalism while pursuing his degree at UM. He also emphasized the importance of admitting and correcting mistakes.
“There’s no mistake you can’t undo,” he said during his talk with students in October. “You can correct every single mistake. You can stand up and be a human being about it and admit to those who count on you that you screwed it up. And you have to do the correction with the same fervor and emphasis that you made the mistake. Then you’re good.”
Smith said he attended the University of Mississippi on a music scholarship before studying journalism. He said his teachers emphasized journalism’s commitment to the public.
“You have a responsibility to people who rely on you to find out what in the world is going on,” he said in October, “and even if it’s just the car wreck, or the city council meeting, or the game you are writing about, you have responsibility to do as well as you can and tell the story as effectively as possible.”
Smith said he took that approach at Fox News.
“It’s a huge responsibility to have a platform where millions of people are watching you every day,” he said in October. “It’s really a big responsibility, and I learned that in Farley Hall.”
Shepard Smith will also join alumni Charles Overby and Curtis Wilkie as part of the Overby Center’s spring series of conversations. The public is welcome to attend the event on Tuesday, March 31 at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Auditorium.
For more information about our journalism or IMC programs visit jnm.olemiss.edu.
Tickets to the Silver Em event can be purchased here http://bit.ly/2SEtki5.
They are $65 per person or $500 for a table of eight.
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