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School of Journalism and New Media
University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professors creatively prepare for new semester

Posted on: August 13th, 2021 by ldrucker

College students will be back on campus in a few days, and University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professors are creatively preparing for a new semester.

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, plans to work on a documentary project with his students this semester.

“I hope to be involving my JOUR 456 students in working with documenting veterans’ stories for the Library of Congress and holding Zoom meetings with soldier-turned-photojournalist Michael McCoy, who is now based in Washington, D.C.”

Fagans said it’s important to adapt as storytellers, particularly during these times.

“The world is changing,” he said. “I have had students interview a (Major League Baseball) player in their truck or a chef in Italy. Zoom, FaceTime and Skype have changed the face of how we can report and tell stories. Lean into the current, have some fun, and take some risks.”

While it’s difficult to predict the future of business, media and education, students will be thinking about it in one of LaReeca Rucker’s classes, which usually have secondary themes. This semester, two themes are Futurism and Digital Nomads.

This is a picture of a colorful lightbulb with the words Creative Teaching

“Futurism, not to be confused with the art movement, is a business practice of trend analysis with an eye on the future,” said Rucker, an adjunct instructional assistant professor. “Futurists explore predictions and possibilities about the future, with the goal of putting themselves and their organizations years ahead of the competition.

“For one element of the class, my students will become futurists this semester as they tune into current events and watch the YouTube series “Dust” that offers short sci-fi films exploring the future of social media and digital technology. Futurists are increasingly being hired by businesses to present visions of what the future could look like as a tool for crisis communication and business evolution. It’s an important idea for media as well.”

The term “digital nomads” has been popularized in recent years with many professionals working remote jobs that allow them to live and travel all over the world.

“I hope to find a few digital nomads willing to share their career experiences with students this semester, since many of them work in media and marketing, and offer a few assignments that will allow students to become digital nomads in Oxford,” Rucker said.

Chris Canty Sparks, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, has several creative things in store.

“In account planning, I am incorporating podcast interviews of advertising account planners and strategists from top agencies that talk about the process of developing campaigns for iconic brands,” she said.

“In campaigns, I’m having Ash Dees from the library show students how to use databases to access data to use for their campaigns.”

Charlie Mitchell, journalism program coordinator and associate professor of journalism, said the School of Journalism is rolling out a new course, JOUR 369 – Media Law and Ethics.

“It will be a required course for all JOUR and IMC students who started in the program last year and this year,” he said. “Separate courses in Media Law and Media Ethics will still be offered.”

Ellen Kellum, adjunct instructor of media design, said a colleague suggested a side project for students when they create a Poster Project in JOUR 273/Creative Visual Design.

“I’m excited to try it,” she said. “We will be teaching them to design social media ads to work in conjunction with the posters they design to promote a non-profit event. Should be a fast and fun creation, and it will reinforce what they’re learning about using the design software and add that real world element of what designers are asked to do, and usually with short notice.”

Kristie Alley Swain, associate professor of journalism, plans to create a Google form linked to Blackboard for each course as a space where students can ask questions and post comments anonymously.

“I’ll use these posts to continuously help me tweak the course content,” she said.

Mike Tonos, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, said he plans to add a layer of critical thinking to his assignments based on workshops he recently attended.