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PR News names UM School of Journalism and New Media graduate one of its Rising PR Stars 30 & Under

Posted on: November 25th, 2020 by ldrucker

PR News has named a 2018 University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate as one of its Rising PR Stars 30 & Under.

As the first member of the newly formed Idea Grove PR team in Dallas, Sarah Jenne, a UM Integrated Marketing Communications graduate, played a pivotal role in developing many best practices. After just a year, Jenne was chosen to spearhead Idea Grove’s PR practice at a time when the agency was transitioning to a specialization-focused staffing model, the PR News website reports.

Sarah Jenne

Sarah Jenne

“Sarah developed the Customer Brand Ambassador program for WorkFusion, an automation technology provider,” her PR News bio reads. “Sarah was consistently getting interest from reporters seeking real-world examples, but WorkFusion lacked a bank of media-ready customers. Sarah created a fact-based recommendation for the client, developed materials for educating customers on the opportunity, and soon had multiple customers on deck for media engagement.”

Robin Street, senior lecturer at the School of Journalism and New Media before her retirement, said she was proud of  Jenne for earning this honor, because she stood out as a young professional, but she was also an outstanding student.

“I remember telling Sarah that she would be a great PR professional and that she should earn our school’s specialization in it,” Street said. “I initially was especially impressed at her writing skills, because so much of public relations work requires communicating through writing. Then I also observed I her ability to stay poised under pressure and to multi-task with ease.”

Street said Jenne took the advanced PR class in a one-month intensive summer session. The class required completing a mini-internship, multiple writing and research assignments and a full public relations campaign as a final project.

“Many students struggle to juggle all those requirements, but not Sarah,” Street said. “She did excellent work and exemplified time management skills. I still have the evaluation form her internship supervisor completed about her, and it says, ‘As this was a short time period to accomplish a lot of tasks, she did an amazing job.'”

In addition to her talents and skills, Street said, “She is also a delightful young woman who has the ability to get along with multiple types of people. Any employer is lucky to have her.”

As the impact from COVID-19 turned newsrooms upside down in March 2020, PR News reports that Jenne “tapped into her network of reporters to collect information on their changing beats and candid feedback on their receptiveness to pitches, helping clients make informed decisions about upcoming announcements and external communication strategies.”

PR News’ PR People Awards and Rising PR Stars 30 & Under competition showcases top talent, passionate professionals and budding PR leaders who, day in and day out, are making communications matter in the marketplace, according to their website.

“The winners of this annual program set the benchmark for PR and underscore the outstanding PR achievements made in the past year—and our 2020 class of honorees is no different,” it reads.

The website reports that many of this year’s award recipients acknowledged the challenging role of public relations and communications in the midst of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and social unrest.

“In many instances, our honorees had to pivot their messaging to both internal and external stakeholders, create crisis playbooks on the fly or determine how their brands could, and should, best respond beyond statements,” it reads. “From internal communications and community relations to crisis management, media relations and beyond, the individuals recognized this year cover the wide breadth and depth of the industry. We invite you to read more about their individual accomplishments below.”

Student Column: My First Hotty Toddy experience was during the 2020 pandemic

Posted on: November 17th, 2020 by ldrucker

Before transferring to Ole Miss this semester, I was not yet a Rebels fan. I am originally from Louisiana, and my family collectively roots for one team, and one team only. That should explain why I was not a Hotty Toddy-chanting fan. But attending my first Ole Miss football game quickly changed my mind.

The game was the highly anticipated game against Alabama. The Rebels were going up against the #2 team, and it was the first time Head Coach Lane Kiffin was playing the team he had previously coached.

I had been excited about the game for weeks because there is no team I despise more than Alabama. I remember being in one of my Zoom classes when tickets went on sale. We had a little break during class, and I immediately logged into my student account to purchase a ticket.

While I was securing the ticket, the site asked if I wanted to purchase insurance for the ticket. In my mind, I thought, “There is nothing that would stop me from going to this game,” so I opted out of insurance purchase.

To my surprise, there was a tropical storm threatening the Gulf Coast later that evening. The storm developed into a hurricane overnight. Since the storm was in its early stages, I had little worry about the storm affecting the game.

Throughout the week, Hurricane Delta strengthened and was projected to make landfall on the Mississippi and Louisiana coast nearing the weekend. I still did not think the storm was going to affect any elements of the game. I didn’t even think Oxford would see any rain leading up to the game weekend.

I was wrong. The hurricane moved quickly throughout the Gulf Coast, causing the kickoff time to be moved to 6:30 p.m. instead of the original time of 5 p.m. Hurricane Delta made landfall Oct. 9, just one day before the game.

Because of all the rain Oxford was receiving, I was now afraid the game would get cancelled. For 24 hours, I felt angry with myself for not purchasing insurance for the ticket. With three hours left before kickoff, I still wondered if the game would be cancelled due to the storm.

It made me very anxious, but I was already anxious for many reasons. I was going to the football game alone, and it would be the first time I was going to a highly populated event during the pandemic.

Like I was doing all week, I was keeping an eye out for the storm. An hour before the game, the rain lightened up, and the winds died down. Fortunately, the game did not get canceled. The rain stopped 10 minutes after kickoff.

Walking into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium eased my anxiety. Seeing most people wearing a mask or face covering also calmed me a little. The feeling of being at a football game had my adrenaline pumping.

My excitement for the game tried to mask the fear of contracting the virus during the game, but it was always in the back of my mind. I kept my mask on the entire game and often sanitized my hands.

The first time the student section did the Hotty Toddy chant felt so natural to me. I had never done it before, but I surprised myself when I knew all the words. I finally felt like I belonged at Ole Miss.

It was so surreal to be at the game during these times. The game itself was one of the best games I have ever seen. The Ole Miss Rebels kept up with the Crimson Tide throughout the first half of the game, even scoring the first touchdown of the night.

At halftime, the score was tied at 21. Each team’s offense demonstrated explosive plays. The entire game was a shootout game. The game was even tied at 42 in the last quarter.

The Rebels fell short to the Crimson Tide with the final score of 48-63. Although the Rebels lost the game, there were plenty of records set.

The combined 111 points is the highest scoring game in SEC history. The Ole Miss football team had a total of 647 yards, marking the most yards the Alabama defense has ever given up.

There were many emotions felt during the game. My emotions ranged from anxious to excited to defeat and eventually to happy. I was so happy to have witness such a great game in a safe manner, and I had a lot a fun. Even though I went to the game by myself, I never felt alone.

This game made me feel like I am finally part of the Ole Miss family. I believe Ole Miss now has me as a fan for life. Hotty Toddy!

Lindsey Trinh
Lindsey Trinh

Lindsey Trinh is a junior journalism major with specializations in sports promotions and a minor in digital media studies. She is originally from Houma, Louisiana.

Trinh is the oldest of three and the only girl. Her interests are sports and music. She enjoys listening to hip hop and electronic music. One of her favorite things to do is to go to music festivals or shows with friends.

For the past two years, she has been a part of Winter Circle Productions and BUKU Music + Arts Project’s promotion team. Her favorite NFL team is the New Orleans Saints, and her favorite NBA player is Kevin Durant.

During her breaks from school, she enjoys traveling to big cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Houston. She also loves spending days inside with her cat, Chai. She says her style is inspired by streetwear.

Trinh is a part of the creative team for Square Magazine, the student-run magazine at the University of Mississippi, and a reporter for Oxford Stories. When she graduates, she would like to work with a sports or music organization in either marketing or journalism. 

An All-Star Salute to Prof. Curtis Wilkie

Posted on: November 16th, 2020 by drwenger
Wilkie (L) and Overby (R) viewing Zoom on big screen

Prof. Curtis Wilkie ((L) and Prof. Charles Overby (R) view Wilkie well-wishers from around the world.

For the past nine years, Profs. Curtis Wilkie and Charles Overby have co-taught a popular seminar in presidential politics and the media. The final class session of this semester marked the end of an era, as Wilkie will retire in December. As a surprise for Wilkie and the students, Overby and Wilkie’s daughter Leighton McCool arranged a star-studded Zoom session featuring some of the most impressive names in journalism.

“It was a moving experience to see colleagues and friends from Jerusalem to Montana Zoom into our class to wish Curtis well. It was like a Who’s Who of journalism,” Overby said. “Curtis is loved by so many people. Their times together brought big smiles on the big Zoom screen.”

The chance to hear journalists like former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, former ABC reporter/anchor Sam Donaldson and former Boston Globe reporter and editor Ben Bradlee, Jr. share stories about Prof. Wilkie’s decades-long career was inspiring for the students, as was the course itself.

“This class was such a thrill to take, especially with it being an election year,” senior Matthew Hendley said. “Both Wilkie and Overby’s insights and experiences take the class on a fascinating trek through the history of the presidency and the press, supplemented by weekly appearances from politically relevant guest speakers. Prof. Wilkie is one of a kind — I’m sad to see him retire but I am honored to have been a part of his last class.”

The Zoom party included several of Wilkie’s family members, including his granddaughter, Morgan Wilkie, who had a front-row seat as a student in the course.

“It was such an honor to be taught by my grandfather during his last semester as a professor at Ole Miss,” Morgan said. “I remember in high school I would come down to Oxford to visit Ole Miss, and I used to sit in on Charles and Curtis’ class during my visits. I have learned so much from his class, and I love that my peers were able to learn from his wisdom as well. He will be missed greatly.”

Prof. Wilkie, a 1963 graduate of the University of Mississippi, is currently a Fellow of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics and has been teaching at the university since 2003. Throughout his 25-year career with the Boston Globe, Wilkie covered eight presidential campaigns. “The Presidency, Presidential Elections and The Press,” the course he developed along with Overby (also a veteran of covering American politics), has been popular with students every time it has been offered.

“Curtis Wilkie and Charles Overby were two of the first professors I saw speak at programs in the Overby Center during my freshman year,” student Rabria Moore said. “Honestly, they are two of the funniest people when you put them together, but the discussion was always so informative. I didn’t actually know this would be Professor Wilkie’s last class, but I have to say I’m more than grateful for this experience. It has been the best course I’ve taken at the university, and I’d take it a thousand times over.”

The full list of guest speakers are listed below, along with current or former affiliation:

Tom Oliphant, Boston Globe
Deborah Grovesnor, Simon & Schuster
Ben Bradlee Jr, Boston Globe
Edie Sabbah, New York Times
Eleanor Randolph, New York Times
Mike Barnicle, columnist/MSNBC
Sam Allis, Time Magazine
Greg Schneiders, Carter White House Staff
Richard Bates, SVP Government Relations for Disney
Brian Mooney, Boston Globe
Bill Dunlap, Artist
Billy Gottshall, UM Trent Lott Leadership Institute
Rex Granum, Carter Deputy Press Secretary
James Gill, Times-Picayune Advocate
Ronnie Agnew, Mississippi Public Broadcasting
Leslie Westbrook, Westbrook & Associates
Rick Cleveland, Mississippi Today
Marshall Ramsey, Mississippi Today
Andy Lack, NBC News
David Crews, Author
Greg Brock, New York Times/Overby Center Fellow
Bill Rose, Miami Herald/Overby Center Fellow
Tom Brokaw, NBC News
Sam Donaldson, ABC News

Also in attendance were close family friends Butch and Pat Cothren, Carter Wilkie (son), Leighton McCool (daughter), Campbell McCool (son-in-law) and Merrick McCool (grandson).

Zoom on giant screen in Overby Auditorium

A farewell Zoom in “The Presidency, Presidential Elections and The Press” course.

UM School of Journalism and New Media extends GRE waiver for graduate programs through the 2021-2022 academic year

Posted on: November 11th, 2020 by ldrucker

If you’re looking for a reason to start working on an advanced degree or change career paths, the School of Journalism and New Media has extended its GRE waiver for graduate programs through the 2021-2022 academic year to make the application process a little simpler during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Marquita Smith is the assistant dean for graduate programs. If you are interested in the M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication program, you can learn more about the program here: https://masterimc.olemiss.edu.

Smith said the Graduate School granted the school permission in September to suspend the GRE requirement for Fall 2021 admission. It originally was set to expire July 31, 2020, but it has been extended for applicants applying for admission for the 2021-2022 academic year.

The GRE will not be used at all in any admission decision for the coming academic year. Under the change, no one will be admitted or denied admission based on a GRE score.

The School of Journalism and New Media offers the M.A. in Journalism, the residential M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication, and the online M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication. Smith said the temporary suspension applies to all three programs.

“We want to make sure that everyone who wishes to apply can do so and that the application process is as fair as possible,” said Professor Robert Magee, a member of the graduate admissions committee. “But setting aside the GRE means that an applicant’s transcript and letters of reference carry even greater weight as outside materials. These materials, along with the personal statement and resume, paint a picture for the admission committee of how well an applicant might handle graduate-level work.”

Interim Dean Debora Wenger said waiving the GRE requirement during this time helps simplify the application process.

“We know there are working professionals who will struggle to find the time to prepare and take the GRE,” she said, “so this gives us an opportunity to invite those people who want to jumpstart their careers to test out our graduate programs.”

This Grad School link lists several programs:

https://gradschool.olemiss.edu/admissions-during-covid19/

This M.S. in IMC website admissions tab lists application materials:

https://masterimc.olemiss.edu/admissions/

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Asya Branch crowned Miss USA

Posted on: November 9th, 2020 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student has been crowned the new Miss USA.

Booneville native Asya Danielle Branch, who has studied Integrated Marketing Communication at UM, was crowned the winner of the 2020 pageant Monday night at Elvis Presley’s Graceland during the live competition.

You can watch a video of that moment below.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Branch is the first Mississippian to win the Miss USA title, and she was the first African American woman to win the Miss Mississippi USA title.

Branch has studied IMC with an emphasis in public relations and minor in general business at the University of Mississippi, according to her pageant bio. She said she hopes to work for a public relations firm or major corporation.

Debbie Hall, an instructional assistant professor of IMC, said she didn’t teach Branch, but Branch was gracious to be part of her Events class one semester.

“She impressed me as a kind and humble young lady…who is, of course, beautiful,” she said. “She uses her background to support young people who have parents who are incarcerated. Asya represents our school, our university and our state in a beautiful way.”

In her Miss Mississippi USA bio video, Branch talks about an issue that has become part of her pageant platform throughout the years – empowering children of incarcerated parents.

Branch is one of those children. Her father has been in prison since she was 10.

“Being a child with an incarcerated parent takes a negative toll, with the stigmas that surround it,” she said in an earlier UM story. “There’s emotional distress, financial instability and so many questions about why a parent isn’t there.”

She wants to influence people’s lives by speaking at schools, churches, civic organizations and jails.

“It’s an underdiscussed topic, and I hope to bring light to it by sharing my story so others can see that I’m doing something positive,” she said in an earlier UM interview. “It’s perfectly fine to share and embrace the circumstances, because it’s part of who we are and it’s going to shape you. By talking about it, we can take down the gate of judgment.”

You can read her Miss USA bio and watch her bio video here and below.

Having never left the state of Mississippi alone, at age 17, Branch attended Harvard University for summer school, according to her Miss Mississippi USA bio. She said the experience transformed her life and she grew.

Since then, she has accepted every challenge and opportunity. She describes herself as adventurous, compassionate, and a go-getter. “Having a strong mentality has allowed her to be a life coach and trendsetter without second guessing herself,” the bio reads.

Screenshot from the Miss USA website

Branch is not currently enrolled in the UM School of Journalism and New Media as she fulfills her duties as Miss Mississippi USA and Miss USA, but many professors remember her.

Alysia Steele, associate professor of journalism, said Branch was her photojournalism student.

“She was a thoughtful student, who asked good questions, cared about the quality of her work, participated in class discussions and was a team player,” she said. “Her winning Miss USA doesn’t surprise me one bit. She is a determined woman, who knows who she is, and she knows what she wants out of life, and I respect that. I am proud of her for many reasons. This incredible achievement is just one of them. Well earned, well deserved.”

Interim Dean Debora Wenger taught Branch broadcast reporting.

“As you might imagine, she lit up the screen when she was on camera,” Wenger said. “She was a pleasure to have
in class, and I know she will leave her mark on the world. She’s driven and dedicated to being a positive force for change.”

Here are a few more facts from her bio.

  • She is the sixth of eight siblings. “I strive every day to set an exemplary example to my brothers and sisters, whether they are younger or older,” she said. “Anyone can be a role model; age does not determine one’s ability to have positive impacts in the lives of others.”

  • She has her own cosmetics line called Branch Beauty. “What started as a makeup obsession has turned into a lucrative business that I am very proud of,” she said.

  • And . . . “I once watched an Ole Miss football game with Morgan Freeman. Hotty Toddy!”

Branch has also been involved with the UM Student Activities Association and the Student Media Center. She was a Rebel Radio DJ and co-hosted a 2018 radio show with fellow student Asia Herrod called “A Squared” that featured music, talk and motivational quotes. The two introduced themselves as “Asya with a Y” and “Asia with an I.”

Asya was named Ole Miss’s Most Beautiful in 2018, an accomplishment that she is very proud of because she had the opportunity to represent the university that she loves,” the Miss USA website reports. “Making history as the first African American Miss Mississippi USA, Asya has been advocating for at risk children and criminal justice reform for the past several years. She has worked with government officials and the President on positively changing our justice system. Asya will continue to encourage our youth and be a voice for the unheard.”

Branch enjoys staying healthy, weight training, traveling, reading and promoting her cosmetics line.

“As Miss Mississippi USA, Asya wants to teach others that they do not have to be defined by their circumstances,” the Miss USA website reports. “Her favorite quote by Randy Pausch, ‘We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand,’ motivates Asya to share her life with others while inspiring them to overcome all of life’s adversities.”

Here are a few more recent headlines and links:

People – Mississippi’s Asya Branch Wins Miss USA 2020

E! News – Miss Mississippi Asya Branch Crowned Miss USA 2020

The Daily Mississippian – Asya Branch wins Miss USA, becomes first from MS to win title

The Miss USA website

Alumni Stories: UM School of Journalism and New Media grad works in PR and Influence with Ogilvy Chicago

Posted on: November 2nd, 2020 by ldrucker

Biloxi native Victoria Berry, a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate, is proof that big things can happen if you remain open to possibilities.

Berry, 27, now works as an account executive in PR and Influence at Ogilvy Chicago. Her responsibilities include daily account management, media relations, and influencer strategy.

Ogilvy has 132 offices in 83 countries and is described as a “doorway to a creative network, re-founded to make brands matter in a complex, noisy, hyper-connected world,” according to the company website.

Read Berry’s story and the stories of other School of Journalism and New Media alumni on our Alumni Stories page.

Victoria Berry

Victoria Berry

 

 

The Daily Mississippian wins Newspaper Pacemaker Award, one of college media’s highest honors

Posted on: October 31st, 2020 by ldrucker

The 2019-20 Daily Mississippian has been awarded one of college media’s highest honors: a Newspaper Pacemaker Award.

Each year, the Associated Collegiate Press presents Pacemaker awards to the best in collegiate journalism. Entries are judged by teams of professionals based upon coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics.

Daniel Payne was editor-in-chief in 2019-20, and Eliza Noe was managing editor.

The awards ceremony was held during the annual Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Association annual conference (virtual this year).

Daily Mississippian

Daily Mississippian

The 2019-20 Daily Mississippian also recently won an Honorable Mention for Best Daily Newspaper in the CMA Pinnacle Awards contest. The 2018-2019 DM also won an Honorable Mention in this contest.

The University of California-Los Angeles Daily Bruin won first, The Michigan Daily at University of Michigan was second, The Daily Orange at Syracuse University was third, and The DM tied with California State University-Fullerton for Honorable Mention.

“These are both national awards, meaning student newspapers from all across the country enter in the contests, and we compete against extremely talented student journalists who work for great publications,” Payne said. “In these instances, we ranked among the top 20 and top five newspapers to compete, respectively.”

Payne said he believes what made The DM stand apart are the combined passion, creativity and dedication of the staff.

“It’s a joy to work with people who are driven to serve their community and are talented enough to do it in such a powerful way,” he said. “The staff was one of the most talented, inspiring groups of people with which I’ve had the pleasure of working.

“At the end of the day, that is what these student journalists work so hard to do: serve their campus and community through quality reporting. It’s really wonderful to see that passion and talent recognized on the national level.”

Payne said it’s also impossible to understate the importance of the editorial advisors at the Student Media Center.

“Our advisors taught us, believed in us and led by example for us — all while giving us the independence to allow us to own the newspaper we produced,” he said.

Daniel Payne

Daniel Payne

Payne said if you want to lead, serve, create, think and learn, the Student Media Center is the place for you.

“I worked for student media from my first semester at UM, and it has been the highlight of my education at the university,” he said. “I was smarter, more inspired, more engaged and more successful because of my time at the Student Media Center — especially because of the effort of the faculty at the SMC.”

Eliza Noe served as managing editor for the 2019-2020 Daily Mississippian staff. She is now the editor-in-chief.

“Hundreds of papers all over the country submit for (these awards), and that involves choosing your best five issues,” Noe said. “They didn’t split it up into categories, so we were in the running with weekly, daily and bi-weekly publications. It’s amazing to see that our hard work was able to compete with other really great student work.”

Eliza Noe

Eliza Noe

Noe said the 2019-2020 DM staff was a “dream team.”

“Everyone on staff was on the same page about what kind of coverage we wanted to have, and that went across all sections of the paper,” she said. “We also became very close as friends, and I think that helped a lot with team-building and cooperation. It was definitely rewarding to see how much everyone had grown by the end of last semester.”

Noe also commended the advisors.

“I think having both journalistic and editorial freedom, and also constructive feedback, makes the Student Media Center one of the best places to learn,” she said.

Noe began working at the DM her freshmen year.

“There’s no way I would be as comfortable in my own abilities if I didn’t have the newsroom experience I’ve had,” she said. “Getting to learn all of the levels of how a publication works has shown what I’m passionate about and how to get there.

“I think working at the Student Media Center allows you to actually apply the skills you learn in a classroom in a way you can use to better yourself as a journalist, designer, photographer, etc. We welcome anyone who’s interested in putting in the work.”

If you are interested in getting involved with The Daily Mississippian, you may email Noe at dmeditor@gmail.com or the newsdesk thedmnews@gmail.com.

2020-21 Student Media Managers: Leading through unprecedented times

Posted on: October 29th, 2020 by ldrucker

Our 2020-2021 student leaders were selected before anyone knew how much change would take place this academic year. Meeting and producing content remotely. Distribution disruptions. Making decisions about what to do when your staffs are exposed to COVID-19. Figuring out how to tell stories without in-person interviews. Trying to keep advertisers interested. And so much more. They are rising to meet the challenges.

 

Brian Barisa

Brian Barisa

BRIAN BARISA – NewsWatch Ole Miss Manager

After four years of broadcast classes and production in high school, Brian Barisa was immediately intrigued when he toured the University of Mississippi and realized he could become involved with the Student Media Center as early as his freshman year.

Barisa – from Frisco, Texas – is a senior broadcast journalism student spending 2020 as NewsWatch Ole Miss station manager. And what a year it’s been.

Barisa started his manager stint in January. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his student staff had to quickly adapt and change some of the original plans for this year.

Normally, NewsWatch Ole Miss would be a half-hour live broadcast on cable Channel 99 five evenings a week.

“We have switched to a once-a-week format and mostly online-only, so it allows for a slower-paced take on the high-speed world of news,” Barisa said. “The new weekly format allows us to be a hub for weekly content and gives us new ways to experiment with new ideas for the show when things are back up and running normally.”

From staff member to manager, Barisa said he’s learned numerous lessons during his time at the SMC, but most importantly, he’s learned how to share the workload with his staff.

“I have had to learn how to lead, be a leader, and delegate work down,” Barisa said. “Being so used to having to do everything on my own made me more self-reliant, and I needed to learn how to lead and give people jobs to do.”

When not at the SMC, Barisa is working as the content coordinator for Ole Miss Esports, as well as playing Rainbow Six: Siege for the varsity team.

“Esports is a new market that has been steadily emerging across the country, especially since even in a world where COVID-19 has kept people indoors, Esports tournaments are still able to go on with strong viewership,” Barisa said.

After he graduates in May 2021, Barisa wants to be able to look back to see NewsWatch return as a daily show that remains successful and maintains viewership. For this year, though, Barisa said anyone interested in joining the SMC family should be ready for new challenges each day.

“Every day is a new experience, some are slow, some are crazy fast,” Barisa said. “Be ready to work and to work fast. It’s a big news year and it’s important to stay on top of everything going on.”

Barisa’s dream is to be a news producer in Dallas or to continue working in Esports after he graduates in May 2021.

 

Jesus Escobedo

Jesus Escobedo

JESUS ESCOBEDO – Rebel Radio Station Manager

Senior Jesus Escobedo has been on the Rebel Radio staff since 2018. The senior digital marketing major from Zacatecas, Mexico, isn’t letting COVID-19 ruin his year.

“The pandemic has certainly affected my plans for this semester,” Escobedo said. “I have had to go back to the drawing board and readjust to the new safety guidelines. With the time I have as station manager, I want to leave Rebel Radio in a place that everybody wants to join.”

Some of his goals for the year include producing new content for the weekends and implementing a new music hour block.

Escobedo, a student in the School of Business, found the Student Media Center after a friend encouraged him to apply for a marketing internship with the station. Now, he wants to encourage other students to take a look at what the SMC has to offer.

“I would say 100% do it,” Escobedo said. “The SMC is a great place to work and get experience for your future careers. A lot of students who have worked at the SMC have gone on to do great things in life.”

Escobedo started his duties as manager this summer, and Roy Frostenson, radio station adviser, said Escobedo has done a great job.

“Jesus is a true Rebel Radio veteran having previously been a DJ and then promotions/marketing director so I was thrilled when he got his chance to be station manager and he has not disappointed,” Frostenson said.  “He’s brought great diversity to our programming and his dedication and enthusiasm for the radio station is easy to see.”

Escobedo also serves as a social media ambassador for the university. After graduation in December, he plans to move to Texas or Chicago to work in the marketing field or with a music record label.

Over the last couple of years in the SMC, Escobedo says he has learned to be more of a leader and has many fond memories of working at Rebel Radio.

“My favorite thing about the SMC is that everybody is so welcoming,” Escobedo said. “My favorite memories would have to be getting to go on air in the booth and playing music for Hispanic Heritage Month and Black History Month.”

 

Asia Harden

Asia Harden

ASIA HARDEN – The Ole Miss Yearbook Editor-in-Chief

This year’s editor-in-chief for The Ole Miss yearbook is making history as only the second African American editor-in-chief since its first publication in 1897.

Asia Harden, a senior from Greenville, Mississippi, majoring in integrated marketing communications, is excited to lead the staff to create this year’s annual edition.

“I randomly found the Student Media Center website the summer before my freshman year, which led me to find the yearbook,” Harden said. “I tried out writing for The Daily Mississippian during freshman year, but yearbook is where my heart was so I decided to stick with it.”

Harden has not only the yearbook on her slate this year, but also serves the university campus as an orientation coordinator, a member of the Columns Society, and vice president of her sorority.

She has worked hard to hire a staff of editors, photographers, designers and writers while finding new ways to complete tasks, documenting this unusual school year.

“I was definitely expecting to be physically present in the SMC, working alongside my staff of editors, a lot more than I am, but luckily in this digital age, we’ve been able to stay on the same page as we work toward the finished book,” Harden said.

Atish Baidya, editorial director at the SMC, works with Harden.

“Asia’s dedication and enthusiasm toward this year’s The Ole Miss and her ability to handle all the uncertainty of the year so far speaks to her leadership and maturity,” Baidya said.

Many meetings for the yearbook staff have to take place through Zoom or over the phone, but that isn’t dampening Harden’s spirit or her plans to create a memorable book and experience for her staff. After graduation in May 2021, Harden wants to pursue graduate school, focusing on publishing.

“Book publishing is really my dream industry,” Harden said. “I’ve been obsessed with all things books, reading and writing since I was a kid, so I’d love to work in editorial or publicity for that.”

Distribution for the 2020 yearbooks was abruptly postponed spring semester. They arrived on campus in July, and Harden, a writer for the yearbook last year, helped the SMC staff this semester as they arranged for students to pick up their annuals or have them mailed. She hopes the 2021 The Ole Miss will have a normal distribution at the Student Union or Pavilion at the end of spring semester.

“My yearbook memories always revolve around distribution,” Harden said. “This year was a little different than usual but the feeling of holding a finished copy of the yearbook in your hand for the first time, and then sharing that joy with others, is second to none.”

 

Eliza Noe

Eliza Noe

ELIZA NOE – The Daily Mississippian Editor-in-Chief

Eliza Noe was impressed when a student editor from The Daily Mississippian spoke to her Honors 101 class.

“I was a little nervous to put myself out there, so my friend and I joined the staff together,” Noe said.

A native of Amory, Mississippi, Noe is a senior Honors College student majoring in journalism and minoring in art history. Noe started at the DM as an Arts and Culture writer her freshman year before moving up the ladder to become Managing Editor last year and this year’s Editor-in-Chief.

“I think it’s so beneficial to have served in all of these roles, so now I feel like I know each level’s perspectives and expectations,” Noe said. “It’s been a blast, and honestly, it’s flown by.”

While the late nights at the SMC with the other editors will be missed because of pandemic restrictions, Noe said the decision to produce only one print edition each week this semester has allowed the staff to expand its “Digital First” mentality by exploring and focusing on the growth of the online and social media community.

“Even though the pandemic was not what we were expecting, it’s given us an opportunity to meet where most of our audience is: online,” Noe said. “We are focusing on in-depth stories, an impactful front page and the growth of our online presence.”

SMC editorial director Atish Baidya noted: “Now more than ever, the work by Eliza and her staff at The Daily Mississippian is crucial to keeping the campus community informed. Eliza’s calm and strong leadership has been vital during these unprecedented times.”

Outside of working on The Daily Mississippian, Noe enjoys being around friends and family, even though that’s been more difficult because of the pandemic. She’s also involved with her sorority and the LuckyDay Scholarship program.

One of Noe’s favorite things about working at the SMC is the strong bond she’s made with the people she’s worked with, including the staff, faculty and student colleagues. She hopes to encourage younger staff members to grow as journalists, and that the work they do leads to growth at the university.

“Growth is the major goal I’m heading toward,” Noe said.

For those who might at first be nervous to join the SMC like Noe was, she said that students should push themselves to do it no matter what.

Noe’s advice: “Just do it. Send that email, send that social media DM, whatever. You’re always welcome somewhere, no matter your major or interest. It does seem a little intimidating, especially if you were like me with relatively no journalism experience, but the editors at the SMC love molding and shaping new storytellers to take over after we’re gone.”

Noe’s future plans are to find a job in reporting or attend graduate school. Her dream job would be to work at a publication like Rolling Stone.

 

Conner Platt

Conner Platt

CONNER PLATT – Advertising Sales Manager

The sales team of the Student Media Center works hard, building advertising revenue for the SMC platforms. This year, sophomore Conner Platt is leading the team.

Platt is a double major in risk management & insurance and finance from Biloxi, Mississippi. He found his way to the SMC following in the footsteps of his older brother, who worked on the student sales staff eight years ago and is now a marine insurance broker in New Orleans.

Platt started the year by working with his adviser to teach his team marketing and sales techniques.

“I really learned the ins and outs of advertising in my first year and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be manager this year,” Platt said.  “I was hoping to be able to come back to school and have a normal sophomore year but unfortunately that hasn’t been able to happen. It has been very strange but I have been able to figure out everything online and am trying to make the most of this semester.”

Besides being a member of a fraternity, Platt focuses his time on his double major as well as the advertising team.

“Conner has really stepped up for us,” said Roy Frostenson, SMC assistant director for advertising. “He’s done a great job trying to drive sales and keep the sales team motivated in what’s been a tough business climate.  Conner has a lot of enthusiasm and is very organized and task oriented which is exactly what you want in a sales manager – he’s driven to be successful.”

Platt said that when he looks back on 2020-21, he wants to be able to see that he and his staff hit their sales goals. “Especially with the current circumstances, that is something I would be very proud to say,” he said.

Platt’s long-term career plans? “I hope to get into insurance immediately out of college and hope to one day open up my own marine insurance firm.”

By Lucy Burnam and MacKenzie Ross, School of Journalism and New Media graduate students and SMC alumni

University of Mississippi journalism professor pens book about character actor Harry Dean Stanton

Posted on: October 19th, 2020 by ldrucker

Hollywood's Zen Rebel

Joe Atkins, a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor, has written a new book about character actor Harry Dean Stanton. He spent four years on this writing journey, including traveling through Los Angeles to meet some of Stanton’s actor and director friends and colleagues. The result is the 203-page book “Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood’s Zen Rebel” that will be published by University Press of Kentucky in November. We asked Atkins to tell us how he became interested in Stanton and what he learned from his research.

Q. Can you take me through your writing journey?

A. My writing and research long focused on labor and politics, both in the U.S. South and beyond, but I’ve turned to an old love of film in more recent years, trying to incorporate that with my earlier research.

I’ve always loved character actors, the working stiffs of the big and small screen. I always used every opportunity to do interviews with and stories about them, even as a political reporter in Washington D.C., where I covered the premiere of the film “Mississippi Burning” and interviewed actor Gene Hackman back in the 1980s.

Over the years, I’ve interviewed Amanda Blake (Miss Kitty in “Gunsmoke”), Clint Walker, Hugh O’Brian, many others. In 2016, I did a magazine piece on veteran character actor Nehemiah Persoff for Noir City magazine, and in the process, interviewed well-known film writer and film biographer Patrick McGilligan. McGilligan, I found out, headed the film series for the University Press of Kentucky, and he asked me at the end of my interview (he’d earlier read and liked a column I once wrote about his biography of film director Nicholas Ray) if I’d be interested in doing a book on film. I said, “Sure.”

He told me to come up with a couple ideas. My idea was to do a collection of essays on character actors, among them Persoff and Harry Dean Stanton. McGilligan said forget the collection, how about a biography of Harry Dean Stanton? I had done many profiles as a journalist, but never contemplated doing a biography.

I wasn’t sure, but McGilligan just kept after me, emailing and calling me over the next several months. As a writer, I had never before been subject to such a flattering pursuit! So I said yes, and I’ve never regretted it.  I was able to enter a fascinating world that I otherwise would have never known. 

Q. For those who haven’t read the book, how would you describe it? 

A. This is a book about a unique and compelling actor who rarely made it to the top of the marquee, but who became a legend for his performances in the supporting cast. Once called “the philosopher poet of character acting,” Harry Dean Stanton became a legend in Hollywood and among movie-goers for what director David Lynch called his “organic” acting abilities as well as for being a kind of hip, Buddhist-like persona.

He helped fuel the “New Hollywood Era” of the 1960s and 1970s in such films as Cool Hand Luke and The Godfather Part II before taking lead roles in “Paris, Texas” and “Repo Man” in the 1980s. He kept performing nearly up until his death at 91 in 2017, starring in his last film “Lucky” the year before he died. 

This is also the story of a Southern expatriate who left the hard-shell Baptist world of his rural Kentucky youth to become a kind of wandering philosopher and musician as well as actor in Laurel Canyon and Hollywood, rooming with Jack Nicholson, partying with rock ‘n rollers Michelle Phillips and David Crosby, hanging out with Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, and playing poker with director John Huston.

Yet he never could shed his Southern roots, and his music is a testament. He also spent years in a rough-and-tumble relationship with his free-spirited mother, whose artistic skills he inherited, but whose freedom-loving temperament was stronger than her maternal instincts.

Q. Why were you interested in writing a book on on Stanton? 

A. Long ago as a student in Munich, Germany, taking my first courses in journalism, I decided I wanted to have roots as a journalist, and that someday, my native South would be a great beat or focus, even though I had done everything I could to escape it. After working at newspapers in North Carolina and Mississippi, I carved out that beat as a congressional correspondent for Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C.

Over the years, I’ve kept my focus on the South and the Global South, and Harry Dean Stanton’s troubled relationship with his own Southern roots fascinated me about his story. Add to that my lifelong love of movies and film history, and the Harry Dean Stanton story was a perfect combination for me.

"This is a book about a unique and compelling actor who rarely made it to the top of the marquee, but who became a legend for his performances in the supporting cast. Once called 'the philosopher poet of character acting,' Harry Dean Stanton became a legend in Hollywood and among movie-goers for what director David Lynch called his 'organic' acting abilities as well as for being a kind of hip, Buddhist-like persona."
Joe Atkins
author and JOURNALISM Professor

Q. Can you tell me a little about the book? When will it be available? Any upcoming book signings?  

A. Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood’s Zen Rebel is being published by the University Press of Kentucky, and it will actually be published in November (I think Nov. 1), but is already available for pre-order via Amazon, Goodreads or other sites. The cost is $34.95 for hardcover or $19.22 for a Kindle edition. The pandemic has messed marketing and book signings up greatly, but the publisher’s marketing department now is in the process of working out some things.

I just got interviewed by reporter Joel Sams for Kentucky Monthly Magazine, and Los Angeles writer Robert Crane (son of the Hogan’s Heroes star) is organizing a “conversation/launch party.” I’ve been invited to speak at the Kentucky Book Festival, the Harry Dean Stanton Film Festival, and for an appearance and/or lecture at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky, but with the ongoing pandemic, I’m not sure of dates or whether we’ll have to go with Zoom sessions or postponements.

My publisher told me we’ll have a second launch next summer with the hope that we can all once again interact with one another in a somewhat normal way. Hope to see the book in Square Books and other area bookstores soon.

Q. What do you hope people take away from the book about Stanton’s life? 

Well, like any writer, you want your readers to have found that this was a darned good story and that it opened up a world for them that they had not experienced before, but which perhaps also resonated in some way with their own world. A writer can’t ask for much more than that. 

Poynter publishes University of Mississippi professors’ research article about the increase in African American subjects featured on 2020 magazine covers

Posted on: October 14th, 2020 by ldrucker

In the 90 days following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police, mainstream magazines celebrated Blackness on their covers about three times more than in the previous 90 years combined.

In an article published this week by Poynter, three University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professors explained this research after examining 126 magazine covers published in 2020.

Authors Samir Hunsi, Ph.D., director of the Magazine Innovation Center and Hederman Lecturer; Mark Dolan, associate professor of journalism; and Marquita Smith, assistant dean for graduate programs; write that general interest magazines, like motion picture and network entertainment programming, have historically failed to embrace America as a diverse nation. The article was edited by Associate Professor Charlie Mitchell.

Below, from left, are Husni, Dolan, Smith and Mitchell.

“Cover designs in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, which was recorded by a bystander and shown worldwide, were clearly more careful, even intentional,” the authors found. “These covers suggest a revolution taking place in the world of magazines, among the most significant transformations editors and publishers have delivered to their readers since the industry was born.

“Our research found that each and every one of the 126 covers published in 2020 that featured Black subjects showed them in a positive and uplifting light, whether they were ordinary Americans like the couples on the covers of Psychology Today and Southern Bride, or celebrities and politicians like those on the covers of The Week Junior, Time and BookPage.”

The authors write: “From mass mainstream magazines to small niche magazines, Black Americans were front and center. From A to Z, ABA Journal to Social Documentary Network’s Zeke magazine, the magazines are in a sea of change.”

To read the full Poynter article, click this link or the article image above.