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Two School of Journalism and New Media IMC students named 2021 UM Hall of Fame inductees

Posted on: April 12th, 2021 by ldrucker

Two University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC students have been named 2021 UM Hall of Fame inductees.

IMC majors Asia Harden and Cade Slaughter were among 10 students who received the honor.


Asia Harden

Asia Harden

An integrated marketing communications major, Harden has served as an orientation coordinator, vice president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and member of the Columns Society. The Greenville, Mississippi native also has been involved with RebelTHON, the Big Event and several civic organizations. Her most memorable experience was a semester abroad in Granada, Spain. Harden has worked with The Ole Miss yearbook for four years and serves as only the second African American editor-in-chief of the publication.


Cade Slaughter

Cade Slaughter

Slaughter is a dual public policy leadership and integrated marketing communications major. His leadership at Ole Miss has included Columns Society president, Associated Student Body co-principal of First Year Experience and Student Activities Association co-director of pageants. The Hattiesburg native also welcomed potential and incoming students through his roles as an Ole Miss Ambassador, orientation leader and orientation coordinator. Serving as co-director for the Big Event was one of many ways he focused on serving the community. Slaughter was also voted Mr. Ole Miss.

Inductees were selected by a committee in accordance with policy developed by the Associated Student Body. Selections are based on outstanding contributions in all aspects of campus life.

This year’s Hall of Fame members are Shelby D’Amico, Harrison McKinnis and Robert Wasson, all of Madison; Victoria Green, of Canton; Swetha Manivannan, of Collierville, Tennessee; Joshua Mannery, of Jackson; Gianna Schuetz, of Huntsville, Alabama; and Slaughter and Madison Thornton, both of Hattiesburg. All are members of the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Hall of Fame inductees Asia Harden and Cade Slaughter

Hall of Fame inductees Asia Harden and Cade Slaughter

“The 2021 Hall of Fame class will hold the distinction of completing 25% of their junior years and 100% of their senior years in the midst of a global pandemic that forced the university to change virtually every aspect of our operations, including academic, leadership and service opportunities in which each of these students have excelled,” said Brent Marsh, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students.

“Undeterred by COVID-19’s challenges, these students continued to lead and serve the university community with grace, skill and tenacity. These inductees continue the legacy of Hall of Fame members who left indelible marks at this institution.”

An in-person ceremony was held Friday (April 9) at The Pavilion at Ole Miss in accordance with university COVID-19 protocols.

To read the full story and more about the other inductees, click this link.


11 Tips for a Successful Registration at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: April 11th, 2021 by ldrucker

We are officially on the downhill side of the Spring semester! Students can register for May Intersession, Summer and Fall semester classes beginning Monday, April 12.

While some students are experts at registering for classes, others may appreciate these 11 tips for a successful registration provided by University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media Assistant Dean Jennifer Simmons.

11 Tips for a Successful Registration

1. Familiarize yourself with your degree requirements/course requirements.

2. Be aware of course prerequisites to ensure you will be able to take a course. You can check prerequisite requirements by searching the course at

3. Again, registration begins on Monday, April 12.  If you aren’t already aware, the Summer 2021 and Fall 2021 schedules are available for you to view and begin adding classes to your favorites. To get tips on searching the course schedule, please click here.

4. Be sure to have parallel courses in your favorites in case a course is closed by the time your registration window opens.

5. But, remember, you can’t register until all of your holds have been lifted. So, hustle and any holds you may have cleared as quickly as you can!  

A green pencil checks the checklist.

6. The holds that many students dismiss are the advisor hold (all currently enrolled students) and the dean’s hold (usually only for seniors).  You can check to see if you have any holds and also see when your window opens in your MyOleMiss Student tab. Click on the ‘+’ and go from there! If you haven’t made an appointment with your advisor, please do so as soon as you can. (If you are a senior who is graduating in MAY and will not need courses this Summer, you do not have to get the advisor hold lifted.)

7. When your registration window opens, add courses to your schedule ONE AT A TIME.  This will help to more clearly identify if/when there is an issue. However, there may be some courses that you MUST add to your schedule at the same time  (i.e. Jour 270 and Jour 271).

8. If you are not a student attending one of the regional campuses, DO NOT add courses that are designated Tupelo, Desoto, Booneville or Grenada unless you are fully prepared to drive almost an hour away from Oxford to attend classes that are scheduled to meet face-to-face.

9. If you are currently enrolled in development studies courses (DS 094-099), you must add those to your Fall schedule before adding any other courses. Once you successfully complete the course(s) this semester, you can remove them from your Fall schedule.

10. Check (and double-check) to ensure the courses you plan to add do not have times that overlap/conflict with each other. (Refer to tip #7).

11. Be patient, both with yourself and the system. With so many people trying to register, the system’s response time might be slower than usual.

Enroll in May Intersession and Summer classes now at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: April 11th, 2021 by ldrucker

If you are looking for a class to take during the May Intersession or Summer, here is a list of journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) classes the School of Journalism and New Media will be offering.

From web design and drone piloting, to travel writing and communications law, students have a variety of classes to choose from.

For information about how to register, click this link. Registration will end April 26.

Cinema 4D logo


IMC 349 web – 3D modeling (Cinema 4D) – Have you ever wanted to learn how to create 3D models? Professor Darren Sanefski will teach you how in Cinema 4D. Students enrolled in this online class will learn about texturing, lighting and the fundamentals of operating a camera in a 3D environment. Sanefski said he’ll teach students how to create different types of models with a variety of materials. He’ll cover the ways you can light your model, animate it and capture motion in a video. There are no prerequisites for this course

A girl signaling for others to be quiet surrounded by media.

JOUR 101 – Media, News & Audience – Web 1This course is designed to make students think more deeply about media and marketing, and their role in our lives. And it may help you decide what path to take in our media world. It is also a prerequisite for other journalism and IMC courses. Professor LaReeca Rucker teaches this class that offers an introduction to the various facets of communication, from the world of news media to the persuasive realms of marketing, advertising, public relations and social media. This course will also strengthen your knowledge of the media and communications industries, their history and current practices, their content, and their effects on us as individuals and society.

A cartoon person applying for a job at a table.

JOUR 353 – Professional Development Seminar – If you are looking for a class that will help you prepare for a career in the communications industry, Professor Iveta Imre, Ph.D., will teach this in-person seminar/workshop class. Some topics covered will be how to network with potential employers and develop mentorship relationships, how to interview for a job, and how to learn about financial planning and salary negotiations. Others include job search strategies and the role of social media; resume and cover letter writing; and web portfolio development. By the end of the two-week class, students will have a professional looking web portfolio. They will have developed relationships with mentors and contacts from the profession they aspire to work in, and they will have learned strategies and skills for a successful job search and interview. Students will also hear from a variety of guest speakers from the communication professions and human resource specialist. 

A suitcase

JOUR 361 – Journalism Explorations II – Sec 1 StUSA  – Features and Travel Writing – Have you ever wanted to become a travel writer? Now’s your chance. And you can do it from wherever you are located. Professor LaReeca Rucker will teach this online Study USA Course that gives students the opportunity to write stories with the potential to be published. Travel blogging and writing has become an industry in itself, and many envision themselves traveling the world and making money as influencers. This virtual reporting class will welcome students who can report from Oxford or from their hometown, wherever they are based.

The theme is the American South. Students will become reporters with the opportunity to have their work potentially published on a website with a South theme. They will write and photograph a variety of feature stories while exploring their own cities. It’s also the perfect opportunity to take a road trip.

The class will have a features and lifestyle reporting focus, such as content you often read in magazines and features sections of newspapers/websites. The pieces will range from light pieces about food and fashion to in-depth pieces about important issues affecting residents of the South.

While some assignments could be fun, such as visiting restaurants and writing about a city’s cuisine, others could be in-depth reporting assignments about serious issues and topics. We also hope to Zoom with media professionals who work in media throughout the South and incorporate other forms of media, such as films and music into the course.

A drone

JOUR 367 – Drone Storytelling – Want to learn how to fly a drone? Professor Michael Fagans will teach this in-person course that examines how drones can be used in a safe and responsible way to craft messages for various audiences. News stories and content, as well as marketing messages, can benefit from aerial perspectives that drone-mounted cameras provide. Learn how to utilize drones for storytelling. Successful students will take and pass the FAA Drone Pilot’s test.

A gavel and weights that symbolize law.

JOUR 371 – Communications Law – You may be studying communications, but do you really understand Constitutional and First Amendment law? Professor Charlie Mitchell will teach this course that he describes as: “A thrill-a-minute deep dive into the wonderful and mystical nuances of mass communication’s legal landscape.” The in-person class will discuss the legal rights and responsibilities of journalists and other media practitioners. Attention will be given to Constitutional law and relevant First Amendment cases; FCC and private industry regulation of the Internet; evolving philosophies of intellectual property; and libel and privacy issues.

A robot and a coding language


IMC 524 web – Designing interactivity (web design) – If you’re interested in learning how to create your own website, professor Darren Sanefski will teach this class that offers an introduction to experience design. Students will learn HTML5 structure and the Document Object Model, basic JQuery, basic web architecture, and the theories that underlie effective experience design. Learn what it takes to have a successful web experience. Learn core design concepts and their applications in interactive design. Learn the skills necessary to bring your ideas to life, the nuts and bolts of web design, including basic understanding of HTML, CSS and jQuery. Learn how to guide users to connect with information in a useful and intuitive way. This class has a prerequisite: Art 361 or Jour 273 or IMC 521 or permission of the instructor.

Iphone apps illustration


IMC 306 – Internet Marketing Communication – Those who want to learn more about internet marketing can enroll in professor Claire Hick’s class that will offer a detailed survey of marketing communications online applications, e.g., the website as a basic marketing platform, search engine optimization, digital promotions, email and social media marketing. Internet Marketing Communication explores an overview of successful case studies of companies and allows students to discuss the in-depth ways, reasons and strategies to use the trends in a career.

An image of a tree with different parts of business planning


IMC 304  – Account Planning – In IMC 304 Account Planning, you are invited to see the world and advertising communications differently.  This course taught by professor Chris Sparks is designed to expose you to integrated thinking in the planning and delivery of communication. It will be taught within the framework of planning roles within creative and media agencies. Anyone who will work in an agency, with an agency or in a marketing role will find their career enriched by understanding the way of thinking in account planning.

This is a course based on the practice of creating insights for communication strategy. Planners are strategists that understand branding, positioning, research, analytics, insights, and measurements necessary to create and deliver relevant, impactful communication campaigns that connect to their target audience.

In this class, you will learn to gather information to inform a creative strategy for a brand. You will learn about agencies, roles and responsibilities of planners, gathering consumer insight, creating a communication strategy and collaborating with the creative team to inspire great campaigns.

This class places a high value on approaching problems from unexpected perspectives (creative thinking), putting yourself in other people’s shoes (empathy), distilling data to develop a strategy (critical thinking), and telling a compelling story (persuasive communication). 

After Effects logo


IMC 473 web – Motion Graphics (After Effects) – Get moving with this class on Motion Graphics. Professor Darren Sanefski will teach students how to plan and produce visually driven multimedia content for internet, video and/or broadcast. There will be an emphasis on the creative use of image, type, video, audio and multi-sensory driven content. Learn animation principles and techniques. Learn how to integrate work from various disciplines. Learn strong working knowledge of After Effects. Learn how to apply motion graphics into an augmented reality. There is a pre-requisite for this course: Jour 273 OR Art 361 or the permission of the instructor.

An ipad showing data analytics and papers


IMC 571 – Internet and Mobile Media – This online course taught by professor Jason Cain is designed to help students craft strategy involving digital and mobile media and to give you hands-on experience in analytics. Students will spend time learning about how the internet and mobile media developed, their impact on popular culture, how they have changed mass communication, and the role these media play in the world of integrated marketing communications.


A couple standing in front of a broken heart


JOUR 580 – Topics in Journalism II – “The Heartbreak Henry”Theatre Oxford Production – Join this publicity-related class led by Dr. Kathleen Wickham. Want to be a part of the summer creative team producing publicity for the Theatre Oxford’s August production of “The Heartbreak Henry”? Are you a fan of “Saturday Night Live” or the “Coming to America” movies? Here is your chance to work for David Sheffield, former lead comedy writer for “Saturday Night Live” and chief scriptwriter for both “Coming to America” movies. Sheffield wrote, and will direct, “The Heartbreak Henry” during its August debut in Oxford. It is based on Sheffield’s experiences managing the hotel while a student at Ole Miss. The building now houses Rafter’s. You will be writing articles, designing and producing the program among other publicity-related tasks. Looking for writers, photographers, designers and social media gurus. You will assist Theater Oxford’s publicity/marketing team. It is listed as hybrid, so students don’t have to be in Oxford all summer.

Professor Nancy Dupont wins prestigious Edward L. Bliss Award and the Larry Burkum Service Award

Posted on: April 9th, 2021 by ldrucker

Dr. Nancy Dupont, a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor of journalism, was named the winner of two distinguished awards this week.

Dupont won the Edward L. Bliss Award for Distinguished Broadcast Journalism Education and the Larry Burkum Service Award.

She is the only person to ever win the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication – Electronic News Division’s two most prestigious awards in the same year.

The announcement was made at the end of the Broadcast Education Association News Division meeting yesterday by awards chairs Hub Brown and Bill Silcock. Dr. Dupont will be honored by the division at the annual AEJMC-END social (following the business meeting) on Aug. 5, 2021.

Here is a video link of the announcement:

The Edward L. Bliss Award for Distinguished Broadcast Journalism Education is presented annually by the AEJMC – END. The award recognizes an electronic journalism educator who has made significant and lasting contributions to the field.

The Larry Burkum Service Award recognizes an electronic journalist or journalism educator who has demonstrated extraordinary service to journalism and to journalism education.

Dr. Nancy Dupont

Dr. Nancy Dupont

Dupont joined the UM School of Journalism and New Media in 2006 after spending 17 years as a broadcast journalist and 13 years as a journalism educator. She has served as chair of the Radio-Television Journalism division (now Electronic News) of the AEJMC. She has served twice as chair of the news division of the Broadcast Education Association. In 2019, she was elected to a two-year term to the Broadcast Education Association Board of Directors.

Dupont co-authored the book “Journalism of the Fallen Confederacy” in 2014. She has authored 12 book chapters. She frequently presents her research at the Symposium of 19th Century Journalism, the Civil War, and Free Expression and at the Transnational Journalism History conference. She has published extensively about 19th-century Mississippi and Louisiana newspapers.

Dupont earned a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1997.

Houston Chronicle executive editor and Ole Miss alumnus announces retirement

Posted on: April 6th, 2021 by ldrucker

After “The Houston Chronicle” reported that Executive Editor and Ole Miss alumnus Steve Riley was retiring after a 41-year career in journalism, he told that it is time to exhale.

Riley, 62, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and received the Texas Newspaper of the Year and Newsroom of the Year award from the Associated Press Media Editors while at the Chronicle. Riley, who joined the Chronicle in 2017 as senior editor of investigations, also spent more than 30 years at “The News & Observer” in Raleigh, N.C., and also worked as a reporter in Mississippi for “The Clarion-Ledger” in Jackson, “The Sun” in Gulfport and the “Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal” in Tupelo.

A recent Chronicle story featured a quote from the newspaper’s president: “Steve’s leadership of the Chronicle’s newsroom is reflected in the outstanding coverage and investigative work done under his reign,” Hearst Newspaper President Jeff Johnson said in a statement. “This work has been recognized both statewide and nationwide, and most importantly, by our readers. Steve’s commitment to journalism and serving the Houston community is second to none, and we wish him the best in his retirement.”

Steve Riley

Steve Riley speaks to the newsroom after he was named the Houston Chronicle’s new executive editor on Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Houston. Riley has served as acting editor since Oct. 30, 2018 and was previously the deputy managing editor, investigations, beginning in November 2017, overseeing a team of reporters and a data editor. Before that, he spent more than 30 years at The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, in roles including: senior editor for investigations, deputy managing editor, metro editor, sports editor, government editor and reporter. He also worked as a reporter in Mississippi for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, The Sun in Gulfport and the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo. His investigative teams have won more than a dozen national awards. Riley fills the role vacated by Nancy Barnes, who departed in November to become senior vice president of news for National Public Radio.

“You want the work to mean something to the people that read it, both everyday subscribers and the folks with power and influence to induce change,” Riley said. “So I’m very grateful to have been able to work in newsrooms that placed a premium on public-service journalism, deep stories that forced people to stop, think and then act. I’d like to think I’ve had some impact on the cities and states where I’ve lived and worked.”

Recently, during the Ole Miss spring semester, Riley, a graduate of Nettleton High School and one of the most distinguished graduates of the University of Mississippi, took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Journalism 102 students about the current state of a newsroom during the pandemic.

Riley talked about the transition to a more digital reporting environment in which his 200 newsroom reporters were filing stories as soon as they were complete rather than waiting for them to be printed in the paper the next day.

He also described how they moved to a more remote operation where most of the management communicates through Zoom. Even Riley lives remotely in North Carolina, and only travels to Houston when necessary.

Riley said COVID-19 has dominated the news and forced newspapers to reorganize their processes in order to cover the pandemic.

“This is a story of a generation, if not a century,” he said.

In order for the Chronicle to cover all aspects of the virus, they have had to organize their reporters to cover the Texas Medical Center, all of the different treatments for the virus, the evictions, hunger, the demise of small business and the roll out of the vaccine.

So what’s next for this accomplished journalist?

“I’d like to exhale, travel and get involved in my community a bit in ways that weren’t really possible while working as a journalist,” Riley said.

“We like to cycle, hike, and I enjoy tennis and skiing. So I don’t think I’ll get bored.”

This story was written by student Madison Malo.

University of Mississippi journalism graduate serves as CEO of Mississippi Today news organization

Posted on: April 6th, 2021 by ldrucker

Mississippi Today is a strictly non-profit, web-based news organization that brands itself as the political watchdog of the state.

With the Republican party holding a super majority in the state’s elected offices, Mississippi Today often receives criticism as left leaning. While the organization is nonpartisan, it must cover a heavily partisan government.

Mary-Margaret White

Mary Margaret White

Mary Margaret White, chief executive officer, credits the editorial staff as the group that brings political balance to each story.

White, who has a bachelor’s degree in English and in journalism, and a master’s degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi, also serves as an advisory board member of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

Mississippi Today is the only fully-staffed non-profit newsroom in the state and often draws comparisons to The Texas Tribune. Its goal is to provide readers with honest journalism with unrestricted access.

The non-profit is funded by a few large donors and nearly 2,000 smaller donors.

Reporters at Mississippi Today have partnered with other non-profit news organizations to work on projects that affect the state. The Marshall Project is an organization focused on criminal justice in the United States. Together, the two organizations created, “Think Debtors Prisons Are a Thing of the Past? Not in Mississippi.” The series provided a detailed look into the state’s restitution laws. The impact of the investigation has raised awareness among state officials, and some are exploring ways the system can be repealed.

“State Auditor Shad White called for changes to problems flagged by our reporting: “The state must fix this, and now,” reported by The Marshall Project.

The year-long project received the 2021 Harry Frank Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award.

Mississippi Today heavily covered the removal and changing of the Mississippi state flag in 2020. A team of reporters from Mississippi Today began to investigate possible ways the flag could be changed.

The team wrote a story on how the state legislature had the power to proceed with changing the state flag. To involve their readers more, reporters traveled to 42 counties to ask Mississippians what they thought about the flag and polled 8,000 others through their website.

Reporters gathered the position of each state senator and house member, then created a document describing their stance. This document was created to inform Mississippians on how their representatives planned to vote on the measure.

Political reporters were not the only team members covering the issue.

Sports reporter Rick Cleveland tabbed the question to his readers,” What good is a state flag if so many won’t fly it?”

Each member of the Mississippi Today staff worked to provide how the state flag issue applied to the industry they covered.

The Other Side Podcast, hosted by Adam Ganucheau, another UM graduate, is the only podcast centered on politics in the state of Mississippi. The podcast has interviewed both current and former state officials, such as Gov. Tate Reeves, Sec. of State Michael Watson and former Governors Ronnie Musgrove and Ray Mabus.

Mary-Margaret White and family

Mary Margaret White and family

“A goal for us as a news team is to make sure that people are armed with the right information and have access to that information so that they are motivated to get to the polls and have representation in the capitol,” White said.

A Mississippi Delta native, White believes her calling is to serve the people of her home state.

After graduation, she spent about a decade working for the state on various tourism projects, such as the Mississippi Blues Trail markers that honor the people, places, and history of blues music. She later joined Mississippi Today as the marketing and branding director, holding a few other titles before being elevated to her current position as chief executive officer.

This story was written by student journalist Austin Stark.

UM School of Journalism and New Media students win 24 awards in two journalism contests

Posted on: April 2nd, 2021 by ldrucker

The Daily Mississippian and Newswatch Ole Miss won 24 awards, including 12 first-place awards, in the Southeast Journalism Conference Best of the South Competition and the state Mississippi Press Association contest for their content published or broadcast from late 2019 through 2020.

Best of the South is a southeastern U.S. regional contest that received 369 entries from 30 universities. The MPA contest is for students attending Mississippi colleges.

In the SEJC contest, The Daily Mississippian won first place for Best College Website, Best News Writer (Daniel Payne), Best Arts & Entertainment Writer (Will Carpenter) and Best Newspaper Page Layout Design team ( Eliza Noe, Daniel Payne, MacKenzie Linneen, Megan Tape, Kate Kimberlin).

Awards were also won by Daily Mississippian staff members Kelby Zendejas, 3rd place for Best Sports Writer; Kenneth Niemeyer, 3rd place for Best Special Event Reporter/Editor; Katherine Butler, 3rd place for Best News Graphic; Hadley Hitson, 4th place for Best News Writer; Eliza Noe, 6th place for Best Feature Writer; and Katie Dames, 13th place for Best Op-Ed Writer. Some categories had more than 30 individual entries.

Daily Misissippian staff

Daily Misissippian staff

NewsWatch Ole Miss, the student newscast, was honored with awards for 3rd place, Best College TV Station; 3rd place, Best TV News Feature (Carter Diggs), and 6th place, Best TV Journalist (Kaylee Crafton).

In the MPA contest, the Daily Mississippian received first-place awards for Best Website; Best Newspaper Layout & Design; Best Newspaper Front Page; Best Series or Investigative (Kenneth Niemeyer); Best General News Photo (Billy Schuerman); Best Sports News Story (Joshua Clayton); Best Feature Story (Will Carpenter); and Best Cartoon (Nakiyah Jordan).

William Schumerman

William Schumerman

MPA judges praised the DM website for “good, clean, up-to-date content; good format, good job with the pandemic on keeping stories, photos and multimedia flowing.” They called DM front pages “bold and provocative.” They said articles showed outstanding storytelling; compelling writing; courageous journalism. Visuals were praised as “stunning,” and for capturing “signs of the times” and expressing emotion.

The DM staff won a second-place MPA award for General Excellence. Schuerman won first place and second place in the General News Photo category. Eliza Noe, Katie Dames and John Hydrisko shared a third-place award for editorial writing.

Eliza Noe

Eliza Noe

“I’m very proud of all of the awards we were able to bring home this year,” said Eliza Noe, DM Editor-in-Chief for 2020-21. “Student journalism, in general, has been through a lot this year, so I’m also extremely fortunate to have a staff that’s been able to excel during the pandemic.”

Noe also thanked the Student Media professional staff. “I don’t know what we would have done without them and their guidance when we needed it.”

Hitson, DM managing editor, said that during her four years on the DM staff, she’s seen the publication win dozens of awards every spring.

“I’m glad that even under hard circumstances this year, we were able to uphold our journalistic standard for content and continue to publish important articles that impact the community,” Hitson said.

Atish Baidya, associate director/editorial at the SMC, said students for all platforms had to rethink workflows when the pandemic struck last March.

Brian Barisa

Brian Barisa

“The Daily Mississippian staff had to switch all their reporting efforts to the website and worked entirely from home,” Baidya said. “The Newswatch staff had to reimagine its newscast, pivoting to an online weekly newscast with anchors and reporters recording their segments and stories from home as well.”

Brian Barisa had just become NewsWatch Ole Miss manager in January 2020 and the new staff of anchors and correspondents had been working for about a month when the university told students to not return to campus after spring break.

“This past year has been a test of my ability to navigate a changing world and be able to update a live show into a production that could be done from home,” Barisa said. “We worked our way from editing and uploading weekly recap shows on personal computers spread all across the country to making twice-a-week newscasts live from our new desk and steadily returning to normal. After a year of hard work, we’re ready to push NewsWatch forward into its future and put the pandemic behind us.”

This year’s SEJC conference was supposed to be held in mid-February at two universities in the New Orleans area, but it was canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions. The awards ceremony was held virtually. There were  no on-site competitions this year. Over the past decade, UM students dominated the on-site contests and frequently won the Grand Championship.

The MPA conference also was canceled because of the pandemic. Colleges were emailed results from judges.

University of Mississippi journalism students learn with the best, thanks to donation

Posted on: March 31st, 2021 by ldrucker

Memphis news station WREG-TV donates anchor desk to ‘Ole Miss NewsWatch’ team

To help prepare University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism students for life after graduation, Memphis news station WREG-TV donated its station’s anchor desk to “NewsWatch Ole Miss,” providing a true real-world broadcast journalism experience on campus.

The university’s student-run broadcast news operation, NewsWatch, also serves Oxford and Lafayette County as its only complete local newscast. It airs at noon Wednesdays and Fridays during the academic year.

Brian Barisa, station manager and fourth-year NewsWatch member, said the significance of the desk donation and the partnership with the Memphis news outlet is immeasurable.

Memphis news station WREG-TV donated its station's anchor desk to 'NewsWatch Ole Miss,' the University of Mississippi’s student-run broadcast. Submitted photo

Memphis news station WREG-TV donated its station’s anchor desk to ‘NewsWatch Ole Miss,’ the University of Mississippi’s student-run broadcast. Submitted photo

“This new desk symbolizes the future of NewsWatch and where we will grow in the future,” Barisa said. “This gift allows for us to take leaps and bounds in modernizing our studio and evolving NewsWatch into the current look of TV studios.”

Appearance is not the only thing the future journalists receive while reporting with NewsWatch. Students combine their class knowledge with their on-air experience to learn new techniques in journalism.

“The Ole Miss School of Journalism has taught me storytelling tools and techniques that have helped me through reporting and producing content not just in news-oriented spaces, but also in other outlets of media production,” said Barisa, who plans to continue in the world of collegiate video production after graduation.

Besides producing the student-run broadcast, NewsWatch serves as a learning laboratory and creates opportunities for all students, regardless of experience level.

NewsWatch plays a pivotal role in the complete development of students who are ready to hit the ground running after graduation, said Debora Wenger, interim dean and professor of journalism.

“‘NewsWatch Ole Miss’ is a key part of the hands-on experiential learning, which is a hallmark of our school’s programs,” Wenger said. “Students, whether they are studying integrated marketing communications or journalism, have the opportunity to work for the newscast and a number of public-facing news outlets that are part of our school.

“Students who work for NewsWatch and these other platforms graduate with solid experience on their resumes, which in turn makes them more competitive in the job market.”

The Memphis station not only donates gifts, but sets an example for Ole Miss journalism students and NewsWatch staff members.

“WREG and all of the stations in our area have been wonderful partners in educating our students,” Wenger added. “They hire our graduates, and they are generous with their time and expertise. We can’t thank the station enough for reaching out and providing this donation.”

Ron Walter, WREG general manager, said he is happy to see the desk go to a good home.

“We are proud to support the aspiring young journalists and broadcasters in our area, knowing we may one day work alongside them,” Walter said. “The desk served our anchor teams very well, and we hope it does the same for University of Mississippi journalism students.”

WREG also donated a second station desk to the school for students taking news reporting classes in Farley Hall.

This story was written by Michael Taplin for University Communications. Read the full story here.

Ethiopia Airlines employee shares unique story about becoming part of University of Mississippi IMC master’s program

Posted on: March 30th, 2021 by ldrucker

The School of Journalism and Media at the University of Mississippi has long had a global reach, but the story behind one integrated marketing communications graduate (IMC) student’s journey to the school is unique.

Zebiba Miftah Nassir is an advertising and sales promotion manager with Ethiopian Airlines, the largest airline in Africa. As the second child and only daughter of six, Nassir said she was raised in a humble Muslim family of community leaders and mentors.

“I grew up in a community with a lot of love and encouragement that nothing could hinder me from achieving my dreams and ambition,” she said.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts with Great Distinction in Language and Literature and a minor in history from Addis Ababa University before joining Ethiopian Airlines in 1996.

“The main reason why I joined the airline is because of the love I have for the brand and my aspiration to join a leading enterprise,” she said. “As a flagship airline, Ethiopian Airlines has the love and admiration of most of Ethiopians. So, I fell in love with the brand during my childhood.

Zebiba Nassir picture

Zebiba Nassir

“Whenever I saw how highly the public regarded the company, employees of all status, their service buses routing in the city, ads, as well as the aircrafts with the ‘three color feather,’ I would say to myself, ‘I have to join this company.’ Even after 24 years of service, my love and passion hasn’t changed.”

Nassir said Ethiopian Airlines continuously adapts to be competitive. In 2018, leaders of the airline began talking with UM School of Journalism and New Media administrators about creating an opportunity to train the airline’s marketing force with a vision to instill enhanced and cutting-edge IMC skills in key personnel. The following year, the airline established an IMC division to create synergy within the marketing departments and created a pathway for employees to earn a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications at UM.

“I explored the opportunity that was announced in the company and decided to be among the first students to join the IMC program,” she said. “I met the selection criteria and succeeded with the best performance on the entrance exam.”

Associate Professor Robert Magee said Nassir has consistently been an engaged student and a sharp critical thinker.

Zebiba Miftah Nassir

Zebiba Miftah Nassir

“I can understand why the airline values her in her executive role,” he said. “I believe her strong experience in advertising and sales enables her to make the most of the graduate program in IMC.”

Nassir said the UM School of Journalism and New Media’s master’s program equips students with comprehensive knowledge of the elements of integrated marketing communications and guides them to understand what it takes to be a self-sufficient account planner. The master’s program has several courses focused on consumer research and insights, effective graphic design, storytelling, and communication strategies, among other areas of focus.

“One of the important aspects of marketing I grasped from this class that has stuck with me is that marketing experts should first study what the consumer is looking for or the problem to produce the solution (product/service),” she said. “Then, they should communicate the brand’s message to the target audience with a unified/consistent message across all touchpoints (‘outside-in approach’).”

The school’s interim dean, Professor Deb Wenger, said the partnership with Ethiopian Airlines has been extraordinarily beneficial to the IMC master’s program.

“We have been delighted with the caliber of students enrolled through this relationship,” Wenger said. “Mrs. Nassir is one good example of the airline’s standard of excellence for its personnel. The fact that we can share the expertise of our faculty with the employees of such an outstanding and innovative global enterprise expands our reach and influence, and helps us further our mission to lead and excel in the education of a diverse body of students.”

Nassir said she has tried to apply what she has learned in the IMC master’s program on the job. One example of an extensive IMC campaign is the airline’s “Go Digital Campaign” to promote a mobile app for an end-to-end digital travel option. She said her team executed a successful campaign and received a rewarding result with one million users of the mobile app.

“In general, the program has helped me a lot in gaining insight in relation to managing different campaigns,” she said. “I am already applying most of the lessons to our ongoing IMC campaigns. I will keep on implementing these new IMC concepts and techniques so that my company can continue to have result-oriented integrated marketing campaigns that have real time and tangible outcomes.”

Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs Marquita Smith commended Mrs. Nassir for managing her full-time work schedule with the demands of family and distance learning.

“Zebiba is one of our top online students, and she’s an example of how new knowledge can translate into every day success stories,” Smith said. “It is my hope that Zebiba will inspire other working professionals, especially African women, to continue their educations.”

Nassir is a student in the school’s online IMC master’s degree program. The program is currently enrolling students for the 2021-2022 academic year and will be accepting applications through July 31. Visit for more information about the admissions process.

University of Mississippi IMC student ‘bridges the gap’ between nonprofits, need

Posted on: March 24th, 2021 by ldrucker

Senior Natalie Pruitt develops website for students to complete assignments listed by nonprofit groups

A University of Mississippi student has created a website to help “bridge the gap” between Mississippi nonprofit organizations and Ole Miss students interested in expanding their resume through community involvement.

Natalie Pruitt, a senior integrated marketing communications major and member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community.

“After researching and interviewing multiple local nonprofit organizations and learning about their need for assistance with projects relating specially to digital marketing and graphic design, I realized there was such untapped potential for UM students to work alongside these organizations,” said Pruitt, from Knoxville, Tennessee.

With that information in mind, Pruitt set out to develop a website exclusively for students interested in digital marketing, graphic design internships and freelance assignments. With this mindset and multiple university connections, UM Creative Connect was born.

“My hope is that a mutually beneficial relationship will form between local North Mississippi nonprofit organizations and UM students,” Pruitt said. “It was a need that I saw a fix to, so I had to try to close that gap in any way I could.”

Natalie Pruitt, a Knoxville, Tennessee native, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

Creative Connect helps connect Ole Miss students to Mississippi nonprofit organizations looking for assistance in a variety of areas such as digital marketing, graphic design and other freelance work. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

After two weeks of the website’s launch, seven nonprofit organizations have posted eight job listings with projects ranging from digital marketing, graphic design, social media management, photography and content creation.

Carson Harris, a sophomore integrated marketing communications major from Ocean Springs, was one of the students who applied for a website/graphic design-related job listing. Harris said Creative Connect is a great resource for students to get involved in the community while at Ole Miss.

“Having a resource like this one is crucial for students to succeed,” Harris said. “I applied for both the freelance and internship positions offered by 2nd Chance Mississippi because I find it important for students to succeed outside of the classroom.”

Harris’s perspective on the nonprofit organization is the same as Pruitt’s reasoning to build a website: students need opportunities to demonstrate their skills outside the classroom.

Natalie Pruitt, a Knoxville, Tennessee native, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

Natalie Pruitt, a Knoxville, Tennessee native, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

“This gives me the opportunity to be creative and focus on building upon my skills I have learned in the classroom,” Harris added. “I hope my creativity will help 2nd Chance Mississippi give back to our community.”

Pruitt said the project would not be possible without the nonprofit organizations that expressed interest in the project from the beginning.

“I want to thank the amazing nonprofits and community partners that took time out of their incredibly busy schedules to sit down and talk with me to provide insight into the creation of the website,” Pruitt said.

“Getting to develop relationships with these kind people and see how their lives could be made easier from it made the entire project worthwhile. I really appreciate all of the support the Oxford, Lafayette nonprofit community has given me.”

Participating nonprofit organizations include Mississippi Printers Network, 2nd Chance Mississippi, Boys and Girls Clubs of North Mississippi and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council/Lafayette Oxford-University Chamber of Commerce.

To learn more about UM Creative Connect, visit or email

This story was written by Michael Taplin for UM Communications. Click the link to view the original story.