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UM School of Journalism and New Media grad student is covering Ole Miss sports for Sports Illustrated

Posted on: September 22nd, 2021 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate student is covering Ole Miss sports for Sports Illustrated magazine this semester.

John Gillespie, a native of Vardaman, said he heard about the job “through the grapevine.”

“Adjunct instructor Jeff Roberson, who I also consider a close friend, approached me about Sports Illustrated’s desire to relaunch their team website that had been dedicated to Ole Miss coverage,” Gillespie said. “The site had been dormant for about a year or so. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but then I had a conversation with my friend and classmate, Cameron Breeland, about the opening, and I thought, ‘Why not? Let’s reach out and see what they say.'”

John Gillespie

John Gillespie

Gillespie said there was a month-long process of establishing a business plan and a sales pitch to the editorial team at SI.

“But once all of those hurdles were cleared, we were up and running late last week, just in time for the Rebels’ football season-opener against Louisville,” he said “I have to give a special thanks to Matt Galatzan, a fellow Ole Miss alum, as well for helping me through this process and running the site alongside me. He also covers Texas and Texas A&M for SI, but being able to cover our alma mater for one of the nation’s premiere sports media brands is a pretty nice setup.”

Gillespie, a graduate of Vardaman High School, was valedictorian and star student of the class of 2016 with an ACT score of 34. He graduated from UM in the spring of 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in southern studies. He is now in his second year in the Master’s of Arts in Journalism program with plans to graduate in May.

“I grew up infatuated with Ole Miss,” said Gillespie. “My parents are alums of the university, and I spent many a childhood day taking rides around the campus and watching Ole Miss sports on television or listening on the radio. From a young age, I always knew I wanted to attend Ole Miss just like my parents before me. When the time came to apply and send transcripts in my latter years of high school, I only sent my transcript to one place: here. I never looked back.”

Gillespie said he’s prepared to go “wherever God leads me” after graduation.

“Part of me has a desire to teach journalism at the university level while continuing to do sports writing and other forms of journalism,” he said, “but we’ll see what doors open up.

“I will say this, however: if God wants me to stay in Oxford, Mississippi, for the rest of my life, I am totally on board with that plan. There’s a certain magic and mystique to this place that creates some of the most fertile ground for writers in America, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Former CBS journalist to join University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media as visiting professor

Posted on: September 9th, 2021 by ldrucker

A veteran, award-winning journalist, who has worked as a White House correspondent for CBS and as a reporter in Mississippi and throughout the U. S., will soon join the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media faculty as a visiting professor.

Randall Pinkston will teach a course in international reporting after his arrival in January.

“Prof. Pinkston will bring a level of expertise and experience to our school that only someone who has operated at the highest levels of the profession can contribute,” said Interim Dean Debora Wenger. “He has covered plane crashes and presidents, wars and severe weather — the skills he developed as a reporter and anchor — from Jackson, Mississippi to the CBS Evening News, Randall is just the guy that some of our most talented students need to learn from. We are delighted to have him in our classrooms.”

Pinkston was born in Yazoo County. He grew up in Jackson and attended public schools. He was also an active member of Mt. Helm Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, and he participated in school organizations at Rowan Junior High and Lanier Senior High.

Randall Pinkston

Randall Pinkston

He attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and transferred to Millsaps after the death of his father.

“I majored in history, intending to go to law school,” he said. “My father’s minister, the Rev. Wendell P. Taylor of Central United Methodist Church, suggested that I apply for a news trainee position at WLBT-TV. I was not accepted as a trainee, but did receive a job offer as a part-time announcer on WLBT’s sister station, WJDX-FM.”

Pinkston’s work at the radio station, while attending Millsaps, eventually led to a part-time job in the news department, as a weekend and 10 p.m. anchor and reporter.

After graduating from Millsaps, he attended a summer training program for minority journalists at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He later returned to Jackson and was promoted to 6 p.m. anchor at WLBT, becoming the first Black anchor of a major newscast at the #1 station in Mississippi

Today, Pinkston is a widely respected journalist who has worked in local and network news for more than four decades. He joined CBS as a White House correspondent and later was a general assignment reporter covering national and international stories. Along the way he also earned a J. D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Since retiring, Pinkston has taught journalism at Stony Brook University in New York, City University of New York and Morgan State University in Maryland.

Pinkston has also taught classes at UM. Throughout his career as an educator, he has taught media performance, communications law and ethics, financial reporting and international reporting.

“As a journalist and a Mississippian, I consider it an honor and privilege to be invited to serve as a visiting professor at the state’s ‘premier university’,” he said. “Based on my professional background and my experience as an instructor, I think I can assist students in preparing for careers in journalism and related fields. My goal is to provide students with instruction and exercises that will give them tools they use on the job. Overall, I hope to enhance their educational experience.”

Pinkston will also serve as an advisor for NewsWatch Ole Miss, the student-run TV news program produced from the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center, and he has been named as a fellow in the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

To learn more about the School of Journalism & New Media’s programs, please visit  jnm.olemiss.edu or email jour-imc@olemiss.edu

Thank you for joining us for the School of Journalism and New Media’s birthday event

Posted on: August 26th, 2021 by ldrucker

Thank you for joining us on Thursday for the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s birthday event.

This year, our school is celebrating its 75th Journalism and 10th IMC birthdays, and we hosted a welcome event Aug. 26 in front of Farley Hall.

Our Ambassadors helped organize the event that featured carnival games, prizes, a cornhole tournament, an involvement fair and CAKE!

If you missed the event, but you want to learn more about our journalism or integrated marketing communications (IMC) programs, email us at jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

We also encourage you to get involved with our student organizations on campus. And if you aren’t certain, but think you might be interested in journalism or IMC, take a class!

Carothers works as news producer at WMC Action News 5 in Memphis

Posted on: August 26th, 2021 by ldrucker

Malia Carothers, 23, is forging a path in the journalism world as a news producer working for WMC Action News 5 in Memphis. Carothers joined the broadcast journalism department in college and graduated from the University of Mississippi.

Since college, Carothers has worked as an associate producer for WTVA news and is now one of the producers for Channel 5 News. She lived in Mississippi all her life until moving to Memphis.

Q: What made you want to pursue a career in Broadcast Journalism?

A: I was in the yearbook club in high school. I have always been a media person. What sold me on going to the broadcast program at Ole Miss was that I went to a Future Farmers of America (convention) . . . I made it to nationals with one of my projects. They had a sit-down at this thing to broadcast for one of their channels, or something like that. I was like, “I like this,” so I decided to do journalism. And honesty, I only heard of two colleges at the time that offered journalism, and it was Mississippi State and Ole Miss, and between the two, Ole Miss had the better program.

Malia Carothers

Q: How did you become a producer. Had it always been in your plans to be a producer for news stations?

A: Well, honestly, (it’s) all a funny story on how I am a producer now. I just fell into this spot. I’m not going to lie to you; I just fell into it. So when I tell people that no one believes me, it’s like they say, “You’re lying, and this is what you are supposed to be doing.” But I asked Dean Jennifer Simmons of the School of Journalism at Ole Miss if she knew of any video production internships because we need internships for our program. I needed an internship, and she thought I was talking about news producing, which was not what I meant. I like editing, and I like documentaries and things of that nature, so I was looking for a video production internship, and I got in touch with Dean Debora Wenger. She mentioned to me about a producing internship with WTVA. I was interviewed for the spot, and based on the writing test that I took for WTVA for my internship, they asked would I like to be an associate producer instead of doing an internship, and I was like, “Yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t I want to do that?”

Q: Do you think being African American has any affect on your job ethic? Do you feel you have to work harder because you are African American?

A: No, I do not. I work for Action News 5 out of Memphis, and there are many black people working here. I don’t feel pressured by the color of my skin. My work ethic speaks for itself.

Q: How do you pick your stories? Do you bring diversity to the stories?

A: Yes, I always liked being around different people. (That) made me a better producer. It helps me stay grounded and neutral to tell the story. I have always talked and hung out with different types of diverse people. So I believe that being open and diverse helps me bring that in my stories. It all depends on what you know and how you can relate to certain stories that makes it a success.

Q: How do you think your productions have improved the quality of Action News 5 television station?

A: Yes, I am a critical and creative design person, so I brought in different visuals for our section. I also rework how the news goes for the news show. In the beginning, the station ranked at three, and now it is at a six, so I doubled the ratings. So I feel like I am making a difference because I bring in many visual elements, which is a big part. After all, your audience does not want to see the same things over and over.

Q: What type of experience do you have with working with the latest or most current news formatting software?

A: At Channel 5, we use a software called ENPS. It is updated regularly, and we normally don’t make changes to it. The station has been using it, and I don’t have to make any changes. So it’s a learned experience, and it doesn’t change. Each station or shop has different software.

Q: What type of changes can you make to scripts to improve your quality of newcasts?

A: Creative writing. The biggest challenge I have right now is creative writing. My writing is good, but for it to hit higher, I believe I need to be a little better at my creative writing to keep my newscast soaring and improving – playing on words and catching people’s eyes with your words, instead of just visual.

Malia Carothers

Malia Carothers

Q: Why do you think being the news producer at Action 5 is the right fit for you?

A: I wouldn’t necessarily say it is the right fit for me, but I do enjoy what I am doing. As I said, the job fell in my lap, so I decided to work hard and equip myself with this skill to get a job. I decided to keep working in production because I never really cared much about going out and reporting for one. I mean, I will, but I (would) rather be behind the scenes. Another reason is that you do not make that much money by reporting. So it fits with the skills that I have and what I want to do. I chose production because I like to control things, so being a producer, you have that type of control, and it just fits me better than reporting. I guess I like telling people what to do instead of doing it.

Q: As a producer have you done any stories that have been stressful or affected your life in a certain way?

A: No, not really. But only because I don’t think that I am the type of person who gets impacted or affected by things. I think it is how I grew up. Most things do not change my emotional state. It does to others, but It doesn’t stress me out or affect me.

Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

A: Well, my contract is for two years with Action 5. It will end the next year – 2022. I do not plan on staying. I have lived in Oxford all my life, and Memphis is only a skip and a hop away from Oxford, so I plan to move away. I want to experience other places, and I want to go beyond Memphis. I don’t plan to keep producing, but I would still like to be a regular producer if I do. I’m getting my master’s in marketing communications right now, and I want to get into marketing to become a business consultant to help people grow their business. Being a producer is equipping me to be prepared for my future business career. I want to be the best me.

Q: Do you have any advice for future journalism students who want to become producers?

A: Honestly, it’s God how I landed here. That’s all I can say. And even if I don’t like the job, I believe it is my drive – my drive to do my best and to work hard, that has brought me to where I am now. I always strive to get better even if I don’t like the job, and I am going to do my best to be the best. My main point is that you need to be a journalist before anything. When it comes to writing a story, whether you’re a reporter or a producer, I feel like you should never focus on any trends. If you want to be in this field, talk to more people, meet more people, doing this will help you to be more diverse, and write. You have to learn how to write because you will need the experience.

This story was written by student Nikki Marzette.

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media welcomes four new professors

Posted on: August 26th, 2021 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has four new faces.

The faculty and staff has welcomed Dr. Amanda Sams Bradshaw, Ike Brunner, Brad Conaway and Dr. Marquita Smith to new positions.

Amanda Sams BradshawDr. Amanda Sams Bradshaw, assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, conducts research that focuses on how social network interactions impact maternal health decision-making, specifically childhood vaccine hesitancy. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Alabama, Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, and Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Florida.

Her professional experience includes three years as the public relations manager of Preferred Medical Group, a multi-disciplinary, multi-location medical practice, where she rebranded the company, co-led a merger, wrote and produced 18 television commercials, and generated $875,000 in potential revenue.

She later held the role of director of sales and brand growth for Chick-fil-A in Lawton, Oklahoma, resulting in an outside sales increase of 600 percent over one year. Simultaneously, she owned and operated a social media consulting firm for more than two years before beginning her Ph.D.

Ike BrunnerIke Brunner, instructional assistant professor of social media and data analytics, is part of the IMC faculty specializing in social media, data analytics, and influencer marketing. He has over a decade of industry experience in market research and digital/social media marketing and has worked with all types of businesses, from local SMBs to top international global companies. He has expertise in digital marketing and social media training, strategy, research, and evaluation.

Ike received his Ph.D. in communication studies from Bowling Green State University and previously taught at Wright State University and Texas Tech University.

Brad ConawayBrad Conaway, instructional assistant professor of social media and data analytics, earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of North Texas – one in radio/TV/film and one in English literature, with a history minor. Following a 15+ career in television content producing, now he studies and specializes in emerging forms of digital communication, especially social media.

As a digital manager, he created a social media strategy that was named “Best in Company” in terms of “engagement” analytics. As the corporate digital content manager, Conaway led Raycom’s push to think “digital first” using social media.

Conaway has covered several events from a local shooting at a courthouse, the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia upon re-entry in 2003, and the morning of Super Bowl 45 in 2011 that blanketed Dallas for two days caused by a super freeze resulting in injuries. He was an Emmy nominee, Best Morning Newscast-Large Market and TAPB winner, and Best Morning Newscast-Large Market winner in 2010.

Marquita SmithMarquita Smith, Ed.D., is the assistant dean for graduate programs. Smith earned her doctorate from the University of Arkansas focusing on curriculum and instruction and faculty leadership. She believes graduate education is a privilege and opportunity for students to gain outstanding communication and research skills.

Her vision for the school’s graduate programs is for students to acquire advanced and enhanced knowledge of journalism and integrated marketing communications. The goal is for each degree program to provide a unique experience for those interested in professional practitioner development, media production expertise and leadership, or the generation of new knowledge in the field.

Smith has a background in journalism and has worked in various newsrooms in Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi and Virginia for 16 years. Her last newsroom position was the Virginia Beach bureau chief at The Virginian-Pilot.

In 2008, Smith went on leave from The Pilot to complete a Knight International Journalism Fellowship in Liberia. During her time in West Africa, she created a judicial and justice reporting network. Both networks continue to operate in the post-war country today. Smith, selected as a Fulbright Scholar in Ghana for the 2016-2017 academic year, is passionate about teaching and researching in West Africa.

In 2012, Smith, an associate professor, was named to the JournalismDegree.org list of Top 50 Journalism Professors. Prior to moving to Oxford, Smith served as the Communication and Fine Arts Division Chair and Coordinator of Diversity Relations at John Brown University. She is a past chair for AEJMC’s Commission on the Status of Minorities and a past member of the national organization’s board of directors. Her research interests focus on media development, public health communications and topics on diversity and inclusion.

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professors offer student advice

Posted on: August 19th, 2021 by ldrucker

Students will be returning to the University of Mississippi campus in just a few days, and UM School of Journalism and New Media professors are sharing student advice for a successful semester. Much of it comes down to planning.

Rachel West, adjunct instructor of integrated marketing communications, said students should create a plan and schedule, and stick to it throughout the semester.

“Sounds so simple, but with so many classes being taught remotely for so long, it’s a change and a new routine for a lot of students who have not been in the habit of coming to class,” she said. “Budgeting time to find a place to park, walk to class, and so forth, is part of the process as well.”

Robin Street, a former senior lecture who is now an adjunct professor, said her best student advice is to always follow the public relations mantra of planning ahead.

“I suggest, especially in my online classes, that the student sit down with the syllabus, then enter all the important dates from it on his/her calendar,” she said. “My syllabus already has all the due dates for assignments, quizzes and exams. Then, they should go back a week so, and put on that calendar something like ‘Assignment due in seven days. That way, dates don’t sneak up on you.”

A graphic with Post It Notes that says Make Things Happen

Ellen Kellum, adjunct instructor of media design, said she learned in grad school that if she had several smaller deadlines built into projects, she would be much more successful.

“That was a huge factor in taming those procrastination tendencies we all have,” she said. “It made my work more polished and kept me a whole lot less stressed.”

Chris Canty Sparks, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, said preparation is key.

“Be well prepared for each and every class,” she said. “Read. Be curious. Ask questions. ‘Luck favors the prepared,’ from Edna on ‘The Incredibles.'”

Kristie Alley Swain, associate professor of journalism, said don’t be shy about asking your professors lots of questions about assignments.

“The earlier the better after the assignment is given,” she said. “Also, share your preliminary drafts with professors to see if they can provide more guidance and other feedback before you turn it in for a grade.”

Mike Tonos, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, advises students to turn in every assignment and avoid the automatic zero.

“Even a few points are better than none,” he said.

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, said it’s also important to take care of yourself physically and mentally during this time.

“Get outside,” he said. “Go for walks. Work on or find a new hobby.”

LaReeca Rucker, adjunct instructional assistant professor, said don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and ideas during class discussions.

“We live in a politically polarized world, but we should be able to share our ideas about news and media issues in classes that are about these topics even if we disagree,” she said. “Students are encouraged to share their thoughts when we discuss current events, as long as they do it respectfully.

“I welcome diverse opinions. I’m interested in getting to know each student, and I like hearing differing viewpoints. The world would be boring if we all thought the same way about every issue.”

Since many of the classes are writing classes, Rucker also advises students to think about the impact they can have with their work.

“Take your work and your words seriously,” she said. “You never know who you might touch in some small, yet important way through your writing.”

Debora Wenger, Ph.D., interim dean and professor, said make time to introduce yourself and communicate with your teachers.

“Come early or stay a few minutes late to say hello and to tell us something about you,” she said, “ — where you’re from, why you picked our school, what you’re looking forward to doing with your degree, or anything that helps us know you better.

“If you’re shy — send an email with similar details. And don’t forget to ask questions and engage with your instructors throughout the semester — we’re here to help you learn and grow.”

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

Posted on: August 13th, 2021 by ldrucker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on: August 7th, 2021 by ldrucker

Dr. Nancy Dupont, a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor of journalism, made history last week, becoming the first person ever to win the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication – Electronic News Division’s two most prestigious awards in the same year.

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

She is the 38th recipient of the Edward L. Bliss award and is only the 5th woman ever to win.

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

Congratulations to Dr. Nancy Dupont, first-ever person to win both the AEJMC Edward L. Bliss Award for Distinguished Broadcast Journalism Education and the Larry Burkham Service Awards in the same year.

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.

Last week also marked Dupont’s last day as a faculty member for the School of Journalism and New Media.

“Her well-earned retirement begins now,” said UM Interim Dean Debora Wenger, “but her impact on our school, our discipline, and so very many students will remain for many, many years to come.”

Wenger has taught with Dupont at UM, but she also worked with her at WSOC-TV in Charlotte.

Dr. Nancy Dupont

Dr. Nancy Dupont

“For Nancy, the job has always been TV news,” Wenger said. “She has loved broadcast journalism since she first stepped foot into WDSU-TV in New Orleans as an intern in the 1970s.

“Even after she began teaching, she infused her love of the medium into hundreds and hundreds of students who now credit successful careers and even more glorious adventures to Nancy’s mentorship.”

Wenger said students always respond to teachers who have a passion for their subject, such as Dupont, whose first academic job involved coordinating a television teaching program for Loyola University-New Orleans.

“I can only imagine what those first 90 students thought of this vivacious woman, who is equal parts diva, dynamo and Southern belle,” said Wenger

Dupont took over the advising role for UM’s award-winning, student-run newscast and revolutionized the way the program was produced, Wenger said.

“From her countless years of service to the Electronic News Division and BEA, to the connections she has fostered for students in newsrooms across the country, Nancy has had an extraordinary impact on all of us who care about good journalism and good broadcast journalism in particular,” Wenger said.

“I know I speak for Nancy when I say that winning the Bliss and Burkum awards this year is a highlight of a career filled with success and achievement. She is a teacher’s teacher, a scholar’s scholar and a treasured friend to me and so many others.”

Here is a video link of the announcement of Dupont’s win a few months ago:

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.

Journalism and IMC alumni share how they are Serving Our State

Posted on: August 1st, 2021 by ldrucker
A graphic featuring a woman working at her computer with the state of Mississippi. It reads Serving Our State.

Serving Our State

Many University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduates embark on careers all over the country and abroad after graduation. But some choose to stay in Mississippi and use their talents in many ways while “Serving Our State.” Read stories from our alumni who share the significant impact our school has had on keeping the state informed.

Meg Annison

“Mississippi has been a wonderful place to grow up, live, raise a family and pursue my career dreams. The people, the places, the food–there is just so much to love and learn about our state.”

Meg Annison

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR,
Mississippi Lottery Corporation

Meg Annison: There is much to love, learn about state

Pascagoula native Meg Annison, 40, graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media in December of 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and an emphasis in public relations. She now lives in Jackson and works as the communications director for the Mississippi Lottery Corporation.

During and after college, Annison worked at Oxford Publishing and interned with a trade magazine in New York City. After graduation, she continued working with Oxford Publishing and freelancing.

Beginning in 2012, she worked for the Mississippi House of Representatives and Speaker Philip Gunn. She started as the House information officer, then transitioned into Gunn’s communications director.

Annison is one of the original 10 employees first hired at the Mississippi Lottery.

“Launching a lottery from the ground up is an extremely rare position involving hard work, long hours, challenges and numerous rewards,” she said.

As the communications director, Annison handles everything from press releases, social media strategy, crafting the company’s annual report, communicating with board members and legislators, and fielding media inquiries.

“Mississippi has been a wonderful place to grow up, live, raise a family and pursue my career dreams,” she said. “The people, the places, the food–there is just so much to love and learn about our state.”

Annison helps Mississippians in her current role by conveying transparency about how lottery money benefits the state.

“The Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law states the first $80 million in net proceeds for 10 years benefits roads and bridges,” Annison said. “Any net proceeds exceeding $80 million benefit the Education Enhancement Fund. These are two very important issues affecting most Mississippians.”

Lottery leaders also promote a Play Responsibly phone and text line for players.

“Mississippi is a place of opportunity, and I hope outgoing students will realize how needed their minds and talents are in Mississippi, and that she can offer so many opportunities and chances for growth that will be invaluable in your life.”

Kelsey Addison

director of marketing for
raanes & Oliver capital advisors in hattiesburg

Kelsey Addison

Kelsey Addison: Mississippi is a place of opportunity

Hattiesburg native Kelsey Addison, 25, graduated in December of 2018 with a degree in integrated marketing communications. She recently purchased a house in Hattiesburg, where she is the director of marketing for Raanes & Oliver Capital Advisors.

“After graduating from Ole Miss, I still had about six months left on my lease in Oxford, but there weren’t any job openings at the time for what I wanted to do,” she said.

During the summer of 2018, Addison interned for Congressman Steven Palazzo in Hattiesburg, and his office invited her back to work with them. Addison worked with the communications director drafting newsletters and press releases, creating content for social media accounts, regularly updating media lists and staying in contact with local community members.

“My first month working for the congressman was plagued by the government shutdown,” she said. “It was a tough time, but I learned so much about communicating with the public, handling a crisis, and working as a team trying to produce real results that would benefit the community.”

She was first hired as the office manager for what was then called, Raanes Capital Advisors, an independent branch of Raymond James. Her duties were to schedule appointments for financial advisors, answer phone calls, and handle client servicing needs.

“As time went on, I developed a passion for the financial sector and how my firm interacted with their clients and each other,” she said. “After several months of handling the firm’s social media on the side, I was promoted to director of marketing and now oversee all marketing initiatives. In my spare time, I work with a small social media marketing firm, Comfort Strategies, to manage several social media accounts of small businesses around the Pine Belt.”

As the director of marketing, Addison is responsible for all social media management, public relations, and client communications from the branch.

“The business manages over $150 million in assets, so clients must be able to trust us with the money we manage for them,” she said. “It is important in my role to convey that trust by sending out quarterly newsletters and staying in routine communication with clients, managing our blog, and being knowledgeable about what is going on in the economy, politics, and global news.”

Kelsey Addison

Kelsey Addison

For the past six months, Addison has helped rebrand the business now known as Raanes & Oliver Capital Advisors.

“During the rebranding process, I designed a new website, prepared updated stationary, created social media ads, and coordinated with multiple businesses to ensure that we stayed on schedule and that everything was cohesive with what we envisioned for our business with this rebrand.”

Addison said the project involved creating trust with clients.

“I’m proud of the job we did, and it would not have been possible without the tools I received from my time at Ole Miss,” she said.

Why did she decide to stay in Mississippi?

“Mississippi is a place of growth,” she said. “So many brilliant minds are choosing to stay and see Mississippi for what she could be, and that’s how I felt.

“I grew up in Hattiesburg and loved my community as a child. However, through my time with the congressman’s office and my job now, I have grown to love Hattiesburg and Mississippi as a place where I want to grow and challenge myself and others to leave it better than we found it.

“Mississippi is a place of opportunity, and I hope outgoing students will realize how needed their minds and talents are in Mississippi, and that she can offer so many opportunities and chances for growth that will be invaluable in your life.”

Addison’s company manages investment accounts for clients – about 86% of whom live in Mississippi.

“By working with these clients and being involved in our community, we are working to help them reach the goals they set financially,” she said, “whether that is to send their kids to college, have a comfortable retirement, give back to their communities, or to make a highly anticipated large purchase. We also work within schools in our area to teach middle- and high-schoolers about financial literacy and how the stock market works.”

Blake Alsup

“I wake up every day and get to write about the people that make Northeast Mississippi what it is. It’s not a responsibility that I take lightly, but if you were to ask my coworkers, they would tell you that I like to have fun at work… If I can make readers even half as excited as I am about the people I write about, then I’m satisfied because there are some truly extraordinary individuals in our region.”

Blake Alsup

education reporter,
northeast mississippi daily journal

Blake Alsup: Extraordinary people are in Mississippi

Ripley native Blake Alsup, 25, studied journalism with an emphasis in print and a minor in Southern Studies. He graduated in December of 2018 and now works as the education reporter for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo — a paper he grew up reading.

But he didn’t start there. Less than a month after his graduation, Alsup accepted a job with the New York Daily News in New York City.

“Although the job included some breaking news coverage, it was primarily aggregating sensational content — stories that would get clicks, whether it was a horrific crime or a cute pet — from local newspapers and TV stations around the country for a national audience.

“I wanted to do ‘real’ journalism, the type of reporting I had done at The Daily Mississippian, so I left that job in September 2019 and returned to Mississippi after securing a job with the Daily Journal.”

Alsup began working at the Journal in October of 2019. He covered local schools, primarily the Tupelo and Lee County school districts, writing occasional articles about the local community colleges and universities.

“But in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we didn’t have a health care reporter, I updated our website with the latest coronavirus case and death counts by county in our region,” he said.

He eventually began covering the Mississippi State Department of Health and Gov. Tate Reeves’ press conferences. From the start of the pandemic to the peak in January 2021, Alsup has covered efforts to vaccinate Mississippians and the latest pandemic news.

“If there’s a story that needs to be covered, and it doesn’t fit any specific beat, or the person who would typically cover it is busy, I’m the first person my editors come to because they know I’m willing to pitch in and cover any story no matter how much I have going on,” he said.

Blake Alsup in New York City Blake Alsup in New York City

During his time at the Journal, Alsup has interviewed hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, a Mississippi State University graduate who now drives the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, a hospital chaplain who worked with COVID-19 patients and their families through the pandemic and a local meteorologist who has seen Northeast Mississippi residents through snowstorms and EF-5 tornadoes.

“And that barely scratches the surface when it comes to interesting people I’ve interviewed,” he said. “I wake up every day and get to write about the people that make Northeast Mississippi what it is.

Alsup utilizes the skills he learned as a student reporter in the School of Journalism and New Media, where he first learned what “real journalism” was.

“It’s not a responsibility that I take lightly, but if you were to ask my coworkers, they would tell you that I like to have fun at work. Interviews like the ones I mentioned are what really get me excited, and if I can make readers even half as excited as I am about the people I write about, then I’m satisfied because there are some truly extraordinary individuals in our region.”

Alsup said he realized the importance of local journalism while working as a news reporter and news editor for The Daily Mississippian and while participating in a couple of school-sponsored reporting trips to Batesville and Grenada with professors Bill Rose, John Baker and Ji Hoon Heo. He said he still wanted to work for a major regional or national publication at that time, but “a seed was planted that grew into a desire to work for a local newspaper.”

“And I went on to New York just long enough to realize that Mississippi is where I’m supposed to be,” he said. “I don’t say any of that to brag, but to let current students know that despite setbacks, you can succeed.

And you can tell stories that matter, whether you go to work for The New York Times or make your living at a community newspaper in Mississippi.”

 
 

“By publishing the paper weekly, we give our citizens a voice, and will continue to do it as long as I can. Without my education at UM, none of this would have been possible.

Emma F. Crisler

owner, editor, publisher ,
the port gibson reveille newspaper

Emma F. Crisler

Emma F. Crisler: We give our citizens a voice

Tutwiler native Emma F. Crisler, 82, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1961 with a degree in journalism and English. Today, she is the owner/editor and publisher of The Port Gibson Reveille newspaper.

She first taught in McComb and Vicksburg before working at the Claiborne County Welfare Department as a social worker.

“When (my) husband died in 1997, I assumed the responsibility of owner, editor, and publisher of The Port Gibson Reveille for three generations, beginning in 1898 as the third family to own this paper,” she said.

Crisler said she loves Mississippi and wanted to remain in the state.

“In 1969, I literally ‘married’ The Port Gibson Reveille and was the midnight proofreader along with my other jobs,” she said. “After my husband’s, Edgar Crisler, Jr., death in 1997, I had a choice of either taking over the paper or hiring someone to do it.  

“I chose to be the ‘boss,’ and I still am, publishing the paper weekly on Thursdays,” she said. “By publishing the paper weekly, we give our citizens a voice, and will continue to do it as long as I can.

“Without my education at UM, none of this would have been possible. Without my training at Ole Miss Journalism School, I would not have the knowledge to run a newspaper today.”

Miranda Beard

“The lessons I learned and the practical hands on training built my confidence to use a voice I was ashamed of and bullied because of it,” she said. “The lessons I learned empowered me to use a booming and powerful voice to impact over a million people through public speaking, social media, podcasts, and by training other leaders through my consulting business on the local, state and national levels.

Miranda Beard

Former WDAM/Raycom Media journalist,
now owner of B&B Consulting

Miranda Beard: The lessons I learned empowered me

Miranda Beard, born in 1957, studied broadcast journalism and public relations at UM and graduated in 1986. The Humboldt, Tennessee native has lived in Laurel, Mississippi for 35 years.

She worked at WDAM/Raycom Media for 30 years as a reporter, executive producer, anchor and assistant news content director. She later became president of the National School Boards Association in the Washington, D.C. area from 2016-2017 — just one of the many executive roles she has held. She is currently the Director of Christian Education at Word of Faith Christian Center in Hattiesburg.

Beard continues to use the media and leadership skills she learned at UM and in the industry as the current president and owner of B&B Consultants Incorporated.

“My responsibilities include leadership training for school boards and superintendents, public speaking and advocating for equity and excellence in public education on the local, state and national levels,” she said.

Beard said she decided to stay in Mississippi to serve its people with the gifts, talents and abilities God gave her.

“I realized my abilities are not for me, but they are to be used to inspire, motivate, encourage and help other people be who they were born to be,” she  said.

“The School of Journalism program at the University of Mississippi provided me with the hands-on knowledge to not only achieve my goals, but it also prepared me for dealing with the real world beyond book knowledge,” she said. “It helped to improve my communication skills and trained me on how to collaborate and cooperate with others to see a project to its completion.”

Beard said the School of Journalism also helped her become a more effective communicator.

“The lessons I learned and the practical hands-on training built my confidence to use a voice I was ashamed of and bullied because of it,” she said. “The lessons I learned empowered me to use a booming and powerful voice to impact over a million people through public speaking, social media, podcasts, and by training other leaders through my consulting business on the local, state and national levels.

“I was so grateful and blessed to have professors who used their professional knowledge to help me discover my purpose as a communicator, leader and business owner. What I received from the School of Journalism was a first-rate education that sharpened skills I didn’t know I had, and for that I am thankful. Now, I inspire others to find what they were born to do.”

Former Saturday Night Live head comedy writer brings The Heartbreak Henry to Oxford

Posted on: July 27th, 2021 by ldrucker

David Sheffield, who went on to write for “Saturday Night Live” and various Eddie Murphy movies, has taken to the stage with his comedy The Heartbreak Henry, based on his experiences as manager of an Oxford flophouse hotel in 1967.

The Theatre Oxford production runs August 12-15, with a preview Aug. 11 at the Gertrude C. Ford Performing Arts Center in the Mary Ann Mobley/Gary E. Collins Studio Theatre. Tickets can be purchased through the Ford Center Box office at (662) 915-7411

The production is co-sponsored by the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

The Heartbreak Henry poster designed by Hannah Vines.

The Heartbreak Henry poster designed by Hannah Vines.

“The School of Journalism and New Media agreed to co-sponsor the production to provide opportunities for students to hone their professional skills,” said professor Kathleen Wickham. “Assistant Professor Michael Fagans joined the project to produce a documentary, with students Margaret Bushway, Alexander Norris,  Tucker Robbins and Billy Schuerman. It was also an opportunity for me to refresh my professional skills in a new venue, having worked in public relations at one point in my professional career.”

Wickham said she was drawn to The Heartbreak Henry after seeing it in Biloxi in 2018 at the Center Theatre because of its treatment of the people who resided in the hotel in all their quirky, contentious and confused characters.

“David Sheffield was an innocent freshman, just 19 years old, who was so cash-strapped he hitched-hiked to campus from southern Mississippi,” she said. “He landed a job at The Henry Hotel as a theatre major and had compassion for his tenants. It was that humanity that attracted me to this project and why I worked to bring it to Oxford.”

The Henry Hotel was built in 1920. In 1967, rooms cost $4.50 a night, $5.50 with a bath in the room. There were 30 guest rooms. There were no in-room telephones, just a payphone in the lobby.

The Henry became a residential hotel in the 1970s with rooms renting for $45 a month. Later, the building was turned into the Abbey Apartments. Since 2015, the concrete building with its gable and hip roof, box cornice, molded frieze and closed gable ends has been home to Rafter’s bar.

The play features some of the cranky, contentious and confused characters who frequented the run-down hotel during Sheffield’s tenure as manager. Sheffield was a freshman at The University of Mississippi during the time. Rooms cost $4.50, there was a payphone for guests in the lobby, and to his horror, he had to evict two waitresses with illegal social side gigs on a snowy Christmas Eve.

“This story happened about 50 years ago,” said Sheffield, who lives near Laurel. “I met a bunch of characters I couldn’t get out of my mind. At the Henry, the unexpected was the norm.”

The show is also supported through grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Ford Center and the Clancy Collins fund, as well as community donors.

“I went to Ole Miss for an education, but the real education took place at the Henry Hotel,” Sheffield said. “I saw things at the Henry I never saw at home.”

Sheffield was co-screenwriter of the Coming To/2 America movies, The Nutty Professor, Boomerang, and other Eddie Murphy movies, but he never forgot his stint at the Henry Hotel. With The Heartbreak Henry, Sheffield is returning full circle to Oxford where his career as a comedy writer began.