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Students discuss UM’s new online IMC master’s program

Posted on: February 9th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media recently launched a new online integrated marketing communication master’s degree program. We asked a few students enrolled in the program their thoughts about it.

Caroline Hughes, 25, is working on her master’s degree in IMC via the online program. She said she plans to use her degree to establish a company that prioritizes ethical business practices and spreads awareness around environmental sustainability.

“Whether that be fashion or beauty, a crafted specialization and understanding of marketing communication I’ve learned as an undergraduate and graduate student will prove beneficial no matter the company focus or industry,” she said.

Hughes said the program began with an introductory IMC course that laid the foundation of overall brand messaging, competition and target audiences. Following that course, Hughes’ Insights and Measurements class emphasized the importance of market research.

“This included everything from conducting and facilitating studies to interpreting the data in order to make conscious marketing decisions,” she said.

Hughes said she likes the flexibility of the online IMC master’s program.

“As a marketing professional, it has been supremely beneficial to tackle my schoolwork outside of the working environment on my time,” she said. “Not only this, but having applicable work experience generates deeper understanding and connection with the material and projects assigned.

“My fellow classmates and I communicate often via discussion platforms, which creates a sense of interaction and community. Additionally, my tenure as an undergraduate IMC student provided both an introduction to the journalism professors as well as a strong foundation of marketing knowledge further expounded upon in the graduate program.”

Loidha Bautista, 37, is also enrolled in the online IMC master’s degree program. So far she’s taken IMC 501 – Introduction to IMC and IMC 503 – Insights and Measurements.

“I learned to look at communications differently,” she said. “Communications should be viewed as a string that ties internal communications in an organization to the external audience and distributors. It’s an integral step to understanding a brand and being able to effectively understand how your brand is viewed and how you want others to view your brand.”

Bautista said the online IMC master’s program is a rigorous program well designed for the working professional.

“The faculty is very knowledgeable and experienced in the field,” she said. “They offer a good pace and excellent observations and input.”

Hailey Heck, 23, is based in Houston, Texas and enrolled in the online IMC master’s program. She attended UM as an undergraduate and graduated with an IMC degree in 2017.

“Soon after graduating, I had the itch for more and decided to obtain a master’s degree in the very same program,” she said. “This school has led me (to) the best professors who encouraged and supported my love of writing and communication.”

Heck said she works on the PR team for a “Big Law” law firm in Houston. She spends her days maintaining awareness – both internally and externally – of the fast-paced landscape of the legal industry in a variety of practice areas.

“When a case is shifted to the opposing team’s favor or the regulatory landscape shifts, the brilliant minds in my office leap into action,” she said. “It is a thing of beauty to watch the choreographed chaos of former White House staffers, former governors and Ivy League scholars determining the best way to advocate for their clients.”

Heck said she took an Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communication class last semester with professor Robert Magee, Ph.D., and an Insights and Measurements class with professor Graham Bodie, Ph.D.

“With both of these courses, we learned how the IMC principles can be applied in a variety of contexts,” she said. “In Dr. Bodie’s class, we learned different research methods and ways to analyze the data collected.”

Heck said she’s impressed with how much the IMC program has grown, and she values the convenience of the online IMC master’s program.

“Because I work full time, it was essential that the program I chose could be delivered entirely online,” she said. “When I first heard the news that my alma mater was developing an online program of the degree I loved so much, it was a no-brainer. I had to apply. During my undergraduate studies, I came across the most wonderful, supportive professors who challenged me to go the extra mile and dive deeper. This experience has been no different.”

To learn more about the online IMC master’s program, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

 

Not all University of Mississippi students who study journalism and marketing choose media fields

Posted on: February 5th, 2019 by ldrucker

A recent University of Mississippi business and marketing major, who was also a student in the School of Journalism and New Media, is proving that not all students who study journalism and marketing choose media fields.

Denver Wilson got a job out of college working as the manager of the new Nashville clothing store Dsquared. Wilson, who has worked at Dsquared since she was in high school, helped open their second location in Oxford in 2017. Last winter, owner Lea Easley asked about Wilson’s post-graduation plans.

“I told her that I’ve always wanted to be in Nashville because I wanted to be out of Mississippi, but in a city that is somewhat close to home,” Wilson said. “She asked me if I wanted to help open a Dsquared in Nashville and manage it, and I’ve always wanted to continue working in retail.”

Excited for the next chapter of her life and new responsibilities as the store manager, Wilson contacted a Nashville realtor last June to find the perfect location for the new store that originally opened in Jackson before expanding to Oxford in 2017.

What initially started as a dance store called Dancing Divas in 2009, owners began to focus on supplying contemporary clothing for area moms. Now the store appeals to a variety of ages.

“We realized we could cater to the younger crowd,” said Wilson. “We started off selling homecoming dance dresses, and then it took off.”

Wilson also uses her marketing and journalism skills to promote the store on Instagram. The account is updated with new content every few hours as the store receives orders. Wilson said people can call the store with their payment information, and they will set aside their purchase for pick up or ship it for a small fee.

Wilson said she updates the Nashville store’s Instagram with a variety of content ranging from flat-lay photos to people modeling their newest inventory. “I love taking pictures,” she said.

In recent years, Nashville has been a hot spot for young, post-college grad students and home to many new developments and businesses. Those unfamiliar with the city will quickly learn traffic is challenging, and parking may be worse.

Wilson said she looked for a store location in the 12th South neighborhood, which has taken off within the past few years and is home to some of Nashville’s hottest tourist spots, including Reese Witherspoon’s store Draper James and the I Believe in Nashville sign.

However, Wilson said high traffic flow and lack of parking spots was a significant concern and a make-or-break factor for the new location.

“I’d rather be in a location where you can drive by, and pop in, and not have to worry about paying for a parking spot or hunting one down,” said Wilson, who finally located a vacant store in the popular Green Hills neighborhood near Nordstrom’s, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Shake Shack, Pottery Barn and many other clothing boutiques.

“It felt like we needed to be here,” said Wilson, who walked into the empty store in the Bandywood shopping center and was shown the building. “It’s like we’re the very last touch in this shopping center.”

The store has a free-form layout. They keep merchandise together that they believe will sell together. “When you walk in, jewelry and sunglasses are arranged neatly on a table,” she said.

To give the store a more boutique feel and reduce clutter, they display an example of their shoes and keep the rest in inventory.

The Dsquared team goes to market four times a year to select merchandise for the store. This past summer, the team spent a week in Los Angeles shopping for their 2019 spring inventory.

Sales Associate Mary-Morgan Coburn said they go to market with a specific strategy and have set meeting times with specific vendors. However, Coburn said they find many new brands appealing.

“When we went to market in L.A.,” Coburn said. “We knew we wanted to order silk scarves for all of the Dsquared locations, but we had no specific brand in mind. We also happened to come across a new handbag brand that we now place a lot of orders with.”

When ordering for the Nashville store, Wilson said they ordered sweaters that would be immediately available because Nashville is colder than Mississippi. She said their spring inventory will arrive a month later in Nashville compared to the Oxford and Jackson store because it stays colder in Nashville.

Dsquared has a successful online business, which is relatively new, Coburn said. She said it’s different than other retailers because they do not keep their inventory in a warehouse.

Wilson said word of mouth and their convenient location has helped their success. She anticipates their customer base will grow.

This story was written by School of Journalism and New Media student Jane Anne Darken for OxfordStories.net originally.

Anchorage to Oxford: Student travels 4,500 miles for IMC graduate school

Posted on: February 4th, 2019 by ldrucker

Chris Lawrence and his father spent eight days on the road from Anchorage, Alaska, to Oxford, going through a CD case full of classic rock, telling stories and taking in diverse landscapes on a 4,500-mile adventure to start a new journey as a graduate student at the University of Mississippi.

At the end of the voyage, Chris Lawrence enrolled last fall as an integrated marketing communications graduate student at Ole Miss. Jay Lawrence got to see the town before heading back to Alaska by plane.

“I was able to show him Oxford and Ole Miss a little bit, and that meant a whole lot,” Chris said.

After Chris earned his undergraduate degree in journalism and public communications at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, he decided he would go to graduate school and continue his education in Mississippi. His mother, Kelly Lawrence, lives in Amory, and growing up, he spent summers in the Magnolia State with her.

Kelly, Chris and Jay Lawrence take a picture with the statue of William Faulkner upon their arrival to Oxford. Submitted photo

“I thought, well, why not see what Mississippi has to offer so I could be close to my mom while continuing my education,” he said. “I did a little research and discovered Ole Miss had a great IMC program, and decided it was for me.”

Once the decision was made to enroll at Ole Miss, the daunting 600-mile-a-day, eight-day trip lay ahead of the father-and-son team. They stuffed Chris’ Dodge Caliber full of moving essentials and mementos and drove in five-hour shifts each day.

Jay enjoyed the long trip with his son and the ability to spend so much bonding time with him.

“We had a good time,” Jay said. “It was an opportunity to spend more time with him.”

The many different types of landscapes and wildlife between Anchorage and Oxford served as the main source of entertainment for the pair.

“We, unfortunately, didn’t spend a lot of time at places, but we definitely took in the sights and wonders of nature,” Chris said. “Just to be able to have a piece of a place and kind of know a little about what it’s like was nice.”

Some of the places the two stayed were the Canadian cities of Destruction Bay, Yukon; Fort Nelson, British Columbia; and Edmonton, Alberta. Cities in the United States included Bozeman, Montana; Scottsbluff, Nebraska; St. Joseph, Missouri; and Forrest City, Arkansas.

Lethbridge, Alberta, was a particular favorite.

“We drove through there and saw a 100-year-old steel viaduct and rolling hills all around town,” Chris said. “Lethbridge seemed runner- and biker-friendly, too. It was really, really cool.”

Bozeman, Montana, on the other hand, was bustling with tourists there to take in Yellowstone National Park. Besides the traffic and crowds there, Montana was lovely.

“We went over a bunch of rivers,” he said. “There was also a lot of open areas where you could see nothing but the sky. You could see for miles and miles.”

He enjoyed Montana and British Columbia for the scenery that the two places offered.

“British Columbia had a lot of open views,” he said. “You could see the gorgeous trees, rivers and lakes, so that was really awesome and majestic. We saw six black bears on the side of the road alone through B.C., and about 10 wild horses in Montana.”

To pass the time during the trip to Ole Miss, Chris and his father had conversations about past times and what lies ahead, while jamming out to rock bands such as Pearl Jam and Tom Petty.

Luck was also on their side. The two encountered few problems that slowed them down along the journey. They even said they were always ahead of bad weather.

“Surprisingly, we only saw two or three accidents the entire way so that was good traffic didn’t hold us up,” he said. “I’d say we drove through only 60 minutes of rain combined along the way.”

Once they reached Forrest City, they knew they were close to their final destination. The food was a dead giveaway.

“I had catfish with the bone-in, slaw and baked beans,” Chris said. “So I definitely knew I was home in the South.”

The father-son team was relieved to get to Oxford after that. Before Jay flew back to Anchorage, Chris and his mom showed Jay around Oxford and Ole Miss, which was special to all of them.

Chris is familiar with Oxford because he used to visit the town with his mom during summers.

“I always really liked it,” he said. “I thought it was a beautiful place.”

His mom was relieved the trip went well, and she was elated to see her son.

“When he got here, I was so happy to see him and am so excited knowing he’s at Ole Miss now,” she said.

The Lawrences made unforgettable memories over those 4,500 miles.

“It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences saying you could do a cross-country trek like that,” Chris said. “It was the end of my Alaska chapter and the beginning of my chapter here in Mississippi.”

This story was written by Kendall Patterson of University Communications.

UM School of Journalism and New Media professor serves as ‘chair of the Americas’ at University of Rennes in France

Posted on: January 28th, 2019 by ldrucker

Dr. Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism, is on sabbatical this semester serving as “chair of the Americas” at the University of Rennes in Brittany, France. She will lead a semester seminar on fake news and give several lectures related to the civil rights movement and the media.

American Journalism has just accepted for publication her article on Eyes on the Prize and broadcast news, which forms one of the lectures she is giving in France.

Dr. Wickham has also been invited to lecture at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of New York in Prague on chapters from her book, We Believed We Were Immortal: Twelve Reporters Who Covered the 1962 Integration Crisis at Ole Miss (Yoknapatawpha Press, September 2017).

Additional lectures in England and Ireland are pending.

Overby Center Spring 2019: Journalism and politics during election year in Mississippi

Posted on: January 28th, 2019 by ldrucker

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss begins its spring schedule next week with a lineup that accentuates politics and decision-making for an election year in Mississippi.

“Our programs feature a nationally known federal judge who grew up in Mississippi, journalists from The New York Times and The Washington Post, authors and political experts,” said Charles Overby, chairman of the center. “The programs offer a rich opportunity for conversations between the panelists the audiences on a broad array of subjects.”

Each event will take place in the Overby Center Auditorium. The programs are free and open to the public, and parking will be available in the lot adjacent to the auditorium. The schedule includes:

Read more descriptions of upcoming Overby events below the graphic.

Monday, Feb. 18, 5:30 p.m. – INSIGHT INTO MISSISSIPPI’S ELECTION YEAR

Two seasoned journalists who cover state politics – Emily Wagster Pettus of the Associated Press and Adam Ganucheau of Mississippi Today –will provide early intelligence on the developing contests for statewide offices this year. They will talk with Overby and Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie.

Monday, March 4, 5:30 p.m. – A PIONEER OF THE BLACK PRESS

Burnis Morris, an Ole Miss graduate who is now a journalism professor at Marshall University, returns to campus to discuss his new book based on the work of Carter G. Woodson, who was called the “Father of Black History.” He will be joined in the conversation by Alysia Steele, the author of “Delta Jewels” and a member of the journalism faculty at Ole Miss.

Wednesday, March 20, 5:30 pm. – THE TRUTH ABOUT FAKE NEWS

The chief media columnists for The New York Times and The Washington Post will weigh in on the fake news phenomenon and how it is not only undercutting a civil discourse in the country, but is also striking at the heart of our democracy. Margaret Sullivan of The Post (the former public editor of The New York Times) and Jim Rutenberg of The Times, a long-time political reporter, head up a panel on this issue that has gone from a funny catch phrase to a crucial challenge for covering the news. They will talk with Overby and Overby Fellow Greg Brock.

Wednesday, April 3, 5:30 p.m. – “THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD”

Yeats coined the term 100 years ago in his famous poem, “The Second Coming,” but the expression applies today in the nation’s bitterly divided politics. Stuart Stevens, a Mississippi native and architect of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, and David Baria, a Democratic candidate for one of Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seats last fall, will talk about the dilemma with Overby and Wilkie.

Wednesday, April 17, 5:30 p.m. – OVERCOMING A SEGREGATIONIST PAST

U.S. District Judge William Alsup of San Francisco and attorney Danny Cupit of Jackson were white high school and college friends in the segregated environment of Mississippi in the 1960s. Alsup has written a book, “Won Over,” about how he broke through the segregationist status quo to become a civil rights advocate. He and Cupit will talk with Overby and Wilkie about their experiences.

Films of five UM School of Journalism students shown at Oxford’s Burns-Belfry

Posted on: January 11th, 2019 by ldrucker

The films of five UM School of Journalism and New Media students were shown during a recent event called Mississippi Movie Mondays at the Belfry on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Oxford Film Festival and Southern Foodways Alliance partnered with Oxford’s Burns-Belfry Museum & Multicultural Center and Lens Collective to host a special movie screening and panel discussion at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21 in Oxford’s Burns Belfry at 710 Jackson Avenue. The event is free and open to the public.

It featured the work of UM students Devna Bose, Ariel Cobbert, Natalie Seales, Gracie Snyder and Maddie Beck.

Alysia Steele, a UM School of Journalism and New Media professor and coordinator for Lens Collective, a multimedia storytelling conference, said the students worked hard on short deadlines to produce the stories.

“In fact, from documenting to producing, students have less than 24 hours turnaround time,” she said. “So, it demonstrates to me that, not only are students learning, but they’re applying those practical skills in thoughtful, quality projects.”

Steele said this lets students know they can do great work on tight deadlines and take pride in what they have accomplished.

“It is quite rewarding to see their smiles when they watch their work on the big screen,” she said. “It becomes emotional for many of us, and that’s a good thing.”

This is the UM School of Journalism and New Media’s second year to offer Lens Collective. Steele said she hopes more students will see value in participating in special projects.

“It’s not easy work, but it’s quite rewarding,” she said. “Students are having fun, bonding with students from other universities, and learning from award-winning photojournalists. The mentors take time off from work to help, and they do it because they care – just like the professors who volunteer their time.”

Steele said this was a networking event that provided skill sets that will help in any journalism or integrated marketing career. And she said multimedia skills – highlighting audio/video and photography – are applicable to many career fields. It’s also a great confidence booster.

“The mentors care, the students care, and the professors care, so it doesn’t get any better than that,” she said. “We appreciate the journalism administrators valuing these out-of-classroom experiences, such as Lens Collective. We are producing great work from diverse opportunities, and I hope students will take advantage of what’s being offered here at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media. Learning outside of the classroom is just as important, and life-changing, as being in a classroom. Real world experiences, right here, right now.”

The series of short films provided for free to the community included:

Bright at Night – The Sunday evening experience at Foxfire serves up a slice of life in Marshall County, Mississippi, where culinary and musical traditions have always been closely interwoven.

Counter Histories Jackson – In this piece, attendees heard from Colia Clark, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Bill Minor, Daphne Chamberlain and the Rev. Ed King about the historic sit-in at the 1963 Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi.

Country Platter – Jimmy Williams has been the owner of Country Platter in Cleveland, Mississippi since 1994. In its history, Country Platter was previously Lilley’s Soul Food Cafe, a meeting place during the Civil Rights Movement for many influential figures, including Dr. Martin Lather King Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Amzie Moore. Today, Williams works to give back to his community, remembering his past to influence his present.

Delta Dreams – A look at the music of the Delta and the new Grammy museum.

Faith, Hope, & Inspiration – Members of the Clarksdale, Mississippi community reflect on the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King’s visit to First Baptist Church during their civil rights struggles in the 1950s and ’60s.

Otha Turner – In the late 1950s, fife and drum legend Otha Turner began hosting annual Labor Day picnics at his property in Gravel Springs, Mississippi. Turner would butcher and roast goat, pork, and fish, drawing neighbors with the smell of his cooking and the sounds of his fife and drum.

Signs – A short documentary examining the ongoing vandalism of signs marking Emmett Till’s brutal murder.

Vishwesh Bhatt: The South I Love – Vishwesh Bhatt is a Southern chef using flavors from his childhood to add to the lexicon of Southern Food. A short film by Southern Foodways Alliance summer documentary intern Nicole Du Bois.

Two UM School of Journalism and New Media students named as a winners in national journalism contest

Posted on: January 10th, 2019 by ldrucker

Two University of Mississippi student media leaders have been named as winners in the 2018-2019 Hearst Journalism Awards Program.

Abbie McIntosh and Ariel Cobbert both placed in the Hearst Journalism Awards national competition this year.

In the Television Features category, McIntosh tied for 15th place. There were 107 entries from 60 universities. Cobbert placed 21st in the Photojournalism News and Features category, which had a record 128 entries from 77 universities.

McIntosh is station manager for UM’s award-winning NewsWatch Ole Miss – a daily, student-run live 30-minute newscast.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Abbie the past two years as she was NewsWatch station manager,” said NewsWatch faculty adviser Nancy Dupont. “Then I had the pleasure of having her in my advanced TV reporting class. She has a goal to be excellent in everything she does. In fact, she will overcome any obstacle getting in the way of her success. She is in the top 1 percent of broadcast journalism students I’ve ever taught.”

 

The two TV packages from McIntosh that were entered in the Television Features category were both from coverage of Hurricane Michael. Three journalism students – led by journalism professors Mark Dolan, Ji Hoon Heo and John Baker – traveled to Panama City in October to report about the hurricane’s impact.

Cobbert, who graduated in December 2018, is former photo editor for The Daily Mississippian and The Ole Miss yearbook. Her Hearst photojournalism entry included her DM coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and photos she took for the yearbook and for her internships. In summer 2018, she had a photo internship at the Daily Press in Virginia, and she had a fall internship at the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Alysia Steele is one of the JNM professors who have worked closely with Cobbert.

“I have watched Ariel blossom over the years,” Steele said. “What I love and respect about Ariel is how hard working she is, and how she takes constructive feedback from a good place and applies it to her work. She has one of the best attitudes I’ve ever seen in a student, and I’m ridiculously proud of her. It’s nice to see her place in Hearst. I can’t wait to see what she does career-wise, because I know for sure she’s going to make an impact in the journalism world.”

The Hearst contest has several more categories with deadlines during spring semester.

Winners were selected from 107 entries submitted from 60 schools nationwide. The first-place winner qualifies for the National Television Championship held in San Francisco next June.

Other top winners, along with the top finalists in the next television competition, will submit additional entries for a semi-final round of judging. Four finalists will be chosen from that round to compete in the championship, along with writing, photo, radio and multimedia finalists.

First Place has been awarded to Grace King from University of Florida. King wins a $3,000 scholarship and qualifies for the National Broadcast News Championship.

The top ten finalists and their awards are:

Second Place, $2,000 award, Lydia Nusbaum, University of Missouri
Third Place, $1,500 award, Matt Lively, Arizona State University
Fourth Place, $1,000 award, Meredith Sheldon, University Florida
Fifth Place, $1,000 award, Claire Going, Pennsylvania State University
Sixth Place, certificate, Claire Kopsky, University of Missouri
Seventh Place, certificate, Tom Austen, Syracuse University
Eighth Place, certificate, Payton Walker, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ninth Place, certificate, Lillian Donahue, Arizona State University
Tenth Place, certificate, Kristen Rary, University of Georgia

The top five winning schools receive matching grants. The University of Florida is in first place in the Intercollegiate Broadcast Competition with the highest accumulated student points from the first of two television competition of this academic year.

It is followed by: University of Missouri, Arizona State University, Syracuse University, Pennsylvania State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Baylor University, Michigan State University, University of Maryland and the University of Georgia.

The final intercollegiate broadcast winners are announced after the completion of the radio competition and the second television competition. The top three intercollegiate winners earn $10,000, $4,000 and $2,000 respectively, which will be presented at the National Championships in San Francisco this June.

The television judges are: Julie Chin, news director, KNX Radio, Los Angeles; Lloyd Siegel, former vice president of news partnerships, NBC News, New York; and Fred Young, retired senior vice president of news, Hearst Television Inc., Yardley, Pennsylvania.

The 59th annual Hearst Journalism Awards Program added broadcast news to the competitions in 1988. The program also includes five writing, one radio, two photo, and four multimedia competitions offering up to $700,000 in scholarships, matching grants and stipends.

There are 104 universities of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication with accredited undergraduate journalism programs eligible to participate in the Hearst competitions.

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program is conducted under the auspices of accredited schools of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication and fully funded and administered by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

The program consists of five monthly writing competitions, two photojournalism competitions, one radio and two TV broadcast news competitions, and four multimedia competitions, with Championship Finals in all divisions, with the exception of team multimedia. The program awards up to $700,000 in scholarships, matching grants, stipends and intercollegiate awards annually.

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation was established by its namesake in 1948 under California non-profit laws, exclusively for educational and charitable purposes. Since then, the Hearst Foundations have contributed more than one billion dollars to numerous educational programs, health and medical care, human services and the arts in every state.

Memphis Public Relations Society Chapter Names UM School of New Media alumnus Otis Sanford 2018 Communicator of the Year

Posted on: January 9th, 2019 by ldrucker

Otis Sanford, Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis, has been selected by the Memphis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America as its 2018 Communicator of the Year.

The organization honored him at its monthly luncheon Jan. 10 at the University Club.

“I am so humbled to be recognized as the PRSA Memphis Chapter’s 2018 Communicator of the Year,” said Sanford. “This is quite a surprise and an honor to receive such a prestigious award.”

Sanford, a Mississippi native and 1975 graduate of the University of Mississippi, began his professional journalism career at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. He joined The Commercial Appeal in 1977 and was part of the reporting team that covered the 1977 death of Elvis Presley, rising through the newsroom to become managing editor and editor of opinions and editorials, before moving into academia in 2011.

Screenshot from otissanford.com

Sanford now serves as the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis, and is the author of the critically acclaimed book, From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics. Sanford also writes a weekly political column for the Daily Memphian online news site and serves as political analyst and commentator for WATN-TV Local 24 News.

This will be the 42nd year that the Memphis Chapter of PRSA will honor its Communicator of the Year. The award is given to a member of the community who exhibits the ability to communicate effectively to general or specific publics; has public visibility and is a respected member of the community, who invests his or her time and talent conveying a specific message.

“In choosing Sanford, PRSA Memphis recognizes his ability as a communicator to raise public awareness concerning the challenges that have affected Memphis over the last 40 years,” said Sarah Sherlock, president of the Memphis Chapter of PRSA.

A nationally recognized speaker on journalism ethics, education, and the First Amendment, Sanford is also the recipient of the Silver Em Award from his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, and the annual print journalism award at the University of Memphis was named in his honor. He is past president of the Associated Press Media Editors and past board chairman of the Mid-America Press Institute. In 2014, he was inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame.

The Communicator of the Year award was established in 1976 with Bud Dudley, founder of the Liberty Bowl, its first recipient. The list of honorees includes, Ron Terry, Cecil Humphreys, Fred P. Gattas, Olin Morris, D’Army Bailey, Judith Drescher, Fred Jones, Gerry House, Dr. Scott Morris, Arnold Perl, Linn Sitler, W.W. Herenton, John Calipari, Beverly Robertson, Bob Loeb, Toney Armstrong, Dr. Todd Richardson, PhD, and Mauricio Calvo.

Tickets to the luncheon are free for PRSA members, $25 for non-members, and $15 for students. For more information or to register for the award luncheon visit: www.prsamemphis.org.

Computer science and UM School of Journalism and New Media researchers combat health disinformation

Posted on: January 9th, 2019 by ldrucker

Two UM professors received an interdisciplinary research grant to develop an automated method for identifying health disinformation in the news.

Naeemul Hassan, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Computer Science and Information Department, and Kristen Swain, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Journalism and New Media, received one of the first Big Data Flagship Constellation seed grants in January.

“Even though trusted, reliable media outlets do spread health misinformation, most intentional health disinformation originates from unreliable media sources,” Swain said. “There is little existing research on health disinformation patterns in social media. We hope to uncover how health news framing is exploited to spread disinformation and then develop algorithms to help journalists, readers and news providers differentiate credible health news from disinformation.”

In their one-year project, “CHORD: Combating Health Oriented Disinformation,” the professors plan to build and analyze a large-scale repository of print and broadcast health news stories that appeared on social networking sites. Then they will analyze media content patterns across reliable and unreliable stories and identify network characteristics and engagement patterns among readers in different age groups. Finally, they will conduct reader surveys and focus groups to identify health disinformation challenges.

The project synthesizes applied natural language processing, big data, network analysis and media content analysis, Hassan said. The team ultimately hopes to develop a computer program that can automatically identify health disinformation, as well as recommendations for new policies to discourage health hoax propagators.

Kristen Swain, Ph.D.

The team initially will develop a scraper program to automatically collect articles from media sources’ websites, automatically separate health-oriented news articles from non-health articles, and gather social media engagement metrics, such as comments, shares and likes for each article. Algorithms also will identify story characteristics including headlines, bylines, leads, captions, video and other images, topics, sourcing patterns, factual and opinion statements, and quote types.

Reliable sources will include CNN Health, Cancer.gov, WebMD, etc., and unreliable sources will include sites like REALfarmacy.com and HealthNutNews. Unreliable story characteristics include disease mongering, vague sourcing, and failure to identify financial conflicts of interest.

Previously, Hassan developed a data collection program that curated about 66,000 news articles from 27 reliable media outlets and 20 unreliable outlets. The preliminary findings helped him design the new project.

“We hope to identify new recommendations for journalists who cover health topics and develop a computer application to provide instant feedback on their draft stories,” Swain said. The new computer application also could help commercial third-party news aggregate applications such as Yahoo News, Flipboard and Bundle News automatically flag health disinformation that should be removed from news feeds.

Naeemul Hassan. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

After completing the content analysis, the team will model reader behaviors by interviewing young people and seniors who read, share and engage with health stories, Hassan said. To explore whether age, gender, education level and news consumption behaviors predict susceptibility to health disinformation, the team will conduct focus groups of readers younger than 18 and seniors 65 and older. They will use the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing service to collect feedback about the middle-range readers ages 18-64.

“We hope our findings will inform development of new media literacy educational materials to help people of all ages learn how to identify health disinformation,” Swain said.

The 2019 seed grant will support a computer science graduate assistant in spring 2019 and a journalism graduate assistant in fall 2019. In 2020, the team plans to produce conference presentations, scholarly articles, and an external grant proposal.

The Flagship Constellation initiative, now in its second year, supports interdisciplinary research projects at UM and UMCC that focus on big data, community wellbeing, disaster resilience and brain wellness. In November 2017, UM alums Thomas and Jim Duff contributed $1 million, which supports the constellation grant competitions.

“If our study can reduce the number of people believing in health disinformation, this could improve the overall health condition of people throughout Mississippi and the U.S.,” Swain said.

UM School of Journalism and New Media students, faculty spend winter break on Puerto Rico reporting trip

Posted on: January 8th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media continues to offer students extraordinary reporting opportunities outside the mainland United States. A group of students and faculty were in Puerto Rico for Winter Intersession on a multimedia reporting trip to interview island residents about the impact of Hurricane Maria.

Brittany Brown interviews the mayor of Loíza. Loíza, in northeastern Puerto Rico, is the center of Afro-Puerto Rican culture.

Students used social media tools to identify sources before the trip, and while they were in Puerto Rico, they used social media to post frequent updates. One student was invited to join media professionals on a documentary project in Puerto Rico later this year. They were impressed with the content she posted from this trip.

A guided night tour of Old San Juan. Pictured are professors Iveta Imre and Pat Thompson, and students

The group has visited several cities and villages for interviews. Their content – articles, photos, video, audio, graphics and more – were produced for a website and available for other platforms.

Christian Johnson and Devna Bose take photos on a beach in Aguada in northwestern Puerto Rico.