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Global communications director of League of Legends franchise to speak to UM students

Posted on: January 16th, 2020 by ldrucker

Ryan Rigney, the global communications lead of the League of Legends franchise, will be the first speaker of the spring semester at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

He will address an audience in the Overby Center auditorium at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29. The Overby Center is located inside Farley Hall on the University of Mississippi campus.

He will also be one of the featured panelists during the 2020 Jobs Conference set for 10-4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30 in the Overby Center and Farley Hall.

Ryan Rigney

Ryan Rigney

Rigney, 28, a native of Poplarville, Mississippi, about 30 minutes south of Hattiesburg, said he enrolled in the University of Mississippi in 2010 with dreams of becoming a magazine journalist.

“While still in high school, I landed some gigs writing about video games for – first – websites, and later, small-press magazines like GamePro (R.I.P.),” he said. “By the time I was in college, I’d worked my way up the ladder of the magazine world enough to write for magazines like PC Gamer, and later WIRED and EDGE.”

Rigney wrote about mobile games, which culminated in the publication of his book Buttonless about iOS games. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles to work for a gaming-adjacent startup. About a year later, he landed his first job at Riot Games.

“The past five years have been sort of a blur since then, but over time, I basically converted from a creative/editorial writer into a communications strategist, a.k.a. a PR guy,” he said.

The League of Legends logo.

The League of Legends logo.

Riot Games is the developer and publisher of League of Legends, which, by player count, is the world’s most popular PC game and biggest esport, Rigney said. The company’s annual Worlds championship has drawn about 100 million unique viewers for a couple of years.

Riot Games was founded in 2006 by Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill with the intent to change the way video games are made and supported for players. In 2009, the company released its debut title League of Legends to worldwide acclaim. The game has since become the most played PC game in the world and a key driver of the explosive growth of esports. Riot Games is headquartered in Los Angeles and has 23 offices worldwide.

“We also do a bunch of insane stuff like music videos that get over 300 million views on YouTube alone,” he said. “The ‘champions’ (characters) from League appear in virtual hip hop groups, in clothing partnerships with brands like Louis Vuitton, and soon in an animated series.”

Rigney said League of Legends is mostly known as a single video game today, but within a few years, people will know it as a series of 10+ games and pop culture media that isn’t limited to any one form.

A still photo from League of Legends showing some of the characters.

A still photo from League of Legends showing some of the characters.

“My job is global communications lead – League of Legends franchise,” he said. “On paper, I’m a people manager. I lead a team that includes our editorial lead and a quartet of senior/mid-level comms strategists who run all communications on three of Riot’s games. I operate at the ‘franchise’ level, which is just a fancy way of saying that they call me whenever we do something that covers more than one game.

“I’m a little unusual in that I also work as an individual contributor. I write a lot of Riot’s messaging directly. I act as a spokesperson for the company on social media (Reddit/Twitter especially), and I guide our overall approach to communications. Mostly, I sit in meetings and help developers figure out how to say stuff to players.”

Rigney predicts the games industry will get bigger and more ambitious. He said college students should consider pursuing it because there are more entry points and viable careers now than ever before.

Ellen Meacham, a professor with the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said Rigney arrived on campus as a student with big ideas and a lot of energy.

“He was a hard worker too,” she said. “In 2012, he won the university’s Gillespie Award for best business plan.”

Inside the Riot Games headquarters.

Inside the Riot Games headquarters.

Rigney, the overall Gillespie winner, was awarded $4,000 for his business plan, Utah Raptor Games. The competition is designed to foster entrepreneurship by encouraging students to develop business ideas.

“I think he will also have a lot to say about what the esports and gaming world is like now, what’s in the future, and how his work in communications will shape and be shaped by that,” she said.

Rigney said writing was one of the most valuable skills he learned at the UM School of Journalism and New Media.

“My j-school professors taught me how to write,” he said. “Which is to say, they taught me how to think clearly, and to structure information in a way that’s digestible for other people. Even though my job doesn’t match the degree I earned from Ole Miss, I think the lessons I learned about writing are 100 percent applicable to my current job.”

Inside the Riot Games headquarters.

Inside the Riot Games headquarters.

Rigney also remembers the professors who encouraged him to pursue his passion.

“I don’t know what sort of encouragement the current crop of Ole Miss students need, but I’d love to listen to their questions and share what limited knowledge I have to help them along their own paths,” he said. “I think sometimes people from Mississippi don’t think they can do the sort of work that successful people in the film industry, or literature, or gaming do. It all seems very distant, when you grew up in the woods, like I did. I would love to help people understand how achievable their goals are, if they’re strategic about their career.”

He said he doesn’t believe in one-size-fits-all advice, but Rigney’s learned a few things about the business world.

“You have to ask for something if you’re going to get it,” he said. “That applies to jobs, and career opportunities, and chances to grow.”

To request an interview, contact Debora Wenger, assistant dean for innovation and external partnerships and associate professor of journalism, at 662-915-7912 or drwenger@olemiss.edu.

Tickets are not required for the event. If you plan to attend and require accommodations for a disability, please contact Sarah Griffith at 662-915-7146 or jour-imc@olemiss.edu. For more information about our journalism or IMC programs visit jnm.olemiss.edu.

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

UM School of Journalism faculty members remember Harold Burson and his legacy

Posted on: January 14th, 2020 by ldrucker

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media faculty members are proud to have known Harold Burson, a UM graduate who founded Burson-Marsteller, a company that grew to become the world’s largest public relations firm.

The World War II veteran was a friend and colleague to many who passed away at the age of 98. But in October, Burson visited the school to sign copies of his book The Business of Persuasion and spoke to a room of faculty and students during a presentation moderated by Senior Lecturer Robin Street, who specializes in public relations and integrated marketing communications.

Senior Lecturer of Journalism Robin Street stands behind Harold Burson and former Chancellor Robert Khayat.

Senior Lecturer of Journalism Robin Street stands behind Harold Burson and former Chancellor Robert Khayat in October. Photo by LaReeca Rucker.

“One of the greatest joys in my teaching career was the chance to spend time with Harold Burson, and even better, to have him speak to my students several times,” Street said via email, adding that his name and significance in the PR world are among the first things she teaches her students in the Introduction to Public Relations class.

“I tell them that what Elvis Presley was to rock and roll, Burson was to PR,” she said. “He truly helped the profession evolve, change and grow. . . This man was a giant in the PR world. Yet, he was soft-spoken and humble when he spoke to students. After he spoke, he always patiently posed for photo after photo with the students.”

Burson got his start as a writer for The Daily Mississippian and later became one of the most influential public relations figures in the world. He spent more than 50 years serving CEOs, government leaders, and heads of public sector units.

This week, his life has been chronicled in national newspapers and on websites such as PR Week, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Harold Burson, former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, and journalists Curtis Wlkie and Peter J. Boyer were among those who attended the faculty meeting with Burson.

Harold Burson, former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, and journalists Curtis Wlkie and Peter J. Boyer were among those who attended the faculty meeting with Burson. Photo by LaReeca Rucker.

Burson, who spoke to faculty and signed copies of his book before addressing students in the Overby Center, was born in 1921. He said his father came to the United States from England and served in the British Army before establishing a career in the cotton business.

Ellen Meacham, a professor with the School of Journalism and New Media, said Burson covered the Nuremberg trials for the American Forces Network as a 24-year-old radio journalist.

“His work stands as an essential witness to both the atrocities of the Nazis and the values that the U.S. aimed to uphold,” she said. “As he spent days and days watching the documents and footage taken by the Nazi’s themselves from the concentration camps entered into evidence, it must have taken a tremendous personal emotional toll, yet his demeanor and writing remained unshakably professional.”

From left, Harold Burson, former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, and journalist Curtis Wlkie were among those who attended the faculty meeting with Burson.

From left, Harold Burson, former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, and journalist Curtis Wilkie were among those who attended the faculty meeting with Burson. Photo by LaReeca Rucker.

Meacham said the scripts he wrote demonstrate timeless journalistic values, the same ones professors try to teach today.

“Tell the truth as best you can,” she said. “Tell it square, with out fear or favor. Know your audience. Help them understand what they want to know and what they need to know. Make them see, hear, and, most importantly, FEEL the story. Be the witness to history, and write its first draft. He set a great example for generations to come.”

Harold Burson signed copies of his book The Business of Persuasion.

Harold Burson signed copies of his book The Business of Persuasion.

Burson told faculty during the fall that when he decided to create his own business in the 1930s, he wrote a letter to a potential businessman asking him to be his first client. The recipient agreed and found Burson an additional client. Six years later, he had a team of five employees.

Throughout his career, he has worked on many important projects at the local, state, and federal level.

One of his most high profile PR cases happened in the 1980s when he was hired by the company Johnson & Johnson after news broke that several people had died after bottles of Tylenol were found to have been tainted by cyanide.

Burson discussed the case in the Overby Center, explaining that it was not just a threat to the pharmaceutical industry; it was also dangerous for the entire food industry whose products could be easily penetrated with needles, etc.

Street said she has taught about this classic crisis case for years, but didn’t know Burson was the PR expert helping with it until he casually mentioned it one day.

“The last time he spoke was in October, and he held the rapt attention of a room full of college students,” she said. “That is something even few professors can do.”

Although she met him only a few times, Meacham said Burson made a deep impression.

“He had an intense focus, on you, on the business at hand, and on the larger context,” she said. “He seemed to notice everything and remember every detail. He was a great storyteller, too, which is what made him, early on, a good reporter and, later on, a public relations visionary.”

Will Norton Jr., dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, described Burson as a quiet man who was incredibly insightful about human nature. He was a man of integrity who wasn’t afraid of anything, he said.

“His company created integrated marketing communications,” he said. “The IMC field is his legacy to our world.”

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that those who wish to celebrate Burson’s life and lessons to make a donation to the Harold Burson Legacy Scholarship Fund at the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.

Friends and colleagues are invited to leave a comment, an anecdote or a note of remembrance at the following email: mmburson99@gmail.com.

For more information, contact Mark Burson, instructional assistant professor, University of Mississippi, School of Journalism and New Media, mmburson@olemiss.edu; 805-390-1767.

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

Remembering Harold Burson: 1921-2020

Posted on: January 10th, 2020 by drwenger

Harold Burson, a veteran of World War II, a graduate of the University of Mississippi, founder of Burson-Marsteller, friend and colleague to many, husband to Bette Ann and father to Scott and Mark has passed away at the age of 98. The family made the announcement today in Memphis, TN.

“Our family is saddened by the loss of our beloved father. We grieve and mourn his passing. And yet our spirits are lifted by the belief that he is now “gathered” with his loving wife and faithful companion of 63 years – Bette Ann. We pray they will now rest together for all of eternity,” the family said in a released statement.

Memorial services will be held in New York City and at the University of Mississippi. He will be entombed in the Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family asks those wanting to celebrate their father’s life and to insure the lessons he taught us all live on to make a donation to the Harold Burson Legacy Scholarship Fund at the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.

Friends, colleagues and Burson-Persons all over the world are invited to leave a comment, an anecdote or a note of remembrance at the following email: mmburson99@gmail.com.

For further information, contact: Mark Burson, Instructional Assistant Professor, University of Mississippi, School of Journalism and New Media, mmburson@olemiss.edu; 805/390-1767.

 

 

 

 

Street takes PR students on a Memphis field trip to FedEx and St. Jude

Posted on: November 4th, 2019 by ldrucker

Students enrolled in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s public relations classes traveled to Memphis Oct. 29 to meet with public relations professionals, including several JNM alumni, at FedEx and St. Jude.

Assistant Dean Scott Fiene accompanied the group, along with adjunct instructor Bill Dabney.

 

An added bonus at FedEx was a visit from Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman PR. He was in town to meet with JMM graduate Jenny Robertson, who is FedEx vice president for corporate communications. Edelman briefly spoke to the students.

At FedEx in Memphis, Street found 10 of her former students in communication positions.

Pictured, from left, are Lillie Flenorl, communications specialist, FedEx Freight; Teresa Daniel, senior communications specialist, social media; Jenny Robertson, vice president, corporate communications; Natashia Gregoire, director of FedEx Freight communications; Street; Ed Coleman, communications advisor, internal communications (not a former student, but an alumnus); Caitlin Adams, communications principal, office of the president and COO; and Alex Shockey, manager of social media and content. Not pictured are Rachel Hammons Parks, senior marketing specialist, brand; Cacera Richmond, senior communications specialist, FedEx Freight; Janna Hughes, communications advisor, global citizenship; and Caitlin Berry, senior communications specialist, internal communications.

Photo credit: Bill Dabney

Former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith speaks at UM School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: October 20th, 2019 by ldrucker

A week after longtime Fox News anchor Shepard Smith unexpectedly announced his resignation from the cable network, he returned to the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media to speak to students about truth and lies.

Last week, Smith left Fox viewers with a final thought: “Even in our current, polarized nation, it’s my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.”

On Friday, he elaborated, telling students he understands why it has become difficult for some to distinguish between truth and lies, but he said history will reveal the liars and truth-tellers.

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

“I’ve been doing this since long before any of you were born,” he said. “So there is a body of work there. I am not proud of all of it, but I’m positive I never lied.”

Smith said he learned that truth is the foundation of journalism while pursuing his degree in journalism at UM. He also emphasized the importance of admitting and correcting mistakes.

“There’s no mistake you can’t undo,” he said. “You can correct every single mistake. You can stand up and be a human being about it and admit to those who count on you that you screwed it up. And you have to do the correction with the same fervor and emphasis that you made the mistake. Then you’re good. ”

Shepard Smith with Dean Will Norton Jr. spoke with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Shepard Smith with Dean Will Norton Jr. spoke with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Lies, though, are unforgivable, according to Smith.

“But the moment you realize you told a lie, you stretch the truth to make your story better, or you’ve taken the edge off of it because it’s a thing you care about, you’ve betrayed your audience. If you think it about that way, every day, you’re going to be fine.”

Smith said he attended the University of Mississippi on a music scholarship before studying journalism. He said his teachers emphasized journalism’s commitment to the public.

“You have a responsibility to people who rely on you to find out what in the world is going on,” he said, “and even if it’s just the car wreck, or the city council meeting, or the game you are writing about, you have responsibility to do as well as you can and tell the story as effectively as possible.”

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Smith said he took that approach at Fox News.

“It’s a huge responsibility to have a platform where millions of people are watching you every day,” he said. “It’s really a big responsibility, and I learned that in Farley Hall. It was pounded into my head that you are going to screw up, but you’ve got to correct it. And it’s much easier to just get it right the first time. If you’re not sure, just don’t say it.”

Will Norton Jr., dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said he sent Smith an email after he left Fox News. Smith responded, saying he would be in Oxford for the next game, and volunteered to speak to students.

“We asked him if he could be here in the morning,” Norton said, “and he left New York early and was in Oxford by 9:30 a.m. He was at Farley by 10:30 a.m. Many of my friends call him the best anchor on television.”

Norton said there were three key takeaways from Smith’s visit that he hopes students remember. They are:

  1. Being on this campus teaches students how to be social. This is crucial in getting the facts and in being able to relate to your audience.
  2. Your teachers know what they are talking about. Jim Pratt and Walt Hawver made a dffierence in my life.
  3. I made it, and I was in these same hallways. You can, too if you tell the story as accurately as you know how.
Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Shepard Smith speaks with students. All photos on this page are from professors and University Communications.

Debora Wenger, assistant dean for innovation and external partnerships, said she thinks Smith helped students understand how to tell a story responsibly.

“Through it all, you have to remember to respect every person you report on, every person you interview. If our students graduate with those sensibilities, we will have done our job,” she said.

In the end, Smith didn’t drop any bombshells about why he left a position he’s held at Fox News for 23 years.

“I left there because it was time for a change,” he said. “. . . I will go somewhere else at some point. In between then, I’m going to go talk to students, volunteer, and I don’t know, maybe write a book, corny as that sounds . . . I want to do longform stories, kind of like ‘CBS Sunday Morning.’ I love that show. I love Jane Pauley. I want to have a live component because I got pretty good at it. But I have a few good stories, and one of them starts right here.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker. For more information about the School of Journalism and New Media’s programs, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

Alumnus Harold Burson speaks at University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: October 4th, 2019 by ldrucker

Harold Burson, who attended the University of Mississippi and got his start as a writer for The Daily Mississippian, recently spoke to students in the School of Journalism and New Media.

In a conversation with Professor Robin Street, he discussed what it takes to become successful in public relations.

Senior Lecturer of Journalism Robin Street stands behind Harold Burson and former Chancellor Robert Khayat.

Senior Lecturer of Journalism Robin Street stands behind Harold Burson and former Chancellor Robert Khayat.

“Strive to be the best writer you can be,” he said. “I think that you should expect long hours throughout your course of working (in) PR, and the key is to provide productivity that is always meaningful,” he said.

After graduation he created his own business and was co-founder of one of the world’s largest public relations agencies, Burson-Marsteller, known as Burson, Cohn & Wolf since a 2018 merger. For decades he was one of the most well-known and influential figures in public relations.

Harold Burson, former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, and journalists Curtis Wlkie and Peter J. Boyer were among those who attended the faculty meeting with Burson.

Harold Burson, former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, and journalists Curtis Wlkie and Peter J. Boyer were among those who attended the faculty meeting with Burson.

PR Week called him the “godfather of modern PR” and one of the founding fathers of the PR industry. He has spent more than 50 years serving as a counselor and confidante of many corporate CEOs, government leaders, and other important figures.

One of his most high-profile PR cases happened during the 1980s when he was hired by Johnson & Johnson when news broke that several people had died after bottles of Tylenol had been tainted by cyanide. Burson said it was not just a threat to the pharmaceutical industry; it also was dangerous for the entire food industry in which products could easily be penetrated with needles, etc.

From left, Harold Burson, former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, and journalist Curtis Wlkie were among those who attended the faculty meeting with Burson.

From left, Harold Burson, former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, and journalist Curtis Wlkie were among those who attended the faculty meeting with Burson.

Although Burson contributed greatly to the progress and helped rebuild public trust for the company, he credits James Burke, former CEO of Johnson & Johnson, as “the real hero of the story.” He said Burke ordered removal of all Tylenol in the supermarkets and pharmacies; a decision that cost the company $100 million.

Harold Burson signed copies of his book The Business of Persuasion.

Harold Burson signed copies of his book The Business of Persuasion.

“After a new capsule was created that was nearly impossible to penetrate, it took about six to nine months before it reached its original selling mark in the industry,” Burson said.

Burson noted that the FBI still considers it an unsolved case.

After living in New York City most of his life, Burson recently moved back home to Memphis, Tennessee. Three days a week, he works at his local public relations firm.

Student journalists Samantha Powell, Elexis Craft, Sara Kate Rushing, Ariel Jones, Lily Garner Caroline Helms and Grace Baxter contributed to this story.

For more information, contact Assistant Dean Debora Wenger, Ph.D. at 662-915-7146 or drwenger@olemiss.edu.

UM School of Journalism and New Media offers jobs site and career advice

Posted on: August 3rd, 2019 by ldrucker

Landing your first job out of college can be challenging. That’s why the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has created a jobs website to help, but many people aren’t aware it exists.

Business leaders throughout the state and country are encouraged to submit job, internship, fellowship, scholarship and other opportunities to our jnmjobs.com site. Students are encouraged to take a look at what’s offered.

“We realized we needed one place to post jobs,” said Assistant Dean Scott Fiene. In the past, faculty members were often told about job opportunities, and if they had a student in mind, they would forward the job to them. “We thought, let’s try to build this thing on our own. It’s very informal, and it’s linked to our school website.”


The school website address is jnm.olemiss.edu. The jobs site address is jnmjobs.com.

Fiene said employers from around the country often send job opportunities to faculty and staff, and they are now posted on the jobs site. He wants to promote the site so more people will become aware of it. Visitors can also subscribe to the site and receive newly posted jobs via email.

Bobby Steele, instructional assistant professor of branding and promotions, said the website is like the school’s own LinkedIn.

“I think the website is very important because I had a professor tell me once that 75 percent of the jobs people got in integrated marketing communications (IMC) are word-of-mouth marketing,” he said. “It gives students an opportunity to see jobs that we are not necessarily recommending, but we are letting them know that they are available.”

Amanda Haley

Atlanta native Amanda Haley is a multimedia journalist for WTVA-Tupelo who graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. Haley said it’s important to think broadly when searching for jobs after college.

“It’s important to set long-term goals,” she said, “but don’t limit yourself when job searching right after school. Apply everywhere that might work for you, and never turn down an interview or phone call with potential employers, even if you don’t see yourself working for them. Getting used to answering questions about your career goals, and getting yourself out there professionally will always be beneficial.”

Many students don’t take advantage of resources at the University of Mississippi that may help them land a job. It’s important to ask questions and reach out to faculty members who may be able to put you in touch with individuals or opportunities who can help you achieve your goals.

Haley said connecting with faculty and meeting and communicating with others in your field is an important part of the job search.

“Any conversation is an important one,” she said, “And when it comes time to look for a job, you’ll have some relationships already made, and they can help guide you or refer you to a job.”

Former Daily Mississippian editor featured as journalist in TV series ‘Death Row Stories’

Posted on: July 15th, 2019 by ldrucker

A former editor of The Daily Mississippian has been featured in the fourth season of the television series “Death Row Stories” that airs on HLN. Lyndy Berryhill, who graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media in 2018, talked with us about the experience.

Q. Can you tell me a little about yourself, what you studied, and when you were a student at UM?

I grew up in rural Southwest Mississippi and graduated from the School of Journalism and New Media in 2018. I have been a working journalist since age 19. I have written and edited for more than 10 community newspapers and served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian. I currently live north of Gulfport and freelance for local newspapers and magazines. I have written and reported on four continents. I most recently worked as an investigative reporter for CNN’s “Death Row Stories,” and I was an undercover journalist for a documentary series which airs on BBC’s Channel Four.

Q. When did you learn about this opportunity?

I heard about the opportunity through a fellow Mississippi-based journalist, Jerry Mitchell. I actually met him several years ago when Ole Miss hosted a journalism conference where he spoke at the banquet. I had read his work beforehand and was a little starstruck. I introduced myself and stayed in contact. He recommended me for the job, and I applied.

Q. What was your assignment? Tell me a little about the work you did.

I was assigned to do some investigative field work. Since both of the Mississippi cases they were looking at were around 20 years old, the original people involved were hard to track down. People had died, moved away, or changed their names in some cases, so Jigsaw was looking for someone who knew the state and knew enough people to get in touch with former attorneys, judges, law enforcement officers, family members and witnesses. The main goal for me was to provide updated contact information, so the production crew could put together an episode.

I was nervous when I first got the job because I am experienced with print. Luckily, the investigative skills are the same whether it is for print or video. I spent hours in libraries, pouring over public records and old newspaper clippings trying to find answers. When Google and old phonebooks failed, a couple of times I had to walk door-to-door at old addresses and ask the current tenants questions. Additionally, I also spent a lot of time collecting and digitalizing court records, newspaper articles and evidence files.

Once I gathered all material possible, the production company was given the green light to film each episode. When the crew came to film, I also served as the production assistant on set. I helped location scout, got coffee, and picked up lunch.

Q. What is the name of the show? When does it air/aired? What is it about? What can viewers expect to see regarding your work?

The show is “Death Row Stories” and it is produced by Jigsaw Productions. It airs on CNN or HLN. This is the 4th season.

As far as what you will see, all if not most of the archival images, newspaper clippings and court documents were gathered and digitized by me. In the Marlon Howell episode, I digitized a VHS tape for the first (and hopefully only) time. That was probably the most challenging task. All of the records were public, but you were not allowed to remove any files from the courthouse. Additionally, many of the interview subjects were individuals I located and connected to the production company.

Here is a link about the series and I have copied the descriptions and airing dates of both episodes I worked on.

June 9, 2019 “Web of Lies” – The shooting of a newspaper carrier in rural Mississippi lands 20-year-old Marlon Howell on death row. Convicted on the word of two co-defendants and the identification of an eyewitness with a checkered past, Marlon maintains his innocence.

June 23, 2019 “A Woman Wronged” – A man is found dead in his rural Mississippi home, shot four times with his own pistol. His 19-year-old son names his hospitalized mother, Michelle Byrom, as the mastermind of the murder, claiming she hired the boy’s friend to shoot her husband, and promised to pay him from the life insurance payout. Sentenced to death, Michelle spends 14 years awaiting execution — until a team of lawyers reexamine her case.

Q. What advice do you give journalism students, journalists and freelancers?

I always took the hardest teachers I could at Ole Miss, and it continues to pay dividends. I came away with more than a piece of paper when I graduated because of the quality of instruction I was able to study under in the journalism school.

To freelancers, I would like to give them a hug. If you know a freelancer, they need it. It is not easy being entirely independent, and it takes twice the work to line up features and projects that are worthwhile. In general, I try to take every writing opportunity I can if it fits in my schedule. At first, I took writing jobs even when they were low-paying, which is not ideal. But because I stuck with it and continued writing, those small jobs have actually helped me garner larger, better paying gigs.

UM School of Journalism student finds success in sales with Cox Media Group

Posted on: June 3rd, 2019 by ldrucker

Many of our recent graduates, like Brittany Clark, are out in the world doing amazing things. During her senior year at Ole Miss, Clark bumped into Assistant Dean Debora Wenger, Ph.D., who inquired about Clark’s plans after graduation and suggested sales.

“She had received an email about the Media Sales Institute through the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation, and suggested I apply,” Clark said. “I was accepted and received a scholarship to attend the program. I traveled to Arizona State and studied for a few weeks. It was an amazing opportunity to network, and learn more about a different side of the media industry.”

After several months of interviews, Clark landed a job as a sales assistant for CBS television stations in Atlanta. She assisted local sales reps about their digital and local TV buys.

“By the end of my role, I had started managing several large agency accounts on my own and started to assist our National Sales Department,” she said.

Fast forward 10 months, and a previous work colleague reached out to Clark to let her know his sales team was looking for a new assistant at Cox Media Group Atlanta. A few days later, she went for an interview and was told, based on her career goals and talent assessment, she wasn’t a fit for the position.

“I was asked if I would be willing to wait a few months, since they were looking to hire an entry level sales person,” she said.

Being patient paid off. Four months later, Clark was hired as a sales associate for radio and digital and promoted within 10 months to media consultant. Now, she manages a list of agencies. Some of her largest clients include AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Kroger.

“The company I work for has given me an opportunity to expand my digital knowledge,” she said. “Since I have been with Cox Media Group, I have become Interactive Advertising Bureau Media Sales Certified, Google Fundamentals, Search, Video, and My Business certified. My favorite part about my job is working on digital campaigns. I have the opportunity to help people grow their business in ways they may have never thought of.”

Clark graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in broadcast journalism with a specialization in public relations. During her time at Ole Miss, she earned several Associated Press awards telling stories of tornado and hurricane devastation and covering the Rebels’ Bama win.

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UM School of Journalism and New Media professor’s work featured on American Heritage Magazine website

Posted on: May 15th, 2019 by ldrucker

An excerpt from a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor’s book has been featured on the American Heritage Magazine website.

It features part of the book Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi written by professor Ellen B. Meacham.

The book places Kennedy’s visit to Mississippi into the context of the times, “including an examination of the War on Poverty and the evolution of the civil rights movement to a focus on economic issues,” Meacham said in a book description featured on her website.

“Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a son of America’s promise, power, and privilege, knelt in a crumbling shack in 1967 Mississippi, trying to coax a response from a child listless from hunger,” the American Heritage excerpt begins. “After several minutes with little response, the senator, profoundly moved, walked out the back door to speak with reporters. He told them that America had to do better. What he was seeing, as he privately told an aide and a reporter, was worse than anything he had seen before in this country.”

Click the link below to read more.

https://www.americanheritage.com/robert-f-kennedy-mississippi