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‘Godfather of modern PR’ 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.

Do you have a story you would like to share about a recent career accomplishment? Click here to email us.

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

Mississippi Press Association to roast Public Broadcasting executive Thursday, April 25

Posted on: April 11th, 2019 by ldrucker

The executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting will be roasted by the state press association April 25 at an event to benefit its journalism education foundation.

Ronnie Agnew, who has been chief executive for MPB since 2011 and is a longtime former newspaper journalist and editor, will be roasted by a panel of his colleagues and peers in a bid to raise funds for the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation.

Click here to view Roast Registration information.

Click here to view Roast Sponsor Levels.

“The Roast is a major fundraiser for the Foundation, and underwrites much of the cost for our annual internship program,” said Layne Bruce, MPA executive director, in an article on the MPA website. “It annually underwrites the cost of placing about 15 student journalists in working positions at Mississippi newspapers.”

In his work at MPB, Agnew has oversight of radio and television programming and the agency’s legislative, education and digital initiatives. He previously was longtime executive editor of The Clarion Ledger and Hattiesburg American.

“We are grateful to Ronnie for stepping up and agreeing to take on the role of ‘roastee’ this year,” said MPA President Paul Keane, publisher of The Wayne County News, in an article on the MPA website. “He has been a longtime member and friend to MPA, and we’re looking forward to a fun and entertaining event with him in the spotlight.”

The event will be held at the Hilton Jackson with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner  at 7 p.m. Tickets are $80 each or a table for eight is $600. Corporate sponsorships are also available. Click here to register or for more information. For more information, contact Bruce, 601-981-3060.

AP reporter Emily Wagster Pettus wins Silver Em award

Posted on: March 31st, 2019 by ldrucker

The Silver Em Awards Ceremony was held Wednesday, April 3, at the Inn at Ole Miss, the same evening dozens of journalism and integrated marketing communication students received awards for excellence.

Emily Wagster Pettus, who has been reporting on Mississippi government since 1994, was selected as the 2018 Silver Em winner.

As news staffs shrink across the country, state government reporters like Pettus have become an endangered species. Those who remain in the role understand the importance of their work in our democracy.

Emily Wagster Pettus

“When there are fewer news outlets sending local reporters to cover the state capitol, there is less coverage of local issues considered by the Legislature,” she said.

Pettus, who grew up in Texas, spent a year between high school and college as an exchange student in West Germany, then attended the University of Mississippi, majoring in journalism and German. She graduated in 1989 and worked for nearly a year at the Vicksburg Evening Post.

In May 1990, she began working for The Clarion-Ledger as the Rankin County reporter. Two years later, she moved to Ocean Springs in 1992 to work as the newspaper’s one-person Gulf Coast bureau reporter.

“It was a great job because my editors were hours away and they trusted me to cover the biggest stories in the region,” Pettus said.

During the fall of 1993, Pettus was on loan from The Clarion-Ledger to USA TODAY in Virginia, working as a copy editor for the international edition of USAT. In 1994, she was back in Jackson working as a legislative reporter for The Clarion-Ledger.

She began working for the Associated Press in January of 2001 covering mostly Mississippi politics. Pettus said she’s aware the job is particularly important during challenging times for news organizations.

The latest Pew Research Center study about statehouse reporters found that there were around 1,500 U.S. journalists who work to inform the public about the actions and issues of state government. Of those, nearly half do it full time, averaging 15 full-time reporters per state, even though numbers vary per state, often depending on population.

Emily Wagster Pettus during a recent Overby Center program about Mississippi Politics.

“I always think it’s better having more reporters covering state government, obviously, to hold the government accountable to the general public,” Pettus said. “In Mississippi, we used to have a full-time press corps of eight people. That declined a while, but it has actually gone back up in the last couple of years.”

Pettus estimates the number of Mississippi statehouse reporters is equal to the Pew Research Center study’s national average of 15 per state.

The Pew study also reported:

  • Fewer than a third of U.S. newspapers assign any kind of reporter – full time or part time – to the statehouse.
  • A majority of local TV news stations – 86 percent – do not assign even one reporter – full or part time – to the statehouse.
  • About one in six, or 16 percent, of all statehouse reporters work for nontraditional outlets, such as digital-only sites and non-profit organizations.
  • Students account for 14 percent of statehouse reporters.
  • Around 9 percent of all state legislative reporters work for wire services like Pettus. The majority of wire service reporters work for the AP.

While her main responsibility has been covering Mississippi government – (you can read her observations in real time at the hashtag #msleg on Twitter) – Pettus said she has covered a variety of stories.

“One of the greatest things about having a general assignment job is I’ve gotten to cover some interesting civil rights stories,” she said. “In 2005, I covered the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted for the 1964 killings of civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County. In 2007, I covered the federal trial of (Ku Klux Klan member) James Ford Seale, who was convicted in the kidnapping that led to the death of two young black men, Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, in Southwest Mississippi, also in 1964.”

Pettus said she is honored to be among other Silver Em award winners and proud she spent part of her career working for UM’s campus newspaper The Daily Mississippian and The Oxford Eagle.

Will Norton, Ph.D., dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said Pettus is smart, a hard worker, and a terrific reporter.

“She has more than a quarter of a century experience,” Norton said. “She has devoted herself to covering Mississippi. She has reported in-depth, on deadline and always accurately . . . Emily is a person of integrity. She can be trusted.”

Curtis Wilkie, Overby Fellow and assistant professor of journalism, agrees that Pettus has earned the trust of her readers.

“She is one of the best reporters around and has been for as long as she has been reporting, quickly and reliably, all the news out of Mississippi for the Associated Press,” he said.

The Silver Em award dates to 1958, and recipients must be Mississippians with notable journalism careers or journalists with notable careers in Mississippi.

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

 

Media professionals mentor students at Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Day

Posted on: March 27th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi is lucky to have so many media professionals who want to help mentor our students.

Broadcasters from around the state came to meet broadcast journalism students Wednesday in the Student Media Center.

This was the 6th annual Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Day at Ole Miss.

Radio and television professionals met the students, viewed their work and offered good career advice.

Derek Rogers, general manager of WCBI-TV and college representative to MAB, said the broadcast students at the School of Journalism and New Media always set the bar high.

“The Ole Miss broadcast and journalism students are always prepared and have good quality work to share with us,” Rogers said. “The videography was particularly strong this year, and the storytelling was of higher quality as well.

“Our overall impression on the students was that many of them are ready to join a station right out of school.  Many of the students are aware of meeting daily deadlines, and that is such a major hurdle for recent graduates.”

UM School of Journalism and New Media grad lands job with New York Daily News

Posted on: March 1st, 2019 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student who worked in student media just landed a job as a reporter with New York Daily News.

Blake Alsup wrote to tell us it has been hectic trying to move and settle into his new apartment.

“I started my new job as a national breaking news reporter at the New York Daily News on Feb. 25,” he said. “For years, I’ve dreamed of living and working as a journalist in New York. Now I’m working with an online team that seeks out relevant and interesting news around the country for our readers.

“I’m thankful for experience I gained as a journalism student at Ole Miss in classes and while working at The Daily Mississippian as a reporter and later as an editor.”

Alsup said he wouldn’t have landed the job if he hadn’t participated in The King’s College New York City Semester of Journalism in the fall 2017. He took classes and interned at the Daily News during experience.

“That’s where I met and worked for my current editor,” he said. “He kept up with my work when I returned to Ole Miss and interned at The Detroit News and offered me a job after graduation, so that’s how I ended up here.”

Are you a recent School of Journalism and New Media graduate who has landed your dream job? If so, we want to hear from you. Email ldrucker@olemiss.edu to share your story.

To learn more about the King’s College program, click here.

University of Mississippi journalism grads share insights about post-graduate careers

Posted on: February 28th, 2019 by ldrucker

They attended their last classes and took their final exams in December. Now, these School of Journalism and New Media graduates have fully launched their careers and are ready to offer advice to this semester’s seniors.

Annie Mapp

Annie Mapp is a December graduate now serving as a news reporter at WBTW News 13 in Mrytle Beach, South Carolina.

Mapp began her career at WBTW News 13 in January. A few months before graduating, she began applying to several news outlets throughout the southeast.

“There are so many outlets you can work for,” Mapp said. “I just made a list and started going to each website and applying for the jobs that seemed most interesting.”

Mapp’s advice for future graduates is to have a great resume and maintain strong relationships with professors.

“I sent my resume to several of my professors in the School of Journalism, and they helped me with the job search and choosing which career path to take,” Mapp said. “They were a great resource for me.”

Annie describes her typical day as a news reporter as different and exciting, with new ideas always circulating and several opportunities for live broadcasting.

“This career has been great so far because I have gotten experience in reacting and speaking in the moment,” Mapp said.

Brianna Bynum

Brianna Bynum is a multimedia journalist for WTOK-TV in Meridian, Mississippi.

Bynum said she knew she wanted to jump right into her career upon graduating, so she began applying for jobs in October. She believes the key to finding a job so soon after graduating is consistency.

“I took time every day to reach out to employers and apply to jobs,” Bynum said.

Bynum describes a day in her career as busy and rewarding.

“As a multimedia journalist, I do all of the shooting, editing, writing and reporting for my stories on my own,” Bynum said. “So many different factors play into the story and writing scripts.

Though still in the training process, Brianna is already participating in editorial meetings and gathering her own stories. She credits much of her success to the School of Journalism and New Media.

“The School of Journalism and New Media really prepared me for this job,” she said. “A lot of the things that I am being told to do here are things that I have already been taught at Ole Miss. The news reporting experience I gained at NewsWatch Ole Miss and in my broadcast classes have played a large role in my confidence and reporting abilities.”

Sam Farris

Sam Farris is the public address announcer for Itawamba Community College Athletics, a sports writer for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal/Itawamba Times, and a fundraising partner with St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Farris credits his achievements to networking with former employers and colleagues.

“I worked my entire college career as a sports writer, public address announcer, and frequent radio personality,” Farris said. “The relationships I have developed have really helped give my career a great start.”

Farris has been working closely with local ESPN 95.1 The Fan in Tupelo, Mississippi, and has future aspirations to own his own business.

This story was written by Abby Adcock. For more information about the University of Mississippi School of Journalism’s programs, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.