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Former CBS Sports executive producer teaches documentary film festival workshop

Posted on: October 17th, 2019 by ldrucker

A 13-time national Emmy Award-winning sports television producer recently returned to the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media to lead a 48-Hour Documentary Film Festival workshop.

Terry Ewert, former executive producer of CBS Sports, has won Emmys for writing and documentary filmmaking. He also led production for the coverage of three Olympic games at NBC Sports and the Atlanta Olympic Committee.

Hattiesburg native Lucy Burnam, 22, a journalism graduate student focusing on photography and video, was a member of the winning student team that included Allen Brewer and Andranita Williams. The aspiring novelist and photographer said the workshop required students to complete an intensive storytelling project.

Terry Ewert, right, speaks to a student. He recently led a workshop at the School of Journalism and New Media.

Terry Ewert, right, speaks to a student. He recently led a workshop at the School of Journalism and New Media.

“You have 48 hours to pitch an idea, get a green light for it, and then physically go shoot the whole thing before finally editing it all together,” she said. “So basically, it’s a fairly large task condensed into a short period of time that’s do-able, but every second counts.”

Burnam said Thursday night involved pitching the story idea and creating shot lists and a production schedule. Students captured video around Oxford Friday and edited Saturday.

“It was extremely intense, but I recommend people do it to test their limits, because you might end up surprising yourself,” said Burnam, whose favorite part was working with others to edit the stories by deadline.

“Editing anything, especially video, is one of the most nit-picky processes,” she said, “and being under such a looming deadline was stressful. But the professors involved, as well as my team and the other students, really made it a day I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. We all just sat in the same room and laughed together, maybe cried a little too, until it was all finished. Quite the bonding experience.”

Burnam’s project was about a teammate’s father, who began experiencing shortness of breath during the summer, before learning he had two heart blockages.

Professor Michael Fagans, who helped lead the workshop, said he hopes students learned the important elements of creating a documentary and some lessons about themselves.

“(I hope) they learned where their growing edges are, the level of effort that it takes to see a project to the end, how they can apply these skills to their final class projects in other courses,” he said.

Burnam said students enjoyed the camaraderie.

“I bonded with my team and really learned how to acclimate to a group setting quickly,” she said. “Personally, I hope we all learned that we can accomplish a lot under a short period of time if we really put our minds to it.

For more information, contact Assistant Dean Debora Wenger at 662-915-7146 or

Journalism professor featured in two-part international podcast about unsolved civil rights murder

Posted on: October 7th, 2019 by ldrucker

Parts 1 and 2 of an international podcast distributed by Agence France-Presse on the unsolved 1962 civil rights murder of AFP reporter Paul Guihard at Ole Miss has been released featuring University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor Dr. Kathleen Wickham.

Guihard was shot in the back from a foot away during a riot that accompanied the enrollment of James Meredith. The murder remains unsolved.

Part 1 of the two-part podcast, Who Killed Paul Guihard?, was released Sept. 30, the 57th anniversary of his death.

Journalism Professor Kathleen Wickham in front of the plaque honoring Paul Guihard and the 300+ reporters who covered the 1962 integration crisis.

Journalism Professor Kathleen Wickham in front of the plaque honoring Paul Guihard and the 300+ reporters who covered the 1962 integration crisis.

Both podcast episodes are about 30 minutes. Part 1 is titled Who Killed Paul Guihard? Part 2 is called Beneath the Mississippi moon, somebody better investigate soon, as a reference to Bob Dylan’s song Oxford Town.

Part 1 of the podcast has been published on the AFP Correspondent blog and is available to listen to at this link:

Here is Part 2 of the podcast:

Dr. Wickham was interviewed for the podcast in the spring while teaching at the University of Rennes in Brittany.

Guihard spent his teenage years in St. Malo on the Brittany coast while the city was under German occupation during WWII. He is featured in her book We Believe We Were Immortal: Twelve Reporters Who Covered the 1962 Integration Crisis at Ole Miss.

Wickham is joined on the podcast by Sidna Brower, the 1962 Mississippian editor; Alain Guihard, Paul’s brother, and Hank Klibanoff, co-author of The Race Beat. Jeffrey Reed, sound engineer for Thacker Mountain Radio, provided background audio.

The Ole Miss student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists installed a memorial bench in honor of Guihard in 2009. It is located between Farley Hall and the Honors College. The following year, SPJ named the Ole Miss campus a national historic site in journalism. At the time, Dr. Wickham was chapter adviser.

The podcast aired or was posted by Mississippi Today, Mississippi Public Radio and will air on the campus radio station WUMS 92.1 at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9.

To listen to a link of the podcast trailer on SoundCloud, click this link:

Four recent graduates and faculty member honored by Southern Public Relations Federation

Posted on: October 6th, 2019 by ldrucker

Four recent graduates and a faculty member have been honored for their public relations projects by the Southern Public Relations Federation.

The 2019 SPRF Lantern Award competition was for work completed in 2018, and the student work was judged along with professionals. The awards were presented Oct. 1 at the SPRF annual conference in Orange Beach, Alabama.

The graduates submitted public relations campaigns produced in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s advanced PR Techniques class. Each campaign was designed to increase awareness on a topic of their choice.

“The students had to create a complete public relations plan that included researching, event planning, writing mass media materials, creating effective social media and using photography and video and multiple other communications,” Street said. “Their awards demonstrate the excellent training they received in these skills from all the faculty members at the JNM School.”

Recent graduates from the School of Journalism and New Media public relations specialization and their teacher took home awards in the Southern Public Relations Federation Lantern competition. Pictured are Senior Lecturer Robin Street and IMC graduate Aleka Battista looking over their and the other gradates’ awards. Battista won an Excellence Award, as did Journalism graduates Hailey McKee and Kendall Patterson. IMC graduate Davis Roberts and Street won Merit Awards. The students entered PR campaigns they created in Street’s Advanced PR Techniques class. Photo by Stan O’Dell

Recent graduates from the School of Journalism and New Media public relations specialization and their teacher took home awards in the Southern Public Relations Federation Lantern competition. Pictured are Senior Lecturer Robin Street and IMC graduate Aleka Battista looking over their and the other gradates’ awards. Battista won an Excellence  Award, as did Journalism graduates Hailey McKee and Kendall Patterson. IMC graduate Davis Roberts and Street won Merit Awards.  The students entered PR campaigns they created in Street’s Advanced PR Techniques class. Photo by Stan O’Dell

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media Assistant Dean and Director of the Integrated Marketing Communications program Scott Fiene praised the graduates.

“Once again, our students guided by Robin Street, have won high praise for their outstanding work,” Fiene said. “The fact that these students were judged against professionals in the public relations industry make this all the more special.”

Multiple entrants can win in the same category if they earn the required number of points as scored by the judges. Awards are given at three levels. No awards were given in the highest category, called the Lantern. The Excellence Award is the next highest award, followed by the Merit Award.

Aleka Battista, an IMC May 2018 graduate, won an Excellence Award for her campaign “Soar Over Summer,” designed to increase awareness of the importance of continuing learning during the summer for K-12 students.

“I feel honored to be recognized alongside so many amazing public relations professionals across the South,” said Battista, who now works at Red Window Communications, an IMC agency in Oxford. “The class gave me an in-depth knowledge of public relations through hands-on experience and made me feel well prepared to not only complete a full public relations campaign but to continue on successfully in my career field.”

Hailey McKee, a May 2019 Journalism and Public Policy graduate, also won an Excellence Award for her campaign “Gauge the Wage” to increase awareness of the gender wage gap.

“I was overjoyed to see that I’d won something because it gives validation to the work I am so passionate about,” said McKee, now a public relations graduate student at Boston University. “Ms. Street’s class was essential in learning and incorporating the skills needed to earn this award and taught me so many PR tools that I still use in my graduate class and at my internship.”

Kendall Patterson, a May 2019 Journalism graduate, also won an Excellence Award for his campaign “A Person Alone Could Be A Person Lost,” on the detrimental effects of loneliness and how to overcome them.

“I am blessed to be winning an award,” said Patterson, now a staff writer at the Chester County Independent newspaper in Henderson, Tennessee. “It’s a satisfying feeling to know that the work I did before I even started my career is being recognized on a regional level. The class allowed me to understand the massive amount of research and planning required to complete a public relations campaign.”

Davis Roberts, a May 2019 IMC graduate, won a Merit Award for his campaign “EATS (Emphasize Awareness Trash the Stigma) Like a Man” about eating disorders in men.

“I’m extremely honored to receive an award from SPRF,” said Roberts, now a graduate student in IMC at Northwestern University. “Awards and honors aside, I am just happy that I was encouraged and supported in school while creating a campaign focused on a topic that is so important and personal to me. Ms. Street forced us to step into the shoes of a PR professional by assigning us to create our own campaigns from scratch.”

Street also won a Merit Award for feature writing.

For more information on the School of Journalism and New Media, visit

Mississippi Scholastic Press Association establishes endowment to invest in youth

Posted on: September 23rd, 2019 by ldrucker

More than 500 aspiring teenage writers, publishers and journalists from all corners of the state shared their work and learned from high-profile communicators last spring at the 72nd Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Statewide Spring Convention, hosted by the University of Mississippi.

Now MSPA Director R.J. Morgan hopes the association’s recent $60,000 gift establishing the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Endowment will ensure that these students and more like them will continue to enjoy robust annual conventions and other strategic support from MSPA for years to come.

“This endowment is a historic moment for us, and it comes at a critical time for both journalism and education in our country,” Morgan said. “We are hoping to build a financial foundation that will allow us to continue meeting the needs of our current members while better positioning us for long-term growth and success deep into the distant future.”

High school students attending the 72nd Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Statewide Spring Convention, hosted by UM, receive awards for their outstanding work.

High school students attending the 72nd Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Statewide Spring Convention, hosted by UM, receive awards for their outstanding work.

MSPA was founded in 1947 to support, promote and nurture journalism and marketing communications programs in the high school setting. It achieves its goals through workshops, competitions and conventions and by providing ongoing assistance and advice for teachers and students involved in producing their schools’ student publications.

With a current membership of 110 publications from 67 different schools, MSPA is open to any Mississippi school that has a newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, online publication, broadcast and/or journalism or marketing class.

MSPA hosts two statewide student conventions each school year — at UM and the University of Southern Mississippi — and a three-day institute each summer for teachers who advise student publications.

“The conventions are great opportunities for Mississippi high school students to get a taste of life on a college campus,” said Morgan, an instructional associate professor in the UM School of Journalism and New Media. “They learn a lot while they’re here — practical ideas they can take home to improve their school publications.

“But the conventions also serve as a rallying point and pep rally for many students, because often they are not praised as highly as, for example, their football team or marching band,” he continued. “We want students to know this is something they should feel proud of, something they can hang their hat on.”

The spring convention’s Pam Hamilton Keynote Address was delivered by Ronnie Agnew, an Ole Miss alumnus and director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Agnew is a veteran of the newspaper and news industry, previously serving as the executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.

Other past speakers include longtime anchor and reporter Howard Ballou of WLBT in Jackson, award-winning author Kiese Laymon, Mississippi Today’s Marshall Ramsey, and Lori Oglesbee-Petter, a nationally recognized newspaper and yearbook adviser who serves as an advocate for First Amendment rights.

At the convention, the MSPA awards student work in over 100 categories, including statewide publications of the year, Mississippi High School Journalist of the Year, the Orley Hood Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism and other portfolio-based All-Mississippi recognitions. Between the fall and spring conventions, more than 1,000 individual pieces of work were submitted for consideration.

“The awards are really what the kids get most excited about,” Morgan said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than working extremely hard behind the scenes on designing a yearbook, shooting a killer football hype video or chasing a juicy news story and then having your audience absolutely love it. But then to get recognized for that work at the state level? It just positively reinforces the skills they’ve learned and justifies a lot of long nights in the editing room.”

Will Norton, dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, holds the MSPA’s work in high regard.

“One of the overarching goals of the University of Mississippi is extending excellence to the state’s communities through the programs we sponsor. The MSPA is the cream of the crop in this capacity, truly the best of the best,” said Norton. “I am truly proud of the work MSPA leaders are doing, investing in the youth of our state.”

The MSPA Endowment accepts gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, mail a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the endowment’s name in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online at

To support the School of Journalism and New Media, contact Nikki Neely Davis, executive director of development, at 662-915-6678 or

This story was written by Bill Dabney and Justin Whitmore and first appeared on the University of Mississippi Foundation website.

Lens Collective workshop will view The Land Through Our Lens this fall

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s annual multimedia storytelling workshop, Lens Collective, will explore the idea of Mississippi land this fall.

Set for Wednesday, Oct. 23-26, The Land Through Our Lens conference will document stories about Mississippi land, specifically in Oxford, Holly Springs, the nearby community of Taylor and surrounding areas, and various Delta towns.

“We are still securing stories, but we hope to focus on the Mississippi River, canoeing, flooding damage, sweet potatoes, cotton, a gin distillery, catfish, prawns, pumpkins, restaurants who use local ingredients, and a host of other stories,” said UM Assistant Professor of Journalism Alysia Steele, who founded and leads the workshop and conference.

Students will choose their own stories and work in teams with a mentor, documenting the story with audio, video and still photography. Steele said it usually takes 7-10 hours to produce one minute of film. The projects are 3-5 minutes long, and students have about eight hours to produce the work.

Founded in 2017, Steele was inspired to create the Lens Collective by the Dawn to Dusk program at her alma mater, Ohio University. Students documented a story for a day and published their work. An Allegheny College professor, who was also an Ohio University alumnus, added to the concept, including more universities and community partnerships.

Steele combined the two ideas and added her own twist, creating a four-day workshop that usually has around 60 participants. In 2017, the focus was blues music. Last year, Steele chose to highlight civil rights stories. This year, it’s all about land.

“So much has happened because of weather, and we know it’s affected farmers,” she said. “The workshop has typically been held in the spring, but I wanted to move it to fall so we could get root vegetables, cotton, and the weather wouldn’t be so hot.”

The workshop begins Wednesday, Oct. 23, in Farley Hall at the School of Journalism and New Media. It will focus on audio/video and photography storytelling. From 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, participants will be involved in team meetings, give introductions, listen to ground rules and eat dinner. Guest speakers will share information from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Overby auditorium. Presentations are free and open to the public.

On Thursday, participants spend a half-day in Oxford. An Adobe Premiere Pro refresher workshop will be held for participants only. Penn State University professor Curt Chandler, a former director of photography at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will teach it.

At 9:30 a.m., Danese Kenon, director of video and photography at the Philadelphia Inquirer, is the guest speaker and will take the stage in the Overby auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. At noon, participants will drive into the Delta and have a student photo competition. A prize will be given to the student who captures the best image that represents the land theme. Lens Collective faculty will do a closed judging session.

Participants will spend the night in Cleveland. One workshop tradition is to enjoy a Southern soul food dinner from Senator’s Place restaurant. “We invite those we are documenting to break bread with us, and we can get to know each other,” she said. “We treasure time with residents and appreciate them allowing us to document their stories. So, enjoying a local meal, giving back to the community, and sharing time together is critical for just being good human beings.”

Steele said workshop leaders have partnered with Dr. Rolando Herts and his staff at the Delta Center for Culture and Learning for the past three years. They help sponsor the meal. Local historians are invited to share stories with students during the dinner. Last year, civil rights icon and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee member Charles McLaurin spoke.

“You could hear a pin drop,” Steele said. “Every student was enthralled. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

On Friday, participants rise early to work on their stories with a mentor. Students have from dawn to dusk to capture their story before everyone returns to Oxford to begin editing. They stay in Oxford Friday and Saturday.

Saturday is the editing day. Students work on their stories until 6 p.m. A working lunch and dinner are provided. At 7 p.m., student videos will premiere in the Overby Auditorium. This program is also free and open to the public.

Steele said students from the University of Mississippi, Alcorn State University, Ohio University, Ball State University, Hampton University, Middle Tennessee State University and Penn State University have confirmed they will participate this year.

Mentors this year include nine-time Emmy-winning photojournalist Eric Seals of the Detroit Free Press, Pulitzer-Prize winning photojournalist Smiley Pool of The Dallas Morning News, and National Press Photographers Association Executive Director Akili Ramsess, an award-winning photo editor who previously worked at the L.A. Times and was director of photography at the Orlando Sentinel. Akili helped edit a Pulitzer Prize entry in L.A.

“Our goals are simple,” Steele said, “have a good time, be good to each other, be open to learning, understand that challenging experiences make us better and stronger, and do your best to tell good stories. We want students to learn, to be open to meeting new people, and to understand and appreciate differences.”

Steele said learning outside the classroom adds practical experience you can’t always get by listening to a lecture.

“We want students to be proud of what they’ve accomplished because Lens Collective is a major accomplishment,” she said “This is a very nurturing environment. I believe in partnerships, community engagement and giving back. We must acknowledge and thank those who share with us.

“Our mentors from the industry are so thoughtful, and we’re thankful that the journalism school administrators see the value of this workshop. It wouldn’t happen without their support, and there aren’t a lot of colleges who offer this kind of program.”

UM faculty mentors for the Lens Collective are professors Mark Dolan, Vanessa Gregory, Michael Fagans, Cynthia Joyce, Timothy Ivy and Bobby Steele, Jr.

Faculty who have also helped include Deans Will Norton, Jennifer Simmons, Pat Thompson and Deb Wenger; Shannon Dixon, Sarah Griffith, Jack Lawton, Catherine McLeod, Ellen Meacham, Mykki Newton, LaReeca Rucker and Hannah Vines. Steele said Vines came up with the title of the event.

Last year, “Signs,” a short documentary produced by American University and West Virginia University students Matt Cipollone and Mikey D’Amico, won $500 at the Oxford Film Festival and a nationwide contract with PBS about the shooting of the Emmett Till sign. “And we know it’s been in the news again this year. NBC aired the piece a month ago. So, the story is important.”

Steele said UM Associate Professor of Journalism Vanessa Gregory organized that story for students. Nine student films were also selected for the Clarksdale Film Festival, and five were selected for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day pop-up celebration at Oxford’s Burns-Belfry Museum & Multicultural Center with Southern Foodways Alliance. Steele said they hope to partner with SFA again and the Oxford Film Festival.

“The student work is good and worthy of celebrating and showcasing,” she said. “If you think about it, these students don’t know each other. They meet for two days, work together to tell one story, have a mentor they don’t know guide them, and produce the video in one day. That’s incredible.”

Visit the Lens Collective website to view student work.

UM School of Journalism and New Media establishes scholarship in professor’s name

Posted on: September 13th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has established a scholarship in the name of a journalism professor who spent almost three decades teaching media law and educating students about the First Amendment.

Jeanni Atkins, Ph.D. said the school’s dean gave her the good news. “I’m very honored that Dr. Norton wanted to establish a permanent endowment fund in my name that will help Honors College students pay for their education,” she said.

Atkins said Will Norton Jr., Ph.D. was very supportive of her as a faculty member, and she appreciates his friendship and encouragement.


She said the scholarship has been created as a University of Mississippi permanent endowment fund of $25,000 that will increase over time. Full-time students in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College majoring in journalism or integrated marketing communications will be the recipients.

A committee in consultation with the dean determines who receives a scholarship. The amount of the grant each year depends on interest earned and additional contributions. Former students are among the contributors.

Norton said the scholarship committee will decide how much money to provide. There could be more than one scholarship awarded annually.

“Dr. Atkins was the intellectual strength of the graduate program here for decades,” he said. “She taught courses with rigor, and outstanding students graduated with her as mentor. There are leading media professionals who will tell you that she is the reason they have done so well in the business. The scholarship is in honor of a dedicated teacher who made a difference in students’ lives for decades.”

Atkins earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from Maryville College in East Tennessee, where she grew up. She worked as a full-time secretary at the college while taking courses part-time.

She earned a master’s of arts degree and a doctorate from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. While there, she worked full-time as an office manager/researcher for Professor Paul Fisher, executive director of the Freedom of Information Center, a national FOI clearinghouse in the journalism school. Fisher influenced her career path, she said.

“My dissertation was a comparison of the development and legal interpretations of open meetings laws in the 50 states,” she said.

The positions Atkins held between her master’s degree and Ph.D. gave her valuable research experience. She worked as the chief of research for Legis 50/The Center for Legislative Improvement in Colorado.

She worked as a research assistant to the director of the Communication Research Division for the Young & Rubicam Advertising Agency in Chicago. And she was the editor of two media law newsletters: Access Reports/FOI and Access Reports/ Privacy based in Washington, D.C.

She was also a research analyst for the Shook, Hardy & Bacon Law Firm in Kansas City.

After noticing an advertisement in the Kansas City Star for a Graduate Professional Opportunities Fellowship funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for women and minorities to pursue a Ph.D. in journalism at the University of Missouri, Akins applied. The fellowship and a graduate assistantship enabled her to begin a career as a teacher.

“Samir Husni, a friend in the Ph.D. program with me, was hired by Ole Miss Department of Journalism Chair Dr. Will Norton to start a magazine program,” she said. “Samir told me about a faculty position opening, and I was hired in 1986.”

Atkins has presented many peer reviewed research papers at regional, national and international conferences of journalism, intercultural and mass communications associations.

Her articles on government secrecy, open meetings and public records laws have been published in the University of Missouri Freedom of Information Center FOI Digest and Center Reports. Others that have published her work include Access Reports/FOI and Access Reports /Privacy, FOI Spotlight and various newspapers.

“My experience at the Missouri FOI Center national clearinghouse led to a passionate interest in the First Amendment and the public’s right to know,” she said. “Teaching media law and educating people about their rights of access to government meetings and records and the problems secrecy poses through the work of the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information (MCFOI) made it possible to continue to indulge that passion at Ole Miss.”

In 1998, Atkins said Mississippi Press Association president and Oxford Eagle Assistant Publisher Dan Phillips appointed a committee of a diverse group of journalists, attorneys, representatives of government agencies, and journalism academics to discuss establishing an organization to further more open government in the state.

“I served on the founding committee and wrote a proposal for the Ole Miss Department of Journalism to monitor and report on problems of access to government information,” she said. “MPA awarded Ole Miss a contract to handle administrative tasks and write and distribute a newsletter. I served as editor and publisher of the FOI Spotlight for 15 years and also as executive director.”

Atkins said her teaching philosophy has been to assist students in preparing for life after college, not just for a job. That means helping students broaden their horizons and develop better understanding of others with different life experiences and diverse cultural backgrounds. In addition to media law, she taught classes in media ethics, history, research methods, mass communications theory, public opinion and advertising copy writing.

“During 17 years of serving as graduate program director/student advisor, I chaired 29 committees and was a member of 25 others,” she said. “This position offered opportunities to get to know students on a personal level and learn from their research.”

Atkins said student feedback has been essential to understanding which teaching approaches facilitate their learning and growth. Even though she struggled with how much to push students and how demanding to make courses, she said she has learned good students welcome a challenge. And teaching has helped define the meaning of her life.

“Teaching is an incredibly challenging enterprise and a privilege,” she said. “Seeing the spark of interest and understanding in students whose minds are opened to knowledge and insights that helped them see people and the world in a different light and in the process know themselves better was a great source of pleasure.

“Following the career paths of former students and seeing their achievements continues to be rewarding. So many wonderful and interesting students—many I count as friends—enriched my life over the course of 29 years of teaching, and for that I am grateful.”

Atkins said she hopes the scholarship will help students achieve their goals.

Since I worked my way through college and graduate school, I know how much scholarships can mean to students who can’t afford to further their education without this kind of assistance,” she said. “But a scholarship means more than financial aid because it helps to relieve the stress financial worries impose and bolsters confidence in oneself. My hope is that it will help enable outstanding students to attend Ole Miss.”

To request an interview about the scholarship, contact Assistant Dean Debora Wenger at 662-915-7912 or

Work of UM assistant professor of journalism will be exhibited in Meridian museum

Posted on: August 26th, 2019 by ldrucker

The work of a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media assistant professor of journalism will be the focus of an upcoming Meridian photo exhibit.

Professor Alysia Steele’s work will be exhibited along with the work of Mississippi photographer Betty Press in Through the Looking Glass: Life in Mississippi at the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX) museum in Meridian from Friday, Aug. 30 to Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020.

Click here to read more about the exhibit.

Steele said the museum’s opening reception that she is unable to attend is Friday, Aug. 30. She will be presenting oral histories from her upcoming book COTTON: Voices in the Field Saturday, Aug. 31 from 1-2:30 p.m.

“Betty and I each have 23 images in the exhibit,” Steele said. “Half of my images are from Delta Jewels and the other half are from the upcoming book, currently titled COTTON: Voices in the Field,” she said. “That title may change when we finish the book. We are only halfway done with the book.”

Steele, who is co-authoring the book with her husband, Bobby D. Steele Jr., an instructional assistant professor of branding and promotions in the School of Journalism and New Media, said they expect to complete the book by next summer.

Steele said she was contacted by the curator of the museum who asked her to be part of the joint exhibition that also features the work of Press, who has a photography series called Mississippi: The Place I Live examining black and white relationships in the South.

“I said yes because Betty is a friend, and I love her work,” she said. “Additionally, in early January 2018, the museum asked for me to donate two photographs from Delta Jewels as part of a permanent exhibit at the museum, and they sent a film crew to interview me for a video component of that exhibit.

“I was thrilled and said ‘yes.’ The only thing I asked was for them to sell Delta Jewels in the bookstore, and they agreed. So, partnering with them again for this beautiful exhibit is a true honor. I am also teaching an oral history workshop in November at the museum. Details will be forthcoming about that program.”

Steele is a multimedia journalist and author of the book “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom,” a finalist in the 2015 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards for nonfiction.

The book has been featured in The New York Times,, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Public Radio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Essence, (owned by The Washington Post), Free Lance-Star,  The Clarion-Ledger and Southern Living. NYT bestselling author Bishop T.D. Jake’s featured her story in his Docu-Series.

Steele received her bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree in photography from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication.

She has worked as a staff photographer/multimedia producer at The Columbus Dispatch, a picture editor at The Dallas Morning News and deputy director of photography/picture editor at The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. In 2006, she was part of the photo team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for their Hurricane Katrina coverage where she served as a picture editor.

Steele said she hopes people of all backgrounds who view the exhibit will walk away with a better understanding of how we are all connected in humanity.

“Whereas Delta Jewels specifically curated life experiences from elder black women about life in Mississippi during the Jim Crow era, COTTON will focus on any Mississippian who wants to share their experiences with cotton,” she said.

“We all know this crop has a painful past, and with the climate of the country the way it is now, we want people to hear from others and really pay attention to their stories. Maybe if people listened to each other, we might have more understanding in the world. We want people to walk away with appreciation for others.”

Overby Center announces fall schedule of programs

Posted on: August 24th, 2019 by ldrucker

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi has announced its fall lineup of programs focusing on the future of journalism, politics and the upcoming election in Mississippi.

“This fall’s programs offer great conversations with and about nationally recognized experts,” said Charles Overby, chairman of the center. “The audience will also have an opportunity to join these conversations.”

Each event will take place in the Overby Center Auditorium at 555 Grove Loop. The programs are free and open to the public, and parking will be available in the lot adjacent to the auditorium. The schedule includes:


Walter E. Hussman Jr., a third-generation newspaperman who is the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, will discuss the future of news media and discuss his strategy of giving iPads to subscribers and other innovations to keep newspapers vibrant in the community. Hussman, who is president of his own media company, WEHCO, will talk with Charles Overby.

Wednesday, October 2, 5:30 p.m. —THE BATTLE BETWEEN TRUMP AND THE PRESS 

Peter J. Boyer, a veteran political journalist and an Ole Miss alumnus who has extensively covered the evolution of American politics and analyzed the intersection of politics and the press, returns to campus for a conversation with Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie about the nasty relationship between the President and the news media.

Wednesday, October 16, 5:30 p.m. — LOOKING AHEAD TO THE MISSISSIPPI ELECTIONS 

Two veteran Mississippi political handlers, Austin Barbour, a Republican, and Brandon Jones, a Democrat, analyze the upcoming state elections, following up on their initial assessments in an Overby program last fall. They will be joined in the discussion by Overby and Wilkie.

Wednesday, October 30, 5:30 p.m. — THE FIGHT FOR PRESS FREEDOM 

David E. McCraw, the top newsroom lawyer for The New York Times who became a social media sensation with his response to the Trump campaign’s threat to sue the newspaper for libel, recounts his experiences at The Times during the most turbulent era for journalism in generations. McCraw, a vice president and assistant general counsel will talk about his new book, “Truth in Our Times,” and the struggle for press freedom in an age of alternative facts with Overby and Greg Brock, a retired Times editor who is now an Overby Fellow.

Wednesday, November 20, 5:30 p.m. — FANNIE LOU HAMER’S AMERICA 

The screening of a documentary about one of the most powerful voices of the civil rights movement, Mississippi’s legendary sharecropper and activist, the late Fannie Lou Hamer, will be followed by a Q&A session with the film’s director, Joy Elaine Davenport. Mrs. Hamer’s testimony as a Mississippi freedom Democrat at the 1964 Democratic Convention stirred the nation.

University of Mississippi journalism professor featured in film highlighted at Tribeca Film Festival

Posted on: August 22nd, 2019 by ldrucker

An University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media assistant professor of journalism was included in a film highlighted in New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Professor Alysia Burton Steele is featured in the film “Frame by Frame.” In it, celebrated photojournalists explore images of the people and events that helped shape the American experience and discuss how working with photographs impacts them personally.

“There are several photographers highlighted,” said Steele, adding that she was featured along with photographer Pete Souza.

Click the photo to view the clip.

Souza is the former chief official White House photographer for U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, and the former director of the White House Photography Office.

“New York Times staff photographer Chester Higgins was also filmed on the same day I was, and it was a highlight to talk with him all afternoon,” Steele said. “His book Elder Grace was inspiration for Delta Jewels (of which I sent him a copy when it was first released in 2015).”

You can view a clip from the film featuring Steele here. In it, she discussed her work as a picture editor at the Dallas Morning News in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Click here to view the clip

A clip from the film featuring Steele.

In 2006, Steele was part of the photo team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for their Hurricane Katrina coverage where she served as a picture editor.

Steele is a multimedia journalist and author of the book “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom,” a finalist in the 2015 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards for nonfiction.

The book has been featured in The New York Times,, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Public Radio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Essence, (owned by The Washington Post), Free Lance-Star, The Clarion-Ledger and Southern Living. NYT bestselling author Bishop T.D. Jake’s featured her story in his Docu-Series.

She received her bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree in photography from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication.

Steele has worked as a staff photographer/multimedia producer at The Columbus Dispatch, a picture editor at The Dallas Morning News and deputy director of photography/picture editor at The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

Steele spent five weeks documenting life in South Africa, Uganda and the Ivory Coast, where her images were featured in Habitat for Humanity’s 25th anniversary coffee table book. While working as a photographer at The Columbus Dispatch, she won the 2004 James Gordon Understanding Award for photographic excellence for her month-long assignment inside the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

She also did picture editing for the National Urban League and designed their 100th commemorative poem booklet written by Maya Angelou. She has won numerous awards for her photography and picture editing.

University of Mississippi Student Media Center gets a new look over summer vacation

Posted on: August 21st, 2019 by ldrucker

The Student Media Center operates year-round at Bishop Hall, and staff and students were even busier than usual this summer. The SMC spent more than $70,000 on equipment and software upgrades. Websites were redesigned. Broadcast engineer Steven Miller and media tech manager Jared Senseman worked hard to install everything for the start of fall semester. Here are a few highlights:

  • NewsWatch Ole Miss has a new switcher, monitors, cameras and related accessories. The newscast should now be much more vivid, and viewers will see more details in true HD quality. A plus is that the new equipment takes up less space and uses less electricity. The student staff will begin training this week to learn how to use the new equipment.
  • New software was purchased for all lab machines, including Adobe Creative Cloud for more than 25 computers and Microsoft Office 2019 for all lab machines.

The NewsWatch Ole Miss TV studio.

  • The SMC classroom has a new projector with a number of improved features.
  • Summer Daily Mississippian editorial staff and adviser Greg Brock worked with Jared to redesign It will launch this week. The website has a new theme and is easier to use, with better aesthetics and improved security. The DM site was moved to its own private server, which will increase speed and response times, with a cool mobile version. The old website will be renamed, and will be available for as long as we want. It includes previous archives; articles as far back as 2009 will continue to be accessible.

SMC media tech manager Jared Senseman and Daily Mississippian Editor-in-Chief Daniel Payne, putting the finishing touches on the new DM website.

  • The DM print edition has also undergone a major redesign. The first print paper of the semester, which includes our annual Back to School special section, will be distributed August 26. The DM will have a print edition three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays).
  • Rebel Radio’s website is undergoing a major redesign and theme upgrade, led by Hannah Vines and others on the professional staff working with Rebel Radio student staff.

Steven Miller, SMC broadcast engineer. The NewsWatch Ole Miss TV studio.

  • If you didn’t check out the yearbook website last year, please do so this year. MacKenzie Ross, editor of the 2019 yearbook, redesigned the site, and it includes some awesome drone footage and content that complements the printed yearbook. This year’s yearbook staff will continue to modernize the website.
  • Graduate assistant Ingrid Valbuena is redesigning our recruiting materials.

Steven Miller and Gracyn Ashmore, NewsWatch Ole Miss student manager, in the SMC TV control room.

  • had 450,000 page views this summer (very unusual for the summer; we’re already close to 1.2 million for the year), and the electronic newsletter has more than 1,100 subscribers.

Be sure to check out the website redesigns, and stop by Bishop Hall to take a look at the new equipment in the studios and newsroom.