Brittany Brown, a senior Meek School broadcast journalism senior from Quitman, Mississippi, was recently awarded a News21 national investigative reporting fellowship for student journalists.
The documentary she helped create, “American Hate,” was shown Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Auditorium. It was sponsored by the School of Journalism and New Media’s Common Ground Committee. Pizza was served following the film.
Read our Q & A with Brown below.
Q. Tell us about your University of Mississippi experience. Are you involved in student media?
A. I have been involved in the Student Media Center since my freshman year. I’ve written for The Ole Miss yearbook and The Daily Mississippian. I’ve also been a reporter and anchor for NewsWatch Ole Miss. Last year, I was the digital content producer for NewsWatch Ole Miss, and I am currently an assistant news editor at The Daily Mississippian.
Q. Describe the fellowship you won.
A. News21 is a national investigative reporting fellowship for student journalists. This summer, I spent a few months in Phoenix, Arizona at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University reporting on hate crimes, hate groups and their victims.
The program included a semester-long seminar (January to May) learning investigative reporting techniques and researching incidents across the U.S. I spent the summer mainly reporting on the African American community and doing video storytelling. I helped team-produce the “American Hate” documentary, helped co-write “A Violent Legacy,” traveled on a nationwide road trip and produced interactive storytelling.
Q. What did you learn or take away from the fellowship?
A. I learned that this is something that I want to do for the rest of my life. It was such a great experience working in such a collaborative newsroom and working alongside such talented journalists and editors. I sharpened many of my technical skill, such as my efficiency in Adobe Premiere Pro, but I also learned how to properly research and build for an in-depth story.
Q. What do you hope others learn from the documentary you helped produce?
A. I hope that others realize how relevant the issue of hate is, still, in America today. It is not a thing of the past, and it is something we need to face as a country. I just hope this project expands people’s views of the world.
James Autry signed copies of his new book Mississippi during a reception at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 in the Overby Center lobby.
MISSISSIPPI is a collection of 77 poems from James A. Autry’s Nights Under A Tin Roof and Life After Mississippi. The author, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, newspaper reporter, national magazine editor and Fortune 500 executive, returns to his Mississippi roots to examine the forces which shaped him.
“Autry was editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, and later CEO of Meredith Group in charge of the publication of 16 major magazines,” said Yoknapatawpha Press Publisher Larry Wells. “He arranged for the Meredith Group to sponsor a magazine feature writing program at the School of Journalism. He is a member of Ole Miss Hall of Fame. Autry is an inspiration for Ole Miss students. His legendary career is proof that the sky’s the limit for our j-school grads.”
It’s rare that a CEO writes poetry recalling lessons learned under a tin roof. Autry, then president of the Meredith Group magazine publishing division, wrote verse whenever and wherever he could—in board rooms between meetings, in hotel lobbies, on airplanes, in limos and taxis. Poetry would not leave him alone.
In his preface to Mississippi, Autry calls his verse “pieces” of recollections because “their shape comes to me as stories and then as pieces of a larger story.” His poems achieve a remarkably dense texture of memory forming what John Mack Carter has called a bridge of “kinship” between poet and reader.
This collection of 77 poems from Autry’s Nights Under A Tin Roof and Life After Mississippi focuses on the rhythms of rural Southern life, an odyssey of country funerals, weddings, church revivals, family reunions, and courtships drawn from a unique American heritage.
The book is illustrated with 66 black and white photographs of the rural South taken by WPA photographers and the author’s step-mother, Lola Mae Autry.
Bill Moyers believes Autry is one of America’s leading contemporary poets and featured him in two PBS specials devoted to American poets. Moyers says of Autry’s verse, “We all need the shelter of the tin roof today against the storms raging in our world.”
Autry is the author of 14 books, a poet and consultant whose work has had a significant influence on leadership thinking. His book, Love and Profit, The Art of Caring Leadership, a collection of essays and poetry, won the prestigious Johnson, Smith & Knisely Award as the book that had the most impact on executive thinking in 1992. Love and Profit also has been published in Japanese, Swedish, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian, and is still in print in paperback.
In addition, Autry has written the introductions to several books, and his writings have appeared in many anthologies and magazines. In 1991 the Kentucky Poetry Review published a special James A. Autry issue. He is a founder of the Des Moines National Poetry Festival.
He received considerable national attention when he was one of the poets featured on Bill Moyers’ special series, “The Power of the Word.” Moyers featured him again in 2012 on Moyers & Company on PBS. Garrison Keillor has featured his work on “The Writer’s Corner” on public radio. Autry is also featured in three videos, “Love and Profit,” which won a “Telly” award, “Life and Work,” and “Spirit at Work.”
In 1998, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the Humanities from Iowa Humanities Board and Foundation. He was also the founding chair of the Claremont Graduate University’s Humanities Center Board of Visitors.
Autry was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Mississippi and was elected to the Alumni Hall of Fame. He fulfilled his military service as a jet fighter pilot in Europe during the cold war and rose to the rank of Major in the Iowa Air National Guard.
Before taking early retirement in 1991 to pursue his present career, Autry was senior vice president and president of the Meredith Group, at the time a 500 million dollar magazine publishing operation with over 900 employees.
Autry lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife Sally Pederson, the former Lieutenant Governor of Iowa.
If you have ever been told you cannot play a sport because you are not big enough, or you would not be good at something, let Chuck Swirsky be your motivation.
Swirsky, the play-by-play voice of the Chicago Bulls, has faced many challenges to achieve his dream career. But with help and support from others, hard work, dedication and goals, Swirsky remains energetic, focused, disciplined, and passionate about life.
“I was a horrible athlete,” Swirsky said recently as a guest speaker at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “I got cut from every game.”
But he still wanted to be a part of sports. “In a make-believe world, I’d love to be an NBA player,” Swirsky said, “but when you’re vertically challenged like me and a poor athlete, a sports announcer is the next big thing.”
The four people who influenced Chuck’s sports announcing career are Vince Bagli, Ernie Harwell, Joe Tait, and Pete Gross. Swirsky spent many summers with Bagli, a sports announcer, and his family job shadowing him from age 12 to 21.
Pete Gross, a former broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks, was also a mentor. Swirsky loved Pete’s work ethic.
The video is a highlight of Swirsky’s first NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and the Atlanta Hawks.
Swirsky said negativity from others can sometimes drive a person to accomplish great things. “The news director at NBC Radio told me that he did not like my voice, and that I will never make it,” he said.
This negative comment gave Swirsky the motivation needed to become a professional sports announcer. And during his junior year at Ohio University, he received an internship with NBC Radio in Cleveland, Ohio.
He recalled another moment when someone told him he would not be a successful sports announcer. He said he cried to his grandmother, who said, “You need to get these negative thoughts out of your system, and tomorrow you are going to prove to everyone and to yourself that you are worthy of this career.”
Swirsky said his grandmother’s speech has been the driving force in his life and every decision he has made. He said the people he surrounded himself with are the reason he has the skills and qualities necessary to succeed in this career field.
“You must be passionate, have a great attitude, and be enthusiastic,” he said. “With these three traits, you can accomplish anything.”
Swirsky said you must be prepared, have a good work ethic and stay focused. With any job or career, you will have celebrations and challenges, he said.
He said being a sports broadcaster is a tough and competitive industry. One must never give up, bring it when the time comes, and always be on time for everything.
“You never go into sports broadcasting or anything for the dollars and cents,” he said. “Because you are going to start at the bottom, and I mean the bottom. You are going to have to work your way up.”
In his first job in the sports broadcasting industry, he said he saved money by eating McDonald’s, pizza, and Chinese food.
Chicago Bulls sports announcer Chuck Swirsky.
Swirsky said he practiced being a successful sports announcer. “I would go into my room with a little tape recorder,” he said. “I would rewrite the newspaper (The Seattle times), and I would do the sportscast into my microphone, and I would listen, listen, and listen again.”
When he was at Ohio University, he said the school had a 11:15 a.m. sportscast during the weekend. No one else wanted the job because of the time slot. Swirsky volunteered.
Swirsky has accomplished much as a sports announcer. He did not give up on his goals and dreams. When he feels like he has done all he can, he said tries to do more or better.
“Those insecurities in my DNA drive me everyday to be better,” he said, “but the question I have is: How bad do you really want it, to be a sportscaster? Are you willing to pay the price?”
Swirsky has influenced, mentored, and motivated many journalists. “At this point in my career, I have probably done everything that I had hoped to do. However, there is still a window of opportunity, because I never shut the door on opportunities.”
Swirsky said his career choice was a major goal in his life, and he thanks God for the opportunity.
Fred Young and Hank Price, two past and present top Hearst TV leaders, spoke Monday, Oct. 8 in the Overby Center auditorium. Young discussed “Why Ethical Business is Good Business.”
According to Hearst.com, Fred I. Young, was the senior vice president of News for Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., before retiring after a distinguished 46-year career. Young served in an advisory and consulting role with the company and its television stations.
He oversaw news operations at Hearst-Argyle TV stations in 26 markets throughout 22 states, according to Hearst.com, as well as the Hearst-Argyle Washington, D.C., News Bureau, which services the company’s television news departments. He had served as vice president of news upon Hearst-Argyle’s formation in August 1997 through the combination of Hearst Broadcasting and Argyle Television, Inc.
In March 2002, Young received a First Amendment Service Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation.
Hearst.com reports that Young joined Hearst Broadcasting in October 1962, serving for 25 years at WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh, as vice president and general manager, news director, and in other news management positions. “During his years there, WTAE-TV received numerous local and national awards for quality programming and community service. He was also instrumental in the original campaign to admit television cameras into Pennsylvania courtrooms,” the website reports.
Young is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, from whom he received a Broadcaster of the Year Award. He is also past chairman of the Telecommunications Advisory Committee of Pennsylvania State University, and is a member of the Radio-Television News Directors’ Association. A graduate of Duquesne University, he is also a past president of the Congregation Brothers of Israel in Trenton, New Jersey.
Hank Price is president and general manager of WVTM 13, the Hearst Television NBC affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama. He also serves as director of leadership development for the Meek School of Journalism & New Media.
Before moving to WVTM 13 in January of 2015, Price was president and general manager of WXII 12, Hearst’s NBC affiliate in Greensboro/Winston-Salem, North Carolina. During Price’s tenure, WXII 12 became the region’s dominant source of news and information on all platforms, including television, web and mobile. From 2000 until 2015, Price was also senior director of Northwestern University’s Media Management Center. He is co-author of Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First (Sage, 2015).
Prior to joining Hearst and Northwestern, Price was vice-president and general manager of WBBM-TV, the CBS-owned television station in Chicago. During that time, he was named a “Fifth Estater” by Broadcasting and Cable Magazine for innovative leadership in local news.
Before WBBM, Price spent 12 years with the Gannett Company in a variety of positions, including president and general manager of KARE 11 in Minneapolis, president and general manager of WFMY-TV in Greensboro, N.C., and vice-president for programming, marketing and research at WUSA-TV in Washington, DC.
Price, a native of Gulfport, Miss., worked his way through college at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he is a member of the School of Mass Communications and Journalism Hall of Fame.
Today, it’s more important than ever for businesses and organizations to have a crisis management plan. And though no one likes to relive a crisis, you can learn from doing so.
In 1982, consumer research specialist Leslie Westbrook was in the “war room” during the Tylenol poisoning scandal that became a textbook case in the field of crisis management. What she learned is still important today. When dealing with controversy, it’s important to put humans first, business second.
Q. Can you take us back to the time of the Tylenol controversy? Where were you working? What was your job position at the time? When did you first hear about this controversy?
A. In 1982, at the time of the Tylenol poisoning, I had already created my consulting firm, Leslie M. Westbrook & Associates, Inc. After graduating from Ole Miss in 1968, I worked for Procter & Gamble for three years, where I was trained in classic consumer research. I then worked for a nationally prominent new product consulting firm for nine years. In 1980, I founded my consulting firm. I am a consumer research specialist/marketing strategist working with primarily Fortune 500 companies.
Joe Chiesa, then president of McNeil Consumer and makers of Tylenol, had been my client at another J&J company. I watched Jim Burke, then CEO of J&J Worldwide and the parent company of McNeil, announce on television that J&J would no longer make capsules (Too easy to tamper with. Who knew?)
All Tylenol capsules were being pulled off the shelves. Seven people had died as a result of Tylenol, which had been tampered with, and J&J did not want any more harm to their customers. They were cooperating with authorities, shutting down Tylenol capsule plants, interviewing employees . . . until the mystery was solved.
I was so impressed, so touched that the CEO of a major international consumer company was willing to lose millions in order not to hurt any more people. I wrote to Joe Chiesa to volunteer my services in any way needed. I volunteered to do their consumer research to help Tylenol, no charge. They had already done so much. I was summoned to Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania, McNeil headquarters, for a meeting with the director of market research.
I was hired (they never accepted my offer to volunteer) to be the consumer specialist to work with the Tylenol Team (the war room) to stage a Tylenol comeback. I worked with R&D as they began to develop safety packaging for current Tylenol tablets (capsules were gone) and future Tylenol line extensions to replace the Extra Strength Capsule: what it must look like, how it should be described and named … to develop trust and confidence.
R&D also was charged with replacing the much-preferred capsule form vs. tablets for Extra Strength. (They) preferred it to be shaped like a capsule for swallowability, but it must be pure white like tablets (compressed powder) to visually communicate that it “cannot be tampered with.” (Decisions had to be made about) form, nomenclature, how to motivate capsule purchasers to buy Extra Strength Tylenol again … in this new form. The caplet form was born, along with Triple Safety Sealed packaging. It changed the consumer landscape forever.
Q. For those who may not be aware of what happened, can you give us a bit more background?
A. In September 1982, seven people in the Chicago area mysteriously died. It was discovered that each of the seven (random, not related) had taken Tylenol Extra Strength capsules. Police and FBI confiscated the Tylenol from all seven homes and the stores where these were bought.
Forensics discovered that the capsules had been tampered with: capsules opened, active ingredient powder removed and replaced with cyanide powder. J&J ran full-page ads not only in Chicago papers but in all major papers around the country.
Tylenol Extra Strength Capsules were pulled off every retail shelf around the country. All Tylenol Extra Strength Capsule manufacturing plants were shut down and scrutinized. All Tylenol ES capsule packages were sent to a central location for tedious examination to see if any other capsules were tainted. There was a massive manhunt, search for a “madman” who was behind the poisonings.
Q. What were some of the strategies that you helped implement to turn this controversy around? It seems it took strategic thinking to prevent the company from being distrusted after the controversy? Can you talk a little bit about your team’s action plan?
A. Burson-Marstellar PR Agency, founded by our own Harold Burson (another Ole Miss graduate), was already working for several J&J companies. The firm was hired to handle what is now called “crisis management.”
Jim Burke, J&J CEO, worked closely and directly with the agency. He set the parameters: totally transparent, no waffling, only straight talk. Key was also to promote the actions: All Tylenol capsules removed from all retail shelves … $100 million loss in one day.
Consumers were to take any Tylenol ES capsules to any local grocery/drug to turn in (back to J&J for examination) and given a choice:
1. Refund (no sales receipt necessary), which was given as a coupon for store credit to buy anything (or)
2. Full bottle of Tylenol ES Tablets (white compressed powder/no tampering)
The news coverage was all positive due to the unfathomable humanitarian non-profit-oriented approach taken by J&J. I tested various approaches/ads/PR articles to guide J&J and Burson in the selection of the most positive, most reassuring and viable.
I was working closely with R&D on a fast-track to get the new form (caplet) and new Safety Seal Packaging in the market. I conducted focus groups in the Chicago area first, three months after the poisonings, to assess consumer attitudes toward Tylenol, J&J.
Trust was building. Consumers responded very favorably to the company’s open, transparent, humanitarian approach. We eventually conducted these focus groups around the country.
Q. The Tylenol controversy is now a textbook case for marketing and public relations classes. What do you think marketing executives learned as a result of this problem that they now teach students about?
A. Crisis management is now an industry. Crisis management is taught in universities. Crisis management agencies have proliferated. In my experience, and in my observation of corporations, when a consumer crisis occurs (and there have been many over the 36 years since Jim Burke was a human being first), no one has even attempted to follow Jim Burke. The vast majority of corporations only focus on the Bottom Line … profit, stock prices, no transparency. It is shameful.
Jim Burke was a human first, a businessman second.
In the end, Tylenol staged an unprecedented comeback and went on to far surpass the original profit projections for Tylenol ES capsules. So, J&J won on all levels.
It is heartbreaking for me to see how all subsequent CEOs of J&J have not followed the “Burke Playbook” for crisis management.
Q. What did you learn personally or take away from your experience of being involved?
A. First, I was privileged to see from the inside how dedicated all of J&J and McNeil were to the Johnson & Johnson Credo … Putting the people we serve first (www.jnj.com/credo) … Shareholders (profit) last.
>Jim Burke became and still is my hero. I have never met, worked with or read about any corporate head with his integrity and beliefs. It was an honor to work with him, the Tylenol team.
For years, I worked with the J&J family of companies. I was recommended by my clients at McNeil to other J&J companies. When I began to experience a change in the mentality/work ethic/attitudes of various J&J company management persons … less humanistic, less ethical … I stopped taking J&J clients.
Today I have asked the University of Mississippi to remove my name from the School of Journalism and New Media. This past week I made a post on Facebook that reflected poorly on myself, the School and our University. It was never my intention to cast the problems our community faces as a racial issue. I do not believe that to be the case. I heartily apologize to all I have offended. I particularly apologize to those depicted in the photographs I posted. I was wrong to post them and regret that I did so.
I have spent my life in service to the Oxford-University community and have prided myself that I was a proponent of integration and diversity at all times. I helped to transform the department of Journalism into a School because of my passion for a free press, free speech, and an independent student media. My desire then and now is for the School of Journalism to be a global leader in Journalism education. I recognize that the attachment of my name to the School of Journalism is no longer in the best interest of that vision. I love Ole Miss too much to be one who inhibits the University and the School from reaching the highest potential and it is with that in mind that I make this request.
Whereas the faculty of the School of Journalism and New Media, as an academic unit in the University of Mississippi, and in the language of our creed “is dedicated to nurturing excellence and intellectual inquiry and personal character in an open and diverse environment;” and whereas a Facebook post published by the school’s namesake, Ed Meek, violated the fundamental values of the school and the university; and whereas this post is endemic of a larger culture and history of exclusion that has harmed and continues to harm students and the entire university community; and whereas faculty condemned this behavior, therefore we ask Dr. Ed Meek to request within three days that his name be removed from the School of Journalism & New Media; and therefore we invite Dr. Ed Meek to be part of a conversation about charting a path forward that speaks to our core values and should guide our future relationships with all constituents.
Check out this video of Curtis Wilkie, a Meek School of Journalism and New Media Overby Fellow and associate professor of journalism. Meek School graduate Adam Ganucheau, who is now a reporter at Mississippi Today, is also featured.
Becoming a book editor had always been a dream for recent Meek School graduate Hannah Fields. However, fate worked its way into her life to lead her down a different career path.
Originally from Jonesboro, Arkansas, Fields moved to Clinton, Mississippi, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in English writing at Mississippi College (MC) with hopes of landing a job among book editors in Nashville.
Before attending The University of Mississippi, Hannah Fields received her bachelor’s degree in English writing at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. Photo courtesy of Hannah Fields.
She searched for jobs in the publishing industry, but came up empty handed. She said she learned that lack of networking gave her a setback chasing her editorial dream. With her background in English writing, Fields was able to land a job as a sports columnist for Rantsports.com—a professional and college sports website—which allowed her to sustain a living in her new city.
“I was covering the Tennessee Titans and some SEC football,” she said.
Before landing the job as a sports columnist, she said she never really had a passion for football until she was introduced to the sport while attending MC. Realizing the popularity of the sport within her friend group, Fields had to jump on board if she wanted to spend quality time with her friends.
“I didn’t know a lot about [football],” she said, “But when I started writing that sports column it reinforced this idea that I wanted to work in sports.”
While reading Paul Finebaum and Gene Wojciechowski’s book, “My Conference Can Beat Your Conference,” Fields started to regret not attending an SEC school with her newfound love for football. She said she wasn’t going to make a career out of her sports column, and becoming a homebody while writing allowed depression to creep in. She realized she needed to make another career change.
Fields said she gained the confidence to follow her new passion after becoming more sports-confident.
“I said ‘I know enough to write this sports column, so why don’t I know enough to work for an [NFL] team?’” she said.
Steps In the Right Direction
Leaving the Music City behind, Fields was on a search for not only a graduate program to further her newfound career, but one with a football program she could grow to love and support.
After looking at several SEC schools with programs in the journalism field and competitive football teams, it was only natural she chose The University of Mississippi since her sister attended Rebel Nation for her undergraduate degree.
“I knew Oxford and the campus,” she said. “Then Ole Miss also had integrated marketing communications (IMC), which turned out to be the perfect fit for what I wanted to do…plus it got me back to Mississippi.”
Fields thoroughly immersed herself in the program by writing class papers on women in sports, said Chris Sparks, associate professor of IMC.
“She is a great example of someone who sets a goal and goes after it,” Sparks said. “She decided she wanted to be in sports marketing at the beginning of her first year in the graduate program at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and committed to making it happen.”
Sparks said Fields is an excellent example of someone who not only followed her dream but made it happen.
Fields graduated from the IMC program in May 2018 with the goal of being a social media coordinator for an NFL team in sight. Upon graduation, Fields applied for a position with the NFL Green Bay Packers through teamworkonline.com—a website designated to connect people to sports jobs with professional sports teams.
Having experience through an internship with the WNBA Atlanta Dream, along with her background in writing, Fields expertly landed the job. She now had her foot in the door working her dream job in the NFL.
Now as the e-commerce marketing intern for the Packers, Fields assists with promotional marketing for the Packers Pro Shop—the official retail store of the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers since 1989. She said she has mostly been writing copy for products, emails and social media.
“Hopefully this will be a launching pad from which I can do what I want to do, which is social media,” she said.
Reminiscing Over Her Roots
Although she’s on track in her dream field, Fields said there are many things she does miss about the South and Mississippi, such as the southern hospitality.
She said Southerners like herself are known for being extroverts, which seems to be lacking in her new Midwestern home.
Wisconsin might be known for its cheese and dairy, but according to Fields, midwesterners do not relish in starches, carbs and savory delights like their southern neighbors. She said the difference in food variety was something she expected when she made the move to the cheese state, but she didn’t realize it was something that would be so drastically different.
“Little stuff like food… you don’t realize is unique to where you live until you move out of [your state],” she said.
Fields might miss the warm temperatures, sweet tea and foods indicative to Mississippi, but she said she’s excited to embark on a new journey to achieve her goals as a social media coordinator in the NFL.