School of Journalism and New Media

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UM journalism and IMC students vlog about life in the time of the coronavirus

Posted on: April 3rd, 2020 by ldrucker

Many of our University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media students are working during the COVID-19 pandemic, writing stories about what is happening and creating video projects about their experiences.

Students from professor Michael Fagans’ class recently completed a video project.

“The students were asked to record a two- to five-minute long vlog,” said Fagans, “and to include one concern and one area that they saw hope. This was a way to check-in with them, start them working on an easy project and get a ‘snap-shot’ of where they were physically and mentally.”

Click this link or the photo below to view the video. Captions are provided.


COVID-19 and social distancing

COVID-19 and social distancing

Fagans said the project helped him learn more about his students and the challenges they are currently facing.

“I now better understand what they are experiencing,” he said.

As a result of the project, Fagans said he feels responsible for helping his students navigate this time in history and the pandemic. He is also offering encouragement.

He said he wants to “help them complete the course and produce work that they can be proud of during difficult times.”

Fagans said more individual student work will be published at the following links: Link 1 and Link 2.

We hope to share more student work created during this time in the future.

Check out our lineup of upcoming classes for May

Posted on: April 1st, 2020 by ldrucker

If you’re looking for interesting online or remote courses to take this May, check out this list that covers everything from 3-D modeling and communications law, to learning the history of mass communication and magazine management. Check out the May intercession lineup.

J101 – Introduction to Mass Communication. You consume media every day, but do you know its history? Without that foundation, how can you really understand modern media? This class, which is a prerequisite for other classes, explores the history of media from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg. Yes, you’ll learn about the development of the printing press to the creation of Facebook and social media. The class is an introduction to traditional mass media (newspapers, magazines, television, radio, public relations, advertising, social media) and their importance and impact on modern society. Students will be asked to write book, music, film and television reviews of some of their favorite media. If you’ve ever wanted to give reporting a try, you’ll have a chance to write a feature story. Some writing assignments may potentially be published on a features website.

How will it be taught online? Students who take J101 will receive daily lesson plans on Blackboard with work they should complete before the following day. They could sometimes be asked to give short video presentations via Zoom, or to upload a video to YouTube or another platform so that other students can view their presentations. We also plan to have weekly speakers from the fields of journalism and public relations who will be broadcast in a (optional) live Zoom meeting or via video. Students may be asked to watch a documentary on YouTube. Students will be asked to complete some writing projects that could be published on our Oxford Stories (or a similar) website: They will be asked to engage in discussions in our Blackboard Discussion Forum with their classmates. We’ll also use social media platforms, such as Twitter, to communicate on some assignments.

mass communication

mass communication

J553 – Service Journalism Management. The course, which is not offered often, is a magazine specialization and managerial course that will give students an edge when applying for magazine jobs, regardless of their area of interest. Magazine and magazine media, for years, have operated on a three-legged stool: editorial, circulation and advertising. This course is more like the seat of the stool that connects all three legs – magazine management. Learn how to connect all the dots and how a magazine media company operates. It’s a must course for anyone interested in a career in magazine or magazine media, regardless of whether you want to be a writer, designer, sales person, public relations officer, creative director or circulation manager. Space is limited so act fast.



IMC 104 – Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communication. Introduces the basic disciplines of IMC: advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, database marketing, internet marketing communication, and relationship marketing.

IMC 349 – 3-D Modeling. Learn basic techniques to create 3-D models in Cinema 4D. Understand the implications of texturing and lighting and the effects they have on productions. Learn the fundamentals of operating a camera in a 3-D environment

IMC 404 – Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communication Research. Theory and practice of qualitative and quantitative research applied to multiple marketing and communications challenges and tasks.

IMC 492 – Public Relations Case Problems. Research, decision processes, and program design in addressing public relations problems at the management level. Application of public relations principles and techniques in programs of profit and nonprofit institutions. Role of mass media; ethical considerations.



J371 – Communications Law. Legal rights and responsibilities of journalists and other media practitioners. Attention to Constitutional law and relevant First Amendment cases; FCC and private industry regulation of the internet; evolving philosophies of intellectual property; libel and privacy issues.

J575 – Mass Media Ethics and Social Issues. Formulation and discussion of professional ethics for journalists. Analysis of social forces affecting media performance.

Apart Yet Together: UM School of Journalism and New Media faculty offer thoughts about school changes caused by COVID-19

Posted on: March 25th, 2020 by ldrucker

In the last few weeks, things have rapidly changed at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media as faculty, staff and students have learned more about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

As journalists, we understand how to adapt to new situations pretty quickly, and that mindset has allowed us to move all of our in-person classes online using Blackboard and other multimedia tools in a short time.

This has required teamwork and innovative thinking, and it has allowed us to stay together as an educational family even though we are temporarily separated.

We’re together, though we’re apart.

Farley Hall

Farley Hall

We’re still a family of students and educators. We will persevere. Life and school will go on even though we face temporary challenges.

Some of our professors are offering words of wisdom about coping with these new changes.

Dean Will Norton, Jr.

Dean Will Norton, Jr.

Dean Will Norton, Jr., Ph.D., said faculty staff are here to help students any way they can, and they will be offering many interesting courses in the summer and fall, whether they are in person or online.

“I am grateful for the hard work our faculty members have done to adapt to the current situation,” Norton said. “Faculty are working long hours to get lectures online and to contact students so that they can finish the semester. We meet as a faculty once a day on Zoom, and the comments are heartwarming.

“I also am grateful for the many adjustments students are making so that they can complete their coursework. This has been an eerie time, but our faculty and our students have been superb.

“We are grateful for the amazing students we have as we navigate these uncharted waters. We are confident that our school will emerge from this stronger than ever.”



Assistant Dean Debora Wenger, Ph.D., said the school’s faculty and staff were determined to continue teaching students and were willing to make big changes to complete the semester.

“In just a little more than a week, our faculty rolled up their proverbial shirtsleeves and pulled off what might seem to be the impossible — they put every one of our classes online,” she said. “In addition, we have seen students, who have good reason to be stressed out, sending emails of support and offering good humor and kindness to each other in Zoom meetings and on social media.

“Add to that the incredible response from our staff. They are keeping this ship together so well that it doesn’t even look leaky, but day in and day out, they are plugging countless holes. Right now, we’re seeing the very best of what the School of Journalism and New Media is, and I could not be prouder to be a part of it.”

Scott Fiene

Scott Fiene

Assistant Dean Scott Fiene said he is also proud of faculty, staff and students for the strength and character they have exhibited adapting to changes.

“I am so pleased with how we’ve all come together – students, faculty, staff – to make the best of this,” Fiene said. “We are living through a terrible global tragedy, but I also think this could be our finest hour. I truly believe that.

Samir Husni

Samir Husni

“Everywhere I go (and by that, I mean on Zoom, and brief trips to the grocery store to see if they have any TP and hand sanitizer yet), I am seeing kindness, compassion, creativity, humor and a sense of community and purpose that has been long overdue in our world.  We will get through this, and there’s one heck of a rainbow at the end. Stay focused, stay safe, and I look forward to all being back together on campus again very soon.”

Professor Samir Husni, Ph.D., director of the Magazine Innovation Center, offered these words of wisdom.

“In the midst of all the doom and gloom there is always hope… and this shall also pass,” he said. “Students, keep the faith, stay well, stay safe, and stay inside.”

Senior Lecturer Robin Street said she knows all of us are anxious and unsure right now.

“I cannot imagine how stressful it is to be a student right now,” she said. “My own ‘survival kit’ has three components that help me get work done and cope with the anxiety. Hope some of this advice can help a student:

Set up a work area. “I already had a great home office set up. Of course, it is all about purple (her favorite color) and has a standing desk!”

Exercise! “As a former health journalist, I know that exercise is proven to reduce anxiety. I just ordered some exercise equipment that I am using in my basement.”

Love on your pet. “My favorite anti-anxiety treatment is my beloved dog, Brooklyn. If you are lucky enough to have a pet, spending time with him or her is a proven mental health booster.”

Professor Kathleen Wickham, Ph.D. shared a quote from William Faulkner: “The problems man faces are usually bigger than he is, but amazingly enough, he copes with them — not as an individual but as a community.”

Kathleen Wickham

Kathleen Wickham

“Keep in touch with us,” Wickham said. “Ole Miss is your community. Together we will cope with your issues.”

Professor Cynthia Joyce said she won’t sugarcoat things.

“The next few weeks/months are going to be very difficult, and in ways we don’t necessarily anticipate,” she said. “The priority will be for you to take care of yourself and to make sure you are properly ‘sheltering in place’ while still trying to stay productive if at all possible.”

Cynthia Joyce

Cynthia Joyce

She said some of her tried-and-true coping mechanisms include petting an animal and drinking a glass of water.

“Check on someone you know who might be struggling,” she said. “Call your grandparents. Don’t forget that outdoors is still a safe place to be. Spend more time there rather than in front of the TV or your computer screen if you can . . . And here’s a little bit of good news to keep in mind in the midst of this crisis: This is likely to be the biggest story of your lives — and you all are storytellers. Make this moment count.”

Professor Jason Cain, Ph.D., said in times of crisis, we all want a sense of control.

“It can be difficult to embrace just how adrift in chaos our lives are at the moment, and feeling out of control is what causes so much anxiety,” he said. “We feel we have so little impact on these giant decisions by governments and institutions even though we’re so deeply affected by them.”

However, Cain said, the truth is there are many things you can still control – not just coursework – but the joy we bring to others.

Jason Cain

Jason Cain

“They may seem like small acts – all those times you made a brother or sister laugh, helped a parent relax, spent a few minutes on FaceTime with your grandparents, reached out to someone you know who needs to hear a kind voice, or just reminded someone that you love them – but they matter.

“I’d argue they matter more than anything else in the world. While I’ve seen people angry over hoarding and so on, I’ve also seen a few people cry just from being completely overwhelmed by the many small kindnesses their communities have shared . . .

“When it comes to bringing joy to the people in your life, you’re a king. That’s where your work lies,” he said. “All of you reading this are a king or queen in some area of your life. And no matter how big or small you think that role is, it’s important. That’s where you can find some control in this situation in which you’ve found yourself. Don’t worry about the places where you still feel like a pawn, find those places where you are royalty.  That’s where you are most needed, and that’s where you now have an opportunity to shine.”

Professor LaReeca Rucker said the coronavirus was the topic of many current events discussions this semester before spring break.

LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker

“It seems surreal that we are here and the world has changed so much since some of those class conversations,” she said. “But I think this presents a unique opportunity for all of our student journalists to be community servants through their work, even if they are doing it only via phone and social distancing.

“If you were actually looking for a way to help your community during this time, one of the ways student journalists can do that is by doing good work. I believe the stories they write will ultimately mean more to them in the long run because they will know they were part of something bigger. It’s almost as if we have a responsibility to chronicle this situation and make sure the focus of our reporting is about helping our neighbors.”

Rucker said it’s also important to remember to take care of yourself.

“I know that a lot of people are feeling a little anxious,” she said. “One of the things that has a proven psychological benefit is being in nature. I would encourage you to continue practicing social distancing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out into the forest or spend time at a lake, especially if no one else is near you, and enjoy the beauty and the peacefulness of nature to clear your mind.”

R.J. Morgan

R.J. Morgan

Professor R. J. Morgan said it may seem like you are alone, but we’re all going through this together.

“It’s not easy, and it’s not normal, but it is necessary,” he said. “Listening to the recommendations of our world and local leaders can and is saving lives. We must keep doing our part. So put on your most comfortable pair of jammies, remember to tip the delivery person who just dropped off lunch, and let’s get through this semester. We can do this.

“We all stand with you . . . just not beside you.”


The School of Journalism and New Media is also asking students to report where they are with its #OleMissWhereRU social media campaign.



We want to see where our students are finishing their semesters. Are they taking their final tests in their childhood bedroom or on a beach?

Are they writing papers overlooking rolling hills or an urban skyline?

Use #OleMissWhereRU on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok to show the university family where you are, and how you’re completing the semester. We may share your response on our school’s social media sites.

UM chancellor releases statement about canceled classes and COVID-19

Posted on: March 12th, 2020 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi will cancel classes March 16-20 and move classes online following an extended break.

UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce released a statement Thursday saying the decision is a response to the rapidly evolving situation with Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

University leaders hope the decision will help maximize social distancing, and slow transmission of the virus.



“All classes on the Oxford campus and the regional campuses are canceled for March 16-20, 2020, the week that students were scheduled to return from spring break,” the statement reads. “This decision will extend UM’s spring break by one week so that faculty and staff can prepare to move classes online following the extended break.”

Beginning Monday, March 23 and until further notice, the university will hold all classes and related coursework online or via methods other than in-person, on-campus instruction, the chancellor said.

“The timeframe for this approach is open-ended, and we will monitor this approach continuously with the hope of returning to normal operations before the end of the spring semester,” Boyce said in the statement.

Glenn Boyce

Glenn Boyce

Students will hear directly from their respective deans and/or faculty instructors regarding any specific instructions. Students are strongly encouraged to return to their family home and stay there during this period to promote social distancing and minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

Click this link to read the entire statement.

Click this link to read University of Mississippi updates about COVID-19.

UM School of Journalism and New Media welcomes Better Angels March 2-3

Posted on: February 24th, 2020 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media will welcome the Better Angels to campus March 2 and 3 in an effort to unite in a time of political division.

Better Angels is a citizens’ organization uniting red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America. They will be in Oxford Monday, March 2 and Tuesday, March 3 to host two events.

The March 2 event will be a Better Angels Debate from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Union Auditorium. Those who attend will discuss the university’s Confederate imagery and symbolism.

“The crux is that a group of people will think together, listen carefully to one another, and allow themselves to be touched and perhaps changed by each other’s ideas,” said UM School of Journalism and New Media professor Graham Bodie, Ph.D. “When done well, everyone walks out a little closer to the truth, more aware of the validity in opposing views, and with tighter community relationships.

red and blue

red and blue

 After a participant speaks, the chair will ask for one or two questions from the body, Bodie said.

All questions will be addressed to the chair, limiting the feeling that opinions are being “challenged” and encouraging nuance and thoughtful discussion.

All speakers are encouraged to bring up new ideas as they wish, to place them in context of the prior speeches, and to directly express responses to prior speeches, Bodie said.

The March 3 event will be a Better Angels Red-Blue Workshop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Depot. The workshop is focused on university faculty and community members.

“The crux is that 6-7 self-identified ‘Reds’ and 6-7 self-identified ‘Blues’ come together for structured conversations that aim for us all to better understand the ‘other side’ (experiences and perspectives of people with whom we likely disagree),” Bodie said.

People who do not identify with one or the other are invited to be independent observers.

Bodie said Better Angels will illustrate the power and potential of listening first to understand, to demonstrate to students, faculty, and community members that perceived difference (based on ideology, political affiliation, or perspective) is not always as vast as the things we have in common.

“If we can respect the humanity of all people, focusing not on position but on what unites us, we can work together for positive change in our community,” Bodie said.

Students who are interested in participating on March 2, should email Bodie at gbodie@olemiss.ed

Filmmaker to screen Robert Penn Warren documentary Feb. 26 in Overby Center Auditorium

Posted on: February 23rd, 2020 by ldrucker

A veteran filmmaker who created a documentary about poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren will screen his film Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

Tom Thurman’s film “Robert Penn Warren: A Vision” will be shown at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium inside Farley Hall. After the screening, the filmmaker will talk with professor Joe Atkins about the documentary. Thurman has also completed documentaries and projects about other notable figures, including actor Harry Dean Stanton.

Journalist Nick Tosches and Tom Thurman

Journalist Nick Tosches and Tom Thurman

“Thurman is a veteran filmmaker whose past work includes ‘Crossing Mulholland,’ a 2011 documentary about Harry Dean Stanton,” said professor Joe Atkins. “I met Tom, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, while doing my research on the actor.”

Atkins book Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood’s Zen Rebel is expected to be published by the University Press of Kentucky in October.

Tom Thurman

Tom Thurman’s documentary

Thurman has produced and directed 36 documentaries on art, film, music, sports and literary figures, including Nick Nolte, John Ford and Hunter S. Thompson.

As a producer/writer for Kentucky Educational Television in Lexington, Thurman produces documentaries for the series Kentucky Muse, a showcase for artists with Kentucky roots, including Stanton.

“In high school, I became interested in painting, drawing and writing,” Thurman said via email. “In college, these interests expanded to sculpture and film history. Filmmaking allowed me to collapse all of these interests into one creative process: the written word, color, composition, and storytelling. Documentary filmmaking seemed more intimate to me, and connected me closer to the oral history tradition that was a part of my (very) rural upbringing.”

On the surface, Thurman said his documentary is about Warren’s life, work and career. More pointedly, however, it is about The Civil War, Southern culture, race, and how a sense of place comes to inform the creative process.

“Ideally, viewers will be inspired to read Warren’s work: not simply his greatest book—All the King’s Men—but also his poetry, his literary criticism, and his journalistic pieces on his changing views of race relations as seen through the eyes of a Southerner born and bred in the early 1900s,” Thurman said.

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

If you have a comment or question about this story, email

Senior Lecturer Street to retire in May ending 30-year career

Posted on: February 19th, 2020 by ldrucker

Beloved Senior Lecturer Robin Street will retire from full-time teaching May 31, ending her 30-year career with the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

Street has taught and influenced hundreds of future public relations and communication professionals. She hopes to teach a class or two in the future, but will no longer teach the legendary class PR Techniques that launched so many students into communications careers.

Senior Lecturer Robin Street discusses a class project with two students in her PR Case Studies class. From left, are IMC major Jessica Lanter, Street and IMC major Naiomei Young. Photo by Maddie Bridges.

Senior Lecturer Robin Street discusses a class project with two students in her PR Case Studies class. From left, are IMC major Jessica Lanter, Street and IMC major Naiomei Young. Photo by Maddie Bridges.

Reaction from Street’s former students has been overwhelming, calling the news bittersweet as they post on social media or email her.

“I’m so sad that future students won’t get the chance to experience the Robin Street PR magic,” one former student wrote.

For Street, the decision is bittersweet as well.

“The school has meant so much to me, both as a graduate student and as an instructor,” Street said. After my first class in the journalism school, I knew I had found my home.

“Dr. Will Norton, then chair of the department, encouraged me to pursue studying public relations and was my thesis adviser. Now, he continues to encourage and inspire me as our dean.”

Senior Lecturer Robin Street discusses a class project with two students in her PR Case Studies class. From left, are IMC major Jessica Lanter, Street and IMC major Naiomei Young. Photo by Maddie Bridges.

Senior Lecturer Robin Street discusses a class project with two students in her PR Case Studies class. From left, are IMC major Jessica Lanter, Street and IMC major Naiomei Young. Photo by Maddie Bridges.

Several years after earning her degree, Street was hired to teach by Dr. Samir Husni.

“Dr. Husni changed my life when he gave me a chance to teach public relations,” Street said. “I can never thank him enough for having faith in me.”

Many students credit Street with shaping their communications career. They often write her to say they are using what they learned on the job, or they still hear her voice in their head when deciding how to handle a PR situation.

Student comments from social media or written to Street about her retirement include:

  • “You’ve had such a significant impact on my life, and I am forever thankful for you. You’ve touched so many of us, and you have introduced some of us (including me) to a career path we originally didn’t consider. Anything I do in life will be attributed to you.”
  • I truly do not know where I would be without you and the information you have instilled in me.
  • “Through my time with you, I not only learned about PR, but I learned even more from you, personally. You are always in a good mood, focusing on what you are blessed with, instead of the problems ahead. You care about each person. I will never forget when you gave me a second chance … You showed me grace, and I have never forgotten that.”
  • “I honestly couldn’t do this job without having taken all three of your classes. . . . Every single day, I apply something you taught me, and am totally ahead of the game in that I’m often advising my colleagues on the appropriate approach to take as it’s still so fresh in my mind.”

Scott Fiene, assistant dean for curriculum and assessment and associate professor of integrated marketing communications, said Street has a unique way with students that fosters learning.

“Plain and simple, students love her,” he said. “And it’s not just what she does in the classroom, but the way she gets to know students personally, connects with them, and stays in touch after they graduate. She is a known public relations figure in the region, and has the respect and admiration, not only of students and former students, but others in the industry.”

Dean Will Norton, Jr. said Street’s work sets the bar for public relations.

“Because Robin has taught writing intensely, she has raised public relations instruction to a new level,” he said. “When she talks about her students, her care and concern for students is apparent. I know she will miss teaching.  It has become a part of her DNA.”

The School of Journalism and New Media is asking Street’s former students to pay tribute to her in three ways, ranging from their words to fund donations, to their presence at a celebration.

Former students are asked to write a statement of what Street meant to them and to their career, or to share their favorite story about Street. The statements will be organized into a bound volume. The statement should be written, if possible, on the letterhead of your employer. Send the statement as an attachment to Sarah Griffith at by April 15.

Second, the School of Journalism and New Media has established the Robin Street Public Relations Students Support Fund to help PR students with funding for internships, attending conferences and entering competitions. It will also be used to establish the Robin Street Outstanding Public Relations Student award to be presented annually. To donate in Street’s honor, visit this link.

A celebration of Street’s career is planned for Friday, Oct. 23, from 6-8 p.m. at the Overby Center in Farley Hall during Fall 2020 Homecoming Weekend. Please join us. RSVP to Sarah Griffith at

University of Mississippi journalism professor featured in podcast about American character actor

Posted on: February 18th, 2020 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor who has written a book about an American character actor who appeared in a number of classic films was recently featured in a Washington, D.C. podcast.

Professor Joe Atkins’ book Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood’s Zen Rebel is expected to be published by the University Press of Kentucky in October. Atkins was recently featured in the “Documental” podcast created by journalist Whitney Fishburn.

Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton

Professor Joe Atkins

Professor Joe Atkins

“Whitney is the niece of Harry Dean Stanton and thus had a special interest in the topic,” Atkins said.

In the podcast Family legacies that hurt: The secret heart of actor Harry Dean Stanton, Fishburn talks about Stanton, who is known for roles in “Cool Hand Luke,” “Paris, Texas,” and the HBO show “Big Love.” He was in hundreds of movies, but never in a lead role. He died in September of 2017 at the age of 91.

“For me, Atkins’ investigative work – which I have yet to read, but have discussed in part with him – will shed light on some mysteries I have carried my whole life,” Fishburn writes. “Thank you for that, Joe.


Click the graphic to listen to the podcast.

“For movie buffs, I suspect when the book is released, he will have added a worthy volume to the canon of American filmography, spanning as his biography of Harry Dean does, so many decades and so many changes in Hollywood that a scrawny Kentucky kid with a lovely lilt to his voice managed to survive and reflect back to us all.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, a veteran filmmaker who completed a documentary about Stanton will visit the School of Journalism and New Media to screen a documentary about poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren.

Tom Thurman’s film “Robert Penn Warren: A Vision” will be shown at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium inside Farley Hall. After the screening, the filmmaker will talk with Atkins about his documentaries. You can read the story about Thurman here.

If you have a comment or question about this story, email

UM School of Journalism and New Media professor featured in podcast

Posted on: February 13th, 2020 by ldrucker

Check out this podcast interview with Samir A. Husni, Ph.D., director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. He shares his thoughts on the state of journalism and the publishing industry, and why his ACT10 Experience should be on your radar.

Link to podcast

Podcasts from the Printverse

Podcasts from the Printverse

Overby Center spring lineup includes visit by Shepard Smith, latest Silver Em recipient

Posted on: February 11th, 2020 by ldrucker

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi has announced its spring lineup of programs, including one of the first public appearances by Shepard Smith since he stepped down as the chief anchor of Fox News.

Smith, a Mississippi native, was also managing editor of Fox’s breaking news division. Besides his appearance at the Overby Center, Smith will be returning to his alma mater to receive the prestigious Silver Em award, which is given by the School of Journalism and New Media to a Mississippi-connected journalist whose career has exhibited “the highest tenets of honorable, public service journalism, inside or outside the state.”

Shepard Smith

Ole Miss alumnus Shepard Smith hosting FOX Report live from the Grove

“This spring’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 spring schedule includes:

Two nationally known journalists will discuss religion and the 2020 presidential election with Charles Overby, chairman of the Overby Center.  Terry Mattingly, an Overby fellow and editor of the daily blog GetReligion, and Richard Ostling, former chief religion writer for The Associated Press and former senior correspondent for Time Magazine, have written extensively about religion.

Wednesday, February 26, 5:30 p.m. – “ROBERT PENN WARREN: A VISION”
This documentary by the award-winning filmmaker Tom Thurman offers compelling insight into the life of the acclaimed writer Robert Penn Warren, whose novel “All the King’s Men” is considered one of the great dissections of Southern politics.

Tom Thurman

Tom Thurman

Thurman, a veteran filmmaker who has produced documentaries on director Sam Peckinpah, actor Harry Dean Stanton and writer Harry Crews, probes his fellow Kentuckian’s life, work, and evolution on race. Journalism Professor Joe Atkins will lead a discussion with Thurman after the film.


A former editor of the Des Moines Register and now a consultant who writes about the future of journalism, Overholser will discuss how journalists are helping — and hindering – the profession’s role in democracy.

Overholser, who served as an ombudsman with The Washington Post, will be interviewed by Charles Overby and Greg Brock, an Overby fellow. Politics is certain to be part of the conversation since the program comes the day after Super Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 24, 5:30 p.m. – “JOSEPH PULITZER: VOICE OF THE PEOPLE”
Today’s threats to press freedom would be nothing new to Joseph Pulitzer, a leading figure in journalism, who spoke of “fake news” and warned more than 100 years ago that suppression of news threatened our democracy. One of the producers of the documentary, Robert Seidman, will discuss his project for PBS with Overby fellow Curtis Wilkie.Tuesday, March 31, 5:30 p.m. – SHEPARD SMITH COMES HOME

In one of his first public appearances since leaving Fox News, Shepard Smith returns to Ole Miss, his alma mater, and his home state of Mississippi to talk about his career in broadcast journalism in a conversation with Overby and Wilkie. Smith joined the network at its inception in 1996 and is known for his former role as the chief anchor and managing editor of the breaking news division.

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

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

Tuesday, April 7, 5:30 p.m. – ROBERT KENNEDY’S 1966 VISIT TO OLE MISS
The documentary “You Asked for the Facts” traces Robert F. Kennedy’s dramatic appearance at Ole Miss after law school students invited him to speak in hopes that it would derail former Gov. Ross Barnett’s drive to be elected again. It did, after Kennedy revealed details of the deals Barnett tried to cut with the Justice Department during the James Meredith crisis in 1962. Noted civil rights lawyer Barbara Phillips and a lecturer at Ole Miss’s law school, will discuss the film with the producer, Mary Blessey.