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.
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.
It took 48-hours, hard work and great video storytelling skills to win the first annual School of Journalism and New Media Mini-Documentary competition, but seven teams of Ole Miss students were willing to try their best.
The winning team of Gracie Snyder, Sam Gray and Alec Keyzer-Andre turned in a powerful piece on a sexual assault victim who is still struggling to feel comfortable in the aftermath of her attack.
“The most important thing I learned about filmmaking during this project was that you have to let the subject direct your way of filming. We wanted to fully embrace and capture her story,” Keyzer-Andre said.
The force behind the competition is journalism school alumnus, filmmaker and broadcast sports producer Terry Ewert. He says the 48-hour film experience has been around for a while.
“It’s used as an exercise by film schools, film societies and co-ops, etc. to teach focus, collaboration, and to give students a hands-on project to use the technology of cinema,” Ewert said. “Usually, students can choose from which genre they want to create—drama, comedy, horror, music videos, documentary, etc. Since this workshop was for the School of Journalism, I thought it would be best to limit the scope just to documentaries – since, at its core, journalism is the search for truth.”
First place winners received $100 gift cards and a trophy; second place winners went home with $50 cards. The second place team included Maggie Bushway, Sima Bhowmik, Ahmed Shatil Alam and Michael Lawrence. Their piece also focused on a character struggling with a challenge – this time with mental health.
Ewert says he took great pleasure in collaborating with j-school Prof. Ji Hoon Heo and the students who committed to the workshop.
“Hands down, working with the students was my favorite part. They had such inspired ideas, and seeing those ideas on video and completed left me feeling that we had a group of future storytellers on our hands,” Ewert said.
Keyzer-Andre has some advice for students who may choose to participate in next year’s competition.
“If you are looking to take part in this contest, all I can say is plan. Having a schedule and a production shot list was very crucial to the timeliness of this project. Without having those for references it would have been very hard to meet the deadline. I would also recommend working with the max amount of members in your group as having different minds all thinking about one subject allows for new ideas and creativity to flow.”
Ewert is already thinking about next year, too.
“I would like to invite more individuals involved in video in other schools on the campus to join the party. I think we had a diverse group, but maybe we can expand the endeavor.”
Born and raised an Ole Miss fan, 2016 graduate Catherine Carroon followed generations of family members to Rebel Nation before beginning her career in the world of sports through the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media.
Although she was not 100 percent set on Ole Miss, she said she decided to attend the university due to its impeccable journalism program.
Carroon embarked on her journalism journey her freshman year; however, she quickly switched her major to the school’s integrated marketing communications program.
The decision to switch career paths came from her passion for sports. She said she knew she didn’t want a career in sports writing, but since the school did not offer sports marketing, IMC became the best decision.
“I thought [IMC] would be the closest thing to get me near that track,” Carroon said.
While attending the university, Carroon had her first taste of experience through ESPN as a “runner” for College Gameday. That behind-the-scenes experience influenced her to hone in on sports operations.
“ESPN was one of those things I always thought ‘there is a one-in-a-million special person’ who would get the job there,” Carroon said. “I never thought it would be obtainable.” Photo courtesy of Carroon.
Carroon furthered her skill set in sport operations by working in the university’s control room—an operations sports program run by ESPN for a majority of SEC universities.
Upon graduation, Carroon said she was unsure what her next steps would be. However, one of the coordinating producers, Meg Aronowitz, sent a mass email to all the SEC control rooms regarding an operations internship in Bristol, Connecticut.
One of the ESPN control room contacts informed Carroon and encouraged her to apply, she said.
“ESPN was one of those things I always thought ‘there is a one-in-a-million special person’ who would get the job there,” Carroon said. “I never thought it would be obtainable.”
Now as a operations coordinator in her third year at the network, Carroon said she can link the framework of her success back to her Ole Miss experiences.
Although her classes in sports and journalism taught her educational information she uses day to day, Carroon credits her time at the university’s control room for her hands on experience in sports. From interacting with producers to handling film, the experience gave her a bird’s eye view on how to work in sports operations.
Carroon has covered a plethora of sports since her stint at ESPN. From the Sunday night MLB package to working on Olympic Sports, there aren’t many sports the young journalist hasn’t covered.
By Talbert Toole, lifestyles editor of HottyToddy.com.
A University of Mississippi integrated marketing and communications student has been named Mr. Ole Miss.
Chauncey Mullins won the honor in a recent campus election.
According to The Daily Mississippian, Mullins, a senior public policy leadership and integrated marketing communications double major from Tupelo, said the election was for everyone, but he had transfer students in mind when running.
“I knew from the moment I stepped on this campus (that) I wanted to make it a better place for transfer students,” Mullins said in the DM interview.
The DM reported that Jessica Tran, a senior biochemistry major from Hattiesburg and president of UM Active Minds, was elected Miss Ole Miss.
Meek School students recently got the opportunity to explore the world when they participated in Global Communication Day Sept. 20 at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Students were invited to learn about opportunities to travel abroad and explore.
Zenebe Beyene, a professor and director of international programs, said the event was intended to inform students about opportunities available to them.
“The event (was) not only about study abroad; it is about internships, jobs, etc. at the international context,” he said. “For example, we (had) signed an MoU with a Jerusalem based institute that would provide internships for journalism majors or anyone who would like to write and publish stories.”
While the event was mainly for students, Beyene said it didn’t exclude adults who can study in a number of places. He also hopes it was a way of connecting other professors who could collaborate internationally on research projects.
“One of the plans I have is joint research projects with instructors and staff in other countries,” Beyene said. “There are so many interesting research projects in other countries. So, we can collaborate.
“For example, in some countries, a very serious alcohol consumption is affecting their workforce, or in others, traffic accidents are killing the workforce. How can we engage in joint research projects that would target the issues in a coordinated manner (IMC/journalism)? What kind of communication strategy would be effective to tackle such kind of issues in those countries?”
Beyene said the event was an opportunity for students to learn more about the exciting opportunities that are available to them.
Study Abroad Advisor, Rock Ford, briefs students about opportunities to travel and study abroad.
“They will be motivated to go out, explore and learn,” he said, adding that he hopes students learned that traveling abroad and learning in a new environment will significantly contribute to their professional and personal development.”
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.
The freshman experience at Ole Miss is a one-of-a-kind adventure most have the opportunity to share with their mothers and fathers. However, Meek School student Madeline Quon will have to share the newest chapter of her life from across the globe as her parents Shannon and Elizabeth and brother, Jackson, settle into Tokyo for their second stint.
The Quon family has strong ties to Ole Miss. It began when Elizabeth’s father, Greg Doiron, attended Ole Miss in the 1970s. Elizabeth followed the tradition and began her undergraduate degree in 1996 where she met her husband, Shannon Quon.
(From left to right): Elizabeth Quon, Jackson Quon and Madeline Quon at one of their favorite places in Tokyo—Cinnamon’s. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Quon.
Although the path to Ole Miss looked like an obvious one for Madeline, her mother said she ventured across the country visiting several universities before finalizing her decision. Madeline eventually made her way to the Harvard of the South where she was able to scope out what would become her college of choice.
“First and foremost, it just felt the most like home to me,” Madeline said regarding her decision to attend Ole Miss.
Madeline was born in Oxford but never actually spent much time in the city. However, she knew it would be a good decision to attend Ole Miss because she has other family nearby.
“Knowing that my parents and brother are going to be in Japan, it will be nice to know that my grandparents are in New Orleans and cousins in Olive Branch,” she said.
With her family a far 6,782 miles from Oxford, Madeline said she looks at it as an opportunity to gain independence.
“If I have a problem I have to learn to solve it myself,” she said. “I can learn how to get out into the adult world.”
Madeline was able to move onto campus earlier than most students due to her acceptance into the Sally McDonnell Honors College. As her mother helped her move into her residence hall, they both knew it would not be until Christmas before the two would see each other face-to-face.
Elizabeth Quon left Tuesday morning on a flight back to Japan. Madeline said the feeling of her family being gone would not hit her until she realizes her mother cannot immediately respond to a text message or phone call.
The Quon family lived in Japan due to Shannon’s job he had in 2011. During that time, Madeline and her mother both recall the Great Sendai Earthquake that ignited a nuclear accident. It caused the family to move back to the U.S.
“I don’t think it really hit me how serious of a problem it was at the time until [officials] said there was radiation,” Madeline said.
As the Quon family separates and begins new chapters of their lives, all are excited for the adventure that will ensue. Madeline said she is excited to attend the Meek School of Journalism and New Media where she plans to receive a degree in print journalism in hopes to one day work for the New York Times.
Elizabeth said she will have a hard time leaving her daughter behind, but she is excited to return to a country that has essences of the South.
“[Tokyo] has the humidity and it has the wonderful welcoming culture full of traditions. Even though it is a foreign country, it is very familiar feeling when you are there,” she said.
By Talbert Toole, lifestyles editor of Hotty Toddy.