School of Journalism and New Media

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Posts Tagged ‘Alysia Steele’

Lens Collective workshop viewed The Land Through Our Lens

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s latest annual multimedia storytelling workshop, Lens Collective, explored the idea of Mississippi land.

In October, The Land Through Our Lens conference documented stories about Mississippi land, specifically in Oxford, Holly Springs, the nearby community of Taylor and surrounding areas, and various Delta towns.

UM Assistant Professor of Journalism Alysia Steele, who founded and leads the workshop and conference, said they wrote stories about the Mississippi River, canoeing, flooding damage, sweet potatoes, cotton, a gin distillery, catfish, prawns, pumpkins, and restaurants that use local ingredients, among other stories.

Students chose their own stories and worked 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 were 3-5 minutes long, and students had 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 began in Farley Hall at the School of Journalism and New Media. It focused on audio/video and photography storytelling. On Wednesday, participants were involved in team meetings, gave introductions, listened to ground rules and ate dinner. Guest speakers shared information in the Overby auditorium.

On Thursday, participants spent a half-day in Oxford. An Adobe Premiere Pro refresher workshop was held for participants only. Participants later drove into the Delta and had a student photo competition. A prize was given to the student who captured the best image that represents the land theme.

Participants spent 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 rose 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 was the editing day. Students worked on their stories until 6 p.m., then student videos premiered in the Overby Auditorium. The program was 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 included 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 were professors Mark Dolan, Vanessa Gregory, Michael Fagans, Cynthia Joyce, Timothy Ivy and Bobby Steele, Jr.

Faculty who 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.

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.

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, NBC.com, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Public Radio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Essence, theroot.com (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.”

Films of five UM School of Journalism students shown at Oxford’s Burns-Belfry

Posted on: January 11th, 2019 by ldrucker

The films of five UM School of Journalism and New Media students were shown during a recent event called Mississippi Movie Mondays at the Belfry on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Oxford Film Festival and Southern Foodways Alliance partnered with Oxford’s Burns-Belfry Museum & Multicultural Center and Lens Collective to host a special movie screening and panel discussion at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21 in Oxford’s Burns Belfry at 710 Jackson Avenue. The event is free and open to the public.

It featured the work of UM students Devna Bose, Ariel Cobbert, Natalie Seales, Gracie Snyder and Maddie Beck.

Alysia Steele, a UM School of Journalism and New Media professor and coordinator for Lens Collective, a multimedia storytelling conference, said the students worked hard on short deadlines to produce the stories.

“In fact, from documenting to producing, students have less than 24 hours turnaround time,” she said. “So, it demonstrates to me that, not only are students learning, but they’re applying those practical skills in thoughtful, quality projects.”

Steele said this lets students know they can do great work on tight deadlines and take pride in what they have accomplished.

“It is quite rewarding to see their smiles when they watch their work on the big screen,” she said. “It becomes emotional for many of us, and that’s a good thing.”

This is the UM School of Journalism and New Media’s second year to offer Lens Collective. Steele said she hopes more students will see value in participating in special projects.

“It’s not easy work, but it’s quite rewarding,” she said. “Students are having fun, bonding with students from other universities, and learning from award-winning photojournalists. The mentors take time off from work to help, and they do it because they care – just like the professors who volunteer their time.”

Steele said this was a networking event that provided skill sets that will help in any journalism or integrated marketing career. And she said multimedia skills – highlighting audio/video and photography – are applicable to many career fields. It’s also a great confidence booster.

“The mentors care, the students care, and the professors care, so it doesn’t get any better than that,” she said. “We appreciate the journalism administrators valuing these out-of-classroom experiences, such as Lens Collective. We are producing great work from diverse opportunities, and I hope students will take advantage of what’s being offered here at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media. Learning outside of the classroom is just as important, and life-changing, as being in a classroom. Real world experiences, right here, right now.”

The series of short films provided for free to the community included:

Bright at Night – The Sunday evening experience at Foxfire serves up a slice of life in Marshall County, Mississippi, where culinary and musical traditions have always been closely interwoven.

Counter Histories Jackson – In this piece, attendees heard from Colia Clark, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Bill Minor, Daphne Chamberlain and the Rev. Ed King about the historic sit-in at the 1963 Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi.

Country Platter – Jimmy Williams has been the owner of Country Platter in Cleveland, Mississippi since 1994. In its history, Country Platter was previously Lilley’s Soul Food Cafe, a meeting place during the Civil Rights Movement for many influential figures, including Dr. Martin Lather King Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Amzie Moore. Today, Williams works to give back to his community, remembering his past to influence his present.

Delta Dreams – A look at the music of the Delta and the new Grammy museum.

Faith, Hope, & Inspiration – Members of the Clarksdale, Mississippi community reflect on the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King’s visit to First Baptist Church during their civil rights struggles in the 1950s and ’60s.

Otha Turner – In the late 1950s, fife and drum legend Otha Turner began hosting annual Labor Day picnics at his property in Gravel Springs, Mississippi. Turner would butcher and roast goat, pork, and fish, drawing neighbors with the smell of his cooking and the sounds of his fife and drum.

Signs – A short documentary examining the ongoing vandalism of signs marking Emmett Till’s brutal murder.

Vishwesh Bhatt: The South I Love – Vishwesh Bhatt is a Southern chef using flavors from his childhood to add to the lexicon of Southern Food. A short film by Southern Foodways Alliance summer documentary intern Nicole Du Bois.

School of Journalism and New Media professor’s project selected to partner with National Humanities Alliance

Posted on: July 10th, 2018 by ldrucker

Rolando Herts, Alysia Burton Steele, Delta Jewel Annyce Campbell, Bobby Steele, and Kappi Allen at the Clarksdale Community Gathering. Image courtesy of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

A School of Journalism and New Media journalism professor has been chosen to partner with the National Humanities Alliance.

The organization has highlighted 51 partnerships out of 1,402 applicants, and one selected was Assistant Professor Alysia Steele’s Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership. Click here to view the website that showcases Steele’s work.

Steele is the author of Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom. She is also founder and executive director of the Delta Jewels Support Foundation.

The Mississippi Humanities Council named Steele a 2016 Preserver of Mississippi Culture Award winner. She is the coordinator for Lens Collective, a multimedia storytelling conference, and she was highlighted in Bishop T.D. Jakes docu-series Destiny Visions.