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Posts Tagged ‘best IMC program’

Smith honored with News Leaders Association award for encouraging students of color in the field of journalism

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by ldrucker

A photo of Marquita Smith outside.A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media assistant dean has been named the 2022 recipient of the Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship, awarded by the News Leaders Association.

Marquita Smith, Ed.D., assistant dean for graduate programs, won the $1,000 award given in recognition of an educator’s outstanding efforts to encourage students of color in the field of journalism. Smith’s achievements will be recognized at next year’s News Leaders Association Awards Ceremony.

According to the News Leaders Association website, “NLA provides support and training that empowers news leaders and emerging news leaders to build diverse, sustainable newsrooms that use fact-based information to inform and engage the communities they reflect and serve.”

The website reports that the Bingham Fellowship selection committee was particularly impressed by Smith’s career-long commitment to diversity from her days at Knight Ridder, McClatchy and Gannett to those in academia.

The graphic reads Congratulations Marquita Smith.

According to her School of Journalism and New Media bio, Smith has a background in journalism and worked in various newsrooms in Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi and Virginia for 16 years. Her last newsroom position was Virginia Beach bureau chief at The Virginian-Pilot.

In 2008, Smith went on leave from The Pilot to complete a Knight International Journalism Fellowship in Liberia. During her time in West Africa, she created a judicial and justice reporting network. Both networks continue to operate in the post-war country today. Smith, selected as a Fulbright Scholar in Ghana for the 2016-2017 academic year, is passionate about teaching and researching in West Africa.

Smith earned her doctorate from the University of Arkansas focusing on curriculum and instruction and faculty leadership. In her bio, she said she believes graduate education is a privilege and opportunity for students to gain outstanding communication and research skills.

To read the full story about Smith’s win, visit https://www.newsleaders.org/bingham-award-winner

Society of Professional Journalists names two UM finalists in 2021 Mark of Excellence national competition

Posted on: June 29th, 2022 by ldrucker

The Society of Professional Journalists recently named two University of Mississippi finalists in the 2021 Mark of Excellence national competition.

Student HG Biggs, a journalist with The Daily Mississippian, was named a finalist in the Breaking News Photography category of programs with more than 10,000 students. Hotty Toddy News was named a finalist for Best All-Around Television News Magazine.

The 2021 Mark of Excellence Awards recognize collegiate work published or broadcast during 2021. The awards honor the best in student journalism.

This is an image of Farley Hall with the SPJ logo over the building.

School divisions are based on student enrollment, which includes both graduate and undergraduate enrollment. Schools with more than 10,000 students are designated as large schools.

National Mark of Excellence Awards judges can choose up to one national winner in each category and two national finalists (runners-up).

Winners and finalists were previously recognized by receiving first-place in one of SPJ’s 12 regional competitions. The results of those competitions can be found in the April 2022 SPJ News archive. Each first-place regional winner advanced to the national competition.

Below is a list of winners in both categories with UM winners.

Click to read the full list of winners.

Art/Graphics

Breaking News Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Racial reckoning – by TJ Shaw, Syracuse University
Finalist: Walking out – by Dominick Sokotoff, University of Michigan
Finalist: Confrontation – by HG Biggs, University of Mississippi

Television

Best All-Around Television News Magazine
Winner: “Our America” – by staff, California State University, Fullerton
Finalist: “ViewFinder” – by staff, The University of Maryland
Finalist: “Hotty Toddy News” – by staff, University of Mississippi

IMC Connect! panelists discuss building your brand, developing strategic messages that resonate

Posted on: April 1st, 2022 by ldrucker

Companies consistently work to build their brands and create messaging that resonates with audiences. One of Friday’s IMC Connect! panels discussed the leading trends in advertising and brand building.

Dr. Debbie Treise, a leading researcher from the University of Florida, provided a 10-minute topical discussion and background regarding her expertise on advertising to start the panel. She used examples from pop culture with references to “Squid Game,” “In the Heights” and more to illustrate her points.

Dr. Treise then served as the moderator for the remainder of the panel. The esteemed panelists with practical industry experience included Reade Tidwell, of Chick-Fil-A; Steve Holmes, of The Home Depot; Chris Chiames, of Carnival Cruise Line; and Jenny Robertson, of FedEx.

One of the main takeaways from the panel was to actively engage and know your customers. It is important to stay true to your customer and your brand. Platforms are used to survey consumers and keep eyes on trends in each company. Each brand is different and requires a different playbook. What works for one company will not work the same for the next. Examples from each represented company were given to reiterate this main point.

An additional lesson learned was the importance of taking a step back and seeing the full picture of a company’s brand. Understanding your brand and its strategy is essential to successful advertising. The idea of a brand has changed to include the reputation of the company, so celebrity and influencer endorsements are risky. Many companies choose to not use them to avoid the risks that may arise.

It was also reiterated that consistency is vital when building a brand. Information must be presented in a quick and lasting manner so it sticks in the mind of the average consumer in this generation.

Journalism is a family legacy for University of Mississippi grad, now New Orleans reporter and anchor

Posted on: March 17th, 2022 by ldrucker

There is no such thing as a typical day for Peyton LoCicero Trist, breaking news reporter and fill-in anchor at WGNO, an ABC affiliate in New Orleans. When her alarm goes off at 2:30 a.m. each morning, she never knows where the day is headed.

“I can be out talking about the Mardi Gras horses up for adoption and then have to run over and talk about a murder case that could be a possible serial killer,” said LoCicero Trist. Each day can require five to 10 live shots.

LoCicero Trist developed a love for journalism at an early age. Her mother worked as an anchor in Baton Rouge, her hometown, and some of her favorite childhood memories began with her mother waking her up in the early hours of the morning and taking her to the studio, where she saw the ins and outs of newsmaking.

Peyton LoCicero Trist on the set of WGNO. Submitted photo.

Peyton LoCicero Trist on the set of WGNO. Submitted photo.

Her days with her mother at the studio ended when her parents moved and started a business in Destin, Florida, right before she began middle school. While Hurricane Katrina made 2005 a bad year for most Louisianans and Southerners, it was a good year for LoCicero Trist.

“For me, it was such a blessing because I was struggling to make friends in Destin,” she said, “and all of the sudden, all these refugees came to my school, and they were feeling just as displaced as me.”

Carley Keyes, one of LoCicero Trist’s sorority sisters and friends, met her in college.

“She was so personal and bubbly,” said Keyes. “She always had a smile on her face and always seemed to find the good in everything.”

Today, she is known as “Positive P” by her coworkers. She has learned the hard way that someone within the station has to be willing to rally others. In challenging times, it is important to have a voice of reassurance.

Choosing the University of Mississippi was a no-brainer for LoCicero Trist. She attended Junior Preview Day and fell in love with the campus and Oxford culture. She served as an anchor for NewsWatch, the campus television station, and wrote for HottyToddy.com.

You can read LoCicero Trist’s full story at OxfordStories.net.

To learn more about the School of Journalism and New Media’s journalism and IMC programs, visit our website.

This story was written by Deja Errington for Oxford Stories.

Dandridge, a broadcast journalism graduate and lawyer, is member of Now & Ever fundraising committee

Posted on: February 23rd, 2022 by ldrucker

Kimbrely Dandridge — a member of the Now & Ever Steering Committee and a native of Como, Mississippi — credits her Ole Miss experience with helping her develop grit and fearlessness. Those traits propel her to seek new experiences and strengthen her leadership style. Dandridge earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Mississippi before attending law school.

The Now & Ever campaign is a $1.5 billion UM fundraising initiative powered by decades of outstanding teaching, research, health care, service and innovation.

Kimbrely Dandridge's video about the Now & Ever campaign.

Kimbrely Dandridge’s video about the Now & Ever campaign.

Link to Video about Dandridge and the Now & Ever campaign.

Dandridge is currently associate corporate counsel at Amazon, according to her LinkedIn bio. Prior to joining Amazon, she served as counsel/director in the global legal department at Gap Inc., and provided legal counsel to the family of brands including Old Navy, Athleta, Gap, and Banana Republic.

In addition to practicing law, Dandridge is a published writer and has contributed to publications like Forbes, Teen Vogue, Hechinger Report, and The Well. While in law school, Dandridge completed an internship at the White House, under the Obama administration, in the Office of Presidential Personnel.

In 2012, Dandridge was elected to serve as the first African-American female student body president at the University of Mississippi, according to her LinkedIn bio. She has been honored on several occasions and has received several awards including University of Mississippi Hall of Fame, Diversity Activism Award, Women in Leadership Award, NPHC Achievement Award, and Because of Them We Can Award.

IMC Connect! will bring together industry practitioners, academic researchers, faculty and students

Posted on: February 15th, 2022 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media is excited to host the inaugural IMC Connect!: A Roundtable Experience at the University of Mississippi in on Oxford March 31 and April 1.

We are honored to welcome to Farley Hall communication executives from some of the most prominent organizations in the world, along with the leading researchers in their respective fields, including:

  • Chris Chiames, Chief Communications Officer, Carnival Cruise Line
  • Stephen Holmes, Vice President of Corporate Communications and External Affairs, The Home Depot
  • Reade Tidwell, Director of Corporate Communications, Chick-fil-A
  • Jenny D. Robertson, Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing and Communications, FedEx Services
  • Renee Malone, President & Founding Partner, KQ Communications
  • Timothy Coombs, Professor in the Department of Communication, Texas A&M University
  • Rebecca Britt, Associate Professor in the College of Communication & Information Sciences, The University of Alabama
  • Candice Edrington, Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, The University of South Carolina
  • Debbie Treise, Professor in the Department of Advertising, The University of Florida, and Executive Director of the American Academy of Advertising

“The purpose of this event is to foster connections and collaborations among multiple stakeholders, including integrated marketing communications practitioners, academic researchers, faculty members, and students,” said Dr. Amanda Bradshaw, co-chair of IMC Connect! and assistant professor at the School of Journalism and New Media.

Throughout this round table experience, students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to network and participate in many working sessions, including a discussion of the IMC curriculum at the University of Mississippi and how to best prepare our students for entering the job market.

To aid in these efforts, IMC Connect! 2022 features a Q&A Job Prep Panel: The Connection Between Research and Practice hosted by the University of Mississippi Public Relations Student Society of America chapter on March 31.

The following day, invited guests will come together at the Inn at Ole Miss for four panel sessions, which will include valuable insights and knowledge on the following topics: crisis communication, social media and big data analytics, advertising and building your brand, and the role of advocacy and social justice in public relations.

The School of Journalism and New Media is excited to give these distinguished guests the ultimate Ole Miss/Oxford experience filled with Southern hospitality, which includes a private tour of Rowan Oak, a walking campus tour, and so much more.

IMC Connect! 2022 is open to journalism and integrated marketing communication (IMC) students and faculty from the School of Journalism and New Media. Students and faculty may register for the event using the official UM GivePulse platform. Pre-registration is required, and you must put in your UM login credentials to register.

Click here to learn more about the exciting IMC Connect! 2022 agenda, or contact event co-chairs, Drs. Amanda Bradshaw or Robert Magee, for more information. Asbrads1@olemiss.edu; rgmagee@olemiss.edu

Fagans to speak about ‘Seeing the Unseen’ at TEDxUniversityofMississippi

Posted on: February 10th, 2022 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor will be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming TEDxUniversityofMississippi talk set for Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. inside the Ford Center for Performing Arts.

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, said he was nominated to speak and asked to create a pitch video for his TEDx talk.

“The working title for my talk is ‘Seeing the Unseen,'” he said. “I will be talking about literal blind spots that we have, societal blind spots, and how much of our vision is really in focus. I will be using examples of my work to talk about expanding how we might see each other and the world.”

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, will be featured in the next TEDxUniversityofMississippi event Feb. 22.

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, will be featured in the next TEDxUniversityofMississippi event Feb. 22.

The theme of this year’s event is “New Avenues.” Speakers were asked to think about what New Avenues people, communities, and organizations are exploring to optimize outcomes. What New Avenues were explored in the past that led us to our current situations? What New Avenues are being explored now that will shape our future?

“I am in the process of re-working part of the talk after giving a dry run two weeks ago to two students and their advisor,” he said. “I will be working with a colleague to edit down the images and tighten up which anecdotes carry the theme of really seeing the world for what is there.”

Fagans said he’s planning to end the talk with a quote from photographer Jay Maisel. It reads: “Seeing the world from even a two-degree difference helps you see an entirely new world.”

“I am hopeful that my talk, showing images, and telling the stories behind the images, will help attendees see the world from a new perspective, especially with the other talks by faculty and community members,” Fagans said.

Interim Dean for the School of Journalism and New Media Dr. Deb Wenger said she is delighted to see one of the school’s faculty members showcased in this venue.

“We have many dedicated teachers in our programs, and Prof. Fagans is one who brings a deep commitment to helping students think about the world and the work they do in new ways,” Wenger said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how his talk reflects this approach.”

A working photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, Fagan’s journey has taken him to the Navajo Nation, Malawi, India, Austria, Afghanistan, Scotland, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Belize and Guatemala, according to his TEDxUniversityofMississippi bio.  He is also the author of three books on iPhone photography with Amherst Media.

His documentary film “The Trafficked Life” helped raise over $50,000 that was donated to 10 nonprofits working to combat human trafficking in California’s Central Valley, the bio reads. Fagans is currently in post-production on a documentary about David Sheffield, a UM alum, who staged a play on campus in partnership with Theater Oxford and the Department of Theatre & Film at UM.

TEDxUniversityofMississippi invites a diverse group of speakers to share innovative, creative, and thought-provoking talks on a different theme each year. Led by a group of student volunteers, the event shares ideas from outside Mississippi that can impact Mississippians in a positive way.

The evening of curated Talks each year is designed to spark conversation in the community and beyond. The  Talks are published on the nationally and internationally browsed TEDx Youtube channel, free of charge.

To learn more about the speakers, visit https://www.tedxuniversityofmississippi.com/speakers

To learn more about the event, visit: https://www.tedxuniversityofmississippi.com/

Tupelo Regional Airport employee soars to new heights with IMC degree

Posted on: February 4th, 2022 by ldrucker

Students at regional campuses are recognizing the value and versatility of IMC and journalism programs

The sky’s the limit for Justin Lee Gary, an integrated marketing communication (IMC) student who attends the University of Mississippi’s Tupelo campus and works as a media intern for Tupelo Regional Airport.

The New Albany native is just one example of students at UM’s regional campuses who are using the versatile IMC degree to pursue their dreams.

Gary, a junior, has a knack for writing and film that began while attending a community college.

“I started working with the film class and really gained a niche for filmmaking,” he said. “My classmates worked on professional film sets with famous actors and professional film crew from all over the country. It was exciting to take someone’s story, turn it into a script, and then watch it on the big screen.”

Justin Gary stands in front of a plane at Tupelo Regional Airport.

Justin Gary stands in front of a plane at Tupelo Regional Airport.

Gary said an instructor there told him about the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s IMC major to further his studies.

“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said.

Some of his favorite classes have been IMC 205: Writing for Integrated Marketing Communications and IMC 306: Internet Marketing Communications.

“While there is a lot of writing with some of the classes, it is by no means difficult,” he said. “The instructors on campus are amazing at teaching the concepts in a way that you can understand them. They really help you explore your creative side so you can find your own writing style. So, don’t be afraid to express yourself. It not only helps you to stand out, but also find an awesome job.”

Gary has two jobs at Tupelo Regional Airport. While one is in airfield operations, he also works as a media intern for the airport.

“I also help coordinate Ole Miss’s sports teams when they are traveling with Delta, United, or another airline,” he said. “Believe it or not, the job actually has a lot to do with marketing. In aviation, public perception is everything. It involves a lot of research and planning to understand what market the airport caters to, and my IMC classes have definitely taught me how to carry the airport’s mission statement through social media and other mediums.”

After graduating, Gary said he hopes to work as a media manager or art director for a marketing firm.

“My dream job would be marketing a major airline like Delta or United,” he said, “but I would honestly be happy working for any company that tries to benefit others.”

His advice for anyone thinking about majoring in IMC is to develop an interest in writing, and never stop being you.

Patricia Overstreet-Miller, an instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications with the School of Journalism and New Media who is focused primarily on the regional campuses, said regional IMC graduates have entered a wide variety of job fields, including digital and data management, marketing for nonprofits and local companies, sales, entrepreneurship, public relations for small and large firms, and have even worked for the U.S. Army.

“Because the skills they gained with an IMC degree are highly transferable, they are able to move within a number of different fields, even as they stay local,” she said. “The IMC degree is one of the most flexible and adaptable offered at the university level and is well suited for individuals who want to stay within the state, as well as those able to move nationally and internationally.”

Overstreet-Miller hopes more students who are considering pursing a degree like Gary will visit the regional campuses.

“At the regional campuses, we have some students who are the first in their families to graduate from college, who often come from more rural areas of the state, and who are deeply Mississippi-based,” she said. “They are also highly diverse and representative of many of the minority populations of the state.

“By reaching beyond Oxford, Ole Miss has benefited communities and individuals they might not otherwise have reached and thus helped ensure a stronger future for the state as a whole.”

Debora Wenger, Ph.D., interim dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said regional campus students are doing amazing things.

“Our regional campuses give us an opportunity to work with students who make our integrated marketing communications program richer, more relevant, and more inclusive,” she said. “These students are inspiring — often balancing full-time jobs and families — yet, they have the drive to earn a degree and make a difference in their communities. Kudos to them.”

Overstreet-Miller said Tupelo Regional Airport will be one of the UM program’s IMC 455 clients this year and probably next year as well, largely because of Gary.

“They are looking to brand themselves and become more connected to the community,” she said. “This will be one of the most interesting and challenging clients we’ve had so far.”

Journalism and IMC alumni share how they are Serving Our State

Posted on: August 1st, 2021 by ldrucker
A graphic featuring a woman working at her computer with the state of Mississippi. It reads Serving Our State.

Serving Our State

Many University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduates embark on careers all over the country and abroad after graduation. But some choose to stay in Mississippi and use their talents in many ways while “Serving Our State.” Read stories from our alumni who share the significant impact our school has had on keeping the state informed.

Meg Annison

“Mississippi has been a wonderful place to grow up, live, raise a family and pursue my career dreams. The people, the places, the food–there is just so much to love and learn about our state.”

Meg Annison

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR,
Mississippi Lottery Corporation

Meg Annison: There is much to love, learn about state

Pascagoula native Meg Annison, 40, graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media in December of 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and an emphasis in public relations. She now lives in Jackson and works as the communications director for the Mississippi Lottery Corporation.

During and after college, Annison worked at Oxford Publishing and interned with a trade magazine in New York City. After graduation, she continued working with Oxford Publishing and freelancing.

Beginning in 2012, she worked for the Mississippi House of Representatives and Speaker Philip Gunn. She started as the House information officer, then transitioned into Gunn’s communications director.

Annison is one of the original 10 employees first hired at the Mississippi Lottery.

“Launching a lottery from the ground up is an extremely rare position involving hard work, long hours, challenges and numerous rewards,” she said.

As the communications director, Annison handles everything from press releases, social media strategy, crafting the company’s annual report, communicating with board members and legislators, and fielding media inquiries.

“Mississippi has been a wonderful place to grow up, live, raise a family and pursue my career dreams,” she said. “The people, the places, the food–there is just so much to love and learn about our state.”

Annison helps Mississippians in her current role by conveying transparency about how lottery money benefits the state.

“The Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law states the first $80 million in net proceeds for 10 years benefits roads and bridges,” Annison said. “Any net proceeds exceeding $80 million benefit the Education Enhancement Fund. These are two very important issues affecting most Mississippians.”

Lottery leaders also promote a Play Responsibly phone and text line for players.

“Mississippi is a place of opportunity, and I hope outgoing students will realize how needed their minds and talents are in Mississippi, and that she can offer so many opportunities and chances for growth that will be invaluable in your life.”

Kelsey Addison

director of marketing for
raanes & Oliver capital advisors in hattiesburg

Kelsey Addison

Kelsey Addison: Mississippi is a place of opportunity

Hattiesburg native Kelsey Addison, 25, graduated in December of 2018 with a degree in integrated marketing communications. She recently purchased a house in Hattiesburg, where she is the director of marketing for Raanes & Oliver Capital Advisors.

“After graduating from Ole Miss, I still had about six months left on my lease in Oxford, but there weren’t any job openings at the time for what I wanted to do,” she said.

During the summer of 2018, Addison interned for Congressman Steven Palazzo in Hattiesburg, and his office invited her back to work with them. Addison worked with the communications director drafting newsletters and press releases, creating content for social media accounts, regularly updating media lists and staying in contact with local community members.

“My first month working for the congressman was plagued by the government shutdown,” she said. “It was a tough time, but I learned so much about communicating with the public, handling a crisis, and working as a team trying to produce real results that would benefit the community.”

She was first hired as the office manager for what was then called, Raanes Capital Advisors, an independent branch of Raymond James. Her duties were to schedule appointments for financial advisors, answer phone calls, and handle client servicing needs.

“As time went on, I developed a passion for the financial sector and how my firm interacted with their clients and each other,” she said. “After several months of handling the firm’s social media on the side, I was promoted to director of marketing and now oversee all marketing initiatives. In my spare time, I work with a small social media marketing firm, Comfort Strategies, to manage several social media accounts of small businesses around the Pine Belt.”

As the director of marketing, Addison is responsible for all social media management, public relations, and client communications from the branch.

“The business manages over $150 million in assets, so clients must be able to trust us with the money we manage for them,” she said. “It is important in my role to convey that trust by sending out quarterly newsletters and staying in routine communication with clients, managing our blog, and being knowledgeable about what is going on in the economy, politics, and global news.”

Kelsey Addison

Kelsey Addison

For the past six months, Addison has helped rebrand the business now known as Raanes & Oliver Capital Advisors.

“During the rebranding process, I designed a new website, prepared updated stationary, created social media ads, and coordinated with multiple businesses to ensure that we stayed on schedule and that everything was cohesive with what we envisioned for our business with this rebrand.”

Addison said the project involved creating trust with clients.

“I’m proud of the job we did, and it would not have been possible without the tools I received from my time at Ole Miss,” she said.

Why did she decide to stay in Mississippi?

“Mississippi is a place of growth,” she said. “So many brilliant minds are choosing to stay and see Mississippi for what she could be, and that’s how I felt.

“I grew up in Hattiesburg and loved my community as a child. However, through my time with the congressman’s office and my job now, I have grown to love Hattiesburg and Mississippi as a place where I want to grow and challenge myself and others to leave it better than we found it.

“Mississippi is a place of opportunity, and I hope outgoing students will realize how needed their minds and talents are in Mississippi, and that she can offer so many opportunities and chances for growth that will be invaluable in your life.”

Addison’s company manages investment accounts for clients – about 86% of whom live in Mississippi.

“By working with these clients and being involved in our community, we are working to help them reach the goals they set financially,” she said, “whether that is to send their kids to college, have a comfortable retirement, give back to their communities, or to make a highly anticipated large purchase. We also work within schools in our area to teach middle- and high-schoolers about financial literacy and how the stock market works.”

Blake Alsup

“I wake up every day and get to write about the people that make Northeast Mississippi what it is. It’s not a responsibility that I take lightly, but if you were to ask my coworkers, they would tell you that I like to have fun at work… If I can make readers even half as excited as I am about the people I write about, then I’m satisfied because there are some truly extraordinary individuals in our region.”

Blake Alsup

education reporter,
northeast mississippi daily journal

Blake Alsup: Extraordinary people are in Mississippi

Ripley native Blake Alsup, 25, studied journalism with an emphasis in print and a minor in Southern Studies. He graduated in December of 2018 and now works as the education reporter for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo — a paper he grew up reading.

But he didn’t start there. Less than a month after his graduation, Alsup accepted a job with the New York Daily News in New York City.

“Although the job included some breaking news coverage, it was primarily aggregating sensational content — stories that would get clicks, whether it was a horrific crime or a cute pet — from local newspapers and TV stations around the country for a national audience.

“I wanted to do ‘real’ journalism, the type of reporting I had done at The Daily Mississippian, so I left that job in September 2019 and returned to Mississippi after securing a job with the Daily Journal.”

Alsup began working at the Journal in October of 2019. He covered local schools, primarily the Tupelo and Lee County school districts, writing occasional articles about the local community colleges and universities.

“But in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we didn’t have a health care reporter, I updated our website with the latest coronavirus case and death counts by county in our region,” he said.

He eventually began covering the Mississippi State Department of Health and Gov. Tate Reeves’ press conferences. From the start of the pandemic to the peak in January 2021, Alsup has covered efforts to vaccinate Mississippians and the latest pandemic news.

“If there’s a story that needs to be covered, and it doesn’t fit any specific beat, or the person who would typically cover it is busy, I’m the first person my editors come to because they know I’m willing to pitch in and cover any story no matter how much I have going on,” he said.

Blake Alsup in New York City Blake Alsup in New York City

During his time at the Journal, Alsup has interviewed hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, a Mississippi State University graduate who now drives the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, a hospital chaplain who worked with COVID-19 patients and their families through the pandemic and a local meteorologist who has seen Northeast Mississippi residents through snowstorms and EF-5 tornadoes.

“And that barely scratches the surface when it comes to interesting people I’ve interviewed,” he said. “I wake up every day and get to write about the people that make Northeast Mississippi what it is.

Alsup utilizes the skills he learned as a student reporter in the School of Journalism and New Media, where he first learned what “real journalism” was.

“It’s not a responsibility that I take lightly, but if you were to ask my coworkers, they would tell you that I like to have fun at work. Interviews like the ones I mentioned are what really get me excited, and if I can make readers even half as excited as I am about the people I write about, then I’m satisfied because there are some truly extraordinary individuals in our region.”

Alsup said he realized the importance of local journalism while working as a news reporter and news editor for The Daily Mississippian and while participating in a couple of school-sponsored reporting trips to Batesville and Grenada with professors Bill Rose, John Baker and Ji Hoon Heo. He said he still wanted to work for a major regional or national publication at that time, but “a seed was planted that grew into a desire to work for a local newspaper.”

“And I went on to New York just long enough to realize that Mississippi is where I’m supposed to be,” he said. “I don’t say any of that to brag, but to let current students know that despite setbacks, you can succeed.

And you can tell stories that matter, whether you go to work for The New York Times or make your living at a community newspaper in Mississippi.”

 
 

“By publishing the paper weekly, we give our citizens a voice, and will continue to do it as long as I can. Without my education at UM, none of this would have been possible.

Emma F. Crisler

owner, editor, publisher ,
the port gibson reveille newspaper

Emma F. Crisler

Emma F. Crisler: We give our citizens a voice

Tutwiler native Emma F. Crisler, 82, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1961 with a degree in journalism and English. Today, she is the owner/editor and publisher of The Port Gibson Reveille newspaper.

She first taught in McComb and Vicksburg before working at the Claiborne County Welfare Department as a social worker.

“When (my) husband died in 1997, I assumed the responsibility of owner, editor, and publisher of The Port Gibson Reveille for three generations, beginning in 1898 as the third family to own this paper,” she said.

Crisler said she loves Mississippi and wanted to remain in the state.

“In 1969, I literally ‘married’ The Port Gibson Reveille and was the midnight proofreader along with my other jobs,” she said. “After my husband’s, Edgar Crisler, Jr., death in 1997, I had a choice of either taking over the paper or hiring someone to do it.  

“I chose to be the ‘boss,’ and I still am, publishing the paper weekly on Thursdays,” she said. “By publishing the paper weekly, we give our citizens a voice, and will continue to do it as long as I can.

“Without my education at UM, none of this would have been possible. Without my training at Ole Miss Journalism School, I would not have the knowledge to run a newspaper today.”

Miranda Beard

“The lessons I learned and the practical hands on training built my confidence to use a voice I was ashamed of and bullied because of it,” she said. “The lessons I learned empowered me to use a booming and powerful voice to impact over a million people through public speaking, social media, podcasts, and by training other leaders through my consulting business on the local, state and national levels.

Miranda Beard

Former WDAM/Raycom Media journalist,
now owner of B&B Consulting

Miranda Beard: The lessons I learned empowered me

Miranda Beard, born in 1957, studied broadcast journalism and public relations at UM and graduated in 1986. The Humboldt, Tennessee native has lived in Laurel, Mississippi for 35 years.

She worked at WDAM/Raycom Media for 30 years as a reporter, executive producer, anchor and assistant news content director. She later became president of the National School Boards Association in the Washington, D.C. area from 2016-2017 — just one of the many executive roles she has held. She is currently the Director of Christian Education at Word of Faith Christian Center in Hattiesburg.

Beard continues to use the media and leadership skills she learned at UM and in the industry as the current president and owner of B&B Consultants Incorporated.

“My responsibilities include leadership training for school boards and superintendents, public speaking and advocating for equity and excellence in public education on the local, state and national levels,” she said.

Beard said she decided to stay in Mississippi to serve its people with the gifts, talents and abilities God gave her.

“I realized my abilities are not for me, but they are to be used to inspire, motivate, encourage and help other people be who they were born to be,” she  said.

“The School of Journalism program at the University of Mississippi provided me with the hands-on knowledge to not only achieve my goals, but it also prepared me for dealing with the real world beyond book knowledge,” she said. “It helped to improve my communication skills and trained me on how to collaborate and cooperate with others to see a project to its completion.”

Beard said the School of Journalism also helped her become a more effective communicator.

“The lessons I learned and the practical hands-on training built my confidence to use a voice I was ashamed of and bullied because of it,” she said. “The lessons I learned empowered me to use a booming and powerful voice to impact over a million people through public speaking, social media, podcasts, and by training other leaders through my consulting business on the local, state and national levels.

“I was so grateful and blessed to have professors who used their professional knowledge to help me discover my purpose as a communicator, leader and business owner. What I received from the School of Journalism was a first-rate education that sharpened skills I didn’t know I had, and for that I am thankful. Now, I inspire others to find what they were born to do.”

COVID-19 pandemic leads University of Mississippi IMC student to build Blonde Boomerang business

Posted on: March 21st, 2021 by ldrucker

Online shopping has become more popular because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s one reason Kylie Cockrell, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major, launched her online boutique Blonde Boomerang in January.

There, you can find an organized assortment of turtlenecks, sweater vests, corduroy pants, and even a pink metallic puffer coat. While shopping at Blonde Boomerang, you get a sense of what fashion means to Cockrell.

Cockrell, a Madison, Mississippi native, decided to create an online boutique after working at Arco Avenue, a clothing boutique in Ridgeland near her hometown. During the first few years, she worked the floor, styled customers, paid bills and made purchases, later managing the store. After Cockrell learned what it was like to run a small business, she created the online boutique.

Kylie Cockrell

Kylie Cockrell

Cockrell is on the creative team of Square Magazine at the University of Mississippi. Part of her role is to help with planning and designing photo shoots for the website and social media accounts, and to figure out innovative ways to make each photo shoot unique, whether that is the shoot location or the hair and makeup for the models that correlate with a specific article written by the editorial team.

Being able to incorporate what she has learned from her involvement at Square Magazine and through her IMC fashion promotion and merchandising specialization led Cockrell to create the business.

“I didn’t really know anyone else in college who had started a business or who I could turn to for advice,” she said.

Her previous boss, Katie Miller, at Arco Avenue helped.

When it comes to everyday fashion, Cockrell said her go-to outfit is a pair of straight-legged, light washed jeans, a white button-up shirt and a pair of orange Nike Air Force Ones.

“Those are my prized possession,” she said excitedly.

Cockrell used the time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to pursue her dream. That allowed her to complete all the necessary business tasks. This involved getting sales permits and tax licenses that took many months. Then Cockrell realized she needed a name for her boutique.

“My mom was actually the one to come up with the name,” she said.

In an Australian Aboriginal language, “Kylie” translates to “boomerang.” Cockrell’s mom, Vicki Welch, thought this would be an innovative business name since Cockrell has blonde hair. Before she knew it, Blonde Boomerang was born, and on Jan. 24, Cockrell officially launched her online boutique.

Welch has supported her in creating Blonde Boomerang. She has seen all the hard work Kylie puts into developing her business.

“She did everything,” Welch said.

From making important phone calls to designing the website and choosing inventory, Cockrell took charge. Welch knew customers would fall in love with Cockrell’s unique sense of style.

“Throughout this whole process, I have seen Kylie become so independent,” she said.

Kylie Cockrell and some of her merchandise.

Kylie Cockrell and some of her merchandise.

Welch said this is the perfect time and age to get involved with something you are passionate about, and to not be afraid to fail while doing so.

“I know she has what it takes to make this business go further,” Welch said.

Cockrell said, “There were so many times I second-guessed myself.”

However, she adopted Miller’s motto, “You never know until you just go for it.”

Although Cockrell was nervous about launching her boutique, she was excited when someone from Connecticut purchased an item from Blonde Boomerang.

“It’s the little things like that that remind me of how glad I am to have started my business,” said Cockrell. “It definitely makes my day.”

As a full-time student taking 18 hours of classes, being involved with Square Magazine, and running an online business, Cockrell said it has taken a lot of self-discipline to stay on top of her everyday tasks.

“The business staying up and running relies solely on me,” she said.

If you are a student who aspires to create your own business, it is important to stay confident and true to yourself. Whatever you are passionate about, make it happen, said Cockrell.

“The more work you put into something you are passionate about, the more benefits you will get in return,” she said. “Once you make that commitment to yourself, you are already one step further towards your goal…You can only go up from there.”

Cockrell aspires to open a physical location for Blonde Boomerang.

“Make it from the ground up, and gradually it will become what you want it to be,” she said.


This story was written by Cloi Bryan for Oxford Stories.

Are you a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student who has created their own business? If so, we want to hear from you. Click this link to share your business story. 

Click this link to learn more about our undergraduate and graduate programs in IMC and Journalism.