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HELLO DALL·E​: University of Mississippi students use creative descriptions to generate realistic images and art with AI​

Posted on: December 14th, 2022 by ldrucker
Professor LaReeca Rucker entered the text "A person sitting at a computer using DALL-E 2 to create an illustration that is colorful modern art" and DALL-E 2 created this illustration.
Professor LaReeca Rucker entered the text "A person sitting at a computer using DALL-E 2 to create an illustration that is colorful modern art" and DALL-E 2 created this illustration.

HELLO DALL·E

University of Mississippi students use creative descriptions to generate realistic images and art with AI

Imagine coming up with an artistic idea, typing a few words into a search bar, and having a computer program automatically generate multiple variations of original artwork based on your conceptualization.

That is what DALL·E 2 OpenAI does. Just about anything you can envision and find the words to describe, the system can create a graphic visualization. The more specific you are, the better the results.

This semester, students in professor LaReeca Rucker’s Social Media in Society class experimented with DALL·E 2 when it was opened to the public. The name honors surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and the Pixar robot WALL·E.

“I really enjoyed playing on this website,” said student Miya Yuratich. “It is perfect for someone with a creative mind. I told my brother about it because he is an artist and is always drawing and painting. I thought it would be perfect for times when he knows what he wants to create, but can’t quite picture it.

“I also called my little sisters to show them, because they have wild imaginations, and DALL·E brought some of their visions to life. I looked up ‘cats swimming in a bowl of cereal while it is raining strawberries.’”

 

Student Miya Yuratich entered the words "Cats swimming in a bowl of cereal while it's raining strawberries" and DALL-E 2 created this illustration.
Student Miya Yuratich entered the words "Cats swimming in a bowl of cereal while it's raining strawberries" and DALL-E 2 created this illustration.

In January 2021, OpenAI introduced DALL·E followed by DALL·E 2 a year later. The AI system can create realistic images and art from a creative text description in natural language. It can combine concepts, attributes and styles and expand images beyond what’s in the original canvas, creating new compositions.

According to the DALL·E 2 website, the system has learned the relationship between images and the text used to describe them. Creators say they hope DALL·E 2 will empower people to express themselves creatively and understand how advanced AI systems see and understand our world.

 

Student McKenna Nolen typed in "Butterflies by the ocean" and DALL-E 2 created this image.
Student McKenna Nolen typed "Butterflies by the ocean" and DALL-E 2 created this image.

“After registering to use the DALL·E platform in 2021, I thought it would be something that might interest my students when it opened to the public this year,” Rucker said. “So I challenged them to use their creativity with DALL·E to type a description and see what the system creates. I think many were surprised at just how detailed the generated DALL·E illustration was.”

Student Emma Kate Davidson said it was cool to work with such a creative website.

“I looked up many different random things in the search bar, but my favorite was ‘crayon drawing of several cute colored monsters with ice cream bodies on dark blue paper,’” she said. “It was so cool to see that the website was able to accurately create such a specific picture, and I loved seeing all the different results that it came up with.

Student Emma Kate Davidson and DALL-E 2 created this illustration.
Student Emma Kate Davidson and DALL-E 2 created this illustration.

Student Jenna Karl said she challenged the system by coming up with the most ridiculous descriptions she could think of.

“There would be an image for it every time,” she said. “… I searched ‘dachshund wearing a pink dress outside.’ … I am amazed at the ability of this website to search through so much data so quickly and generate an image on the spot. I think it would be interesting to put in words describing a book and see what the site comes up with as the ‘book cover.’”

 

Student Jenna Karl entered the description "A dachshund wearing a pink dress and a crown outside" and DALL-E 2 created this image.
Student Jenna Karl entered the description "A dachshund wearing a pink dress and a crown outside" and DALL-E 2 created this image.

Student Ava Jahner said she got her friends involved with the site.

“I mostly searched things that had to do with the color pink and animals because pink is my favorite color right now,” she said. “I first searched ‘pink zebras shopping in Paris,’ and I found some super funny and cool photos.

“I then searched ‘flowers in a pink vase in Italy watercolor,’ and it was so pretty. These two were for sure my favorite. I loved this experiment, and I had so much fun playing with this website.”

 

Student Ava Jahner entered the description "Pink zebra shopping in Paris watercolor" and DALL-E 2 created this illustration.
Student Ava Jahner entered the description "Pink zebra shopping in Paris watercolor" and DALL-E 2 created this illustration.

Rucker, who has an interest in emerging technologies, teaches a class that envisions the near future of technology, media and digital ethics.

“We’ve discussed the possible effects of advanced social media networks that could change our culture, patents for futuristic contacts that could record video, how augmented and virtual reality could eventually make it difficult for us to distinguish between truth and fiction, and other issues that may arise as technology advances,” she
said.

“It’s important to remain tuned in to the new apps and websites that emerge and to think about how they can be used in multimedia storytelling.”

Student Anna Potts typed "Panda snowboarding eating ice cream" and DALL-E 2 produced this image.
Student Anna Potts typed "Panda snowboarding eating ice cream" and DALL-E 2 produced this image.

DALL·E produces original images. The Forbes article “AI And Creativity: Why OpenAI’s Latest Model Matters” says these are images that have never existed in the world nor in anyone’s imagination.

“These are not simple manipulations of existing images on the Internet—they are novel renderings, at times breathtaking in their cleverness and originality,” the article reads. “They are images that DALL·E’s human creators, in many cases, did not expect and could not have anticipated.”

The New Atlas article “Open AI’s DALL·E 2: A dream tool and existential threat to visual artists” reports that “given a high-quality prompt, DALL·E will generate dozens of options” in seconds, “each at a level of quality that would take a human photographer, painter, digital artist or illustrator hours to produce. It’s some kind of art director’s
dream; a smorgasbord of visual ideas in an instant, without having to pay creatives, models or location fees.”

It’s interesting to think of different ways DALL·E could be used. Some say a similar system could be helpful in product and graphic design, fashion and architecture. Could it be used to design logos, website templates, business cards, posters, brochures, book covers? Perhaps it could become an artist assistant or muse? The Forbes article says such a system could become a common “ideation partner and a source of inspiration.”

That means there are also fears that AI could replace creatives in their industries.

“I think that we are seeing many emerging platforms, such as DALL·E, ChatGPT (also part of OpenAI) and Copy.ai, a platform that automatically generates written content for marketers, that do things in seconds that it has taken people in our industries a lifetime to learn,” Rucker said. “Pondering the future of that can be concerning when we think about how the digital age has disrupted and transformed our industry in only a few years.

“But maybe these tools can work as companions instead of competition, and now is a good time to experiment with them to see if they have a place in our industry.”

Student Carsen Greensage typed "A snulit indoor lounge area with a pool with clear water and another pool with translucent pastel pink water next to a big window digital art" and DALL-E 2 created this image.
Student Carsen Greensage typed "A sunlit indoor lounge area with a pool with clear water and another pool with translucent pastel pink water next to a big window digital art" and DALL-E 2 created this image.

The DALL·E website reports that the company is also working to prevent the creation of harmful artistic generations. They’ve limited DALL·E 2’s ability to generate violent, hate, or adult images. They say they’ve also use advanced techniques to prevent photorealistic generations of real individuals’ faces, including those of public figures.

“I think this website is a great way to find images that you can think of, but not necessarily create,” said student Katie Sachfield. “I, for one, am a person who can come up with ideas and communicate them, but I cannot always make them myself.”

Two events set for Tuesday, Sept. 27 will explore civil rights history

Posted on: September 21st, 2022 by ldrucker

The graphic features two posters and reads Exploring Civil Rights History

 

Two University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media events set for Tuesday, Sept. 27, will explore civil rights history through the eyes of participants.

Traces of Elaine: The Lone Black Female Staff Photographer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Elaine Tomlin broke gender and race barriers by being the first Black female staff photographer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement. Most of her life’s work was stolen, but those who attend will learn about her career and work.

A reception and mini photo exhibition of Tomlin’s published work will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Powerhouse at 413 S. 14th Street on the corner of S. 14th and University Ave.

The poster for An Evening of Conversation with Elaine Tomlin's Family & Friends event.

The poster for the event.

Ph.D. history candidate, Alysia Steele, an associate professor of journalism with the School of Journalism and New Media, will share some of her dissertation research about Tomlin. Tomlin’s family and friends will be present.

Steele has reconstructed Tomlin’s career and family history through interviews and limited information via archives. Most of Tomlin’s life’s work was stolen from her home, but her son had stored approximately 5,000 negatives in a basement for 35 years and never looked at them.

What’s been discovered in Tomlin’s work: Dr. King and Stokely Carmichael marching in the Meredith March Against Fear in 1966, the Poor People’s Campaign with Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 run for president, Jesse Jackson and Operation Breadbasket, Coretta Scott King at a memorial service four days after her husband’s assassination (she’s wearing the same veil from the funeral) and singers like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and Nina Simone, to name a few.

Alysia Steele

Steele

Steele will share what she has learned in her research, how she “found” Tomlin and her family, traced their roots back to the coal mines of Alabama, and share thoughts from the Abernathy family, who have been instrumental in helping Steele.

The event is sponsored by several University departments, including the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the College of Liberal Arts, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Department of History, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the School of Journalism and New Media.

For assistance related to a disability for this event, contact Kevin at 662.915.5916 or isomctr@olemiss.edu.

This is an image of the book James Meredith: Breaking the BarrierMeredith & the Media: The Legacy of a Riot

The Overby Center will host Meredith and the Media: The Legacy of a Riot Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 5:30 p.m., featuring Dr. Kathleen Wickham, Curtis Wilkie and Sidna Brower, the Daily Mississippian editor in 1962. Journalist Jesse Holland will moderate.

Copies of the commemorative book “James Meredith: Breaking the Barrier” will be available for purchase after both events.

The book, edited by Wickham, is also available for purchase at Barnes and Noble for $15. It features chapters written by Meredith, Brower, Wilkie, Marquita Smith, Holland, William Doyle, Dorothy Gilliam, William Winter, Henry Gallagher and Wickham.

Kathleen Wickham

Wickham

Link to full story: https://news.olemiss.edu/james-meredith-breaking-the-barrier-adds-voice-to-history/

For assistance related to a disability for this event, contact Michelle Martin at 662-915-7146 or mmartin3@olemiss.edu

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

UM School of Journalism and New Media will sponsor two James Meredith programs in celebration of 60th anniversary of integration

Posted on: September 13th, 2022 by ldrucker

The graphic features two posters of the events and reads 60th anniversary of integration.

The University of Mississippi is celebrating the 60th anniversary of integration this month with a series of programs. Two sponsored by the UM School of Journalism and New Media are about James Meredith.

Mississippi MessiahThe documentary “Mississippi Messiah” will be shown at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20, in Fulton Chapel. Admission is free.

The film was previously featured at the Oxford Film Festival. It offers a complete and nuanced look at the life and career of James Meredith.

The IMDb doc description reads, “Civil rights icon James Meredith never fit in – not as the first Black student at the University of Mississippi, not as a civil rights leader on the Meredith March, and certainly not while endorsing ex-Klansman David Duke. ‘Mississippi Messiah’ is a nuanced examination of Meredith’s complicated life as a public figure.”

The film has been shown at various film festivals, including the Arizona International Film Festival. This director’s statement was published on its website:

“Documentaries about the American civil rights movement often focus on simplified, inspiring narratives that present a unified picture and weed out awkward dissenters,” it reads. “That’s not what you’ll get watching ‘Mississippi Messiah’

“‘James Meredith is an individualist,’ civil rights leader Myrlie Evers-Williams says in our film – but that’s only one aspect of his fascinating personality.

Breaking the Barrier“Meredith is not a hero or a martyr. He is a human being who catalyzed tremendous social change and who is still fighting to improve his world. We believe James Meredith’s story rewards exploration, in part, because it provokes questions as much as it provides answers.”

Kathleen Wickham, Ed.D., a professor of journalism in the School of Journalism and New Media, said Meredith’s quest to integrate the university changed UM, the state and the nation.

“It was the end of massive resistance to integration and demonstrated that America is a nation based on the power of laws, not the stench of violence,” she said. “The documentary does not stop there, however. It provides a multi-faceted view of Meredith seeking his place in the world, with a vision often incompatible with the norm.”

Wickham said Director Clay Haskell portrays Meredith as an authentic visionary.

“From that angle, viewers can begin to understand Meredith’s life-long quest and what it means to society,” she said. “Meredith emerges from the documentary, not as a one-dimensional figure who brought the state to its knees, but that of a man who lived a life viewing the state from afar seeking to make it a better place for all its citizens.”

The Overby Center will host a related program called Meredith & the Media: The Legacy of a Riot beginning at  5:30 p.m., Sept. 27, featuring Wickham, Curtis Wilkie and Sidna Brower, the Daily Mississippian editor in 1962. Journalist Jesse Holland will serve as moderator. Click this link to read the fall lineup of Overby programs.

Copies of the commemorative book “James Meredith: Breaking the Barrier” will be available for purchase after both events. The book, edited by Wickham, is also available for purchase at Barnes and Noble for $15. It includes chapters written by Meredith, Brower, Wilkie, Holland, Marquita Smith, William Doyle, Dorothy Gilliam, William Winter, Henry Gallagher and Wickham.

Wickham said the book is an illustrated collection of essays commemorating the 60th anniversary of James Meredith’s historic 1962 enrollment at the University of Mississippi.

“From their unique perspectives, 10 prominent journalists, historians and eyewitnesses tell the story of James Meredith’s turbulent but successful path to become the state’s first African American to graduate from the University of Mississippi,” she said. “The book is arranged in such a way that the reader can dip into a chapter of interest without having to read all chapters and still come away with a deeper knowledge of the events of 1962 and how the events played out for the author.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

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

You might say IMC is in the DNA of this Germantown graduate

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by ldrucker
Integrated marketing communications is Arabella Hamm's DNA. With a mom who has worked as a brand strategist and a father who was a creative director, studying IMC came natural, but it took her a while to realize that she had been on an IMC career path since she was a teenager.

You might say that IMC is Arabella Hamm’s DNA.

With a mom who has worked as a brand strategist and a father who was a creative director, studying IMC came naturally, but it took Hamm a while to realize that she had been on an IMC career path since she was born.

“When I entered the University of Mississippi, and it was time to declare a major, I was left a little disappointed because I had watched so many people around me have this ‘Eureka!’ moment when discovering their career path,” Hamm said. “I waited for so long on an epiphany to come to me to let me know what I was meant to do, but this quick rush of a feeling never came. Instead, I came to more of a realization.”

The Germantown, Tennessee native said she was born into an IMC family. She is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.

“My mother, the MBA in Economics, has been a brand strategist and principal on the agency side and held the title of chief marketing officer on the client-side of the equation,” she said. “My father began his career as a copywriter and speechwriter and has since been a producer, an editor, and a creative director.”

Hamm said her life has been surrounded by marketing, advertising, branding, sponsorships, and public relations.

“Before I could tie my shoes, I was on the set of photo, video, and TV shoots,” she said. “As a child, I sat on the ottoman in my father’s office, thumbing through stacks of Communication Arts, Print, and How magazines. Later, my mother had me arrange the volumes of Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and AdWeek in chronological order on her credenza.”

Integrated marketing communications is Lilly Hamm's DNA. With a mom who has worked as a brand strategist and a father who was a creative director, studying IMC came natural, but it took her a while to realize that she had been on an IMC career path since she was a teenager.

Over the years, Hamm said she checked media credentials, filled welcome bags, and served as a photographer at special events. In high school, she interned at a branding agency where she gathered travel data for a tourism client and used the information to create social media content.

“So, it was finally obvious to me,” she said. “I did not need a ‘lightbulb moment,’ because marketing has always been with me. It is in my DNA. I am wired for this program.

“Fast forward four years later, and I am set to receive my bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing communications. In retrospect, I cannot imagine it any other way.”

On campus, Hamm was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Chi Omega Tau Sorority. In Honors College, she delved deep into her studies, introduced to subjects she would have never otherwise explored, she said.

Completing her Honors thesis was also valuable.

“The process of researching my subject, interviewing an amazing array of industry experts, working with my advisor, Dr. (Graham) Bodie to edit, revise and edit again has been the most simultaneously challenging and most enlightening experience to date,” she said. “As I answer these questions, I am completing and preparing to defend my thesis: Grabbing Consumers by the Ears: Exploring the Power of Branded Podcasts.”

Bodie said Arabella reached out to him in October of 2020 seeking a chair for her Honors thesis project.

“Her passion for podcasts was obvious at the time, and that enthusiasm only grew as we settled on a specific focus, the branded podcast,” he said. “It’s refreshing to work with students like Arabella who pose questions that don’t yet have answers and who work diligently to, not only find answers, but continue to ask interesting and field-shaping questions.

“Indeed, research is as much about asking useful questions as it is about putting forth answers, and Arabella gets that. She is already thinking like a graduate student, well on her way to making solid contributions to our understanding of IMC. The future of our field is strong with student-scholars like Arabella.”

Hamm said some of her favorite classes were IMC 304: Account Planning and IMC 455: IMC Campaigns.

“But my most interesting class that I will remember forever was Philosophy of Film with Dr. Timothy Yenter,” she said. “Towards the end of our class, we had the opportunity to travel to Columbia, Missouri to take part in the True/False Film Festival. This was my first-time studying film, and it was such a unique experience that I feel I would not be able to get anywhere else.”

After graduation, Hamm will be attending graduate school at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media to earn her Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication. She recently accepted a position as a graduate assistant for the Division of Diversity Community and Engagement at Ole Miss.

“I feel like sometimes it is easy to look around at the thousands of kids in college and think they are all living these perfect lives where they are having this fun college experience and doing so well in school,” she said. “But this assumption is usually incorrect. I think it’s okay to feel lost at times, and I wish someone had told me that sooner.”

Hamm said not everyone has everything planned out, and that’s OK. That’s what college is for.

“The beauty of a great college is that it is there to educate and inspire; to distract and open doors you had no idea even existed,” she said. “You just have to keep your eyes open and recognize opportunities when they present themselves. But whatever you do, do not give up because it looks like everyone else around you is doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. Chances are they are experiencing the same doubts and obstacles you are. They just don’t look like it on Instagram.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

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.

University of Mississippi integrated marketing communications program turns 10

Posted on: December 5th, 2021 by ldrucker

Young program, one of university’s largest, thanks to passionate faculty and alumni

Scott Fiene remembers watching the first handful of integrated marketing communications students walk across the commencement stage in 2013, completely unaware that in less than a decade, he would be watching hundreds of IMC graduates cross the stage each year.

The University of Mississippi‘s IMC program began with 51 students in the School of Journalism and New Media in 2011, and has since boomed to just under 1,200 enrolled.

The unprecedented growth is thanks in large part to the passion of the faculty members and IMC professionals who take students out of the classroom and into the ever-changing world of marketing and communications.

Archive Photo: Sports marketing professional Scott Pederson talks to students in an IMC Sports Marketing intersession class in Farley Hall. Part of what has made the Ole Miss IMC program so successful in its first decade is the ability to bring passionate practitioners into the classroom. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Archive Photo: Sports marketing professional Scott Pederson talks to students in an IMC Sports Marketing intersession class in Farley Hall. Part of what has made the Ole Miss IMC program so successful in its first decade is the ability to bring passionate practitioners into the classroom. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.Passion for the Work

Debora Wenger, interim dean of the journalism school, was the administrator tasked with being the “paper pusher,” as she describes it, shepherding the program through the creation and approval process, but she credits Fiene with being IMC’s greatest advocate and promoter on campus. Fiene was assistant dean of curriculum and assessment for the program during its unprecedented growth.

“Scott really nurtured it,” she said. “The program grew because of Scott’s passion and dedication. He has incredible enthusiasm for the program and his passion is infectious. Students would take his class and then switch majors because he made it so engaging for them.”

Fiene passes that credit on to the faculty the program has been able to assemble over the past decade.

“Our faculty really care and put students first,” Fiene said. “I don’t recall sitting down and saying, ‘This is how we’re going to grow, and this is the experience we’re going to deliver to these kids.’

“A lot of it is simply the attitudes of the people we hired who have had very successful careers and now want to teach because they have an absolute passion for this.”

Archive Photo: Students take notes during a lecture in Robin Street’s IMC 491 class. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Archive Photo: Students take notes during a lecture in Robin Street’s IMC 491 class. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.

The passion for students is evident. Even on sabbatical, Fiene finds himself following his graduates as they enter the job market and move into leadership positions around the country.

Jackson Sepko, a senior IMC major from Collierville, Tennessee, first encountered the IMC faculty’s enthusiasm the spring before his freshman year. After his tweet about Ole Miss baseball went viral within the Ole Miss sports online community, he received a direct message from IMC professor Debbie Hall asking if he was an IMC major.

Sepko had already signed up to be an IMC major, but it was a series of continued positive, affirming and proactive interactions like the one he had on Twitter that gave him the confidence to pursue more and more competitive opportunities. During his freshman year, Hall encouraged Sepko to pursue a PGA internship reserved for juniors and seniors.

“Every single professional opportunity I’ve had has been because of an IMC professor,” Sepko said. “Once a professor understands a student’s passions, they plug them into the classes and experiences and introduce those students to the people who are doing it in the real world.”

This semester, Sepko is applying his IMC experience as a digital media marketing assistant for the Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Clare Combs, a 2021 IMC graduate from Austin, Texas, is a community manager at Likeable Media in New York. Combs recalled the way Hall, her professor and academic adviser, made her feel welcome on the first day of class. Running late, Combs rushed to class through the rain and then slipped and fell the moment she arrived in class.

“I was so embarrassed,” Combs said. “But Mrs. Hall immediately directed the class’s attention to herself so I could quietly make it to my seat. After class I thanked her, and she told me, ‘I never want my students to feel anything other than great in my class.’”

After that, Combs took one of Hall’s classes every semester and relied on Hall as a mentor and sounding board while looking for her first job after graduation.

Dennis Irwin teaches students. n 2011, the Integrated Marketing Communications program at #OleMiss began with 51 students. Today, the program is one of the largest at the university, with just under 1,200 students enrolled.

Dennis Irwin, associate director of marketing and brand strategy for the University of Mississippi, teaches students. In 2011, the Integrated Marketing Communications program at #OleMiss began with 51 students. Today, the program is one of the largest at the university, with just under 1,200 students enrolled.

Real-World Application

In its early days, the IMC program took a few plays out of the journalism school’s playbook. The faculty frequently invites successful practitioners to campus to expose students to real-world work while providing networking opportunities with the industry’s best.

Similarly, the faculty places an emphasis on turning classroom theory into practical application.

“We send students out to work with clients in the community,” Fiene said. “We’ve taught campaign classes and we partner with organizations in the community so our kids can put together a full IMC campaign and pitch to clients.”

IMC faculty members also encourage students to engage in the many media opportunities on campus, including the Student Media Center and the program-run HottyToddy.com, where many students get daily multimedia publishing experience.

“These students are very well-rounded – they learn writing, design, market research, campaign building,” Fiene said. “But it’s those real-life experiences students get that matter, so that when they get a degree it’s not just academic. It has real-world relevance.”

Bright Future

Jason Cain, who succeeds Fiene as the program’s leader, is excited about IMC because the future of business, media and communications is all intertwined.

Whether preparing for careers in advertising, journalism or PR, graduates are finding themselves more and more in integrated roles, Cain said.

“This is where the action is in a lot of ways,” he said. “While more traditional departments are grappling with how to address the future within their silos, IMC is ready-made for straddling all these different channels.

Cain, who joined the faculty in 2016 as an assistant professor of IMC, said he hopes to continue to emphasize the practical side of the program by bringing graduates back to campus so that students can see how they are using their degrees in a professional environment.

The program continues to expand its intersectional role, offering specializations in fashion, health communications, magazine publishing, media sales, public relations, social media, sports communications and promotions, and visual design.

“I think we have a good core group of faculty with a cool skill set,” Cain said. “I know that we can take a healthy program and start diving in a little deeper. We can take a decade of wisdom and filter that back into the course work.”

School of Journalism and New Media leaders establish University of Mississippi PRSSA Chapter

Posted on: November 22nd, 2021 by ldrucker

Undergraduate communications students gain access to extensive career resources, networking and scholarship opportunities

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), an organization for students interested in the public relations and communications fields, has added the University of Mississippi to its network of chapters worldwide.

Under the guidance of experienced faculty advisers, and in coordination with the local Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) chapter in Memphis, students will have opportunities to further their education, gain valuable career advice and experience, and access a variety of scholarships.

PRSSA has added a total of five new chapters in 2021.

“We’re thrilled to be able to expand our PRSSA footprint in New York and Mississippi,” said Linda Thomas Brooks, chief executive officer, PRSA, in a news release. The organization also added a chapter at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. “The communications profession continues to grow in importance, and skilled practitioners are in high demand at organizations and agencies worldwide. Preparing the next generation of leaders is a hallmark of PRSSA, and we look forward to working with these students to ensure they are ready to succeed in their future endeavors.”

Amanda Sams BradshawDr. Amanda Bradshaw, assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, will serve as faculty adviser to the University of Mississippi PRSSA chapter. She earned a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Alabama.

Professionally, she worked as the public relations manager of Preferred Medical Group, a multi-disciplinary, multi-location medical practice. Additionally, she served as director of sales and brand growth for Chick-fil-A in Lawton, Oklahoma. Simultaneously, she owned and operated a social media consulting firm before beginning her doctoral studies.

“We are excited to launch a PRSSA chapter at the state flagship institution, becoming part of an esteemed international organization,” Bradshaw said. “We are also thrilled to collaborate with the wonderful, talented public relations professionals at PRSA Memphis and look forward to learning from and working with them in the coming years. With more than 1,000 IMC majors, our student body is large, and we already have 25 enthusiastic student leaders signed up to serve on our executive board and lead our committees. We are ready to hit the ground running to build the University of Mississippi PRSSA to be the best that it can be.”

Bradshaw said UM has wanted to add a PRSSA chapter for a long time. Professors Debbie Hall and Robin Street have worked to launch a chapter, but the IMC curriculum had to evolve.

“We had to first develop a robust curriculum sequence of at least five public relations courses and additional supplemental courses in the field, which we have now done,” she said. “As we now have that curriculum in place, we qualify to have a chapter. So, we mailed off the 250+ page application to the headquarters in New York (an old-fashioned paper application in a FedEx box), and as they say, the rest is history.”

The University of Mississippi PRSSA chapter members.

The University of Mississippi PRSSA chapter members.

Bradshaw said PRSSA is connecting the school with an international network of chapters that forms the most recognized leading professional organization, serving the communications community.

“Students at the undergraduate and graduate levels have the opportunity to join our campus chapter,” Bradshaw said. “Students can get involved with and gain hands-on experience with social media, recruitment, onboarding, service/philanthropy, fundraising, awards, publicity, public relations content creation, high school outreach, event planning, and more.

“All of these line items look great on a resume for those wanting to enter communication fields. Additionally, students will be eligible to compete for both individual-level and chapter awards in exclusive PRSSA competitions.”

Bradshaw said PRSSA is based on three main pillars: 1) Enhance your education 2) Broaden your network 3) Launch your career.

“Our chapter plans to host monthly activities, bringing in top-notch guest speakers in various sectors of public relations and offering soft skills workshops, such as resume’ reviews and cover letter writing,” she said. “With a strong partnership in place with our sponsor chapter, PRSA Memphis, which is just an hour away, we feel confident that we have the resources and talent to mentor our students to help them map out their career paths and get to the next level in their careers.”

Bradshaw said they are planning a “field trip” to visit an agency in Memphis in the upcoming year and will work with both PRSA Memphis and the University of Memphis PRSSA chapter.

“In addition to strong mentorship locally and nationally, our student members will have the opportunity to travel to conferences, such as ICON– the international PRSA annual conference– to meet professionals in the industry from all over the world,” she said.

QR code

QR code

Students who want to get involved can send an email to: olemissprssa@gmail.com.

The cost to join is $85 per year — $55 for national dues + $30 for local dues. They can pay both at this link: https://www.prsa.org/prssa/join-prssa and/or email the general email address for more questions.

Students can also use this QR code to fill out a brief survey of their interests to get involved with one of our committees and to potentially serve in a leadership role.

Interested students and faculty may also join the school’s LinkedIn group here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12583345/ The first main chapter meeting, an informational session, will be held on Jan. 25, 2022 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. More information will be provided later.

Bradshaw said PRSSA is not just for IMC students in the public relations specialization. It’s for anyone looking to develop their communication skills. If you’re majoring in any of the following, you may want to get involved: advertising, business administration and management, film and video, graphic design, journalism, marketing, political science, public and nonprofit administration, and more.

Talbert Fellows are an elite cohort at the UM School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: November 3rd, 2021 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media Talbert Fellows are journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) students from Mississippi and beyond who are part of an elite program launched last year.

Members include Carleigh Holt, Davan Reece, Emma Harrington, Grace Massengill, Lily Sweet King, Brittany Kohne, Virginia White, Travis Coopwood, Justice Rose, Chloe Calo, Kelby Zendejas, Rabria Moore, Erin Foley, Shayna Saragosa, Summer Keith, Brady Wood, Sahara Portlance, Zoe Keyes, Paleif Raspberry, David Ramsey, Julieanna Jackson, Ava Johnson and Layton Lawhead. We will be sharing their photos and stories on social media.

From left, Grace Massengill, Paleif Raspberry and Chloe Calo attend the latest Talbert Fellows meeting. They listened to a guest speaker who talked about a New York internship program.

From left, Grace Massengill, Paleif Raspberry and Chloe Calo attend the latest Talbert Fellows meeting. They listened to a guest speaker who talked about a New York internship program.

“We are really happy you have joined our school, because in order to be a member of the Talbert Fellows, you have to have shown something exceptional,” Dr. Debora Wenger, interim dean, said during the Talbert Fellows first meeting of the semester.

Dr. R. J. Morgan, instructional associate professor of journalism and director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, said investing in the Talbert Fellows will be a good investment for the school.

“The other vision is that it would also give you the opportunity to invest in each other,” he said.

Talbert Fellows are selected based on a portfolio of their best work in journalism, integrated marketing communication, video, photography, and other media skills, rather than their GPA or ACT scores. Applicants submit work in the fall and follow the UM scholarship application process.

The Talbert Fellows program offers a scholarship, access to special events, personalized attention and coaching from faculty, among other perks.

“Students have a lot of choices when it comes to finding the right university, and we think the Talbert Fellows program might be just the little extra incentive some need to choose the School of Journalism and New Media,” Wenger said in an earlier interview. “From scholarship money to unique experiential learning opportunities to networking options, the students accepted to become Talbert Fellows will find themselves positioned to become future leaders in the fields of journalism and integrated marketing communications.”

There are many high school students across the country who are proving they are skilled thinkers and innovators at a young age, Morgan said.

“Students like that need to be honored, but more than that, they need to be challenged to reach their full potential,” he said. “This program will help us better identify those students from the outset so that once they arrive on campus, we can focus our best resources on pushing them to an elite level of success.”

The Talbert Fellows program is named after Samuel S. Talbert, Ph.D. The versatile administrator and author wrote three academic books on journalism, several plays and a column published in more than 100 newspapers. He chaired the UM Department of Journalism from 1951 until his death in 1972.

Talbert Fellows selections will follow the university’s annual calendar with new students notified in April and admitted each fall semester. New, transfer and current students are also eligible to apply. Awards are renewable for up to four years.

Applicants must submit a link to their online portfolios and the information required through the University of Mississippi scholarship application portal.

To learn more, contact Morgan at morgan@go.olemiss.edu.

Texas Monthly editor in chief inducted into Alumni Hall of Fame

Posted on: October 11th, 2021 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi journalism graduate was recently inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. Dan Goodgame, who graduated from UM in 1975, is editor in chief of Texas Monthly, an award-winning magazine that has covered the Lone Star State for 48 years.

The Ole Miss Alumni Association recognized seven distinguished University of Mississippi alumni, including Goodgame and a former professor and campus administrator, with its highest annual awards as part of Homecoming 2021.

Alumni Hall of Fame inductees for 2021 are: Coolidge Ball (BRL 75), of Oxford; Dan Goodgame (BA 75), of San Antonio, Texas; Richard C. O’Ferrall Jr. (BBA 57), of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee; Michael H. Stewart (BA 75, MCJ 78), of Oxford; and Judy Trott (BSHPE 1961, MEd 64, EdD 72), of Oxford.

Ole Miss Alumni Association Names Distinguished Alumni for 2021

Since Goodgame took the helm of Texas Monthly in 2019, “the magazine has sharply increased its online audience and revenue; expanded its storytelling through podcasts, videos, books and live events; and optioned a dozen of its articles to Hollywood for development into movies and video series,” according to a UM news release.

Before joining Texas Monthly, Goodgame served as a vice president for Rackspace, a cloud computing company in San Antonio.

Dan Goodgame. Congratulations Dan Goodgame. University of Mississippi Distinguished Alumnus.

Dan Goodgame. Congratulations Dan Goodgame. University of Mississippi Distinguished Alumnus.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author, Goodgame has interviewed and profiled leaders in many fields, including six U.S. presidents, Saddam Hussein, Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch and Tiger Woods, the UM news release reports. Goodgame served as editor in chief of Fortune Small Business, whose subscribers were 1 million owners of entrepreneurial companies.

He earlier worked for Time magazine as White House correspondent, Washington bureau chief and assistant managing editor. He is co-author of the book “Marching in Place,” about President George H.W. Bush.

Goodgame worked for the Miami Herald as Middle East correspondent in the early 1980s, covering the Israel-Lebanon and Iran-Iraq wars. He started his career as a crime reporter at the Tampa Tribune.

“Goodgame is a native of Pascagoula, where his parents worked at Ingalls Shipbuilding,” UM reports. “After graduating from Ole Miss, he earned an M.Phil. in international relations as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University. He played on the university golf team and rowed for his college.

“During the past 12 years, Goodgame has served on the boards of Texas Public Radio, the World Affairs Council, Medical Foundation and Sports Foundation. His wife, Marcia, a retired journalist and educator, works part-time for the San Antonio Book Festival. They have two sons, Clayton and Sam.”

Created in 1974, the Hall of Fame honors select alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to their country, state or the university through good deeds, services or contributions that have perpetuated the good name of Ole Miss.

Read more about Goodgame and the other Hall of Fame inductees at this link.