School of Journalism and New Media

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Registration is underway for J361 ‘Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone and Media’ summer class

Posted on: May 5th, 2020 by ldrucker

Registration is underway for a class the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media will be offering online during the second summer session called J361 “Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone and Media.” If you’re a fan of either show, you may enjoy studying them from an academic viewpoint while envisioning the future of media and  technology.

“Black Mirror” is a British science fiction Netflix anthology series set in the near future that explores the potentially dark consequences of technology and social media. Each episode has a different cast with a unique story and, like most science fiction, it offers a speculative warning about what could happen if we lose control and allow technology to control us.

Black Mirror


The show, created by Charlie Brooker, was first broadcast on British television in 2011. It is now a Netflix original series, and some have called it a modern day “Twilight Zone.” Recognizing its potential for the discussion of modern and future media, some colleges and universities across the country have incorporated “Black Mirror” into their journalism and communications classes.

“The Twilight Zone,” which ran on CBS for five seasons from 1959 to 1964 and had several revivals, likely needs no description unless you just moved to Earth.

Professor LaReeca Rucker will teach the “Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone and Media” class. She encourages “Black Mirror” and “Twilight Zone” fans to register and enter a new dimension. Read the class Q & A below to learn more.

Q. Why were you inspired to create a class inspired by “Black Mirror” and “The Twilight Zone?”

A. After watching all the episodes of both series, I thought many of them tapped into important issues happening in our society regarding media and technology, offering a visionary warning about scenarios we could face if we aren’t careful. The episodes offer near future visions about issues involving social media, cyber security, cyber crime, digital privacy, digital voyeurism; technological inventions like drones, digital contacts and self-driving cars; and digital disconnection. Many of these scenarios are already happening in our world. We read about them daily in news stories. From city governments that become targets of ransomware attacks, to people who film crimes and accidents on their cell phones to share on social media rather than intervening and helping victims. And our world is very much influenced by social media. You’ll see eerie near future visions of this in “Black Mirror.”

LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker

Q. Is “Black Mirror” used by others in education?

A.Black Mirror” has been used by many people from different fields of study. If you take a look at some of the academic journal articles that have been written about the series, you’ll find papers written by experts in the fields of media and communication, sociology, science, technology, criminal justice, law, art, music, and literature, among others. Some papers discuss technological surveillance and privacy issues; the future of tech products, such as wearables; artificial intelligence; cultural issues, such as racial inequalities; and other philosophical topics that blend technology and spirituality.

Q. Are we living in a “Black Mirror” moment?

A. Yes. Some might say that we are currently living in a “Black Mirror” moment. We are on the verge of a situation that could go either way depending on how we respond now and in the future. If we seemingly resolve the current COVID-19 situation, some scientists have said it’s only a matter of time before another strain of this virus or another emerges to cause another pandemic. This is largely due to how we, as citizens of the planet, are handling many things, including negligently destroying forests and animal ecosystems, selling wild animals in wet markets, and factory farming, writers and scientists have said. These are the things that have led to viral spillovers. Authors and filmmakers have been warning us about this since 2011 in books like “Spillover” and movies like “Contagion,” and we weren’t prepared.

Today, when anything happens, it is amplified by technology. So one of the things we’ve seen during this crisis is an abundance of information. But much of that information has been conflicting, and it seems to indicate what can already be presumed – we don’t exactly know what’s happening or how this is going to turn out – but we have new information about it every second of the day.

There are also thoughts by some that “the media,” which for some includes everyone with a social media account these days, is influencing the events. I believe we – everyone on social media – are collectively influencing the response to this situation by voicing our opinions, and that is an interesting and somewhat disturbing thing to think about – the power we now have with social media to influence situations that we didn’t have in the past. You will see this scenario happening in several episodes of “Black Mirror.”

Q. Why is “Black Mirror” or “The Twilight Zone” educational? What can we learn from it?

A. “Black Mirror” has been called a modern version of “The Twilight Zone.” We’ll also be watching episodes of “The Twilight Zone” in this class. Rod Serling, the narrator of the show, was a brilliant writer with a heart for social justice. That comes through in many of his pieces that offer dystopian visions of society. Remember the iconic “Eye of the Beholder” episode with native Southerner Donna Douglas (of “The Beverly Hillbillies”) who just wants to look normal like everyone else, so she endures many operations to look like other members of her society, but ultimately does not succeed in her transformation, and she is devastated?

In the end, the audience sees that she looks like a model, but she has been having multiple operations to look like the “normal” people of her world with their distorted, frightening faces who live in a place ruled by a dictator. This is just one example of a “Twilight Zone” episode set in a dystopian world void of freedom and individuality. And what better way to talk about journalism, the First Amendment, the Constitution, and American freedoms than to contrast these privileges with fictional and real life examples of modern day government dystopias in which citizens have none of the freedoms that we as Americans enjoy.

Q. What can science fiction teach us about our society?

A. Anything that offers a prophetic warning can teach us things to avoid. In addition to offering warnings about our culture and society, there is a business angle that could be beneficial to companies. Futurism is a business concept that uses science fiction and forward thinking to predict long-term strategies and outcomes for companies. Some major companies have brought in teams of science fiction writers who can use their research and writing skills to predict what lies ahead for that company. This may help them make profitable decisions and avoid future crises that company leaders haven’t thought about. None of us can predict the future, but we can make smarter decisions with research, knowledge and innovation.

Class Description

Recognizing the show’s potential as a discussion starter about modern and future media, students will watch specific episodes of “Black Mirror” and think critically about the program. Through class discussions and writing exercises, they will envision the future of social media and technology. Some selected content will be hosted on a Black Mirror Project website.

This mind-bending class will also analyze topical developments and news stories related to the impact of social media on society. Students will read academic articles that have been written about “Black Mirror” and “The Twilight Zone.” Other science and speculative fiction movies and television shows will be examined. We’ll speculate about what the future holds, good and bad, with media and technology. And we’ll discuss what we can learn about journalism and a free society from science fiction visions of dystopias.

How will the class be taught?

Students who take this class will receive daily lesson plans on Blackboard with work they should complete before the following day. They may be asked to give short video presentations via Zoom, or to upload a video to YouTube so that other students can view their presentations.

We also plan to have weekly, state- and nationally-recognized speakers who can share their thoughts on the media and technology topics we discuss that will be broadcast in an optional live Zoom meeting or via video. Students will be asked to complete some writing projects that could be featured on our “Black Mirror” website:

They will be asked to engage in discussions in our Blackboard Discussion Forum with their classmates. They will be watching episodes of “Black Mirror” and “The Twlight Zone” on  Netflix (so they need a temporary subscription) throughout the course. We’ll also use social media platforms, such as Twitter, to communicate on some assignments. And we will (optionally) explore virtual reality, so it might be a good idea to purchase some inexpensive ($10 or less) VR glasses.

Harvard Political Review recently published the article Primetime Paranoia that mentions Rucker’s “Black Mirror” Project. The article explores “Black Mirror” and modern anxiety. You can read the story here:

You can also read student stories on The Black Mirror Project website at

Those interested in learning more about the class may register or email Rucker.



Column: COVID-19 experience showed me challenges and rewards of being an out-of-state student

Posted on: April 29th, 2020 by ldrucker

For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to attend college out of state. I never quite knew where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to leave my small Texas town.

Ole Miss was not my first choice when it came to picking a school. But, after a lot of deliberation between my mom and me, it seemed like the best fit without having to go too terribly far. By the time I had accepted my admission, I was starting my second semester as a senior in high school. As much as I loved the friends I grew up with, I was ready to see new things.

So, I graduated high school and headed west through New Orleans in August. My slate was clean, and I was scared, but ready to start four more years of school in a state I had never been to prior to my tour of the campus.

What unfolded in front of me the next three months of my fall semester and beyond was everything I wanted and never expected. I made friends with people I would never have back home. I had the ability to reinvent and find myself.  I joined the same sorority my mom was in and joined The Daily Mississippian as a designer. I focused on getting involved in these two groups as well as my grades and never looked back.

Katelyn Kimberlin

Katelyn Kimberlin, second from left, and friends.

Now, I’ve returned to the hometown I wanted to leave so much with a week’s worth of clothes, my computer, and books I brought home when I traveled for spring break. My dorm is still as I left it when I departed for the Memphis Airport on a Friday, not realizing that I wouldn’t see any of my belongings for months on end.

I was fortunate enough to trust my gut feeling to bring my computer and some of my work back with me, but many important belongings are still locked in my dorm. While I was not able to retrieve some of the items I needed when the dorms reopened, my mom was fortunate enough to drive my car from Memphis before the parking charges got too high.

Transitioning to remote learning has made me realize, like many others, I take a lot for granted. I am now almost completely reduced to my house unless I’m running essential errands for my mom. I can’t see hometown friends, go to the beach, or even go see a movie with my family.

Daily Mississippian

Daily Mississippian

I won’t design another front page until next semester, and the only reason to blame my horrible sleeping schedule on is myself. All of my college friends are up to a 23-hour drive away from me, instead of being just next door or two floors up.

I am very fortunate that I have a home to socially distance in and a functioning computer and wifi, but that doesn’t mean I can’t miss the university I’ve put so much time and effort into just to be told I won’t go back for another four months.

I know for a fact that many other students, including many of my friends, feel similar to me when I say it hasn’t been easy relocating yourself in a matter of a week. I had a coworker at The Daily Mississippian relocate back to her family in Japan. Out of all of my close friends, only one of them is a feasible driving distance from campus.

Talking to one of my hometown friends, she was shocked about how well I seemed to be taking the whole situation. I told her it was simply part of the deal of being an out-of-state student.

This conversation shocked me a little, but it made me fully realize what it meant to be a student attending a university outside of your home state. You move to the university of your choice, almost completely clean out your childhood room and leave many of the comforts you grew up knowing behind.

Family will always be there for football games and parents weekends, but you are forced to leave many of your friends and mentors behind for a chance to experience something new. The long flights and empty campuses when everyone leaves for a long weekend aren’t for everyone, but that also just comes with choosing to go out of state.

Despite this, I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Many might think that since I’m now spending my days in Texas instead of Mississippi, I have put my freshman experience “out of sight, out of mind” by now.

But some of the free time I have gotten since I have been home has made me realize that while there’s a lot of trouble that comes with being an out-of-state student, there’s a lot of great opportunities that come with it, too.

Katelyn Kimberlin is a designer for The Daily Mississippian. For more information about our programs, email 

School of Journalism and New Media professor speaks at Nobel Peace Prize event Oslo Peace Days

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ldrucker

A School of Journalism and New Media professor traveled to Oslo to be part of a panel at a Nobel Peace Prize event called Oslo Peace Days.

Zenebe Beyene, Ph.D., a professor and director of international programs who is from Ethiopia, was invited by the Norwegian Peace Research Institute to participate in a Dec. 9 panel discussion about developments in Ethiopia and possible regional implications. The panel also discussed Ethiopia’s potential role as a regional peacemaker.

Beyene was joined by Hilde Frafjord Johnson, of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo; Dan Banik, of the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Oslo; and Kjetil Tronvoll, of Bjørknes høyskole & Oslo Analytica. The panel was chaired by Henrik Urdal, the PRIO director.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and for his work to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea, according to The prize is also meant to recognize all stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.

The panel discussion is part of this year’s Oslo Peace Days set for Dec. 5-12 co-hosted by the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Nobel Peace Centre, PRIO, the University of Oslo, and the City of Oslo.

Earlier, we asked Beyene a few questions about the event and his professional goals as a peacemaker.

The front of the Nobel Peace Prize website.

The front of the Nobel Peace Prize website.

Q. What are some of the things you hope to discuss during the panel about Ethiopia developments? What do you hope to share with others who attend?

A. I hope to use the platform to discuss the recent development in Ethiopia and its regional implications. There are a number of factors that could explain the current ethnic tension and political uncertainties in the country. For example, religious diversity is one factor that helps us understand what’s happening  in the country.

Ethiopia is one of very few countries in the world where Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc. have lived together for centuries. Due to religious extremism and the rise of terrorism, the social fabric that existed for a long time is weakening. As a result, Ethiopia has witnessed the killings of people based on their beliefs, while places of worship have been targeted by radical groups.

Unless the government, in collaboration with its international allies, does something, the situation can get out of hand any time. And that will have serious regional implications.

For a long time, Ethiopia has been known for its relative stability in the turbulent region. From Somalia in the East Coast to Senegal in the West, the belt of the continent is in trouble, and Ethiopia has served as a center of gravity.

If Ethiopia loses its stability, so does the region. Ethiopia can’t afford to fail. The international community should be aware of the danger posed by radical groups and should be behind the reform process the nation has embarked on.

In a nutshell, I will use the platform to shed light on the contemporary security challenges the country faces and regional implications of those challenges.

Zenebe Beyene, Ph.D.

Zenebe Beyene, Ph.D.

Q. Do you think peacemaking or peace-building is talked about enough in our world or country?

A. Here is a general assessment based on my personal observation. Humans tend to focus on what divides us instead of what unites us. That seems to be the case in today’s America, for example.

What we see in the current political environment here in the U.S. is focusing on the differences between Republicans and Democrats. If we only focus on their discourse, it seems as if the two parties had been from two totally different worlds, having nothing in common.

Each claim that it is the only savior of the nation while depicting the other as the enemy of the people. To that end, they create and manufacture narratives to back up their claims. As a result, what we read, watch or listen to is filled with negative stories.

Some may assume that is only America’s problem. It is not. From Brexit to the tension between populism vs. nationalism in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, etc., as well as the ethnic and religious tensions in Asia and Africa are testaments to a new reality the world is now facing.

As a result, conflict has become a norm and stories dealing with peaceful coexistence have become rare.  It is true that conflict drives stories, but life is not only about conflict.

I hope politicians, opinion leaders, activists, etc. will understand the implications of their narratives to local, national, regional and global peace security and pay more attention to what they say. The news media also needs to shed light on stories that inspire and unify rather than on stories that perpetuate divisions.

Q. Is there anything I didn’t ask that you think would be important to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my views about this honor with you. I have accepted the invitation to attend the award ceremony and take part in the panel to discuss current developments in Ethiopia, its regional impact and to add Ethiopia’s perspective to the conversation. However, the opportunity to attend such an important event will help me learn new perspectives that would strengthen and enrich my teaching at the University of Mississippi.

In his will, Alfred Nobel stated that the Nobel Peace Prize was to be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

My attendance in the event and interaction with people from various backgrounds will help me add new perspectives to my teaching. That, in turn, will help me inspire the new generation of leaders here at the UM to think big and bring the “greatest benefit to mankind” in line with Alfred Nobel’s will, vision and dream.

Beyene earned his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in political science in 2012. He specializes in media in conflict and post-conflict societies. He has taught, researched and provided training in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United States.

He has served as a consultant for InterNews Network, US Agency for International Development, United Nations Development Programme, Voice of America, Pennsylvania University/Carnegie Foundation, Oxford University and Oxford University/U.K. Embassy in Ethiopia and Aadland Consult/IDEA International.

He has published or co-published work about tolerance and online debate in Ethiopia; the role of TeleCourt in changing conceptions of justice and authority in Ethiopia; the role of ICT in peacebuilding in Africa; media use and abuse in Ethiopia; and From an Emperor to the Derg and Beyond: Examining the Intersection of Music and Politics in Ethiopia.

Column: As a UM Ambassador, I helped new students realize Ole Miss is their home

Posted on: November 25th, 2019 by ldrucker

Check out IMC student Karly Caton’s journey to Ole Miss, where she became a UM Ambassador because she wanted to help other students feel welcome.

Caton, 21, is a senior from Virginia Beach, Virginia pursuing a bachelor’s degree in IMC with a minor in business and a specialization in public relations. She hopes to pursue a career in advertising.

Read her column on here.

Karly Caton

Karly Caton


Street takes PR students on a Memphis field trip to FedEx and St. Jude

Posted on: November 4th, 2019 by ldrucker

Students enrolled in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s public relations classes traveled to Memphis Oct. 29 to meet with public relations professionals, including several JNM alumni, at FedEx and St. Jude.

Assistant Dean Scott Fiene accompanied the group, along with adjunct instructor Bill Dabney.


An added bonus at FedEx was a visit from Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman PR. He was in town to meet with JMM graduate Jenny Robertson, who is FedEx vice president for corporate communications. Edelman briefly spoke to the students.

At FedEx in Memphis, Street found 10 of her former students in communication positions.

Pictured, from left, are Lillie Flenorl, communications specialist, FedEx Freight; Teresa Daniel, senior communications specialist, social media; Jenny Robertson, vice president, corporate communications; Natashia Gregoire, director of FedEx Freight communications; Street; Ed Coleman, communications advisor, internal communications (not a former student, but an alumnus); Caitlin Adams, communications principal, office of the president and COO; and Alex Shockey, manager of social media and content. Not pictured are Rachel Hammons Parks, senior marketing specialist, brand; Cacera Richmond, senior communications specialist, FedEx Freight; Janna Hughes, communications advisor, global citizenship; and Caitlin Berry, senior communications specialist, internal communications.

Photo credit: Bill Dabney

Third annual SPJ Scary Potluck for Journalists set for Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 4:30 p.m.

Posted on: October 25th, 2019 by ldrucker

Wohoho! Hahaha Hohoho! Wohaahaahaa! (Scary laugh.)

You are invited to bring a snack to the third annual SPJ Scary Potluck for Journalists!

Set for 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 30, all journalism and IMC students are invited.

In fact, all majors are welcome.

The event will be held in Room 126 inside Haunted Farley Hall.

Those who attend are asked to bring a snack to share with others.

You’re also asked to bring a few ideas about how we can grow our Society of Professional Journalists chapter that is open to both IMC and journalism students.

Costumes are encouraged, but not required.

Invite a friend. All are welcome. The event is open to anyone interested in journalism.

Come, if you dare!

Share the event to invite others!

For more information, contact LaReeca Rucker at

Documentary about Faulkner household set for Thursday, Oct. 24 in Overby Center

Posted on: October 21st, 2019 by ldrucker

Much has been written and broadcast about William Faulkner. But there has been nothing produced that talks about life in the Faulkner household from an insider’s point of view.

Thinking of Home: Falkner House and Rowan Oak is a 30-minute documentary featuring Oxford writer Larry Wells, who with his late wife Dean Faulkner Wells, lived at Falkner House, the home of Faulkner’s mother.

Wells and Bill Griffith, curator of Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak, narrate a video tour of both historic houses that includes historical photos, drone footage and Larry’s personal stories about the Faulkner family.

A black and white illustration featuring Faulkner's face with historic buildings in the background.

A black and white illustration featuring Faulkner’s face with historic buildings in the background.

The public is invited to the first open showing at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. The documentary was previously shown at the Faulkner Conference on campus last summer and in New Orleans at the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Birthday Bash in September.

Unlike Rowan Oak, Falkner House on South Lamar is not open to the public, thus the documentary provides a rare glimpse into the residence. (William’s parents spelled the name without the ‘u’). Virtually every day, Faulkner walked the half-mile from Rowan Oak to Falkner House to visit his mother, Maud Falkner. Her husband, Murry, died shortly after the house was built. In the 1920s Murry served as business manager at the University of Mississippi.

The Rowan Oak segment includes tales of family members staying at the home and incidents, such as when famed CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow phoned Faulkner. The fable about Judith, the family ghost, and her untimely death at the home is dramatized.

The documentary was produced by Dr. Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism in the School of Journalism and New Media, with videography by Mary Stanton Knight and Deborah Freeland, who also served as editor/director.

Drone footage was provided by Ji Hoon Heo, an instructional assistant professor at the School of Journalism and New Media. Music was recorded and performed by Diane Wang and Stacy Rodgers of the Ole Miss Department of Music. Archives and Special Collections, J.D. Williams Library, provided photographs.

Funding was provided by the School of Journalism and New Media and the Mississippi Film Alliance. The documentary will be donated to Rowan Oak. Plans call for it to be permanently available for viewing.

If you require special assistance relating to a disability, please contact Sarah Griffith at 662-915-7146 or via email at Please request accommodations as soon as possible to allow time for arrangements to be made.

Former CBS Sports executive producer teaches documentary film festival workshop

Posted on: October 20th, 2019 by ldrucker

A 13-time national Emmy Award-winning sports television producer recently returned to the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media to lead a 48-Hour Documentary Film Festival workshop.

Terry Ewert, former executive producer of CBS Sports, has won Emmys for writing and documentary filmmaking. He also led production for the coverage of three Olympic games at NBC Sports and the Atlanta Olympic Committee.

Hattiesburg native Lucy Burnam, 22, a journalism graduate student focusing on photography and video, was a member of the winning student team that included Allen Brewer and Andranita Williams. The aspiring novelist and photographer said the workshop required students to complete an intensive storytelling project.

Terry Ewert, right, speaks to a student. He recently led a workshop at the School of Journalism and New Media.

Terry Ewert, right, speaks to a student. He recently led a workshop at the School of Journalism and New Media.

“You have 48 hours to pitch an idea, get a green light for it, and then physically go shoot the whole thing before finally editing it all together,” she said. “So basically, it’s a fairly large task condensed into a short period of time that’s do-able, but every second counts.”

Burnam said Thursday night involved pitching the story idea and creating shot lists and a production schedule. Students captured video around Oxford Friday and edited Saturday.

“It was extremely intense, but I recommend people do it to test their limits, because you might end up surprising yourself,” said Burnam, whose favorite part was working with others to edit the stories by deadline.

“Editing anything, especially video, is one of the most nit-picky processes,” she said, “and being under such a looming deadline was stressful. But the professors involved, as well as my team and the other students, really made it a day I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. We all just sat in the same room and laughed together, maybe cried a little too, until it was all finished. Quite the bonding experience.”

Burnam’s project was about a teammate’s father, who began experiencing shortness of breath during the summer, before learning he had two heart blockages.

Professor Michael Fagans, who helped lead the workshop, said he hopes students learned the important elements of creating a documentary and some lessons about themselves.

“(I hope) they learned where their growing edges are, the level of effort that it takes to see a project to the end, how they can apply these skills to their final class projects in other courses,” he said.

Burnam said students enjoyed the camaraderie.

“I bonded with my team and really learned how to acclimate to a group setting quickly,” she said. “Personally, I hope we all learned that we can accomplish a lot under a short period of time if we really put our minds to it.

For more information, contact Assistant Dean Debora Wenger at 662-915-7146 or

Mississippi artist Marshall Ramsey drawing students to his Ole Miss classroom

Posted on: August 27th, 2019 by ldrucker

An award-winning cartoonist is sharing his talents at the School of Journalism and New Media this fall.

Marshall Ramsey is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, editorial cartoonist and editor-at-large at Mississippi Today. When his pair of illustrations published in The Clarion-Ledger memorializing the passing of Barbara and George H.W. Bush went viral in 2018, Assistant Dean and Professor Debora Wenger said Ole Miss’s School of Journalism and New Media took notice.

“When I saw that Marshall’s cartoon had captured the attention of the nation, I thought, ‘This is a man who is a good friend of our school. He’s been a Pulitzer finalist multiple times. He’s an amazing speaker and teacher. Why have we not had him on campus teaching a class before?’” Wenger said.

The course meets on Mondays from 4-6:30 p.m. Coursework involves discussions, marketing advice and weekly drawings based on current events. Since fall is an election season, Ramsey has said he will invite politicians, candidates and other newsmakers to speak in class and provide material for students of all skill levels to draw.

“You don’t need to be a fine artist to come in (to the class),” Ramsey said.

He says a good editorial cartoon is 85 percent idea.

“You have to have humor that everyone can relate to, and you have to be on top of the issues to know what’s going on,” he said. “But, truly, a great editorial cartoon has a great idea behind it. There are ideas that just sometimes speak to people, and that’s when you know you’ve succeeded in creating something.”

There are no pre-requirements for the class, and students from all majors with passions in storytelling through visual mediums were encouraged to attend.

“I hope that the chance to work with a Pulitzer-nominated cartoonist and amazing artist will intrigue students beyond journalism to see some of the creative classes we offer,” Wenger said.

Although many newsrooms across the country are cutting editorial cartoons to save money, Ramsey said cartoons are not going anywhere and are increasingly relevant in a visual-based, social-media savvy society.

“Editorial cartoons get a lot of information across very quickly,” Ramsey said. “They truly are made for these times.”

It did not take much to convince Ramsey to teach at Ole Miss, as he says the “gorgeous campus,” “many friends” and students in Oxford make it worth it.

“It recharges me because it’s fun to be around the students and their energy,” Ramsey said. “It makes me not get stagnant. I enjoy any chance I can to come up to Oxford and be able to contribute a little bit of my talent.”

This story was first published on

UM School of Journalism and New Media launches new Talbert Fellows program

Posted on: August 25th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media is seeking future journalism and communications students in Mississippi and beyond for a unique program designed to provide exclusive opportunities.

Incoming journalism and integrated marketing communication students with great potential and strong work portfolios are encouraged to apply to become Talbert Fellows, an elite cohort within the school. The program launched Aug. 1 and will begin this fall.

Talbert Fellows will be selected based on a portfolio of their best submitted work in print, broadcast, integrated marketing communication, photography, etc. rather than their GPA or ACT scores. Applicants should begin submitting work in the fall of 2019 and follow the UM scholarship application process.

The Talbert Fellows program will offer scholarship opportunities and financial assistance in addition to other funding students might receive, special events, personalized attention and coaching from faculty, reporting trips and a possible travel budget.

“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,” said Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of Journalism Debra Wenger, Ph.D. “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.”

Farley Hall. Photo by Clay Patrick.

Assistant Dean and Associate Professor Scott Fiene said the School of Journalism and New Media is pleased to launch a program that offers more than just financial assistance.

“This will also create a unique cohort of students who get opportunities for faculty coaching, reporting trips, possibly special class sections, and a lot more,” he said. “It’s truly a win for students and a milestone in the evolution of our school.”

R.J. Morgan, director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, said there are many high school students across the country who are proving they are skilled thinkers and innovators at a young age.

“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 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 request an interview about the Talbert Fellows program, contact Wenger at 662-915-7912 or