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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.”

NewsLab: Black women editors discuss challenges and change in journalism

Posted on: November 1st, 2022 by ldrucker

A 2018 survey by the American Society of News Editors, the most recent data available, found only 7.19% of full-time newsroom employees were Black. Only about 20% of those Black employees were in leadership positions, and there is no data on how many of those leaders are Black women.

A conversation with three Black women in top editorial positions in the South revealed that getting into those roles is often just the beginning of the challenges.

A stack of newspapersJewell Walston, executive editor of The Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina, said leading through times of financial uncertainty, media distrust, and competition from social media has been challenging.

“We recently had a reduction in force in the USA Today Network. Leading up to it, of course, were plenty of questions. Everyone wants to know how is this going to affect me and am I going to be in the reduction. For me, I let them know, ‘Listen, I am just where you are. I have the same concerns. But what’s important for day-to-day is to focus on why you came into the business, what we still want to accomplish, and today’s assignment. You have to play through that and control what you can control,'” Walston said.

To read the full article, visit NewsLab.org.

Read about our new University of Mississippi Student Media Center leaders

Posted on: October 18th, 2022 by ldrucker

Anna Caroline Barker in the Student Media Center.Anna Caroline Barker – NewsWatch Ole Miss Station Manager

For Anna Caroline Barker, a journalism graduate student from Nashville, being on television has been a lifelong dream.

“Growing up, I always wanted to be on TV, whether it was the news or the weather,” she said. “NewsWatch Ole Miss has made me one step closer to making that dream a reality.”

Prior to serving as the NewsWatch Ole Miss manager, Barker worked as a news correspondent, building her newsreel and making invaluable connections.

“NewsWatch has opened so many doors for me, and I have gained some great experience and met some amazing people along the way,” she said. “NewsWatch has not only prepared me for the TV journalism business experience-wise, but also has given me connections to stations in many places, even outside the South.”

Barker says she owes her growth as a journalist to NewsWatch and the Student Media Center.

“I truly wish I’d become part of the SMC sooner,” she said. “NewsWatch has pushed me to do things I didn’t believe I was capable of doing. It has taught me how to be a leader and how to work as a team. Everyone around you cares about your success and wants to see you improve. So, if you’re even just thinking about joining the SMC, go for it! You won’t regret it, and you will accomplish things you never even knew you could.”

 

Jaylin Jones in the Student Media CenterJaylin Jones – Advertising Sales Manager

Jaylin Jones, a senior Real Estate major from Lucedale, Miss., will serve as advertising sales manager for the fall semester after having previously held the position in spring 2022. Jones, who was drawn to Ole Miss by the “wide variety of opportunities and resources within the School of Business,” joined the Student Media Center after stumbling upon a listing for a sales position.

“The SMC offers many positions that are very versatile,” said Jones. “Every position in the office is one that will stand out on a resume and prepare you for a postgraduate career. The opportunities are prevalent, the work is fun and the experience is never-ending.”

His future plans include completing his degree and becoming a real estate analyst, eventually becoming a real estate investor and owning his own property management company.

“I simply plan to continue what I started at the SMC,” said Jones. “Hopefully, I will have a long and successful career in sales.”

 

Rabria Moore in the Student Media CenterRabria Moore – The Daily Mississippian, Editor-in-Chief

Rabria Moore has always known she was meant to be a writer, and that is exactly what drew her to the Student Media Center and The Daily Mississippian.

“I’m able to use words to paint pictures and tell stories about people’s lives,” she said, “and that’s definitely been the best part of working in the Student Media Center.”

Moore, a senior journalism and political science double major from Durant, Mississippi, came to Ole Miss specifically because of its journalism program. It was on her first tour with former Dean of the Student Media Center Patricia Thompson that Moore was introduced to the SMC.

“[Dean Thompson] showed me around the SMC and introduced me to so many different opportunities that I could pursue,” said Moore. “She’s a large part of why I chose Ole Miss.”

Before becoming editor-in-chief, Moore worked in several roles at the The Daily Mississippian, from writer to assistant news editor, and now her current position. After graduation, Moore hopes to write for a national or international news organization, a goal she confidently pursues thanks to her experience with the SMC.

“The different jobs I’ve been able to do, from writing to editing to managing a team of editors, has been very beneficial,” she said. “The SMC has also placed me in positions to meet people who I never would have met otherwise. It is not only a great place to work, but it’s also good for networking opportunities. You get a taste of what it’s like to work in journalism; being here helps you determine if this is what you want to do for the rest of your life.”

 

Audrey Mulholland in the Student Media CenterAudrey Mulholland – The Ole Miss Yearbook, Editor-in-Chief

Audrey Mulholland, a junior integrated marketing communications student from St. Louis is this year’s yearbook editor-in-chief. Mulholland previously served two years as the yearbook business manager before moving into her current position.

“I learned so much from [the business manager] position, but I never imagined myself being the editor,” said Mulholland. “Taking this role has pushed me far beyond my comfort zone in the best way possible.”

Mulholland and her staff have been working hard to fill the 360-page yearbook that will ultimately serve as permanent documentation of the school year, something Mulholland finds exciting.

“I love that The Ole Miss is such a staple part of our school’s history, because it serves as an archive for so many years in the past,” she said. “So much time and effort goes into it each year, and it lasts forever, and I’m so proud of what we are able to give the students each year. I’m so excited to be part of something that is such a large and lasting piece of Ole Miss history.”

Mulholland encourages any student who is interested in media to join the Student Media Center.

“The SMC offers so many amazing opportunities for student-led publications and productions that can serve as a lasting portfolio long after you have left Ole Miss.”

 

Jillian Russell in the Student Media CenterJillian Russell – Rebel Radio Station Manager

Junior Jillian Russell, a business major from Brandon, Mississippi, never thought she would return to Mississippi to finish school but, according to her, “It’s funny how things work out.”

Russell, who originally attended an out-of-state university, transferred to Ole Miss to earn her degree. Since then, Russell has become incredibly involved in the Student Media Center, first serving as a Rebel Radio DJ and station marketing director before moving into her current role as station manager.

“I love music, and I knew upon transferring that I wanted to find a creative outlet on campus,” said Russell. “[The SMC and Rebel Radio] seemed like the best of both worlds.”

Russell, who plans to pursue a career in the music industry, loves the collaborative nature of her role.

“I love how interpersonal and hands-on it is,” she said. “Wherever I end up, I think I will always apply the lessons I’ve learned from being a manager.”

You can learn more about the Student Media Center here. If you are interested in becoming a part of it, reach out to one of the leaders.

Daily Mississippian editor selected for New York Times Corps

Posted on: October 10th, 2022 by ldrucker

The editor-in-chief for The Daily Mississippian has been selected to participate in a New York Times journalism program designed to mentor young journalists.

Rabria Moore was chosen to be part of The New York Times Corp, a talent-pipeline program for college students to receive career guidance from NYT journalists over a multiyear period.

Rabria Moore sits outside in front of pink flowers.

Rabria Moore

Moore was one of 20 young journalists selected from among hundreds of applicants. The students will be paired with a Times adviser, with whom they will meet two or three times a year throughout their undergraduate careers. Those conversations will focus primarily on career-building advice. Moore will also have the opportunity to learn from speakers and other activities.

“In the program, I receive mentorship from a New York Times reporter,” Moore said. “My mentor is Steven Lee Myers. He’s a foreign and national security correspondent, currently based in California (https://www.nytimes.com/by/steven-lee-myers).”

Moore said she was excited to learn she had been selected.

“I applied for this program because I think mentorship is important, and I wanted to specifically have a mentor from a national news organization to help me navigate and break into the journalism industry.”

Moore is pursuing a dual degree in political science and journalism with a news-editorial emphasis while leading The Daily Mississippian staff. She is also a member of the UM chapter of the Association of Black Journalists, one of the Ole Miss Ambassadors and a member of the Columns Society.

“In terms of career goals, I see myself first as a political journalist, covering politics,” she said. “After some experience, I’d like to become an international journalist.”

Andrea Hickerson, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, as well as associate dean and professor, is the new dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media. Hickerson is a respected researcher, educator and administrator whose vision for the school involves preparing students to succeed in an evolving modern media landscape and deal with ongoing technological and social changes. Submitted photo

Andrea Hickerson, Ph.D.

Andrea Hickerson, Ph.D., professor and dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said Moore is a wonderful leader who consistently shows initiative for learning and creating new opportunities for herself and others.

“For example, if it weren’t for Rabria, we wouldn’t be hosting New York Times opinion editor Kathleen Kingsbury,” said Hickerson. “Rabria connected with her and her team at NABJ (the National Association of Black Journalists conference).”

Kingsbury is set to speak at the UM School of Journalism and New Media Thursday, Oct. 13.

“The NYT Corp will give Rabria another opportunity to showcase and build her talents,” Hickerson said. “She will create a large, well-connected professional network that I expect will look out for her in the future.”

Larz Roberts is the new director of the S. Gale Denley Media Center.

Larz Roberts

Larz Roberts, director of the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center, said Moore is sharp.

“It doesn’t take long to realize that she has the potential to go as far as she wants,” he said. “She has the tools to take whatever practical experience and opportunities (are) coming her way and take full advantage. This one is no exception. And this is a huge opportunity to boot.”

Moore hopes to gain more insight into journalism by participating in the NYT program.

“My ultimate goal is to become an international journalist, so I’m really happy to have Myers as my mentor,” Moore said. “I’ve learned a little bit about him and his time as a journalist, and I hope to gain more knowledge about the field from him. The New York Times is also one of my favorite news organizations, so learning from reporters who’ve worked there is definitely something I’m looking forward to.”

The Times Corps is meant specifically for students from underrepresented groups in journalism, such as students of color and/or students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, according to the NYT website about the program. Access to quality career guidance stands as a critical challenge to many students seeking to be journalists. Applications will open again in spring 2023.

Along with The New York Times Fellowship and The New York Times Editing Residency, the Times Corps seeks to develop a deep and diverse talent pool, both for The Times and journalism at large.

To see the full list of NYT Corps members: https://www.nytco.com/press/introducing-the-inaugural-members-of-the-new-york-times-corps/

LaReeca Rucker wrote this story.

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.

Don’t miss the Farley Things Welcome Event Thursday, Sept. 1

Posted on: August 29th, 2022 by ldrucker

The graphic promotes the Farley Things event that will be happening Sept. 1

 

We hope to see you “Running up That Hill” to Farley Hall Thursday, Sept. 1 when we host the “Farley Things” Welcome Event.

Current journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) students, as well as others interested in learning more about our programs, are invited to the 1980s-themed “Stranger Things” Welcome Week 2022 event that will begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day until 5:30 p.m.

There will be exciting activities including an involvement fair, an opportunity to meet some of the school’s professors, 1980s music, and students are encouraged to wear ’80s or “Stranger Things” attire.

Here are the events:

Involvement Fair: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., meet the leaders of student organizations, explore opportunities, and collect free stickers and prizes. This will be located on the first floor in the hallway near the Overby auditorium.

Pops With Profs: From 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., grab a popsicle and chat with School of Journalism and New Media professors.

80s Jam Sesh with the Dean: From 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., wear your BEST 1980s or “Stranger Things” attire and join the fashion fun and dance party on the Farley Hall lawn. We want to see your best dance moves. There will be prizes and trivia.

Calling all fashion entrepreneurs: Do you have a clothing business you’d like to show off at “Farley Things?” We want to see your style. Join the fashion show on the Farley Hall lawn by dressing in your best 1980s-inspired fashion. Interested? CONTACT ccsparks@olemiss.edu or umjimcambassadors@gmail.com for details before 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Let’s make “Farley Things” fun. Attend the event, make new friends, have fun with your major, and help us defeat the mind flayer while dancing and enjoying popsicles in killer outfits, of course.

Travel Changes You: University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professors reflect on impact of study abroad in Italy

Posted on: August 25th, 2022 by ldrucker
Some of the students who participated in the study abroad trip to Italy.

Some of the students who participated in the study abroad trip to Italy. Photo by Mark Dolan.

Each night in his Florence apartment, Mark Dolan opened the shutters of the screenless windows and let the cool air rush in as he fell asleep to the sound of people talking on the cobblestone streets four stories down.

“Many of them (were) leaving the bars, some laughing, others arguing, and though I don’t speak much Italian, I understood much,” he said. “Their voices would rise amid the terracotta tile roofs.”

Getting used to the rhythms of Italian life changed Dolan, his three colleagues and the 52 students who participated in a study abroad program in Italy this summer.

Dolan, a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media associate professor of multimedia journalism, taught an 8 a.m. photography class called “Smartphone Storytelling” that covered shooting and editing with iPhones and using layering and masking techniques to produce images that could be journalistic or fine art.

“It’s a kind of immersion in a place, and then you realize you’ve only scratched the surface …,” Dolan said. “After the first photo assignment, much of the challenge was how to escape the cliches – the wine glasses, motor scooters, and espresso cups …

Hillside homes in Italy above the water.

Hillside homes in Italy above the water. Photo by Mark Dolan.

“To attempt this in a country so visually rich was rewarding professionally … The cities we inhabited became expansive classrooms, these actual ancient cities of Renaissance – Florence, Venice, Rome.”

Dolan said he hopes the experience enriched his students.

“Being in college is the perfect age to stand on your own in a world that is utterly different from everything you know – and to be responsible for yourself and the deadlines within what were often 12-hour days,” he said. “You come to understand yourself, paradoxically, by being outside of yourself. It’s a wonderful moment of change, of becoming, a hugely empowering experience.”

The group spent three weeks in Florence with side trips that included San Gimignano, Chianti, Pisa and Venice. After leaving Florence, they spent four days in Sorrento and a final week in Rome with a stop at Vesuvius and Pompeii.

R. J. Morgan, Ph.D, associate instructional professor of journalism and IMC, taught a course called “Writing With Voice.” He was impressed by how students articulated their sights, sounds and emotions when newly experiencing many strange-but-beautiful settings.

“Having the ability to slow down and pay attention to the world around you at a deep enough level to be able to write about it is a useful skill both professionally and personally,” he said. “The more details you’re trained to notice and observe, the more vivid and lasting those memories will be.”

Ben Johnson and other students have a meal together in Italy.

Ben Johnson and other students have a meal together in Italy. Photo by Mark Dolan.

Christina Sparks, instructional associate professor of integrated marketing communication, said she taught “Brand and Relationship Strategies.” Students learned how brands are positioned and marketed differently in different countries.

“They discovered new brands, as well as current brands,” said Sparks. “One example is Nutella. It is an Italian brand that is well developed in Europe, but marketed differently in the U.S.”

Students also explored cultural communication considerations of global brands and presented their research to the class.

“You get to know them and have the opportunity to be a part of their expanding perspective and deeper learning experience as they explore different cultures and develop broader thinking,” she said.

Jason Cain, Ph.D., interim IMC program coordinator and assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, taught a class called “Global Communication Systems.” Cain enjoyed witnessing students navigate Rome.

“It’s a big city that just so happens to be built into and on top of a very old city,” he said. “Many students find it quite daunting, and a lot of them never quite get over the culture shock. However, many of them do, and by the last couple of days, have really dug themselves into what I believe is one of the prettiest cities on Earth.”

Cain said he hopes students realize people are both different and similar, which creates opportunities and complications in global communication. He hopes students grow from stepping outside of their own experiences, and that the trip made them curious and hungry for more adventures.

“There’s no doubt a level of privilege involved in being able to travel around the world,” he said. “I’m constantly trying to find ways to make it more accessible for more students because I feel that, for those who can, when you are put in a situation where you are in a place long enough to be something more than a tourist, I think it changes you.”

Cain said he was changed by traveling abroad, and he has witnessed the same growth in students.

“I hope at the end of the day, they better comprehend that there are people in all these places all over the globe not so different from them with their own hopes, dreams, and fears,” he said.

In fact, one Sunday in Rome, Dolan attended Mass with Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica. While in line with a family from Wichita, he learned he needed a ticket. So a priest from South Korea took off his backpack and generously gave Dolan the extra one he had.

“The family held my place in line, and I ended up on the front row,” Dolan said. “There I was on a floor consisting of tiny mosaic tiles from the 1600s – no pews, folding chairs – and getting to hear a living pope. Awesome.”

To learn more about this study abroad trip, the courses offered, and the School of Journalism and New Media’s future adventures, visit this website for updates: https://omjabroad.squarespace.com/about

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

School of Journalism and New Media professors offer advice for college students

Posted on: August 19th, 2022 by ldrucker

The graphic features a cork board with pins and reads Advice for Students

A new semester has begun at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, and some of our professors are offering the following advice to students:

Graham Bodie

Graham Bodie

Listen to Other Perspectives. Graham Bodie, Ph.D., professor of integrated marketing communication, said go to class and ask questions that provide deeper understanding, especially around issues that are complex and infused with multiple diverse perspectives.

“Learn to hold two or more seemingly contradictory perspectives as plausible before accepting or rejecting anything out-of-hand,” he said. “Try to read something or talk to someone who disagrees with you every day.”

Speak Up. Bodie said speak with passion and confidence toward a position you feel strongly about and about which you have some knowledge and/or experience, and always listen like you might be wrong.

You Might Be Wrong. “Don’t be surprised when you are wrong, and don’t treat others’ wrongness as a weapon to wield in a battle over who gets to win an argument that may not actually have a single right answer,” he said.

When you have the privilege of being in a position of power, Bodie said “leverage the diversity of views and perspectives on those large, messy, complex problems with which you have been tasked, and take risks on solutions that involve collective intelligence.”

Fail. And remember, we sometimes learn by failing.

“Fail here, while you can do so in a ‘safe’ environment,” he said. “Don’t read ‘safe’ as an environment that makes you feel comfortable. You should sometimes be uncomfortable.”

Emily Bowen-Moore

Emily Bowen-Moore

Communication is Key. Emily Bowen-Moore, instructional associate professor of integrated marketing communication, said to communicate with instructors.

“It makes all the difference in the world,” she said.

Elizabeth Allen Estes

Elizabeth Allen Estes

Read the Directions. Elizabeth Allison Estes, adjunct instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, shared this message:

“Dear Gen Z Student, You are so wonderful in so many ways. But having grown up entirely immersed in digital technology, you tend to assume that you can accomplish tasks intuitively. You will save us both a lot of extra work and sadness if you will read the directions FIRST, and then just follow them. With great affection, Professor Gen X.”

Senior Lecturer Robin Street discusses a class project with two students in her PR Case Studies class. From left, are IMC major Jessica Lanter, Street and IMC major Naiomei Young. Photo by Maddie Bridges.

Robin Street

Record Due Dates in a Calendar. Robin Street, adjunct instructor of integrated marketing communications, said her advice is basic, but effective.

“At the beginning of the semester, get all your syllabi together,” she said. “Then get a calendar, either a hard copy or a digital one. Carefully go through each syllabus and highlight every due date. Then, one by one, put all those dates on your master calendar.

“Yes, it will be tedious, but it will help you so much. If due dates change, be sure and go back and change your calendar.”

Write Reminders. Street said it’s helpful to make note of items a week or two before the due date.

“Write on your calendar on Oct. 15 that a paper is due in two weeks. That way, dates don’t sneak up on you.”

Work Each Day. Street’s second piece of advice is to devote a little time daily towards a big project.

“The longer you put that project off, the bigger it gets,” she said. “I do this myself when I have a lot of papers to grade. I devote one hour to grading. I don’t get them all graded, of course, but it makes headway. Then, the next day, I devote another hour.”

Kristen Alley Swain

Kristen Alley Swain

Build Your Skills. Kristen Alley Swain, Ph.D., associate professor of journalism, said search for ads for your dream job(s). Then make a list of the skills and background these employers want that you could obtain while enrolled at UM.

“College is the easiest time to do this – because right now, you have the resources and support to do it,” she said. “For instance, you might produce content for a nonprofit or campus office, attend events related to your interests to help you network, and volunteer for leadership roles in a student club.

“Use every course to help build your professional ‘toolbox’ — add skills, perspectives, experiences, knowledge, content, publications, and other deliverables that will help you succeed in a tough job market. Demonstrating tenacity, a strong work ethic, effective time management habits, and a willingness to actively participate in every class will greatly help you get good references and launch a fantastic career.”

Stefanie Goodwiller

Stefanie Goodwiller

Talk to Your Professors. Stefanie Goodwiller, adjunct instructor of media design, said don’t be afraid to ask questions.

“If you are unsure of something, ask your professor before asking your peers,” she said.

Debbie Woodrick Hall

Debbie Woodrick Hall

Set Goals. Debbie Woodrick Hall, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communication, shared a few Ole Miss Student Survival Tips written by Bonnie Brown. 

“So maybe you haven’t answered the question of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up,’” Brown said. “The Career Center can help with that. But you can set some goals for the semester—a certain GPA, some type of behavior modification, establish an exercise routine, actively participate in class. Whatever it is, make it yours, and set yourself up for success! You got this!”

Robert Magee

Robert Magee

Use Memory Recall. Robert Magee, Ph.D., associate professor of integrated marketing communication, said a good way to prepare for a test is to use a blank sheet of paper.

“Write down everything you can remember,” he said. “Then, compare it to your notes to see what you missed. Recall memory is much more difficult than recognition memory, so this will give you an idea of how well you are prepared.”

Define a Concept. “When you’re trying to master a concept, see if you can define it in your own words in no more than two sentences,” Magee said. “If you can’t define it in two sentences or less, then you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s a sign of muddled or half-baked thinking. To write well, you first must think well.”

Lynette Johnson

Lynette Johnson

Look for Opportunities. Lynnette Johnson, Ed.D, said, “Be open to unexpected opportunities that arise. Walk through that door of opportunity…you never know where it may lead. If you don’t ask, then the answer is already ‘No.’”

Ellen Meacham

Ellen Meacham

Get Involved. Ellen Meacham, adjunct assistant professor of journalism instruction, said attend every panel discussion, guest speaker or free event you can.

“It’s a great chance to learn about the world from people who are out there in it,” she said. “You will never have such a distinguished, informed, cross-section of experts so easily accessible again. You will learn a lot, and it’s also a great way to make contacts and network for future internships and jobs.”

Mike Tonos

Mike Tonos

Come to Class. Mike Tonos, journalism coordinator and instructional associate professor, said show up and get to know your instructor, even if that means a one-time, short, one-on-one meeting. This applies across the board, not just to in-person classes.

“For all, do the work you’re assigned,” he said. “In my classes, you’ll get at least some credit for turning in your assignments. The alternative is an automatic zero.”

Debora Wenger

Debora Wenger

Remember — it all matters. Debora Wenger, Ph.D., associate dean, said there’s no such thing as “syllabus day.”

“Seriously, make every class period count and stay on top of assignments,” she said. “It’s always going to be easier to do well in a course if you avoid falling behind.

“Pro tip: Take advantage of every extra credit opp — you never know when you’ll need those three more points.”

School of Journalism and New Media Assistant Dean Simmons promoted to Provost’s Office

Posted on: August 12th, 2022 by ldrucker

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi community members have been promoted to executive positions in the Office of the Provost.

Virginia Rougon Chavis and Jennifer Simmons, former assistant dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, have been named associate provost and assistant provost, respectively. They will assist Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, in supervising personnel and supporting office operations.

“Both Professor Chavis and Ms. Simmons have been long-time, valued members of our university community, and are well-respected by their colleagues,”  Wilkin said.

Virginia Rougon Chavis

“While they have fulfilled different roles and responsibilities on our campus – Professor Chavis rising in the faculty ranks and Ms. Simmons rising in the staff ranks – both will bring their unique experiences and expertise to the office. I am excited about the valuable contributions they both will make to the Office of the Provost and the University of Mississippi.”

Chavis served as chair of the Department of Art and Art History for almost seven years. She also served on the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Council and the Honors Selection Committee, and was selected as an SEC Academic Leadership Development Program fellow.

“I enjoy working with people and talking to them,” Chavis said. “I enjoy solving problems, coming up with the best solution and seeing things through the eyes of others.”

Her short-term goals are to make improvements to some of the things she learned over the past year as acting associate provost, including providing structured opportunities for administrators to have conversations about addressing challenges and celebrating accomplishments in their units.

Chavis also plans to continue monthly chair and director workshops and include interactive exercises on the agenda along with the regular announcements.

“I am working to create a yearlong curriculum for new chairs,” she said. “This curriculum will equip those new administrators with the resources and contacts they need to be provide successful leadership within their own units.

“Lastly, I have been working with the Counseling Center on campus to address their needs to help individuals on campus. The need for mental health care is important to the health of all individuals on campus.”

Jennifer A. Simmons

Chavis’s long-term goals include addressing the lack of space on campus, creating a pathway for personnel to advance professionally and expanding the Early Learning Program to fruition.

“It is important to note that last year, the first Provost Faculty Research Scholar for Institutional Transformation was selected,” she said. “This new position supports the expansion of university efforts to build a collaborative research team dedicated to the efforts of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Simmons earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s in higher education from the University of Southern Mississippi. A member of the Ole Miss faculty since 2002, she has served on numerous academic and administrative committees.

Simmons said she believes her perspective is somewhat unique since she has worked in both student affairs and academic affairs.

“My former position in the School of Journalism and New Media was a student affairs-type role in an academic unit,” she said. “I understand what it takes to get students to attend UM and what it takes to get them to graduate from UM.

“I want to be a listening ear to be someone who can become a valuable resource to students and faculty by answering questions and providing guidance on concerns they may have.”

What’s Next? Journalism and IMC graduates tell us their next career moves

Posted on: August 1st, 2022 by ldrucker

Many of our University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduates are embarking on new adventures in jobs or internships. Here are some of our most recent updates about grads who are taking on the #RealWorldRightNow.

This is a photo of Thomas Lee standing in front of green trees.

Gulfport native Thomas Lee, a University of Mississippi graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with an emphasis in International Conflict and Cooperation and Arabic with a minor in Spanish. He is now an IMC graduate student.

He said he decided to shift to IMC for graduate studies because he has always had a passion for language, culture, and graphic design. He has been working as an intern at BBDO (short for Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn, a merger between two companies), one of the largest advertising agency networks in the world with more than 15,000 people in 289 agencies across 81 countries.

Lee said his best advice to other journalism and IMC students is to “always have an open mind and apply, apply, apply.”

“I went on a massive LinkedIn internship hunt and got hundreds of rejection emails, but it’s important to not get discouraged,” he said. “ . . .  I truly believe that I would not have been in this position if I did not put myself out there – you never know what can happen if you do.”

Crick holds her diploma while wearing her cap and gown at graduation.

Greenwood native Micah Crick, 22, started working remotely as an account management intern at BBDO Atlanta before moving there to continue working for the company.

“I found the job by deciding I wanted to work for one of BBDO’s offices,” said Crick, who was originally assigned to an account management team working on competitive research and providing support before she was promoted to business affairs coordinator. Now, she assists business managers in the Business Affairs Department.

The recent UM graduate, who studied integrated marketing communications with a specialization in visual design and a minor in general business, felt like she wasn’t involved in campus activities until her senior year of college. Then, she decided to say “yes” to everything she could. That led to new opportunities, including work with BBDO.

Crick became the visuals editor for The Daily Mississippian her senior year, sold advertising for HottyToddy.com, was involved with the National Student Advertising Competition with Instructional Associate Professor Chris Sparks’ campaign class, and she interned for Parents of College Students/662 Marketing.

The graphic features people climbing a ladder and reads: Our grads tell us What's Next?

Liz Corbus graduated from Ole Miss in 2017. The IMC graduate now works at TikTok.

After graduation, Corbus was employed as a digital account coordinator at Warner Media. That led to her current job as a client solutions manager at TikTok for their Beauty and Personal Care Department. She works directly with mid-market beauty advertisers to grow their brand identity through marketing efforts using the TikTok platform.

Liz Corbus

“Month over month, I’m responsible for making sure that clients meet their key performance indicators (KPI),” said Corbus, “but ultimately, we want them to grow their business using TikTok. My day-to-day includes a lot of creative best practices.

“A lot of people are still trying to figure out how advertising works on TikTok because they think it’s apples-to-apples like Instagram or Facebook. But, creativity is the number one driver of success on TikTok. So, if you don’t have the resources or the creative strategy to run ads on TikTok, it’s gonna be a little bit harder.”

Daniel Payne

Daniel Payne graduated in 2020 with a journalism degree and started his career as a reporter for The Desoto Times-Tribune. He said his experience as editor-in-chief for The Daily Mississippian taught him a lot about what was to come in his professional career.

“The Mississippian was maybe the most important part of my education at UM,” said Payne. “Every aspect of that work showed me what a newsroom was all about and gave me a taste of what a career in journalism would actually be like. It confirmed my love for journalism.

“There’s no replacing planning, writing, and editing stories that will have real impact, even if it is just in the university or Oxford. I wasn’t sure if I was up to the challenges that came with all that, but I am so thankful for everyone who encouraged me to go for it. There really isn’t a workday that I don’t use what I learned at The Mississippian.”

Payne landed his first job at The Desoto Times-Tribune, then a full-time fellowship with POLITICO. He is now a full-time reporter at POLITICO after completing his fellowship there.

Natalie Pruitt

Natalie Pruitt graduated with an IMC degree in 2021. After going through the arduous process of job hunting, Pruitt finally landed her current job with FleishmanHillard (FH) as an assistant account executive, but she said her job is more like that of an assistant designer.

“I still can’t believe that I get to do design every single day,” she said, “Working as a designer makes every day so much fun and different from the last. It’s also rewarding being able to use and to strengthen the skills I learned as an IMC major.”

Pruitt also offered advice for incoming freshmen and graduating seniors. She said there are many things she could have done differently in college. However, her best advice is to work hard.

”Never let the fear of judgment stop you from unleashing your inner ‘try-hard.’” said Pruitt. “Being a ‘try-hard’ is what gets you noticed and opens doors that leave you asking, ‘How did I end up here?’”

Billy Schuerman is pictured in this black and white photo.

Billy Schuerman is pictured in this black and white photo.

Billy Schuerman graduated in 2021 and completed his first year in the visual communication master’s program at Ohio University. He has worked as a photographer and writer at a newspaper in Colorado and had a photo internship at the Virginian-Pilot.

He was also one of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media students who recently placed in the Top 20 in the prestigious national Hearst journalism competition in the team digital news/enterprise category. Rabria Moore and Schuerman were winners for the project that tied for 16th place in the Hearst contest with a project from Elon University. The project was about water supply problems in the community of Taylor, Mississippi.

“Before we are journalists, we are humans, and this is a human story,” he said. “This was not a project we could just walk into. We dedicated our time to telling a meaningful story about something that really matters.

“I hope other students can take away that in order to tell the rough draft of history, we must truly dedicate ourselves to the people we serve.” His advice to other journalists is to find time to do important stories. “Not everything you work on will come through,” he said, “but when you have an opportunity to really do something important, it’s important to take it head on.”

This article was compiled from recent student stories.

If you are a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate, feel free to email us with your career update.