School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Posts Tagged ‘LaReeca Rucker’

Two from University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media will attend 2020 IRE virtual conference

Posted on: September 11th, 2020 by ldrucker

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Investigative Reporters & Editors conference will be a virtual event rather than an in-person gathering.

Set for Sept. 21-25, a student and an instructor from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media were awarded the opportunity to attend the virtual event.

Tupelo native Abbey Edmonson is majoring in journalism with minors in English and creative writing with an emphasis in social media. She has been working as an intern and editorial assistant at Invitation Oxford and Invitation Magazine for over a year, and she aspires to work for a national publication.

Abbey Edmonson

She was awarded the James Richard Bennett Scholarship, given to journalism students in Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma or Louisiana, that provides a one-year student IRE membership and a complimentary conference registration. If the conference had not been moved online, the scholarship would also cover some travel fees and up to three nights in a hotel.

“I’m so excited to attend the conference,” Edmonson said. “I love taking any chances I can get to further my journalism experience. I hope to gain a better understanding of investigative reporting and how to do it effectively. I think I’m most excited about interacting with experienced journalists and growing my network.”

Edmonson applied for the scholarship, and she encourages students to apply for other opportunities they find online and elsewhere.

LaReeca Rucker

“My best advice to other students is to just apply, even if they don’t feel qualified,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much work I produced during my time at school that I was proud of and ready to submit as an application until I started applying to this conference and other opportunities like it.”

Journalism professor LaReeca Rucker will also be attending the conference. She was selected as one of the recipients of an Eric B. Sager Scholarship that came with a one-year IRE membership and paid conference registration.

The scholarship was established through an estate gift by the late Eric B. Sager, an IRE member from West Virginia, who worked mainly in trade publications. The scholarship is for U.S.-based journalists and independent journalists, and those who are from trade publications and small outlets.

“I attended the IRE conference in Orlando in 2018 for the first time and found it to be jam-packed with valuable information and rock star speakers from the journalism world,” Rucker said. “I learned a lot, and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the 2020 conference and bring what I learn back into the classroom.”

Oxford Stories reporters talk about MLK reporting project in Daily Journal podcast

Posted on: April 21st, 2018 by ldrucker

Oxford Stories reporting classes recently completed a special journalism project about the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Oxford Stories worked in partnership with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal to republish some of the stories student reporters wrote.

Chris Keiffer, of the Daily Journal, later contacted Oxford Stories and asked to do a podcast about the project. Oxford Stories reporters Alexis Rhoden and T’Keyah Jones were interviewed for the podcast. You can listen to their interview at the link below.

You can read stories from the project at the website: The Lorraine Motel: 50 Years After the Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Oxford Stories students produce The Lorraine Motel: 50 Years After the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted on: April 4th, 2018 by ldrucker

Last semester, journalism instructor LaReeca Rucker gave Oxford Stories journalism students a challenging final project. She wanted them and readers to learn about the effects of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination that happened 50 years ago on April 4, 1968 in Memphis.

The result of that was a project called The Lorraine Motel: 50 Years After the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal has partnered with Oxford Stories to run some of the students stories this week.

Recognizing the educational value of the historic event, Rucker said she also hoped to incorporate social justice reporting into classroom assignments that would challenge students to step away from common campus stories and learn firsthand about our state and surrounding area’s recent history from those who had endured it.

“Any assignment or journalism project you do with students is always experimental because you know some will deliver and others will not, so I wasn’t exactly sure what the completed project would look like,” she said.

Their objective was to interview someone about their lives, their memories of Dr. King’s assassination, and the impact they believe his life and death had on them and the world. Many returned with compelling stories.

One student found Mary Redmond, who had met King after one of his speeches. He shook her hand and told her “things were going to get better.” This was an important encounter and message for a woman whose father was beaten to death because, as a child, she accidentally bumped the arm of a white girl.

They interviewed Hezekiah Watkins, who met King after Watkins was jailed at age 13 for being one of the youngest Freedom Riders. When he and one of his young friends wanted to get a closer look at the people who were traveling through Mississippi fighting for equality, he said they rode their bikes to the Greyhound Station in Jackson. There Watkins, a child, was arrested and jailed along with the others.

Students interviewed Senator Samuel Jordan, who personally attended the trial of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, charged with the murder of Emmett Till, 14, in 1955. Pitching in a quarter each for gas, Jordan set out for Sumner, Mississippi with friends and watched reporters interview Mamie Till, Emmett’s mother.

They found and interviewed Roscoe Jones, a Meridian native and Bloody Sunday marcher, now 70, who had a personal relationship with Dr. King when he was president of the youth chapter of the NAACP during the Freedom Summer of 1964.

They also interviewed others with memories they can’t shake. When Belinda Carter was around 10, her school bus driver drove past Carter and her siblings for a week as they stood on the side of the road waiting for the bus because the driver refused to pick up black children.

As a kid growing up in the 1960s, Cut Miller was a member of a student boxing team. About 50 percent of the team was black, but only white members were allowed to use the restroom of a local restaurant because the sign on the door read “White Only.”

“Today, there is another wave of social justice activism happening in our country,” Rucker said. “Conversations are needed, but there is sometimes a lack of communication, listening and understanding – a roadblock for modern civil rights progression. There is also a difference in reading about history in books and meeting someone face to face who has lived it. That is why I intend to continue using this project as a teaching tool.”

Some students who participated in this journalism project, like Sarah Kane, said their thoughts about it changed after interviewing their subject. “I realized that this was more than just another project,” she said. “This assignment was very special, and the content needed to be delivered in a very respectful and proud way. I look at life in a different way now because of my interview with Ms. Carter, and I am extremely honored that I got to take part in this assignment.”

Student Katherine Johnson said the project made her realize how widespread King’s assassination was felt. “It was not consolidated to the African American population in any sense,” she said. “My time with Willingham allowed me to understand how this event molded the world that we see today. He shared with me his ideas on further breaking down the racial barriers in our society, and impressed that these were a continuation of King’s ideals. In my mind, this project changed from being about something isolated in the past to a topic that remains current and important in our modern world.”

To learn more about and read stories from the project, visit