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UM School of Journalism and New Media professor’s book wins Bronze Medal from Independent Publisher Book Awards

Posted on: June 8th, 2021 by ldrucker

Hollywood's Zen Rebel

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor Joe Atkins recently received news that his book Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood’s Zen Rebel (University Press of Kentucky, 2020) is a Bronze Medal winner for biography from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. This is a national contest for books published by independent and university book publishers.

Atkins spent four years on his writing journey for the book, including several trips to Los Angeles to meet some of Stanton’s actor and director friends and colleagues. 

Joe Atkins

“It was a nice surprise to hear from my publisher about my book on Harry Dean Stanton getting this IPPY Bronze Medal,” he said. “I had no idea they had even entered the book into that competition.”

Atkins said he’s long been familiar with the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

“These awards are given to books published by independent and university publishers, and thus allow those books to get some of the recognition that more often goes to books from the big NYC publishing houses,” he said. “It’s always gratifying to get positive feedback about a project that you devoted years to completing. I’m pretty proud of the book, so I was and am very happy about this news.”

This isn’t the first time Atkins has won something related to the book. He was selected to co-host TCM’s showing of the 1959 rock ‘n’ roll film “Go, Johnny, Go!” in March on TCM-TV, the national network based in Atlanta, with regular host Alicia Malone.

Atkins entered a contest by listing the 10 movies he would like to co-host. Several were movies in which actor Harry Dean Stanton appeared, but the film TCM chose was “Go, Johnny, Go!” starring Alan Freed and Chuck Berry.

Atkins said he was happy he was selected to co-host the show with Malone, who brought up another TCM connection.

“Back in 2016, I published an article about character actor Nehemiah Persoff in TCM host Eddie Muller’s magazine Noir City,” he said. “During my research for that article, I interviewed noted film writer Patrick McGilligan, who happened to head the ‘Screen Classics’ series for the University Press of Kentucky. After the interview, he asked me to consider writing a book on film and later suggested a Harry Dean Stanton biography for the publisher.”

Atkins answers questions about his 203-page book “Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood’s Zen Rebel.” We asked him how he became interested in Stanton and what he learned from his research.

Q. Can you take me through your writing journey?

A. My writing and research long focused on labor and politics, both in the U.S. South and beyond, but I’ve turned to an old love of film in more recent years, trying to incorporate that with my earlier research.

I’ve always loved character actors, the working stiffs of the big and small screen. I always used every opportunity to do interviews with and stories about them, even as a political reporter in Washington D.C., where I covered the premiere of the film “Mississippi Burning” and interviewed actor Gene Hackman back in the 1980s.

Over the years, I’ve interviewed Amanda Blake (Miss Kitty in “Gunsmoke”), Clint Walker, Hugh O’Brian, many others. In 2016, I did a magazine piece on veteran character actor Nehemiah Persoff for Noir City magazine, and in the process, interviewed well-known film writer and film biographer Patrick McGilligan. McGilligan, I found out, headed the film series for the University Press of Kentucky, and he asked me at the end of my interview (he’d earlier read and liked a column I once wrote about his biography of film director Nicholas Ray) if I’d be interested in doing a book on film. I said, “Sure.”

He told me to come up with a couple ideas. My idea was to do a collection of essays on character actors, among them Persoff and Harry Dean Stanton. McGilligan said forget the collection, how about a biography of Harry Dean Stanton? I had done many profiles as a journalist, but never contemplated doing a biography.

I wasn’t sure, but McGilligan just kept after me, emailing and calling me over the next several months. As a writer, I had never before been subject to such a flattering pursuit! So I said yes, and I’ve never regretted it.  I was able to enter a fascinating world that I otherwise would have never known.

Q. For those who haven’t read the book, how would you describe it? 

A. This is a book about a unique and compelling actor who rarely made it to the top of the marquee, but who became a legend for his performances in the supporting cast. Once called “the philosopher poet of character acting,” Harry Dean Stanton became a legend in Hollywood and among movie-goers for what director David Lynch called his “organic” acting abilities as well as for being a kind of hip, Buddhist-like persona.

He helped fuel the “New Hollywood Era” of the 1960s and 1970s in such films as Cool Hand Luke and The Godfather Part II before taking lead roles in “Paris, Texas” and “Repo Man” in the 1980s. He kept performing nearly up until his death at 91 in 2017, starring in his last film “Lucky” the year before he died.

Joe Atkins's book wins award

This is also the story of a Southern expatriate who left the hard-shell Baptist world of his rural Kentucky youth to become a kind of wandering philosopher and musician as well as actor in Laurel Canyon and Hollywood, rooming with Jack Nicholson, partying with rock ‘n rollers Michelle Phillips and David Crosby, hanging out with Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, and playing poker with director John Huston.

Yet he never could shed his Southern roots, and his music is a testament. He also spent years in a rough-and-tumble relationship with his free-spirited mother, whose artistic skills he inherited, but whose freedom-loving temperament was stronger than her maternal instincts.

Q. Why were you interested in writing a book on on Stanton? 

A. Long ago as a student in Munich, Germany, taking my first courses in journalism, I decided I wanted to have roots as a journalist, and that someday, my native South would be a great beat or focus, even though I had done everything I could to escape it. After working at newspapers in North Carolina and Mississippi, I carved out that beat as a congressional correspondent for Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C.

Over the years, I’ve kept my focus on the South and the Global South, and Harry Dean Stanton’s troubled relationship with his own Southern roots fascinated me about his story. Add to that my lifelong love of movies and film history, and the Harry Dean Stanton story was a perfect combination for me.

"This is a book about a unique and compelling actor who rarely made it to the top of the marquee, but who became a legend for his performances in the supporting cast. Once called 'the philosopher poet of character acting,' Harry Dean Stanton became a legend in Hollywood and among movie-goers for what director David Lynch called his 'organic' acting abilities as well as for being a kind of hip, Buddhist-like persona."
Joe Atkins
author and JOURNALISM Professor

Q. Can you tell me a little about the book? When will it be available? Any upcoming book signings?  

A. Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood’s Zen Rebel is being published by the University Press of Kentucky, and it will actually be published in November (I think Nov. 1), but is already available for pre-order via Amazon, Goodreads or other sites. The cost is $34.95 for hardcover or $19.22 for a Kindle edition. The pandemic has messed marketing and book signings up greatly, but the publisher’s marketing department now is in the process of working out some things.

I just got interviewed by reporter Joel Sams for Kentucky Monthly Magazine, and Los Angeles writer Robert Crane (son of the Hogan’s Heroes star) is organizing a “conversation/launch party.” I’ve been invited to speak at the Kentucky Book Festival, the Harry Dean Stanton Film Festival, and for an appearance and/or lecture at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky, but with the ongoing pandemic, I’m not sure of dates or whether we’ll have to go with Zoom sessions or postponements.

My publisher told me we’ll have a second launch next summer with the hope that we can all once again interact with one another in a somewhat normal way. Hope to see the book in Square Books and other area bookstores soon.

Q. What do you hope people take away from the book about Stanton’s life? 

Well, like any writer, you want your readers to have found that this was a darned good story and that it opened up a world for them that they had not experienced before, but which perhaps also resonated in some way with their own world. A writer can’t ask for much more than that. 

Taking a Swing at Journalism: UM journalism student is part of NCAA championship golf team

Posted on: June 3rd, 2021 by ldrucker

Taking a Swing at Journalism

When she was around 2, Smilla Sønderby’s mother took her on a stroll as her father played golf. When he accidentally hit a golf ball into the water nearby, the baby in the stroller could not contain her laughter, chuckling so loudly at the sight, the moment became a defining memory.

“That was my first golf experience,” said Sønderby, who was given plastic clubs that year. When she was 4, her parents coincidentally built a house next to a golf course.

“I basically grew up on a golf course,” Sønderby said. “And then I became a member when I was 4 because I was at the club all the time.”

Smilla Sonderby
Smilla Sonderby - Ole Miss Women’s Golf Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics Twitter and Instagram: @OleMissPix

Sønderby, a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student, slowly developed a love for golf and began competing in tournaments. She is one of the members of the Ole Miss Women’s Golf team, which recently defeated Oklahoma State 4-1 to win the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship. The team competed May 21-26 in Scottsdale, Arizona, at Grayhawk Golf Club.

After flying home to Denmark following the tournament, Sønderby went to bed early, woke up the next day, worked out at the gym, and played 18 holes, proving her dedication to the sport.

The freshmen journalism major with plans to minor in psychology has been a member of the Danish Ladies’ National Team since 2019. She joined the Danish Girls’ National Team in 2017 and has competed in two European Girls’ Team Championships and one European Nations’ Cup. Sønderby has had 17 Top 10 finishes in 32 events from 2017 to 2019, according to her Ole Miss Athletics bio.

Sønderby competed in her first golf tournament at age 10. She attended the Danish Golf Academy and at 15, she became part of the national team and the junior squad in Denmark, playing in two European team championships. After finishing primary school, through grade nine in Denmark, she attended a sports boarding school.

“I basically moved out when I was 16,” she said.

While attending high school, she became part of the ladies golf team in Denmark, and played in European team championships and many international tournaments.

She admired a fellow player, who attended college at Oregon State University, so Sønderby began thinking about moving to the United States to attend college.

“I wrote to, I think, 25 colleges in the states,” she said. “Some colleges reached out to me because they had seen me play out in Europe.

Smilla Sonderby
Smilla Sonderby - Ole Miss Women’s Golf Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics Twitter and Instagram: @OleMissPix

Head coach Kory Henkes traveled to watch Sønderby play in a Portugal tournament. Then Sønderby visited the University of Mississippi and three other schools before choosing UM.

For the next two and a half months, Sønderby said she will be in Denmark and playing in three or four international tournaments.

“I have a tournament this week,” she said. “So I’m going to Copenhagen tomorrow to play in a tournament over the weekend.”

She will continue to compete in tournaments every weekend this summer except for five days when she will take a break and visit a friend in Poland. She practices every day. On the day of this interview, she had practiced with her coach for four hours.

Debora Wenger, interim dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said it’s an honor to have a member of a national championship sports team in our midst.

“Students in our school are always doing amazing things — earning the highest of academic honors or launching great careers — but we don’t get too many winning NCAA championships,” Wenger said with a laugh. “Of course, we are proud of Smilla and her talents both on and off the course.”

Sønderby said she’s always been interested in writing to express herself and reflect on her life and experiences. She hopes to have a golf career for the next 20 years, then become a sports writer, so she is pursuing that goal in the UM School of Journalism and New Media.

“I was actually really good at writing in Danish, and my teacher told me when I graduated, that she wouldn’t be surprised if she saw me in one of the big newspapers one day as a journalist,” she said. “I was like I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a golf player. But then, you know, I just kept writing.”

Since English is her second language, Sønderby said she was initially concerned about choosing journalism as a major.

“I was a little worried, you know, my freshman year if I could express myself, in the same way writing in another language,” she said. “But I think I’m doing OK.”

Wenger said the school’s international students enrich our programs.

“Their lived experiences help open others’ eyes to the global nature of journalism and integrated marketing communications,” she said. “ One of the things we’d love to do is offer more scholarships for international students, and we hope to make that a priority in the coming years.”

To learn more about our journalism and integrated marketing communications programs, visit this link.

University of Mississippi IMC major picked as national student representative for Lamda Sigma honor society

Posted on: May 18th, 2021 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi junior has been selected to serve as a national student representative for Lambda Sigma, a national honor society for sophomores.

Margaret “Maggie” Walker, a dual public policy leadership and integrated marketing communications major from Suwanee, Georgia, was chosen to be the primary liaison between the national board and all Lambda Sigma presidents.

She will be in charge of facilitating communication among and between the chapter presidents, as well as assisting with the coordination of the Presidents Conferences. As a voting member of the national board, Walker will participate in the discussion and decision-making processes.

Maggie Walker

Maggie Walker

“I am immensely honored to have been chosen to serve Lambda Sigma as a national student representative,” said Walker, who will serve for two years, attend two summer board meetings and two fall President Conferences.

“I look forward to embracing the opportunities to connect with students and adults alike that share an enthusiasm for fellowship, scholarship and service. I know that these connections will be ones of depth and longevity.”

A Stamps Scholar, Walker is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Trent Lott Leadership Institute. As president of the university’s Iota Chapter of Lambda Sigma, Walker’s primary responsibility was to facilitate effective communication with the rest of the executive board and the chapter as a whole, and to ensure the mission of Lambda Sigma was advanced.

She booked speakers, planned and led bimonthly meetings, and communicated with chapter adviser Jacob Ferguson and Lambda Sigma nationals.

Beyond these responsibilities, Walker also worked closely with chapter co-service chairs and the secretary to organize numerous service and fellowship opportunities. These included writing Valentine’s Day letters for local teachers, decorating pumpkins for Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the Baptist Cancer Center, donating to the Jackson water crisis and planting trees with Hill Country Roots.

Under Walker’s leadership, nearly all the members were involved in RebelTHON, the Big Event and other Ole Miss service and leadership organizations.

“As I approached the end of my tenure as president of the Iota Chapter, I found myself never wanting the experience to end,” Walker said. “Seeing the passion and impact of our Iota Chapter was beyond inspiring. Serving as a student representative means I can aid in fostering this shared passion for change throughout the country.”

Walker said the organization has influenced her immensely on a local level, and that she can only imagine how these service, leadership and fellowship experiences will affect her on a national level over the next two years.

Maggie Walker makes a heart sign while wearing a T-shirt that says Oxford Love

Maggie Walker.

“Serving this chapter has opened my eyes to the power student leaders have when they come together for a shared vision of service,” Walker said. “Not only have I been able to facilitate service initiatives and assist our members in catalyzing community change, but I have been able to connect with our member’s passions, stories and aspirations.

“Working with the executive board has been an honor in itself, as I have had the opportunity to grow closer to some incredible student leaders.”

Walker has been a model president and will represent the university well as a student representative, Ferguson said.

“Maggie made my job as adviser easy because I could always count on her to take initiative, make plans and execute meetings, service opportunities and her presidential duties,” said Ferguson, an admissions counselor with the School of Education. “This was even more impressive considering that Maggie and the executive board had to juggle COVID-19 restrictions, hybrid meetings and limited in-person service opportunities.

“I am so proud of the work that Maggie has done and overseen in the past year, and I know that she will excel as a national student representative.”

Walker said that the key to the chapter’s success has been working through unprecedented times together, and continuous open, honest and collaborative communication. This year, the members established Lambda Sigma family groups and threw a Fellowship Field Day.

Through these events, the chapter grew closer by fostering genuine relationships absent of school and personal stressors.

“They made my job significantly easier and stood by me throughout the entire year,” Walker said. “I am forever thankful for their hard work.”

For more information about Lambda Sigma, click here.

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

This story was written by Edwin Smith for University Communications.

UM School of Journalism and New Media student continues media work with Coca-Cola campus job

Posted on: March 11th, 2021 by ldrucker

Meagan Harkins, the face of Coca-Cola on campus, is using her undergraduate years to prepare for a career in creative media.

Harkins was named Coca-Cola campus ambassador after a friend thought she would be perfect for the position and told her about the opportunity.

The job entails sampling events, product drops, attending monthly webinars, bringing products to groups on campus, and running advertisements and information through her own social media account.

Meagan Harkins

Meagan Harkins

“One of my main responsibilities is to bring brand love,” Harkins said.

Read more of Ava Jahner’s story about Harkins on HottyToddy.com.

McManus helps make University of Mississippi one of the most beautiful campuses in the country

Posted on: March 4th, 2021 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi campus is known as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the nation. Ben Oliver, a junior majoring in public policy leadership, wrote this story for JOUR 102 Introduction to Multimedia Writing about the man who leads Landscape Services at UM.


Make no mistake, the University of Mississippi’s Oxford campus is one of the most beautiful in the nation. That can be attributed to the climate, to the weather, to any number of things, but many attribute the beauty to Jeff McManus, director of Landscape Services.

“Sixty-two percent of prospective college students will make their decision to attend a college or university in the first few minutes of a campus visit,” McManus said. “We regularly hear from parents, students, and faculty how the look and feel of the Ole Miss campus connected with them.”

McManus is known not only for his knowledge of landscaping but also for his talent as a leader. One man cannot keep an entire campus beautiful. He recognized this, so when he was hired in 2000, he made it his mission to develop his leadership skills.

Twenty-one years ago, Chancellor Robert Khayat recruited McManus. He was struck by the fact that Khayat had “started believing in Ole Miss before Ole Miss believed in herself. He knew that Ole Miss could be different.”

In one of their first meetings, they took a walk through the campus. While pointing out the different academic buildings and dorms, Khayat suddenly stopped. He reached down and pulled up a weed.

Jeff McManus

Jeff McManus

“What are you doing?” McManus asked.

“I am weeding by example,” Khayat said.

McManus believes that Khayat was a one-of-a-kind leader. He had a vision and was able to motivate people with ease. The former chancellor retired in 2009, but McManus said he continues to use what he learned from Khayat to motivate his landscaping team.

“The relationships McManus has fostered with his employees are a testament to his effective communication skills,” said Rosie Vassallo, director of Retiree Attraction for the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation. “He demonstrates how a team effort can reach great heights, as they have won national awards in landscaping.”

Five years ago, Vassallo came to McManus to work with the Economic Development Foundation to hold a Landscaping Camp. The camp showcases the work of the landscaping team, and the fourth camp will be on May 28-29 this year.

His speaking skills, as well as the many accomplishments of his team, have attracted visitors from states including Texas, Kentucky, California, Georgia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Alabama to join those from Mississippi.

He is a leader, Denise Hill, retired superintendent of Landscaping Services, reportedly told John Touloupis of “The Daily Mississippian”.

Hill arrived at Ole Miss in 2000 as well, just a few months before McManus. She was on the landscaping crew, working one of the gas-powered trimmers. McManus quickly saw her potential.

After a few months, McManus offered her the opportunity to be a supervisor. Instead of accepting, she turned it down. However, after a short while, she accepted.

A few years later, McManus came to her again, only this time to offer the job of landscaping superintendent. Again, she still wasn’t sure she wanted to make the step up, but McManus was persistent.

After learning the ropes, she did wonderfully, and according to McManus, she “ran the campus” up until her retirement.

It may seem like McManus was born to be the director of Landscape Services, but his career almost took a different path.

Raised in the small town of Douglasville, Ga., McManus planned on a career in marketing. After meeting a professor who inspired his love of plants, he switched to horticulture.

He said he still thinks about that professor, Dr. Harry Ponder, today.

“After weeks in the class, even though he knew all the plant names, the thing that stood out the most to me was he knew my name and every student’s name in the class,” McManus said.

Dr. Ponder was an inspiration to McManus by being knowledgeable and displaying exemplary leadership skills.

McManus earned his Bachelor of Science in Landscape and Ornamental Horticulture from Auburn University and is a certified arborist.

Since his arrival, Ole Miss has won five national landscaping championships for Most Beautiful Campus by organizations such as “Newsweek” and The Princeton Review. The university twice won the National Professional Grounds Maintenance Society Best Maintained Campus Award.

“It’s easy for someone to say, after meeting Jeff, that he loves his job and is proud of the natural beauty that can be found on the Ole Miss campus,” Vassallo said.

McManus has been married since 1994 to his wife, Suzanne. They have four children, named Sam, Nathan, Joshua, and Mark.

He has written two books: “Pruning Like a Pro” in 2015, and his latest: “Growing Weeders Into Leaders” in 2017.

“Everyone who works with Jeff takes great pride in their work product and that speaks volumes in regard to his leadership skills,” said Dr. Dennis Tosh, retired professor in the School of Business.

“It’s crucial to recognize every person is valuable and should have a voice and a seat at the table,” McManus said. “Giving people a voice, giving them some ownership of what’s happening, makes a tremendous amount of difference.”

Here’s what The Princeton Review says about the University of Mississippi.

University of Mississippi journalism professor helps judge prestigious Pictures of the Year International contest

Posted on: March 2nd, 2021 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor recently served as a live judge for the Pictures of the Year International contest.

Alysia Steele, associate professor of journalism, has been virtually judging competition entries for the contest known by some as the oldest, most prestigious photo contest in the world. It started in 1943-44 and is held at the University of Missouri.

This year, Steele said there are 28 judges divided into groups of four, and the contest will continue through March 7.

“This contest is incredibly important because it acknowledges and celebrates the tremendous physical and emotional work that photojournalists do every day,” said Steele, “because it’s their life’s calling and passion, and it’s not easy work.

“Photographers risk their lives to document history – to make public what’s happening around the world, and I don’t think many people realize the dangers they and their loved ones also face. Not just about the physicality of the work in dangerous situations, but also the stress and worry their loved ones go through when they are in the field, or the support they give when the photographer works long hours and misses precious family moments. That’s real.”

In our ever-changing technological world, Steele said we don’t always see what’s happening, but the contest is one way to acknowledge and honor the work photographers contribute to the world.

“Photographs have helped change international policies and bring light to human causes,” she said. “We are not ‘just’ photographers – we are visual storytellers, who report, who also find stories, and who dedicate an immense amount of time to our work.”

Alysia Steele

Alysia Steele

Steele said she teaches that captions are just as important as visuals.

“Oftentimes photographers are still at an event or situation reporting by themselves,” she said. “They arrive early and stay late. They pay attention to details, they’re thinking about composition, moments, light, and so many other technical factors that go into creating an image, but they’re also thinking about their surroundings and the reporting of what they see and hear. Their accuracy, honesty and transparency are incredibly important to journalism, and this esteemed and well-respected competition honors the work.”

Steele said being asked to help judge the competition was one of the greatest honors she’s ever been given.

“When I read the email initially inviting me, I had to re-read it, to make sure I understood what was being asked of me – I was being asked to judge,” she said. “OMG was my response. It is a chance to collaborate, debate and provide perspective with esteemed peers, who also provide their insight.

“The conversations we had were thoughtful, respectful and in-depth. No decision was ever made lightly. We worked together for a common goal – to honor what we collectively thought was the best representation in the four categories we judged, which were Spot News, Daily Life, COVID-19 Picture Story and Local Photographer of the Year (one of the most premiere categories of photographers all over the world documenting their communities).”

Steele said they had two weeks to individually review thousands of photos and narrow down what they individually thought are the best of the best. Images that received two out of the four votes from their team made it to the next round.

“From there, we narrowed it down by additional rounds,” she said. “I think one category of finalists alone took us three hours on live stream. For example, one category had over 2,000 entries, and we narrowed the top winners and awards of excellence down to, I think, five entries.

“There is a tremendous amount of integrity in this competition, and to be asked to provide my humble professional opinion, and for this organization to see value in my small contribution, is just one way that helps justify the decision I made to become a visual storyteller in the first place. To be included in the ever-growing and long line of prolific judges, is a nod that I did something right in my career.”

Students can tune into the competition to learn more about storytelling, composition, moments, theory, ethics, newsworthiness, and how to articulate and defend photo choices. Visit https://www.poy.org/ to learn more.

To see a list of judges: https://www.poy.org/78/judges.html

 

Award

Award

A number of UM School of Journalism and New Media professors judge or have judged national competitions.

  • Professor Graham Bodie, Ph.D. will soon be judging the International English Public Speaking Competition.
  • Professor Michael Fagans has judged some categories in the Evangelical Press Association competition. He also helped judge the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar’s Photo Competition pre-COVID-19.
  • Professor Debbie Hall will be serving as a judge for the American Marketing Association collegiate competition in April.
  • Professor Samir Husni, Ph.D. will be judging the Best Use of Print category for the International News Media Association Global Media Awards. There are 50 entries he will be judging from all over the world.
  • Professor Iveta Imre, Ph.D. will be judging the Broadcast Education Association documentary entries for the Festival of Media Arts.
  • Professor R. J. Morgan, Ph.D., has served as a judge for many state organizations, as well as the National Scholastic Press Association, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, Journalism Education Association, and Society of Professional Journalists Foundation.
  • Professor LaReeca Rucker has served as a judge for the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards that honors the best in collegiate journalism.
  • Professor Marquita Smith, Ed.D., just finished judging the The Robin Turner Program, or Toner Prizes, in Political Reporting at the Newhouse School of Syracuse University.
  • Professor Patricia Thompson judges several national competitions annually. She recently served once again as a juror for The Robin Turner Program, or Toner Prizes, at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.
  • Professor Kathleen Wickham, Ed.D, will be judging the National Headliner Journalism Awards for the 11th year. The contest, founded in 1934, is one of the oldest journalism contests and the only competition to judge across all media platforms: print, broadcast, photography, magazines, radio, digital and online journalism. This year, the number of submissions topped 1,000, Wickham said. More than 3,000 medallions have been presented since the contest was created by the Press Club of Atlantic City.

Welcome back to the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: January 15th, 2021 by ldrucker

Dear Students,

Here’s hoping your time away from campus allowed you to reconnect and recharge – to reconnect with people you care about and to recharge your enthusiasm for learning and growth.

As we head into the spring semester, let me first acknowledge how proud I am of you – the fall was tough on everyone, but you met the challenges head on and did better than we could have imagined.

Debora Wenger

Interim Dean Debora Wenger

I, personally, have reasons to be hopeful that the spring semester is going to be better:

  1. The vaccine rollout is ramping up and as more and more people are inoculated, that should make our campus and our communities safer in the coming months. In the meantime, we saw in the fall semester that following the university’s safety protocols does help to protect us, and we will continue to stick with what we know is a good thing. Please read your Monday Morning Memo carefully each week to stay on top of COVID testing and vaccination updates.
  2. We also know more about what works and what doesn’t in this learning environment. You and your instructors should be better prepared this semester to focus on getting the most that we can out of our time in the classroom, online or on Zoom. Everyone has reason to head into the spring with more confidence.

We do recognize, though, that things won’t always be easy this semester. Please practice self-care and reach out to me, your faculty or any of our staff if you start to struggle. The earlier you seek help, the easier it will be to get back on track.

Remember, too, that the university provides counseling services. You can call the University Counseling Center at 662-915-3784, Monday-Friday (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) or the UM Dept. of Psychology at 662-915-7385.

We’ll try to communicate more often and look for additional ways to connect as the semester continues. We encourage you to follow us on social media – just log onto your favorite platform and look for “umjourimc”. In the meantime, stay safe and remember that we are stronger together.

Sincerely,

Dr. Deb Wenger
Interim Dean
drwenger@olemiss.edu
662-380-3046

PR News names UM School of Journalism and New Media graduate one of its Rising PR Stars 30 & Under

Posted on: November 25th, 2020 by ldrucker

PR News has named a 2018 University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate as one of its Rising PR Stars 30 & Under.

As the first member of the newly formed Idea Grove PR team in Dallas, Sarah Jenne, a UM Integrated Marketing Communications graduate, played a pivotal role in developing many best practices. After just a year, Jenne was chosen to spearhead Idea Grove’s PR practice at a time when the agency was transitioning to a specialization-focused staffing model, the PR News website reports.

Sarah Jenne

Sarah Jenne

“Sarah developed the Customer Brand Ambassador program for WorkFusion, an automation technology provider,” her PR News bio reads. “Sarah was consistently getting interest from reporters seeking real-world examples, but WorkFusion lacked a bank of media-ready customers. Sarah created a fact-based recommendation for the client, developed materials for educating customers on the opportunity, and soon had multiple customers on deck for media engagement.”

Robin Street, senior lecturer at the School of Journalism and New Media before her retirement, said she was proud of  Jenne for earning this honor, because she stood out as a young professional, but she was also an outstanding student.

“I remember telling Sarah that she would be a great PR professional and that she should earn our school’s specialization in it,” Street said. “I initially was especially impressed at her writing skills, because so much of public relations work requires communicating through writing. Then I also observed I her ability to stay poised under pressure and to multi-task with ease.”

Click here to learn about the PR specialization at the School of Journalism and New Media.

Street said Jenne took the advanced PR class in a one-month intensive summer session. The class required completing a mini-internship, multiple writing and research assignments and a full public relations campaign as a final project.

“Many students struggle to juggle all those requirements, but not Sarah,” Street said. “She did excellent work and exemplified time management skills. I still have the evaluation form her internship supervisor completed about her, and it says, ‘As this was a short time period to accomplish a lot of tasks, she did an amazing job.'”

In addition to her talents and skills, Street said, “She is also a delightful young woman who has the ability to get along with multiple types of people. Any employer is lucky to have her.”

As the impact from COVID-19 turned newsrooms upside down in March 2020, PR News reports that Jenne “tapped into her network of reporters to collect information on their changing beats and candid feedback on their receptiveness to pitches, helping clients make informed decisions about upcoming announcements and external communication strategies.”

PR News’ PR People Awards and Rising PR Stars 30 & Under competition showcases top talent, passionate professionals and budding PR leaders who, day in and day out, are making communications matter in the marketplace, according to their website.

“The winners of this annual program set the benchmark for PR and underscore the outstanding PR achievements made in the past year—and our 2020 class of honorees is no different,” it reads.

The website reports that many of this year’s award recipients acknowledged the challenging role of public relations and communications in the midst of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and social unrest.

“In many instances, our honorees had to pivot their messaging to both internal and external stakeholders, create crisis playbooks on the fly or determine how their brands could, and should, best respond beyond statements,” it reads. “From internal communications and community relations to crisis management, media relations and beyond, the individuals recognized this year cover the wide breadth and depth of the industry. We invite you to read more about their individual accomplishments below.”

GRE requirement waived; 4+1 program introduced to help graduate students at School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: April 30th, 2020 by ldrucker

The School of Journalism and New Media has two new opportunities that are designed to make things a little easier for students pursuing graduate degrees.

The school has decided to suspend the GRE requirement for Fall 2020 admission to graduate programs. On a separate note, the school is also introducing a 4+1 program designed for academically strong students who want to earn their undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism in just five years.

Farley Hall

Farley Hall

Suspended GRE Requirement

Professor Robert Magee, Ph.D., is the director of the M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication program. You can learn more about the program here: https://masterimc.olemiss.edu

Magee said the Graduate School granted the school permission in April to suspend the GRE requirement for Fall 2020 admission to graduate programs. The suspension is temporary and expires July 31, 2020.

“To be fair to all the applicants, the GRE will not be used at all in any admission decision for Fall 2020 admission,” Magee said. “Under the change, no one will be admitted or denied admission based on a GRE score.”

The suspension also means new applicants do not need to submit a GRE score as part of their application, as long as their application is complete by July 31.

The School of Journalism and New Media offers the M.A. in Journalism, the residential M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication, and the online M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication. Magee said the temporary suspension applies to all three programs.

Many Educational Testing Services testing centers around the country had to close because of COVID-19 concerns.

“Several applicants had contacted me to express their concern over taking the GRE,” Magee said. “They had reserved a time to take the test, but these sessions were canceled.”

ETS has since made arrangements for proctored individual tests, but these can occur in just a few countries, which could leave many international applicants at a disadvantage, Magee said.

“We want to make sure that everyone who wishes to apply can do so and that the application process is as fair as possible,” said Magee. “But setting aside the GRE means that an applicant’s transcript and letters of reference carry even greater weight as outside materials.

“These materials, along with the personal statement and resume, paint a picture for the admission committee of how well an applicant might handle graduate-level work.”

This Grad School link lists several programs:

https://gradschool.olemiss.edu/admissions-during-covid19/

This M.S. in IMC website admissions tab lists application materials:

https://masterimc.olemiss.edu/admissions/

4+1 Program

Assistant Dean Debora Wenger, Ph.D., a professor of journalism, said the 4+1 journalism program is also designed to help students interested in pursuing an advanced degree.

“The 4+1 is designed for academically strong students who want to get their undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism in just five years,” she said. “The advantage to the students is that they can tackle that advanced coursework beginning in their senior year and then complete that graduate degree in just two more semesters. The advantage to the school is that we get to keep these great students around a little longer.”

Wenger said students who are interested should meet with our Assistant Dean for Student Services Jennifer Simmons and Journalism Graduate Director Joe Atkins as soon as they begin taking journalism courses.

The school is also considering offering a 4+1 program for IMC students in the future.

There is a minimum GPA requirement and a few specific classes they must take to fulfill the undergraduate and graduate degree requirements simultaneously.

Required courses include JOUR 590 Multimedia Storytellling and Jour 578 TV Documentary, to name a couple.

Column: I was anxious to leave Delaware, but Mississippi felt like the place I belonged

Posted on: June 18th, 2019 by ldrucker

As I look back on my time as a student at the University of Mississippi, I have nothing but fond memories.

From my first day freshmen year, moving to a new state, not knowing a single soul, I met a random roommate from Minnesota who was so homesick she tried to move home the entire first month of school.

I went to the dining hall at the wrong time every day and couldn’t figure out why only half the food stations weren’t open. I even missed my first college exam because it was given on Blackboard on a Friday night, and I forgot to take it.

Now these may not sound like amazing memories to you, but they are how my college experience began. As a second semester senior, I look back on all of those memories and wish I could go back to my very first day and relive everything again. I would love to have my undergraduate experience repeat over and over again.

Alli George

Farley Hall

Fast forward to senior year. I still live with my random Minnesota roommate who turned out to be one of my best friends.

I finally found something I was really passionate about, and I switched majors from public policy leadership to integrated marketing communications.

The School of Journalism and New Media has provided me with some amazing opportunities over the past few years. My public relations class assisted me in obtaining an internship. Through experiences with my classes, I have obtained two other internships during my college career. One was last summer as a marketing intern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The other was a marketing internship with the Oxford Community Market during my sophomore year.

Besides the academic opportunities that Ole Miss has given me, it also created an environment for me to grow as a person and grow socially. When I first moved to college, I was anxious and nervous. I had never lived anywhere besides Delaware. However, I knew I needed to move somewhere new or I might never leave my hometown.

My senior year of high school, I applied to many schools in the South. I figured at no other point in my life would I live in the South, and I wanted to experience the culture. My parents took me to visit all of the schools I was accepted into. I honestly really liked most of them, but I always felt a stronger connection to Ole Miss.

Lyceum. Photo by Alli George.

From the day I took my tour, I felt at home on the Ole Miss campus. As anxious as I was to leave home, it felt like the place I belonged. I wanted to move to a place that made me feel uncomfortable, as crazy as that might sound.

I knew Mississippi, as a state, had different political viewpoints than I did and stronger religious beliefs. I wanted to put myself in a place where I didn’t necessarily agree with everything that was going on. Mississippi proved to be a very good place to do that.

I came here with a certain perception of Mississippi, and I didn’t think that would change over my four years as a student. However, now as I’m about to leave Mississippi forever, I have such a fond view of this state. Even though there may be some aspects of the state’s past and present political views that I may not agree with, Mississippi has changed my life forever.

I will always be grateful for the state of Mississippi for building a university that provided me with much more than an education. I became a writer, joined a large Greek organization, became a leader on campus and came out of my shell socially. I have made friends that will hopefully last a lifetime.

I have had many of my “lasts” in Oxford. My last senior dinner with my sorority sisters. Finishing my last classes to get my degree in integrated marketing communications.

I’m nervous and anxious all over again, except this time, it’s about going home. I found a home in Oxford these past four years, and now I have to re-establish that home back in Delaware. I don’t have a plan for what’s next. I have applied to just about every marketing job in the state of Delaware. I have also applied to graduate school to pursue my master’s degree in business administration.

Whatever the future might hold, I am so thankful and grateful for Ole Miss. This university has helped me grow in so many ways. I’m sure if I had attended another school, I could have had a similar experience. However, I would have never had my first Saturday in the Grove, all my memories on the Square with my incredible friends, and all the sunsets I watched set over Sardis Lake.

Most importantly, I would have never been a Rebel. For the rest of my life, I will be proud and honored to say I am an Ole Miss alumnus. Hotty Toddy!

This column was written by Alli George before graduation. To learn more about our journalism and IMC programs, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.