skip to main content
School of Journalism and New Media
University of Mississippi

Posts Tagged ‘Mississippi’

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.

How to use social media to leverage your brand and organization

Posted on: April 12th, 2022 by ldrucker

A panel of industry experts discussed the role of social media and big data analytics during the inaugural IMC Connect! event Friday, April 1 at The Inn at Ole Miss.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Rebecca Britt, a professor at the University of Alabama, and featured:

Social media icons

Social media icons

Chris Chiames, Chief Communication Officer at Carnival Cruise Line

Jenny Robertson, SVP, Integrated Marketing & Communication at FedEx Services

Amy Rosenberg, Digital Media Director at KQ Communications

Dr. Ike Brunner, Professor at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media

The panelists shared that social media can help solidify a brand and tell a brand’s story. Everyone can see when a brand/company fails on social media. However, social media can also be used to better internal communications.

As a career professional, always ask what can be done to shift, pivot, and change to get clients to reach their goals before the end of a social media campaign. The need to conduct research on the front end about who you are talking to and see how data can tell their stories is also crucial. An organization’s tone and voice on social media also needs to remain genuine on every platform.

The panel on social media and big data analytics was just one part of the inaugural IMC Connect! Other panels included topics such as crisis communication, social justice, and advertising/building a brand.

By Jordyn Rodriguez and Margaret Savoie.

Follow @umjourimc on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

IMC students travel to Pontotoc to help local farmer’s market with brand identity

Posted on: March 8th, 2022 by ldrucker

Giving students a #realworldrightnow experience is one of the things that separates the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media from other programs.

Students here have many opportunities to participate in experiential learning adventures offering real world knowledge about the journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) fields.

Scott Fiene, associate professor of IMC, recently led a group of students to Pontotoc and Greenwood, where they conducted research for class projects.

An IMC capstone campaigns course is working with the nearby community of Pontotoc to develop and promote a brand identity for the local farmer’s market. On Feb. 14, some of the students went there to look around, ask questions and get ideas. They met with Mayor Bob Peebles, Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Maxey and Chamber of Commerce Director Beth Waldo. Those pictured include: IMC students Jack Whitaker, Zoe Barnes, Mary Chapman Johnson, Mayor Peebles; students Anna Grace Newsom, Wilson Coke and Isabelle McLeod; Farmer’s Market Director Julia McDowell, and Associate Professor Scott Fiene.

An IMC capstone campaigns course is working with the nearby community of Pontotoc to develop and promote a brand identity for the local farmer’s market. Those pictured include: IMC students Jack Whitaker, Zoe Barnes, Mary Chapman Johnson, Mayor Peebles; students Anna Grace Newsom, Wilson Coke and Isabelle McLeod; Farmer’s Market Director Julia McDowell, and Associate Professor Scott Fiene.

In Pontotoc, Fiene’s class is working to build a brand and increase awareness of the local farmer’s market.

“Pontotoc County is one of the tops in Mississippi in terms of truck gardens and raising garden produce, so the market has the potential to be a huge draw, not just in the county but in surrounding areas as well,” he said.

Five teams of students are working to develop a name, logo, web, and social media brand identity. They are also researching specific recommendations for communicating the market to various target audiences.

“Traveling to see the client and the product/service is very beneficial,” Fiene said. “That’s how we learn what we’re promoting and get a sense for the communities and the people our campaign will reach.”

The School of Journalism and New Media is focused on preparing students for long and successful careers in IMC and journalism, so Interim Dean Dr. Deb Wenger says experiences like this are essential parts of that process.

“Our students leave school with a portfolio of work that helps them show employers what they are capable of doing. Our faculty understand what the workplace requires and they dedicate countless hours to ensuring that our students are ready for that first job,” Wenger said.

Aman scores position with Dallas Cowboys Creative Media Department

Posted on: March 2nd, 2022 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate who wasn’t afraid to tackle what Ole Miss Sports Productions threw at her has scored a position with the Dallas Cowboys.

When Madison Aman was in high school, she photographed and videoed local sporting events. That helped her land a job with UM’s campus television station NewsWatch and Ole Miss Sports Productions.

Today, she is an editor and producer for the Dallas Cowboys Creative Media Department, which journeys with the team to document their activities and tell their stories.

The Dallas native, who studied broadcast journalism with a minor in digital media studies and an arts emphasis, was a sports anchor at NewsWatch for about a year. She interned with Ole Miss Sports Productions from 2015-to 2019 gaining experience that led to her current job.

Madison Atman videos an athlete.

Madison Aman videos an athlete.

“After I graduated, I was able to get a job at the Dallas Cowboys (through former Ole Miss and journalism school alum, Dave Kennedy),” she said. “I started out in the broadcast department, where my main job was to create several documentaries about former Dallas Cowboys players.”

After her first Cowboys season ended in 2019, Aman began creating what became an Emmy-nominated documentary that she continued working on throughout the initial wave of COVID-19 in 2020. She remained in the broadcast department until the summer of 2021 when she was promoted to the newly-created Creative Media Department as an editor and producer.

Aman just finished her first season in the new position.

“I was able to shoot on the sidelines at the games, travel with the team, and continue to create storytelling videos for the Dallas Cowboys’ social media accounts,” she said.

During the season, a typical week can be busy. Aman shoots practices and creates videos for the Cowboys’ Social Media Department. She also helps produce sponsored videos at different locations throughout Dallas.

Their work all leads up to promoting the big game on Sunday. If it is a home game, the department of six (including Aman) travels to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Aman said she typically shoots the game from the sidelines and hands footage off to one of the editors to quickly post to social media. Once the game ends, they start over working to create the best content they can leading up to the next game.

Madison Atman today works for the Dallas Cowboys. Here she stands in front of a blue wall.

Madison Aman today works for the Dallas Cowboys.

“One of the reasons I picked this career was that I am able to do something different each day, whether that be shooting practice, events, etc., and/or editing a video for social,” she said. “Having a career in sports is such a fast-paced environment, but it provides the opportunity to meet so many new people and experience so many new things.”

Aman said her time at Ole Miss Sports Productions prepared her for working in real-world situations in this field.

“I love being able to tell the story of the person underneath the jersey and below the lights,” she said. “It’s such a unique opportunity and a big privilege that most do not have, and I am grateful for it every day.”

Her advice to other professionals in the field is to take care of yourself mentally and physically.

“You don’t have many chances to catch a break during the season, but it’s important to take care of yourself so that you can continue to stay fresh and create the best content possible,” she said.

Another tip: appreciate each moment.

“I think a lot of people in this career field get so used to being so close to the action, that it can become very ‘normal,’” she said. “But each week and each game is an experience that so few people in the world get to have. We have the opportunity to change and inspire others through our work and on such a large stage as well.  It’s important to never lose touch with that and to always stay focused.”

Aman said student journalists should stay focused and shouldn’t get discouraged.

“The sports media world can be quite intimidating,” she said. “But don’t lose sight of your goals and dreams for yourself. I would’ve never been where I am today if it wasn’t for believing in myself and pushing myself to meet the goals that I have.”

She also advises students to get out and shoot games at any level.

“It’s important to have experience and practically required to have a reel in addition to your resume,” she said. “In high school, I was able to shoot our football and basketball games. Through that, I used that experience and footage to help me get jobs at NewsWatch and Ole Miss Sports Productions.”

Debora Wenger, interim dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, agrees that it’s important to gain experience in your field while in college.

Madison Atman today works for the Dallas Cowboys is seen shooting video of an athlete.

Madison Aman, who today works for the Dallas Cowboys, shoots video of an athlete.

“One of the things about pre-professional programs like ours is that employers will expect you to already have had some experience doing journalism or creative work before you get hired,” she said. “Our Student Media Center and other experiential learning opportunities help you build the kind of portfolio that can really help you get that first job.”

Wenger said dozens of our students work or intern with UM Athletics every year.

“The students who love sports broadcasting, marketing and production get an incredible experience when they go to work for Athletics, and we offer many additional opportunities for students who are passionate about sports.”

Micah Ginn, associate athletics director of Sports Productions and Creative Services, said student workers from journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) have been an important part of what they do.

“We’ve had students plug in during their undergrad years and carry that over into graduate assistantships,” Ginn said. “We’ve also had students work here and use the experience to quickly land a job after graduation.

“We provide real-world opportunities for our student workers with the goal being that we are able to do more for our sports programs with the extra help, and the students develop skills that make them confident and ready to enter the workforce.”

Aman shot local football games for NewsWatch and continued to add to her reel, which allowed her to shoot larger events at Ole Miss Sports Production (OMSP).

“Through OMSP, I was on the sidelines shooting football games and shooting practice, which led me to the job I have today,” she said. “I’d tell students that they don’t always have to start at the top pro/collegiate level, but can start at the bottom with high school sports and work their way up. Don’t get discouraged and never lose focus on your dreams.”

For more information about our programs, visit https://jnm.olemiss.edu/

Fagans to speak about ‘Seeing the Unseen’ at TEDxUniversityofMississippi

Posted on: February 10th, 2022 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor will be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming TEDxUniversityofMississippi talk set for Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. inside the Ford Center for Performing Arts.

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, said he was nominated to speak and asked to create a pitch video for his TEDx talk.

“The working title for my talk is ‘Seeing the Unseen,'” he said. “I will be talking about literal blind spots that we have, societal blind spots, and how much of our vision is really in focus. I will be using examples of my work to talk about expanding how we might see each other and the world.”

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, will be featured in the next TEDxUniversityofMississippi event Feb. 22.

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, will be featured in the next TEDxUniversityofMississippi event Feb. 22.

The theme of this year’s event is “New Avenues.” Speakers were asked to think about what New Avenues people, communities, and organizations are exploring to optimize outcomes. What New Avenues were explored in the past that led us to our current situations? What New Avenues are being explored now that will shape our future?

“I am in the process of re-working part of the talk after giving a dry run two weeks ago to two students and their advisor,” he said. “I will be working with a colleague to edit down the images and tighten up which anecdotes carry the theme of really seeing the world for what is there.”

Fagans said he’s planning to end the talk with a quote from photographer Jay Maisel. It reads: “Seeing the world from even a two-degree difference helps you see an entirely new world.”

“I am hopeful that my talk, showing images, and telling the stories behind the images, will help attendees see the world from a new perspective, especially with the other talks by faculty and community members,” Fagans said.

Interim Dean for the School of Journalism and New Media Dr. Deb Wenger said she is delighted to see one of the school’s faculty members showcased in this venue.

“We have many dedicated teachers in our programs, and Prof. Fagans is one who brings a deep commitment to helping students think about the world and the work they do in new ways,” Wenger said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how his talk reflects this approach.”

A working photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, Fagan’s journey has taken him to the Navajo Nation, Malawi, India, Austria, Afghanistan, Scotland, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Belize and Guatemala, according to his TEDxUniversityofMississippi bio.  He is also the author of three books on iPhone photography with Amherst Media.

His documentary film “The Trafficked Life” helped raise over $50,000 that was donated to 10 nonprofits working to combat human trafficking in California’s Central Valley, the bio reads. Fagans is currently in post-production on a documentary about David Sheffield, a UM alum, who staged a play on campus in partnership with Theater Oxford and the Department of Theatre & Film at UM.

TEDxUniversityofMississippi invites a diverse group of speakers to share innovative, creative, and thought-provoking talks on a different theme each year. Led by a group of student volunteers, the event shares ideas from outside Mississippi that can impact Mississippians in a positive way.

The evening of curated Talks each year is designed to spark conversation in the community and beyond. The  Talks are published on the nationally and internationally browsed TEDx Youtube channel, free of charge.

To learn more about the speakers, visit https://www.tedxuniversityofmississippi.com/speakers

To learn more about the event, visit: https://www.tedxuniversityofmississippi.com/

University of Mississippi journalism graduate creates Gulf Coast publication Seaside Social News

Posted on: January 5th, 2022 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi journalism graduate has started an online publication on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that showcases its people and culture.

Amanda B. Compton-Ortiz, who moved from Memphis to Mississippi with her family when she was 12, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi in 2002. Today, she is founder/publisher of Seaside Social News, a positive, online news source she created as a tribute to the Mississippi Gulf Coast where she now resides.

She formerly served as editor of the Long Beach Breeze in Long Beach, where she lives with her husband and two German shepherds.

While her career in journalism has offered incredible opportunities over the years, from a fly-along with Air Force pilots to exclusive interviews with influential leaders in her home state and across the globe, Compton-Ortiz said she relishes most the connections she makes in the communities she serves. Creating Seaside Social News was her way of “paying it forward” coupled with her mission to promote positivity.

“Combining the crafts of photography and storytelling, we will bring the best of the Gulf Coast home to our readers,” she said. “We hope that you feel a sense of community when you venture through our stories of the vibrant coast life.”

Amanda Compton-Ortiz

Amanda Compton-Ortiz

Seaside Social News debuted July 31, 2019.

“Sometimes in the world of reporting and publishing, we get bogged down in the drudgery of the everyday news,” she said, “but Seaside Social News allows us the opportunity to explore the fun and colorful side of the area.

“In each online edition, we’ll profile interesting people and places in our communities. We’ll talk with musicians, entrepreneurs, city and county leaders, and others. We’ll spotlight local businesses and organizations. We’ll also take tons of photographs of folks attending area parties and special meetings and functions to help illustrate the best of who and what makes our beloved towns and cities special with pictures featuring our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and who knows, maybe even you.”

Compton-Ortiz was recently recognized as one of “100 Successful Women to Know 2020” by Gulf Coast Woman Magazine. She said she was also selected by the local American Cancer Society as a 2021 Shuck Cancer Gulf Coast Honoree. As one of 17 business professionals on the Mississippi Gulf Coast charged to raise funds to fight cancer, her work benefited a Mississippi Community Transportation Grant Program that awards grants to local health systems to aid in transporting patients to facilities for treatment.

She said her journalism career was shaped in the early 2000s by UM professors, such as the late Stuart Bullion and Samir A. Husni, a.k.a. “Mr. Magazine,” founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center, among others.

“My newspaper career began as a student reporter and photographer at Ole Miss’ The Daily Mississippian,” she said.I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented people and a special crop of reputable publications throughout the state, many of which were major successes in print media and who have successfully transitioned into the age of the internet.”

Some include The Democrat in Senatobia, her first reporting job as a summer intern; and the DeSoto Times-Tribune in Nesbit, where she worked in the mid-2000s as a staff reporter and photographer under the newspaper’s former name, DeSoto County Tribune, with then publisher Layne Bruce, who is now the Mississippi Press Association’s executive director.

“Having had the opportunity to study inside the university’s historic Farley Hall that houses the School of Journalism and New Media and graduate into the newspaper business during a time when printed publications were booming and the practice of ethical journalism was on the forefront to now managing my own online publication in today’s fast-paced digital world has equipped me with a unique skillset,” Compton-Ortiz said. “I feel I have much more to bring to the table in my profession, as well as a more well-rounded approach as I strive to meet the needs of our readers and grow the publication into something I and my team of writers and photographers can be proud of.”

During her time as a UM journalism student,  Compton-Ortiz said she was nominated for Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities in 2001. And in 2002, she said she placed second in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications Student Magazine Contest in the Individual Magazine Start-Up category among 224 universities competing across the United States and Canada for Reach, a personally designed 86-page women’s magazine.

She was a member of the university’s Society of Professional Journalists (Sigma Delta Chi). The same year, she said she was awarded a journalism scholarship from the late Terry Keeter, a UM graduate and longtime political reporter for The Commercial Appeal.

In October 2016, she relocated from Holly Springs to Long Beach.

“Though I had always known about the horrific storm and its devastation to the area, seeing remnants of it for myself, in person, planted a seed; one that has continued to root itself deep within my heart,” she said. “A seed I have discovered I share with many others here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. One that keeps growing through connections with people who truly take pride in their communities by supporting small businesses, participating in service projects, school and city functions, churches and charitable causes, volunteering, keeping their parks, beaches and neighborhoods clean, and so much more.”

Compton-Ortiz said seeing this daily is the evidence she is where she should be.

“I feel honored to be a part of such a strong network of places and people who won’t quit when the seas get rough or when the going gets tough,” she said. “They will stand up, they will recover, they will rebuild, and they will flourish.

“It’s this strength in community that makes me excited for another day in the life in Coastal Mississippi and proud I have continued my work as a journalist. I’m proud to join the multitude of others who are living, working and sharing the possibilities of the future. Like-minded people who have the courage to face the storm, not once, but twice.

“I reference here to Hurricane Camille that made landfall in August 1969. And I have no doubt, they would do it all hundreds of times over if that’s what it takes. Thank you, Coastal Mississippi, for teaching me the meaning of true love for community. I look forward to giving it back.”

Former CBS journalist to join University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media as visiting professor

Posted on: September 9th, 2021 by ldrucker

A veteran, award-winning journalist, who has worked as a White House correspondent for CBS and as a reporter in Mississippi and throughout the U. S., will soon join the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media faculty as a visiting professor.

Randall Pinkston will teach a course in international reporting after his arrival in January.

“Prof. Pinkston will bring a level of expertise and experience to our school that only someone who has operated at the highest levels of the profession can contribute,” said Interim Dean Debora Wenger. “He has covered plane crashes and presidents, wars and severe weather — the skills he developed as a reporter and anchor — from Jackson, Mississippi to the CBS Evening News, Randall is just the guy that some of our most talented students need to learn from. We are delighted to have him in our classrooms.”

Pinkston was born in Yazoo County. He grew up in Jackson and attended public schools. He was also an active member of Mt. Helm Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, and he participated in school organizations at Rowan Junior High and Lanier Senior High.

Randall Pinkston

Randall Pinkston

He attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and transferred to Millsaps after the death of his father.

“I majored in history, intending to go to law school,” he said. “My father’s minister, the Rev. Wendell P. Taylor of Central United Methodist Church, suggested that I apply for a news trainee position at WLBT-TV. I was not accepted as a trainee, but did receive a job offer as a part-time announcer on WLBT’s sister station, WJDX-FM.”

Pinkston’s work at the radio station, while attending Millsaps, eventually led to a part-time job in the news department, as a weekend and 10 p.m. anchor and reporter.

After graduating from Millsaps, he attended a summer training program for minority journalists at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He later returned to Jackson and was promoted to 6 p.m. anchor at WLBT, becoming the first Black anchor of a major newscast at the #1 station in Mississippi

Today, Pinkston is a widely respected journalist who has worked in local and network news for more than four decades. He joined CBS as a White House correspondent and later was a general assignment reporter covering national and international stories. Along the way he also earned a J. D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Since retiring, Pinkston has taught journalism at Stony Brook University in New York, City University of New York and Morgan State University in Maryland.

Pinkston has also taught classes at UM. Throughout his career as an educator, he has taught media performance, communications law and ethics, financial reporting and international reporting.

“As a journalist and a Mississippian, I consider it an honor and privilege to be invited to serve as a visiting professor at the state’s ‘premier university’,” he said. “Based on my professional background and my experience as an instructor, I think I can assist students in preparing for careers in journalism and related fields. My goal is to provide students with instruction and exercises that will give them tools they use on the job. Overall, I hope to enhance their educational experience.”

Pinkston will also serve as an advisor for NewsWatch Ole Miss, the student-run TV news program produced from the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center, and he has been named as a fellow in the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

To learn more about the School of Journalism & New Media’s programs, please visit  jnm.olemiss.edu or email jour-imc@olemiss.edu

Journalism and IMC alumni share how they are Serving Our State

Posted on: August 1st, 2021 by ldrucker
A graphic featuring a woman working at her computer with the state of Mississippi. It reads Serving Our State.

Serving Our State

Many University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduates embark on careers all over the country and abroad after graduation. But some choose to stay in Mississippi and use their talents in many ways while “Serving Our State.” Read stories from our alumni who share the significant impact our school has had on keeping the state informed.

Meg Annison

“Mississippi has been a wonderful place to grow up, live, raise a family and pursue my career dreams. The people, the places, the food–there is just so much to love and learn about our state.”

Meg Annison

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR,
Mississippi Lottery Corporation

Meg Annison: There is much to love, learn about state

Pascagoula native Meg Annison, 40, graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media in December of 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and an emphasis in public relations. She now lives in Jackson and works as the communications director for the Mississippi Lottery Corporation.

During and after college, Annison worked at Oxford Publishing and interned with a trade magazine in New York City. After graduation, she continued working with Oxford Publishing and freelancing.

Beginning in 2012, she worked for the Mississippi House of Representatives and Speaker Philip Gunn. She started as the House information officer, then transitioned into Gunn’s communications director.

Annison is one of the original 10 employees first hired at the Mississippi Lottery.

“Launching a lottery from the ground up is an extremely rare position involving hard work, long hours, challenges and numerous rewards,” she said.

As the communications director, Annison handles everything from press releases, social media strategy, crafting the company’s annual report, communicating with board members and legislators, and fielding media inquiries.

“Mississippi has been a wonderful place to grow up, live, raise a family and pursue my career dreams,” she said. “The people, the places, the food–there is just so much to love and learn about our state.”

Annison helps Mississippians in her current role by conveying transparency about how lottery money benefits the state.

“The Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law states the first $80 million in net proceeds for 10 years benefits roads and bridges,” Annison said. “Any net proceeds exceeding $80 million benefit the Education Enhancement Fund. These are two very important issues affecting most Mississippians.”

Lottery leaders also promote a Play Responsibly phone and text line for players.

“Mississippi is a place of opportunity, and I hope outgoing students will realize how needed their minds and talents are in Mississippi, and that she can offer so many opportunities and chances for growth that will be invaluable in your life.”

Kelsey Addison

director of marketing for
raanes & Oliver capital advisors in hattiesburg

Kelsey Addison

Kelsey Addison: Mississippi is a place of opportunity

Hattiesburg native Kelsey Addison, 25, graduated in December of 2018 with a degree in integrated marketing communications. She recently purchased a house in Hattiesburg, where she is the director of marketing for Raanes & Oliver Capital Advisors.

“After graduating from Ole Miss, I still had about six months left on my lease in Oxford, but there weren’t any job openings at the time for what I wanted to do,” she said.

During the summer of 2018, Addison interned for Congressman Steven Palazzo in Hattiesburg, and his office invited her back to work with them. Addison worked with the communications director drafting newsletters and press releases, creating content for social media accounts, regularly updating media lists and staying in contact with local community members.

“My first month working for the congressman was plagued by the government shutdown,” she said. “It was a tough time, but I learned so much about communicating with the public, handling a crisis, and working as a team trying to produce real results that would benefit the community.”

She was first hired as the office manager for what was then called, Raanes Capital Advisors, an independent branch of Raymond James. Her duties were to schedule appointments for financial advisors, answer phone calls, and handle client servicing needs.

“As time went on, I developed a passion for the financial sector and how my firm interacted with their clients and each other,” she said. “After several months of handling the firm’s social media on the side, I was promoted to director of marketing and now oversee all marketing initiatives. In my spare time, I work with a small social media marketing firm, Comfort Strategies, to manage several social media accounts of small businesses around the Pine Belt.”

As the director of marketing, Addison is responsible for all social media management, public relations, and client communications from the branch.

“The business manages over $150 million in assets, so clients must be able to trust us with the money we manage for them,” she said. “It is important in my role to convey that trust by sending out quarterly newsletters and staying in routine communication with clients, managing our blog, and being knowledgeable about what is going on in the economy, politics, and global news.”

Kelsey Addison

Kelsey Addison

For the past six months, Addison has helped rebrand the business now known as Raanes & Oliver Capital Advisors.

“During the rebranding process, I designed a new website, prepared updated stationary, created social media ads, and coordinated with multiple businesses to ensure that we stayed on schedule and that everything was cohesive with what we envisioned for our business with this rebrand.”

Addison said the project involved creating trust with clients.

“I’m proud of the job we did, and it would not have been possible without the tools I received from my time at Ole Miss,” she said.

Why did she decide to stay in Mississippi?

“Mississippi is a place of growth,” she said. “So many brilliant minds are choosing to stay and see Mississippi for what she could be, and that’s how I felt.

“I grew up in Hattiesburg and loved my community as a child. However, through my time with the congressman’s office and my job now, I have grown to love Hattiesburg and Mississippi as a place where I want to grow and challenge myself and others to leave it better than we found it.

“Mississippi is a place of opportunity, and I hope outgoing students will realize how needed their minds and talents are in Mississippi, and that she can offer so many opportunities and chances for growth that will be invaluable in your life.”

Addison’s company manages investment accounts for clients – about 86% of whom live in Mississippi.

“By working with these clients and being involved in our community, we are working to help them reach the goals they set financially,” she said, “whether that is to send their kids to college, have a comfortable retirement, give back to their communities, or to make a highly anticipated large purchase. We also work within schools in our area to teach middle- and high-schoolers about financial literacy and how the stock market works.”

Blake Alsup

“I wake up every day and get to write about the people that make Northeast Mississippi what it is. It’s not a responsibility that I take lightly, but if you were to ask my coworkers, they would tell you that I like to have fun at work… If I can make readers even half as excited as I am about the people I write about, then I’m satisfied because there are some truly extraordinary individuals in our region.”

Blake Alsup

education reporter,
northeast mississippi daily journal

Blake Alsup: Extraordinary people are in Mississippi

Ripley native Blake Alsup, 25, studied journalism with an emphasis in print and a minor in Southern Studies. He graduated in December of 2018 and now works as the education reporter for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo — a paper he grew up reading.

But he didn’t start there. Less than a month after his graduation, Alsup accepted a job with the New York Daily News in New York City.

“Although the job included some breaking news coverage, it was primarily aggregating sensational content — stories that would get clicks, whether it was a horrific crime or a cute pet — from local newspapers and TV stations around the country for a national audience.

“I wanted to do ‘real’ journalism, the type of reporting I had done at The Daily Mississippian, so I left that job in September 2019 and returned to Mississippi after securing a job with the Daily Journal.”

Alsup began working at the Journal in October of 2019. He covered local schools, primarily the Tupelo and Lee County school districts, writing occasional articles about the local community colleges and universities.

“But in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we didn’t have a health care reporter, I updated our website with the latest coronavirus case and death counts by county in our region,” he said.

He eventually began covering the Mississippi State Department of Health and Gov. Tate Reeves’ press conferences. From the start of the pandemic to the peak in January 2021, Alsup has covered efforts to vaccinate Mississippians and the latest pandemic news.

“If there’s a story that needs to be covered, and it doesn’t fit any specific beat, or the person who would typically cover it is busy, I’m the first person my editors come to because they know I’m willing to pitch in and cover any story no matter how much I have going on,” he said.

Blake Alsup in New York City Blake Alsup in New York City

During his time at the Journal, Alsup has interviewed hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, a Mississippi State University graduate who now drives the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, a hospital chaplain who worked with COVID-19 patients and their families through the pandemic and a local meteorologist who has seen Northeast Mississippi residents through snowstorms and EF-5 tornadoes.

“And that barely scratches the surface when it comes to interesting people I’ve interviewed,” he said. “I wake up every day and get to write about the people that make Northeast Mississippi what it is.

Alsup utilizes the skills he learned as a student reporter in the School of Journalism and New Media, where he first learned what “real journalism” was.

“It’s not a responsibility that I take lightly, but if you were to ask my coworkers, they would tell you that I like to have fun at work. Interviews like the ones I mentioned are what really get me excited, and if I can make readers even half as excited as I am about the people I write about, then I’m satisfied because there are some truly extraordinary individuals in our region.”

Alsup said he realized the importance of local journalism while working as a news reporter and news editor for The Daily Mississippian and while participating in a couple of school-sponsored reporting trips to Batesville and Grenada with professors Bill Rose, John Baker and Ji Hoon Heo. He said he still wanted to work for a major regional or national publication at that time, but “a seed was planted that grew into a desire to work for a local newspaper.”

“And I went on to New York just long enough to realize that Mississippi is where I’m supposed to be,” he said. “I don’t say any of that to brag, but to let current students know that despite setbacks, you can succeed.

And you can tell stories that matter, whether you go to work for The New York Times or make your living at a community newspaper in Mississippi.”

 
 

“By publishing the paper weekly, we give our citizens a voice, and will continue to do it as long as I can. Without my education at UM, none of this would have been possible.

Emma F. Crisler

owner, editor, publisher ,
the port gibson reveille newspaper

Emma F. Crisler

Emma F. Crisler: We give our citizens a voice

Tutwiler native Emma F. Crisler, 82, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1961 with a degree in journalism and English. Today, she is the owner/editor and publisher of The Port Gibson Reveille newspaper.

She first taught in McComb and Vicksburg before working at the Claiborne County Welfare Department as a social worker.

“When (my) husband died in 1997, I assumed the responsibility of owner, editor, and publisher of The Port Gibson Reveille for three generations, beginning in 1898 as the third family to own this paper,” she said.

Crisler said she loves Mississippi and wanted to remain in the state.

“In 1969, I literally ‘married’ The Port Gibson Reveille and was the midnight proofreader along with my other jobs,” she said. “After my husband’s, Edgar Crisler, Jr., death in 1997, I had a choice of either taking over the paper or hiring someone to do it.  

“I chose to be the ‘boss,’ and I still am, publishing the paper weekly on Thursdays,” she said. “By publishing the paper weekly, we give our citizens a voice, and will continue to do it as long as I can.

“Without my education at UM, none of this would have been possible. Without my training at Ole Miss Journalism School, I would not have the knowledge to run a newspaper today.”

Miranda Beard

“The lessons I learned and the practical hands on training built my confidence to use a voice I was ashamed of and bullied because of it,” she said. “The lessons I learned empowered me to use a booming and powerful voice to impact over a million people through public speaking, social media, podcasts, and by training other leaders through my consulting business on the local, state and national levels.

Miranda Beard

Former WDAM/Raycom Media journalist,
now owner of B&B Consulting

Miranda Beard: The lessons I learned empowered me

Miranda Beard, born in 1957, studied broadcast journalism and public relations at UM and graduated in 1986. The Humboldt, Tennessee native has lived in Laurel, Mississippi for 35 years.

She worked at WDAM/Raycom Media for 30 years as a reporter, executive producer, anchor and assistant news content director. She later became president of the National School Boards Association in the Washington, D.C. area from 2016-2017 — just one of the many executive roles she has held. She is currently the Director of Christian Education at Word of Faith Christian Center in Hattiesburg.

Beard continues to use the media and leadership skills she learned at UM and in the industry as the current president and owner of B&B Consultants Incorporated.

“My responsibilities include leadership training for school boards and superintendents, public speaking and advocating for equity and excellence in public education on the local, state and national levels,” she said.

Beard said she decided to stay in Mississippi to serve its people with the gifts, talents and abilities God gave her.

“I realized my abilities are not for me, but they are to be used to inspire, motivate, encourage and help other people be who they were born to be,” she  said.

“The School of Journalism program at the University of Mississippi provided me with the hands-on knowledge to not only achieve my goals, but it also prepared me for dealing with the real world beyond book knowledge,” she said. “It helped to improve my communication skills and trained me on how to collaborate and cooperate with others to see a project to its completion.”

Beard said the School of Journalism also helped her become a more effective communicator.

“The lessons I learned and the practical hands-on training built my confidence to use a voice I was ashamed of and bullied because of it,” she said. “The lessons I learned empowered me to use a booming and powerful voice to impact over a million people through public speaking, social media, podcasts, and by training other leaders through my consulting business on the local, state and national levels.

“I was so grateful and blessed to have professors who used their professional knowledge to help me discover my purpose as a communicator, leader and business owner. What I received from the School of Journalism was a first-rate education that sharpened skills I didn’t know I had, and for that I am thankful. Now, I inspire others to find what they were born to do.”

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.