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Associated Press reporter Emily Wagster Pettus named Silver Em winner

Posted on: March 8th, 2019 by ldrucker

Between 2003 and 2014, U.S. newspapers lost 35 percent of their statehouse reporters, a percentage slightly higher than newspaper staffing nationwide, the Pew Research Center reports.

As news staffs shrink across the country, state government reporters have become an endangered species. Those who remain in the role understand the importance of their work in our democracy.

That’s one reason Emily Wagster Pettus, who has been reporting on Mississippi government since 1994, was selected as the 2018 Silver Em winner.

Emily Wagster Pettus

“When there are fewer news outlets sending local reporters to cover the state capitol, there is less coverage of local issues considered by the Legislature,” she said.

Pettus, who grew up in Texas, spent a year between high school and college as an exchange student in West Germany, then attended the University of Mississippi, majoring in journalism and German. She graduated in 1989 and worked for nearly a year at the Vicksburg Evening Post.

In May 1990, she began working for The Clarion-Ledger as the Rankin County reporter. Two years later, she moved to Ocean Springs in 1992 to work as the newspaper’s one-person Gulf Coast bureau reporter.

“It was a great job because my editors were hours away and they trusted me to cover the biggest stories in the region,” Pettus said.

During the fall of 1993, Pettus was on loan from The Clarion-Ledger to USA TODAY in Virginia, working as a copy editor for the international edition of USAT. In 1994, she was back in Jackson working as a legislative reporter for The Clarion-Ledger.

She began working for the Associated Press in January of 2001 covering mostly Mississippi politics. Pettus said she’s aware the job is particularly important during challenging times for news organizations.

The latest Pew Research Center study about statehouse reporters found that there were around 1,500 U.S. journalists who work to inform the public about the actions and issues of state government. Of those, nearly half do it full time, averaging 15 full-time reporters per state, even though numbers vary per state, often depending on population.

Emily Wagster Pettus during a recent Overby Center program about Mississippi Politics.

“I always think it’s better having more reporters covering state government, obviously, to hold the government accountable to the general public,” Pettus said. “In Mississippi, we used to have a full-time press corps of eight people. That declined a while, but it has actually gone back up in the last couple of years.”

Pettus estimates the number of Mississippi statehouse reporters is equal to the Pew Research Center study’s national average of 15 per state.

The Pew study also reported:

  • Fewer than a third of U.S. newspapers assign any kind of reporter – full time or part time – to the statehouse.
  • A majority of local TV news stations – 86 percent – do not assign even one reporter – full or part time – to the statehouse.
  • About one in six, or 16 percent, of all statehouse reporters work for nontraditional outlets, such as digital-only sites and non-profit organizations.
  • Students account for 14 percent of statehouse reporters.
  • Around 9 percent of all state legislative reporters work for wire services like Pettus. The majority of wire service reporters work for the AP.

While her main responsibility has been covering Mississippi government – (you can read her observations in real time at the hashtag #msleg on Twitter) – Pettus said she has covered a variety of stories.

“One of the greatest things about having a general assignment job is I’ve gotten to cover some interesting civil rights stories,” she said. “In 2005, I covered the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted for the 1964 killings of civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County. In 2007, I covered the federal trial of (Ku Klux Klan member) James Ford Seale, who was convicted in the kidnapping that led to the death of two young black men, Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, in Southwest Mississippi, also in 1964.”

Pettus said she is honored to be among other Silver Em award winners and proud she spent part of her career working for UM’s campus newspaper The Daily Mississippian and The Oxford Eagle.

Will Norton, Ph.D., dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said Pettus is smart, a hard worker, and a terrific reporter.

“She has more than a quarter of a century experience,” Norton said. “She has devoted herself to covering Mississippi. She has reported in-depth, on deadline and always accurately . . . Emily is a person of integrity. She can be trusted.”

Curtis Wilkie, Overby Fellow and assistant professor of journalism, agrees that Pettus has earned the trust of her readers.

“She is one of the best reporters around and has been for as long as she has been reporting, quickly and reliably, all the news out of Mississippi for the Associated Press,” he said.

The Silver Em award dates to 1958, and recipients must be Mississippians with notable journalism careers or journalists with notable careers in Mississippi.

This article was written by LaReeca Rucker. For more information about the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s programs, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

 

University of Mississippi journalism grads share insights about post-graduate careers

Posted on: February 28th, 2019 by ldrucker

They attended their last classes and took their final exams in December. Now, these School of Journalism and New Media graduates have fully launched their careers and are ready to offer advice to this semester’s seniors.

Annie Mapp

Annie Mapp is a December graduate now serving as a news reporter at WBTW News 13 in Mrytle Beach, South Carolina.

Mapp began her career at WBTW News 13 in January. A few months before graduating, she began applying to several news outlets throughout the southeast.

“There are so many outlets you can work for,” Mapp said. “I just made a list and started going to each website and applying for the jobs that seemed most interesting.”

Mapp’s advice for future graduates is to have a great resume and maintain strong relationships with professors.

“I sent my resume to several of my professors in the School of Journalism, and they helped me with the job search and choosing which career path to take,” Mapp said. “They were a great resource for me.”

Annie describes her typical day as a news reporter as different and exciting, with new ideas always circulating and several opportunities for live broadcasting.

“This career has been great so far because I have gotten experience in reacting and speaking in the moment,” Mapp said.

Brianna Bynum

Brianna Bynum is a multimedia journalist for WTOK-TV in Meridian, Mississippi.

Bynum said she knew she wanted to jump right into her career upon graduating, so she began applying for jobs in October. She believes the key to finding a job so soon after graduating is consistency.

“I took time every day to reach out to employers and apply to jobs,” Bynum said.

Bynum describes a day in her career as busy and rewarding.

“As a multimedia journalist, I do all of the shooting, editing, writing and reporting for my stories on my own,” Bynum said. “So many different factors play into the story and writing scripts.

Though still in the training process, Brianna is already participating in editorial meetings and gathering her own stories. She credits much of her success to the School of Journalism and New Media.

“The School of Journalism and New Media really prepared me for this job,” she said. “A lot of the things that I am being told to do here are things that I have already been taught at Ole Miss. The news reporting experience I gained at NewsWatch Ole Miss and in my broadcast classes have played a large role in my confidence and reporting abilities.”

Sam Farris

Sam Farris is the public address announcer for Itawamba Community College Athletics, a sports writer for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal/Itawamba Times, and a fundraising partner with St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Farris credits his achievements to networking with former employers and colleagues.

“I worked my entire college career as a sports writer, public address announcer, and frequent radio personality,” Farris said. “The relationships I have developed have really helped give my career a great start.”

Farris has been working closely with local ESPN 95.1 The Fan in Tupelo, Mississippi, and has future aspirations to own his own business.

This story was written by Abby Adcock. For more information about the University of Mississippi School of Journalism’s programs, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

Anchorage to Oxford: Student travels 4,500 miles for IMC graduate school

Posted on: February 4th, 2019 by ldrucker

Chris Lawrence and his father spent eight days on the road from Anchorage, Alaska, to Oxford, going through a CD case full of classic rock, telling stories and taking in diverse landscapes on a 4,500-mile adventure to start a new journey as a graduate student at the University of Mississippi.

At the end of the voyage, Chris Lawrence enrolled last fall as an integrated marketing communications graduate student at Ole Miss. Jay Lawrence got to see the town before heading back to Alaska by plane.

“I was able to show him Oxford and Ole Miss a little bit, and that meant a whole lot,” Chris said.

After Chris earned his undergraduate degree in journalism and public communications at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, he decided he would go to graduate school and continue his education in Mississippi. His mother, Kelly Lawrence, lives in Amory, and growing up, he spent summers in the Magnolia State with her.

Kelly, Chris and Jay Lawrence take a picture with the statue of William Faulkner upon their arrival to Oxford. Submitted photo

“I thought, well, why not see what Mississippi has to offer so I could be close to my mom while continuing my education,” he said. “I did a little research and discovered Ole Miss had a great IMC program, and decided it was for me.”

Once the decision was made to enroll at Ole Miss, the daunting 600-mile-a-day, eight-day trip lay ahead of the father-and-son team. They stuffed Chris’ Dodge Caliber full of moving essentials and mementos and drove in five-hour shifts each day.

Jay enjoyed the long trip with his son and the ability to spend so much bonding time with him.

“We had a good time,” Jay said. “It was an opportunity to spend more time with him.”

The many different types of landscapes and wildlife between Anchorage and Oxford served as the main source of entertainment for the pair.

“We, unfortunately, didn’t spend a lot of time at places, but we definitely took in the sights and wonders of nature,” Chris said. “Just to be able to have a piece of a place and kind of know a little about what it’s like was nice.”

Some of the places the two stayed were the Canadian cities of Destruction Bay, Yukon; Fort Nelson, British Columbia; and Edmonton, Alberta. Cities in the United States included Bozeman, Montana; Scottsbluff, Nebraska; St. Joseph, Missouri; and Forrest City, Arkansas.

Lethbridge, Alberta, was a particular favorite.

“We drove through there and saw a 100-year-old steel viaduct and rolling hills all around town,” Chris said. “Lethbridge seemed runner- and biker-friendly, too. It was really, really cool.”

Bozeman, Montana, on the other hand, was bustling with tourists there to take in Yellowstone National Park. Besides the traffic and crowds there, Montana was lovely.

“We went over a bunch of rivers,” he said. “There was also a lot of open areas where you could see nothing but the sky. You could see for miles and miles.”

He enjoyed Montana and British Columbia for the scenery that the two places offered.

“British Columbia had a lot of open views,” he said. “You could see the gorgeous trees, rivers and lakes, so that was really awesome and majestic. We saw six black bears on the side of the road alone through B.C., and about 10 wild horses in Montana.”

To pass the time during the trip to Ole Miss, Chris and his father had conversations about past times and what lies ahead, while jamming out to rock bands such as Pearl Jam and Tom Petty.

Luck was also on their side. The two encountered few problems that slowed them down along the journey. They even said they were always ahead of bad weather.

“Surprisingly, we only saw two or three accidents the entire way so that was good traffic didn’t hold us up,” he said. “I’d say we drove through only 60 minutes of rain combined along the way.”

Once they reached Forrest City, they knew they were close to their final destination. The food was a dead giveaway.

“I had catfish with the bone-in, slaw and baked beans,” Chris said. “So I definitely knew I was home in the South.”

The father-son team was relieved to get to Oxford after that. Before Jay flew back to Anchorage, Chris and his mom showed Jay around Oxford and Ole Miss, which was special to all of them.

Chris is familiar with Oxford because he used to visit the town with his mom during summers.

“I always really liked it,” he said. “I thought it was a beautiful place.”

His mom was relieved the trip went well, and she was elated to see her son.

“When he got here, I was so happy to see him and am so excited knowing he’s at Ole Miss now,” she said.

The Lawrences made unforgettable memories over those 4,500 miles.

“It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences saying you could do a cross-country trek like that,” Chris said. “It was the end of my Alaska chapter and the beginning of my chapter here in Mississippi.”

This story was written by Kendall Patterson of University Communications.

Overby Center Spring 2019: Journalism and politics during election year in Mississippi

Posted on: January 28th, 2019 by ldrucker

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss begins its spring schedule next week with a lineup that accentuates politics and decision-making for an election year in Mississippi.

“Our programs feature a nationally known federal judge who grew up in Mississippi, journalists from The New York Times and The Washington Post, authors and political experts,” said Charles Overby, chairman of the center. “The programs offer a rich opportunity for conversations between the panelists the audiences on a broad array of subjects.”

Each event will take place in the Overby Center Auditorium. The programs are free and open to the public, and parking will be available in the lot adjacent to the auditorium. The schedule includes:

Read more descriptions of upcoming Overby events below the graphic.

Monday, Feb. 18, 5:30 p.m. – INSIGHT INTO MISSISSIPPI’S ELECTION YEAR

Two seasoned journalists who cover state politics – Emily Wagster Pettus of the Associated Press and Adam Ganucheau of Mississippi Today –will provide early intelligence on the developing contests for statewide offices this year. They will talk with Overby and Overby Fellow Curtis Wilkie.

Monday, March 4, 5:30 p.m. – A PIONEER OF THE BLACK PRESS

Burnis Morris, an Ole Miss graduate who is now a journalism professor at Marshall University, returns to campus to discuss his new book based on the work of Carter G. Woodson, who was called the “Father of Black History.” He will be joined in the conversation by Alysia Steele, the author of “Delta Jewels” and a member of the journalism faculty at Ole Miss.

Wednesday, March 20, 5:30 pm. – THE TRUTH ABOUT FAKE NEWS

The chief media columnists for The New York Times and The Washington Post will weigh in on the fake news phenomenon and how it is not only undercutting a civil discourse in the country, but is also striking at the heart of our democracy. Margaret Sullivan of The Post (the former public editor of The New York Times) and Jim Rutenberg of The Times, a long-time political reporter, head up a panel on this issue that has gone from a funny catch phrase to a crucial challenge for covering the news. They will talk with Overby and Overby Fellow Greg Brock.

Wednesday, April 3, 5:30 p.m. – “THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD”

Yeats coined the term 100 years ago in his famous poem, “The Second Coming,” but the expression applies today in the nation’s bitterly divided politics. Stuart Stevens, a Mississippi native and architect of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, and David Baria, a Democratic candidate for one of Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seats last fall, will talk about the dilemma with Overby and Wilkie.

Wednesday, April 17, 5:30 p.m. – OVERCOMING A SEGREGATIONIST PAST

U.S. District Judge William Alsup of San Francisco and attorney Danny Cupit of Jackson were white high school and college friends in the segregated environment of Mississippi in the 1960s. Alsup has written a book, “Won Over,” about how he broke through the segregationist status quo to become a civil rights advocate. He and Cupit will talk with Overby and Wilkie about their experiences.

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate wins IRE fellowship

Posted on: December 3rd, 2018 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate has won an Investigative Reporters and Editors fellowship.

Bracey Harris, an education reporter with The Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, has been named IRE’s first Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellow.

Harris has been with the newspaper since September 2015, according to the IRE website. She previously worked at WLBT News in Jackson as an associate morning producer.

“IRE’s new yearlong fellowship is designed to increase the range of backgrounds, experiences and interests within the field of investigative journalism, where diverse perspectives are critically important,” the IRE website reads. “The 2019 fellowship was open to U.S. journalists of color with at least three years of post-college work experience.”

As part of her fellowship, Harris will explore the effects of school integration on black families in Mississippi, the IRE website reports.

To read more, visit the IRE website.

Industry site shares story of Dr. Samir Husni’s Luminaire Award

Posted on: October 23rd, 2018 by ldrucker

School of Journalism and New Media professor Samir Husni, Ph.D., is the latest recipient of The Luminaire Award. Husni, the director of the Magazine Innovation Center and a professor and Hederman Lecturer, recently received the honor in New York City.

The award has been described as the “Hall of Fame” for the graphic and visual communications industries.

Watch the video of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D., accepting The Luminaire Award for Best in Communications at the Franklin Luminaire Awards: A celebration of achievement in graphic and visual communications. Click here if the video below is not visible.

From left, Samir Husni, Ph.D., accepts his 2018 Luminaire Award from Bob Sacks, a.k.a. BoSacks, Precision Media Group. Picture from the Printing Impressions website: https://www.piworld.com/article/landa-husni-four-other-notables-honored-at-2018-franklin-luminaire-awards-event/

The award was presented by the Idealliance Foundation and the Printing Industries Alliance at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City Oct. 17.

The Printing Impressions website recently wrote a story about the winners. Writer Patrick Henry described the awards as the “Academy Awards of the printing industry.”

Henry writes: “The fourth Luminaire honoree, Samir Husni, Ph.D., is well known to many in the publishing world as ‘Mr. Magazine.’ Bob Sacks, president and publisher, Precision Media Group, welcomed him ‘to the ranks of print’s greats’ and called him a ‘titan’ of the medium because of a lifetime spent evangelizing it.

“He is, Sacks said, the originator of the concept of doctoral studies in magazines,” Henry wrote. “Husni recalled ‘falling in love with the smell of ink on paper’ as a boy in his native Lebanon, where he hand-crafted his own publications and started collecting what is today a 30,000-copy library of magazine first editions. He said that upon emigrating to the U.S. in 1978, ‘My hobby became my education and my profession.'”

You can read the full article by clicking this link.

Former CEO of Meredith Group magazine publishing division signed copies of poetry book ‘Mississippi’

Posted on: October 10th, 2018 by ldrucker

James Autry signed copies of his new book Mississippi during a reception at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 in the Overby Center lobby.

MISSISSIPPI is a collection of 77 poems from James A. Autry’s Nights Under A Tin Roof and Life After Mississippi. The author, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, newspaper reporter, national magazine editor and Fortune 500 executive, returns to his Mississippi roots to examine the forces which shaped him.

The book is published by Yoknapatawpha Press.

Check out this review of the book by HottyToddy.com Book Editor Allen Boyer.

“Autry was editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, and later CEO of Meredith Group in charge of the publication of 16 major magazines,” said Yoknapatawpha Press Publisher Larry Wells. “He arranged for the Meredith Group to sponsor a magazine feature writing program at the School of Journalism. He is a member of Ole Miss Hall of Fame. Autry is an inspiration for Ole Miss students. His legendary career is proof that the sky’s the limit for our j-school grads.”

It’s rare that a CEO writes poetry recalling lessons learned under a tin roof. Autry, then president of the Meredith Group magazine publishing division, wrote verse whenever and wherever he could—in board rooms between meetings, in hotel lobbies, on airplanes, in limos and taxis. Poetry would not leave him alone.

In his preface to Mississippi, Autry calls his verse “pieces” of recollections because “their shape comes to me as stories and then as pieces of a larger story.” His poems achieve a remarkably dense texture of memory forming what John Mack Carter has called a bridge of “kinship” between poet and reader.

This collection of 77 poems from Autry’s Nights Under A Tin Roof and Life After Mississippi focuses on the rhythms of rural Southern life, an odyssey of country funerals, weddings, church revivals, family reunions, and courtships drawn from a unique American heritage.

The book is illustrated with 66 black and white photographs of the rural South taken by WPA photographers and the author’s step-mother, Lola Mae Autry.

Bill Moyers believes Autry is one of America’s leading contemporary poets and featured him in two PBS specials devoted to American poets. Moyers says of Autry’s verse, “We all need the shelter of the tin roof today against the storms raging in our world.”

Autry is the author of 14 books, a poet and consultant whose work has had a significant influence on leadership thinking. His book, Love and Profit, The Art of Caring Leadership, a collection of essays and poetry, won the prestigious Johnson, Smith & Knisely Award as the book that had the most impact on executive thinking in 1992. Love and Profit also has been published in Japanese, Swedish, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian, and is still in print in paperback.

In addition, Autry has written the introductions to several books, and his writings have appeared in many anthologies and magazines. In 1991 the Kentucky Poetry Review published a special James A. Autry issue. He is a founder of the Des Moines National Poetry Festival.

He received considerable national attention when he was one of the poets featured on Bill Moyers’ special series, “The Power of the Word.” Moyers featured him again in 2012 on Moyers & Company on PBS. Garrison Keillor has featured his work on “The Writer’s Corner” on public radio. Autry is also featured in three videos, “Love and Profit,” which won a “Telly” award, “Life and Work,” and “Spirit at Work.”

In 1998, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the Humanities from Iowa Humanities Board and Foundation. He was also the founding chair of the Claremont Graduate University’s Humanities Center Board of Visitors.

Autry was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Mississippi and was elected to the Alumni Hall of Fame. He fulfilled his military service as a jet fighter pilot in Europe during the cold war and rose to the rank of Major in the Iowa Air National Guard.

Before taking early retirement in 1991 to pursue his present career, Autry was senior vice president and president of the Meredith Group, at the time a 500 million dollar magazine publishing operation with over 900 employees.

Autry lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife Sally Pederson, the former Lieutenant Governor of Iowa.

Crisis management expert says: “Humans first, business second”

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018 by ldrucker

Today, it’s more important than ever for businesses and organizations to have a crisis management plan. And though no one likes to relive a crisis, you can learn from doing so.

In 1982, consumer research specialist Leslie Westbrook was in the “war room” during the Tylenol poisoning scandal that became a textbook case in the field of crisis management. What she learned is still important today. When dealing with controversy, it’s important to put humans first, business second.

Q. Can you take us back to the time of the Tylenol controversy? Where were you working? What was your job position at the time? When did you first hear about this controversy?

A. In 1982, at the time of the Tylenol poisoning, I had already created my consulting firm, Leslie M. Westbrook & Associates, Inc. After graduating from Ole Miss in 1968, I worked for Procter & Gamble for three years, where I was trained in classic consumer research. I then worked for a nationally prominent new product consulting firm for nine years. In 1980, I founded my consulting firm. I am a consumer research specialist/marketing strategist working with primarily Fortune 500 companies.

Joe Chiesa, then president of McNeil Consumer and makers of Tylenol, had been my client at another J&J company. I watched Jim Burke, then CEO of J&J Worldwide and the parent company of McNeil, announce on television that J&J would no longer make capsules (Too easy to tamper with. Who knew?)

All Tylenol capsules were being pulled off the shelves. Seven people had died as a result of Tylenol, which had been tampered with, and J&J did not want any more harm to their customers. They were cooperating with authorities, shutting down Tylenol capsule plants, interviewing employees . . . until the mystery was solved.

I was so impressed, so touched that the CEO of a major international consumer company was willing to lose millions in order not to hurt any more people. I wrote to Joe Chiesa to volunteer my services in any way needed. I volunteered to do their consumer research to help Tylenol, no charge. They had already done so much. I was summoned to Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania, McNeil headquarters, for a meeting with the director of market research.

I was hired (they never accepted my offer to volunteer) to be the consumer specialist to work with the Tylenol Team (the war room) to stage a Tylenol comeback. I worked with R&D as they began to develop safety packaging for current Tylenol tablets (capsules were gone) and future Tylenol line extensions to replace the Extra Strength Capsule: what it must look like, how it should be described and named … to develop trust and confidence.

R&D also was charged with replacing the much-preferred capsule form vs. tablets for Extra Strength. (They) preferred it to be shaped like a capsule for swallowability, but it must be pure white like tablets (compressed powder) to visually communicate that it “cannot be tampered with.” (Decisions had to be made about) form, nomenclature, how to motivate capsule purchasers to buy Extra Strength Tylenol again … in this new form. The caplet form was born, along with Triple Safety Sealed packaging. It changed the consumer landscape forever.

Q. For those who may not be aware of what happened, can you give us a bit more background?

A. In September 1982, seven people in the Chicago area mysteriously died. It was discovered that each of the seven (random, not related) had taken Tylenol Extra Strength capsules. Police and FBI confiscated the Tylenol from all seven homes and the stores where these were bought.

Forensics discovered that the capsules had been tampered with: capsules opened, active ingredient powder removed and replaced with cyanide powder. J&J ran full-page ads not only in Chicago papers but in all major papers around the country.

Read the recent New York Times article about the Tylenol controversy.

Tylenol Extra Strength Capsules were pulled off every retail shelf around the country. All Tylenol Extra Strength Capsule manufacturing plants were shut down and scrutinized. All Tylenol ES capsule packages were sent to a central location for tedious examination to see if any other capsules were tainted. There was a massive manhunt, search for a “madman” who was behind the poisonings.

Q. What were some of the strategies that you helped implement to turn this controversy around? It seems it took strategic thinking to prevent the company from being distrusted after the controversy? Can you talk a little bit about your team’s action plan?

A. Burson-Marstellar PR Agency, founded by our own Harold Burson (another Ole Miss graduate), was already working for several J&J companies. The firm was hired to handle what is now called “crisis management.”

Jim Burke, J&J CEO, worked closely and directly with the agency. He set the parameters: totally transparent, no waffling, only straight talk. Key was also to promote the actions: All Tylenol capsules removed from all retail shelves … $100 million loss in one day.

Consumers were to take any Tylenol ES capsules to any local grocery/drug to turn in (back to J&J for examination) and given a choice:

1. Refund (no sales receipt necessary), which was given as a coupon for store credit to buy anything (or)
2. Full bottle of Tylenol ES Tablets (white compressed powder/no tampering)

The news coverage was all positive due to the unfathomable humanitarian non-profit-oriented approach taken by J&J. I tested various approaches/ads/PR articles to guide J&J and Burson in the selection of the most positive, most reassuring and viable.

I was working closely with R&D on a fast-track to get the new form (caplet) and new Safety Seal Packaging in the market. I conducted focus groups in the Chicago area first, three months after the poisonings, to assess consumer attitudes toward Tylenol, J&J.

Trust was building. Consumers responded very favorably to the company’s open, transparent, humanitarian approach. We eventually conducted these focus groups around the country.

Q. The Tylenol controversy is now a textbook case for marketing and public relations classes. What do you think marketing executives learned as a result of this problem that they now teach students about?

A. Crisis management is now an industry. Crisis management is taught in universities. Crisis management agencies have proliferated. In my experience, and in my observation of corporations, when a consumer crisis occurs (and there have been many over the 36 years since Jim Burke was a human being first), no one has even attempted to follow Jim Burke. The vast majority of corporations only focus on the Bottom Line … profit, stock prices, no transparency. It is shameful.

Jim Burke was a human first, a businessman second.

In the end, Tylenol staged an unprecedented comeback and went on to far surpass the original profit projections for Tylenol ES capsules. So, J&J won on all levels.

It is heartbreaking for me to see how all subsequent CEOs of J&J have not followed the “Burke Playbook” for crisis management.

Q. What did you learn personally or take away from your experience of being involved?

A. First, I was privileged to see from the inside how dedicated all of J&J and McNeil were to the Johnson & Johnson Credo … Putting the people we serve first (www.jnj.com/credo) … Shareholders (profit) last.

>Jim Burke became and still is my hero. I have never met, worked with or read about any corporate head with his integrity and beliefs. It was an honor to work with him, the Tylenol team.

For years, I worked with the J&J family of companies. I was recommended by my clients at McNeil to other J&J companies. When I began to experience a change in the mentality/work ethic/attitudes of various J&J company management persons … less humanistic, less ethical … I stopped taking J&J clients.

Ms. Westbrook’s responses were lightly edited.

By LaReeca Rucker

Students explore the world through Meek School’s Global Communication Day

Posted on: September 25th, 2018 by ldrucker

Meek School students recently got the opportunity to explore the world when they participated in Global Communication Day Sept. 20 at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Students were invited to learn about opportunities to travel abroad and explore.

Zenebe Beyene, a professor and director of international programs, said the event was intended to inform students about opportunities available to them.

“The event (was) not only about study abroad; it is about internships, jobs, etc. at the international context,” he said. “For example, we (had) signed an MoU with a Jerusalem based institute that would provide internships for journalism majors or anyone who would like to write and publish stories.”

While the event was mainly for students, Beyene said it didn’t exclude adults who can study in a number of places. He also hopes it was a way of connecting other professors who could collaborate internationally on research projects.

“One of the plans I have is joint research projects with instructors and staff in other countries,” Beyene said. “There are so many interesting research projects in other countries. So, we can collaborate.

“For example, in some countries, a very serious alcohol consumption is affecting their workforce, or in others, traffic accidents are killing the workforce. How can we engage in joint research projects that would target the issues in a coordinated manner (IMC/journalism)? What kind of communication strategy would be effective to tackle such kind of issues in those countries?”

Beyene said the event was an opportunity for students to learn more about the exciting opportunities that are available to them.

Study Abroad Advisor, Rock Ford, briefs students about opportunities to travel and study abroad.

“They will be motivated to go out, explore and learn,” he said, adding that he hopes students learned that traveling abroad and learning in a new environment will significantly contribute to their professional and personal development.”

Meek School professor meets with Ethiopian leaders in Washington, D.C.

Posted on: September 6th, 2018 by ldrucker

Dr. Zenebe Beyene, a Meek School of Journalism and New Media instructional assistant professor and coordinator of international programs (second from left), is pictured with Dr. Oyvind Aadland, a representative of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, and Ethiopian leaders at a meeting on nation-building in the Charles L. Overby Boardroom at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Participants were primarily from the East Coast: New York, Virginia, Maryland and D.C. with one each from Memphis, Atlanta and North Carolina. They are lawyers, IT experts, software developers, political scientists, economists, a graphic designer, theologians, etc.

The  Meek School is grateful to the Freedom Forum for making the boardroom available. The boardroom is named for Charles Overby, a graduate of Ole Miss.