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Society of Professional Journalists names two UM finalists in 2021 Mark of Excellence national competition

Posted on: June 29th, 2022 by ldrucker

The Society of Professional Journalists recently named two University of Mississippi finalists in the 2021 Mark of Excellence national competition.

Student HG Biggs, a journalist with The Daily Mississippian, was named a finalist in the Breaking News Photography category of programs with more than 10,000 students. Hotty Toddy News was named a finalist for Best All-Around Television News Magazine.

The 2021 Mark of Excellence Awards recognize collegiate work published or broadcast during 2021. The awards honor the best in student journalism.

This is an image of Farley Hall with the SPJ logo over the building.

School divisions are based on student enrollment, which includes both graduate and undergraduate enrollment. Schools with more than 10,000 students are designated as large schools.

National Mark of Excellence Awards judges can choose up to one national winner in each category and two national finalists (runners-up).

Winners and finalists were previously recognized by receiving first-place in one of SPJ’s 12 regional competitions. The results of those competitions can be found in the April 2022 SPJ News archive. Each first-place regional winner advanced to the national competition.

Below is a list of winners in both categories with UM winners.

Click to read the full list of winners.

Art/Graphics

Breaking News Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Racial reckoning – by TJ Shaw, Syracuse University
Finalist: Walking out – by Dominick Sokotoff, University of Michigan
Finalist: Confrontation – by HG Biggs, University of Mississippi

Television

Best All-Around Television News Magazine
Winner: “Our America” – by staff, California State University, Fullerton
Finalist: “ViewFinder” – by staff, The University of Maryland
Finalist: “Hotty Toddy News” – by staff, University of Mississippi

Two University of Mississippi journalism students place in prestigious Hearst competition

Posted on: June 20th, 2022 by ldrucker

Congratulations to two University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media students who recently placed in the Top 20 in the prestigious national Hearst journalism competition in the team digital news/enterprise category.

Rabria Moore and Billy Schuerman were winners led by editor/adviser Ellen Meacham, according to Patricia Thompson, former director of the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center at Ole Miss.

Thompson said the project tied for 16th place in the Hearst contest with a project from Elon University. The Top 5 winners in that category were students from Western Kentucky, Syracuse, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Oregon.

The project, about water supply problems in the community of Taylor, Mississippi, was published during the spring semester of 2021, and this is one of several major awards it has won since then, Thompson said.

Rabria Moore is pictured in the photo.

Rabria Moore is pictured in the photo.

Moore is entering her senior year at UM and is The Daily Mississippian editor-in-chief for 2022-23.

Schuerman graduated in 2021 and just completed his first year in the visual communication master’s program at Ohio University. He spent winter break as a photographer and writer at a newspaper in Colorado and has a photo internship this summer at the Virginian-Pilot, Thompson said.

Moore, 20, is a Durant, Mississippi native entering her senior year at the university studying journalism and political science.

“I was very excited to find out I received a Hearst award for this project,” Rabria said. “When I started this project, I didn’t think about winning any awards. My main goal was to tell a story about a woman who’s been fighting for access to water, and hopefully bring attention to the issue of water access, especially in Mississippi. I’m happy to receive the award, but I definitely take more pride in knowing that the story has reached a broader audience.”

Moore said working on this project was different from others.

“For months, I was able to visit Ms. Ilean’s home to hear about and see the problems she was facing without access to community water,” she said. “I hope others, especially people living in Mississippi, understand that not everyone has access to the same resources. Water is something we take for granted and something we don’t typically think about, but I hope people can appreciate the ‘small’ things that we don’t have to figure out on our own.”

She said learning to listen was one of the things she took away from the project.

“So many times, we think we know someone’s story or situation,” Moore said. “I think listening gives people the opportunity to tell their stories without us injecting ourselves into those stories.”

Billy Schuerman is pictured in this black and white photo.

Billy Schuerman is pictured in this black and white photo.

Schuerman, 23, who is from Houston, Texas, said he was elated to hear that their hard work was recognized in the competition.

“I am more hopeful that this recognition helps provide a future for the community we reported on,” he said. “Awards are secondary to the communities we serve.”

He said the project was meaningful.

“Before we are journalists, we are humans, and this is a human story,” he said. “This was not a project we could just walk into. We dedicated our time to telling a meaningful story about something that really matters. I hope other students can take away that in order to tell the rough draft of history, we must truly dedicate ourselves to the people we serve.”

His advice to other journalists is to find time to do important stories.

“Not everything you work on will come through,” he said, “but when you have an opportunity to really do something important, it’s important to take it head on.”

New director set to lead University of Mississippi’s S. Gale Denley Student Media Center

Posted on: June 6th, 2022 by ldrucker

A new director will soon lead the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center (SMC), which includes The Daily Mississippian newspaper, the campus television station NewsWatch, Rebel Radio and The Ole Miss yearbook.

Larz Roberts will be joining the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media June 24 as the new SMC leader.

Roberts comes to UM from Arkansas State University, where he advised Red Wolf Radio and ASU-TV News. For the past 25 years, he has worked in student media and as a faculty member teaching radio, television, online and print courses. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Mississippi and his B.S. from Florida A&M.

“His students have won national, regional and state awards for their work,” said Interim Dean Debora Wenger, “and Larz tells us that his goal is to help our students ‘grow across platforms, think critically and gain practical experience.’ Larz joins an exceptional team in the SMC and will be able to build on what is an excellent foundation.”

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

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

Roberts said he has always been a “utility player,” and that helped him learn many aspects of operating a media organization.

“If the media outlet where I worked needed someone to do a variety of whatever, I was often one to toss myself or get tossed onto those tasks,” he said. “Once I got into academia, I relished being that utility player, being able to teach and coach a number of things both the students and my departments needed.”

Students now produce a newscast, but Roberts said he’d like to see them have an entire television channel to create a variety of television programs, telling stories from all over the area.

“I’d love to see any student with a skill set or interest they can put to use in the media center use that opportunity to stretch their legs,” he said. “Get practical, real experience with content they create added to their portfolios.”

Whether that is in journalism, advertising or marketing, Roberts hopes students will use the SMC to build their portfolios and tell stories that would not otherwise be told.

“The mass media landscape is such now that everyone should think of creating multi-platform content,” he said. “Or at least, creating content that can be adapted to run across the different media platforms.

“That’s what those who are hiring are looking at, so it’s important any students wanting media experience be aware of that as an expectation.”

Roberts said it’s important that students and the program earn recognition for their work.

“I want to see students bringing back multiple national and regional awards,” he said. “With what I’ve seen of the work they produce, it’s a realistic goal . . . My mind has been churning almost nonstop in the past couple of weeks. I love seeing the lightbulbs turn on over students’ heads.  I can hardly wait to work with the faculty and the students there to make all that happen.”

Roberts is the current president of the Arkansas College Media Association, and he is involved in the Central Arkansas Association of Black Journalists, Arkansas’ only National Association of Black Journalists chapter.

He is also the founding faculty co-adviser for the state’s first student NABJ chapter, the Arkansas State Association of Black Journalists.

Andrea Hickerson Named Dean of School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: May 20th, 2022 by ldrucker
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, 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

Respected administrator brings expertise in 21st century practices, research into deepfakes

OXFORD, Miss. – Andrea Hickerson, an internationally renowned researcher, educator and administrator, is joining the University of Mississippi as dean of the School of Journalism and New Media.

Her appointment was approved Thursday, May 19 by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning board of trustees at its May meeting. Hickerson begins her new role July 1.

“The appointment of Dr. Hickerson resulted from a national search that attracted a well-qualified pool of applicants,” said Noel Wilkin, UM provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“She is an accomplished researcher and scholar with experience studying deepfakes and issues facing international journalism. She is also an accomplished administrator, having served as a director at two universities.”

Hickerson earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international relations at Syracuse University, master’s degrees in journalism and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas, and a Ph.D. in communication at the University of Washington. She has served on the faculty at both the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of South Carolina, where she most recently was director of the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications, associate dean and professor.

The new dean said she is “incredibly positive” about coming to Ole Miss and Oxford.

“I love the setting and the history,” Hickerson said. “When I visited campus, I felt a great energy and sense of mission from faculty, staff and students. I was excited by their drive to serve local, state, national and international communities in creative ways.

“I thought we would make great partners and thrive off of each other.”

Hickerson has been a principal investigator, co-principal investigator or investigator on projects generating more than $1.6 million in external support from a range of sources that include the National Science Foundation, U.S. State Department, philanthropic foundations and news networks.

Hickerson said her vision for the school is to prepare students to meet the challenges of evolving modern media and deal with ongoing technological and social changes.

“A short-term goal is to enhance the things the school is already great at, like supporting student media and creating opportunities for experiential learning,” Hickerson said. “To do this, I look forward to listening to and learning from faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“I’m especially interested in traveling across the state and meeting current and future employers of the school’s graduates.”

Hickerson said she wants to make sure that the school is setting students up not just for their first job, but for successful careers.

“I also want to make sure our curriculum is well-rounded and has the right blend of skills classes and topical courses so our students can engage critically with key challenges facing citizens, especially those with backgrounds who differ from their own,” she said.

A long-term goal of Hickerson’s is to increase the school’s expertise and reputation as central to community problem solving.

“A pet peeve of mine is when people equate communication with ‘messaging’ or ‘publicity,’” she said. “Communication experts know how to listen, assess needs, contribute to solutions and communicate them to public and private audiences.”

The incoming dean said she hopes to accomplish this goal by prioritizing interdisciplinary projects and research, including grant-funded research.

“I also hope to achieve this through proactive programming and events that bring experts from different fields to campus to address a common problem,” she said. “I believe that if we take this initiative – creating spaces to discuss and iterate on problems – we can easily demonstrate our centrality to its analysis and solutions.”

A prolific scholar, Hickerson is the author or co-author of more than 25 peer-reviewed journal articles. She has also been a presenter at numerous national and international conferences, as well as at professional development training seminars.

Hickerson said her strong background in research – particularly on deepfakes, manipulated videos that can make it appear that a person said something that they did not – should be especially useful in her new role.

“My research on deepfakes is an example of how journalism and communication can be paired with tech fields to solve a community problem; in this case, fighting misinformation,” she said.

“Also, at the heart of this research is a deep commitment to verification. No matter how we challenge and create new storytelling forms, verification is a central practice.”

Hickerson has received many awards for her teaching and research. One of the most meaningful for her is the University of South Carolina’s Educational Foundation Research Award from Professional Schools. The award is one of the university’s highest research honors.

“I’m proud of it because it recognized how my research impacted the overall practice of journalism, particularly through my deepfake research,” she said.

Hickerson said she is also proud of and grateful for being asked to serve on the advisory board for a community-based research project concerning media portrayals of race in Rochester, New York, in 2018 and again in 2021.

“Both the results of those reports and the community members working on it taught me to question traditional journalism practices and to reconsider who tells community stories and even the definition of ‘newsworthy,’” she said.

Her professional activities and memberships include the editorial board for the Journal of Global Media and Diaspora, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the International Communication Association, and the International Association for Media and Communication Research.

Hickerson will bring “a thoughtful and measured approach” to leading the school, said Debora Rae Wenger, interim dean and professor of journalism.

“Dr. Hickerson appears to think deeply about the role that communication can, does and should play in our society,” Wenger said. “Under her leadership, I think we can reimagine the ways in which our school can contribute to the big conversation taking place around credibility, authenticity and accuracy of news and information in today’s tech-mediated world.”

Wenger said Hickerson’s plans to take the time she needs to understand the culture and to build strategically on past successes are also welcome.

“It’s always good to bring in fresh ideas and new approaches,” she said. “Dr. Hickerson’s previous administrative experience offers us the opportunity to grow.”

Meet some of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s outstanding 2022 graduates

Posted on: May 13th, 2022 by ldrucker

Journey to Commencement

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media congratulates the Class of 2022. Here are a few profiles of some of our outstanding graduates. The students shared thoughts on what drew them to UM, what they learned on their Journey to Commencement, their favorite classes and professors, and their future plans.

Click the images below to read their stories.

By LaReeca Rucker

Hard Work Pays Off: North Carolina IMC grad juggles internships and school to finish strong

Posted on: May 4th, 2022 by ldrucker
Mary Chapman Johnson is one graduate who has proven that hard work pays off. The graphic features a graduation cap.

For Mary Chapman Johnson, 22, earning a degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) with a minor in business required work inside and outside of the classroom.

“I worked 30+ hours a week with my internship on top of being a full-time student,” said Johnson, who is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.

The Winston-Salem native was involved in in her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and she served on the executive board for Turning Point USA, an organization that advocates for conservative values on high school, college, and university campuses.

She also interned for Carmigo, a website that helps people sell their cars.

“In my senior year of high school, I applied to 12 colleges,” Johnson said. “One would think that it would be hard to decide with so many options, but as soon as I got my Ole Miss admission packet, I knew this was the place for me.”

Johnson said her biggest personal and educational challenges were pandemic-related.

Mary Chapman Johnson

“Shifting to an online learning and social environment was hard for me, as I am very sociable,” she said. “It was hard for me to engage as authentically as I would have if the class were in person.”

Despite those challenges, Michael Tonos, an instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, said Johnson was a memorable student.

“Mary Chapman was what I call a front-row student,” he said, “not just because she literally chose to sit in the front row, but because she was interested, engaged and eager to improve.

“She came into IMC 205 with solid skills and built on them to earn one of the best grades in the class. She asked good questions and sought feedback. She was pleasant to work with, but also would speak up when she had her own opinion.”

Tonos said he also worked with Johnson as an adviser, helping her chart her academic path.

After graduation, Johnson said she plans to begin working in a business development position with alliantgroup, a Houston, Texas-based national tax consulting services firm.

Scott Fiene, associate professor of integrated marketing communications, said Johnson was in his Introduction to IMC class during the fall of her freshmen semester. She also took his IMC capstone campaigns course in the spring semester of her senior year.

“She’s been a student of mine at the beginning and the end of the program,” he said. “I love it when that happens.”

Fiene said Johnson seems to love learning.

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is her inquisitiveness,” he said. “She doesn’t just take notes in class, but she asks questions and engages (and leads) class discussions. She’s always wanting to know more, do more, learn more. It’s a delight to have students like her.”

Johnson’s advice to students: “Engage in your classes and build strong relationships with your professors, even as a freshman. My favorite professor from freshman year helped me get an internship. Your professors have great connections and are here to help you be successful, not only in the classroom but also after college.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

Column: Seeing Ole Miss in full bloom reminds us it’s been deemed ‘most beautiful campus’

Posted on: April 15th, 2022 by ldrucker

The grass is green, the birds are chirping, subtle rain showers in the afternoon are almost always a guarantee, and every outside surface has been coated in a thin layer of lime green pollen. It is official. Spring has sprung in Oxford.

It has been a long winter for us. Many relish the chilly, winter weather. We have had days of snowfall and hot cocoa followed by loud, stormy nights of rain and thunder.

A picture of the Lyceum with colorful flowers in front of it in spring. Photo by Jodi Hallum.

A picture of the Lyceum with colorful flowers in front of it in spring. Photo by Jodi Hallum.

Now, as we move further into April, we get to experience chilly mornings, warm breezy afternoons, and even more rainy nights. Although the weather has seemed inconsistent these past few weeks, the changes are leading to a beautiful spring season.

Read student Jodi Hallum’s full column at OxfordStories.net

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.

Keep Calm and Sail On: How industry experts are tackling crisis communications

Posted on: April 11th, 2022 by ldrucker

A panel of industry experts discussed the four phases of crisis communication during the inaugural IMC Connect! event Friday, April 1 at The Inn at Ole Miss.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Timothy Coombs, a professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University, and featured:

  • Chris Chiames, Chief Communication Officer at Carnival Cruise Line
  • Renee Malone, President and Founding Partner at KQ Communications
  • Reade Tidwell, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Chick-fil-A
  • Steve Holmes, Vice President of Corporate Communications and External Affairs at The Home Depot
  • Jenny Robertson, SVP, Integrated Marketing and Communication at FedEx Service

Dr. Coombs said the four phases include stealing thunder, empathy, accountability, and moral outrage. He described “stealing thunder” as creating a loss.

A panel discusses crisis communication at IMC Connect!

A panel discusses crisis communication at IMC Connect!

Empathy occurs when stakeholders are a priority, not just psychological support, but also addressing physical safety. Accountability does not mean you are responsible for what happened, but you are responsible for what happens to solve the problem. And moral outrage occurs when people perceive injustice and see it happen to other people.

Panelists explained that a crisis is a long term issue that you will manage over a period of time. The organization principles should guide your decision-making, and it is essential to make consistent decisions throughout, as well as build trust within your organization to be successful, or you will be slow and miss the boat.

Some of the key takeaways from the panel included the importance of:

  1.  Timeliness – Fast and good beats slow and perfect every time.
  2.  There should be an alignment with the executive team over guiding principles.
  3.  Prepare for the different categories of crises. However, empathy and sympathy are always first.
  4.  Make an effective response that will help the organization in a crisis.
  5.  The goal is to avoid crisis, present calmness, and don’t give an indication that there is a crisis.
  6.  Everyday is a dress rehearsal for crisis.
  7.  It is not always about you; it’s about the company, the people you are protecting, and the associates.
  8.  A company crisis is not about what you say; it’s about what you do. Don’t let your customer service fall apart.
  9.  Actions speak louder than words. There should be a multi-discipline approach to all actions.
  10. Learn from the best practices across the spectrum and not just in your industry.
  11. Read other companies’ crises, and see how they are handling the situation, and think about how you would handle the crisis.
  12. You can’t ignore the internal side of crisis communication.
  13. In a crisis, clarity is absolutely crucial.

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

By Jordyn Rodriguez and Margaret Savoie.

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

Communicators listen and learn from industry experts at IMC Connect!

Posted on: April 7th, 2022 by ldrucker

Students get advice from professionals and researchers during inaugural conference

Several industry leaders and academic researchers networked with University of Mississippi students, faculty and staff and sparked conversation on a number of topics at IMC Connect! 2022, an inaugural conference hosted by the School of Journalism and New Media

Organized by students in an event-planning course in the integrated marketing communications master’s program, the March 31-April 1 conference included workshops designed to improve the school’s IMC curriculum, sessions for attendees to network with invited professionals and discussion panels with representatives from leading household brands.

IMC Connect! panelists take the stage inside Farley Hall.

IMC Connect! panelists take the stage inside Farley Hall.

“This is a great networking event for students interested in IMC,” said Abigail Nichols, second-year graduate student and event planner of IMC Connect! 2022. “It is always nice to hear from leaders about topics related to IMC and collaborate with my classmates to host this event.”

Discussion topics included social media and data analytics, crisis communication, the role of advocacy and social justice in public relations and brand strategies.

The purpose of this experience was to, not only provide a space for members of the Ole Miss community to network with IMC practitioners, but also to offer attendees insight on topics of student interest, said Dr. Amanda Bradshaw, co-chair of IMC Connect! and an assistant professor of IMC.

“The event sought to bridge the disconnect between research and practice, and we had some of the foremost academic researchers in the world on campus,” Bradshaw said.

To read the full story written by Michael Taplin, click the link.