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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.

UM assistant professor of IMC earns honor for study about vaccine discourse on social media

Posted on: September 2nd, 2022 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media assistant professor has earned an honorable mention in the Nafziger-White-Salwen dissertation award juried competition.

Dr. Amanda Bradshaw, Ph.D., assistant professor of integrated marketing communications (IMC), said her three-part dissertation examined vaccine-related social media advertising and organic vaccine discourse on social media in the early months of COVID-19 (March to May 2020).

“Notably, the World Health Organization identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to our societal health in early 2019, well before the spread of the novel Coronavirus,” Bradshaw said. “Thus, this work has implications beyond COVID-19 and is not limited to the current health crisis, but rather contributes to the formulation of effective social media messaging strategies to combat vaccine hesitancy holistically – including COVID-19.”

Amanda Bradshaw stands outside with trees behind her.

Amanda Bradshaw, Ph.D.

Bradshaw said she became interested in this topic while managing strategic communication for a medical group that specialized in pediatrics.

“Anecdotally, we were seeing more expectant and new mothers coming in who were unprepared to make childhood vaccine choices and were choosing to delay or decline one or more standard childhood vaccines,” she said. “The policy of the practice, at the time, was to dismiss these patients rather than engage in dialogue or shared decision making.”

When Bradshaw began working on her doctorate at the University of Florida, she sought to explore better ways to communicate about vaccines with expectant and new mothers — both in clinical settings and via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter that mothers frequently access seeking health information.

She said her first study utilized the theoretical foundation of framing theory to explore the framing of vaccine-related advertisements in the Facebook Ad Library. She believes it is only the second study to use the Facebook Ad Library tool, invented in 2018, to examine vaccine-related advertisements, and the only study since Facebook implemented new policies to eliminate vaccine misinformation on its platform.

“I compared my findings with previous baseline findings to discern whether vaccine advertisements were framed differently on Facebook following a series of steps taken by the largest social media platform to actively lessen health misinformation in its sponsored posts,” she said.

Bradshaw said her second study utilized counterpublic sphere theory to explore the discourse related to #DoctorsSpeakUp, a hashtag invented by pro-vaccine doctors to collectively promote vaccines on Twitter, but which was instead hijacked by anti-vaccine advocates. She said analysis revealed that the majority of tweets subverted the original message and advocated against vaccines, instead.

Her third study explored what source credibility cues mothers rely on when evaluating the trustworthiness of vaccine messages on social media, and whether a mixture of positive and negative comments, as appear organically on Facebook, influence mothers’ willingness to share these messages.

“In its entirety, this work illuminates the strategies that pro-vaccine campaigns on social media should employ to resonate the most with their target audience and to achieve greater reach, awareness, and ultimately increase vaccine uptake, being mindful of potential backlash such as what was experienced in the #DoctorsSpeakUp hashtag hijacking,” she said.

Gregory P. Perreault, Ph.D., an associate professor of digital journalism in the Department of Communication at Appalachian State University, said the Nafziger-White-Salwen Dissertation Award is the gold standard for excellence in dissertations in the field of communication.

“Our entire research committee, which includes scholars with impressive qualifications in every aspect of mass communication, reads and evaluates all of the finalists for this award,” he said. “The competitiveness of this year is impressive, not only because of the sheer number of submissions–one of our highest–but because of the quality of the submissions, which were absolutely remarkable given the challenges that doctoral candidates faced in accomplishing their research in the midst of the pandemic.

“Dr. Bradshaw’s dissertation is emblematic of the analytical quality that we ask for in the award, but could never have expected under such difficult conditions. Her work is testament to the sort of scholarship that deserves recognition and attention within our field.”

The school’s associate dean, Dr. Deb Wenger, said the award helps confirm what the school knew about Bradshaw when they hired her.

“Dr. Bradshaw is already having an impact on the field of communication and in our classrooms. We are lucky to have someone with her skills as a scholar and as a teacher as part of the integrated marketing communications program,” Wenger said. “We look forward to celebrating many more of her accomplishments in the future.”

These were some of Bradshaw’s key takeaways from the study.

Vaccine hesitancy is not new, and vaccine decision making is complex and multi-faceted.

“Vaccine hesitancy has existed long before COVID-19 and was in fact, labeled a top-10 global threat in early 2019, prior to the pandemic,” Bradshaw said. “Thus, it is not a new phenomenon.”

Bradshaw said vaccine decision making is complex and multifaceted, and there is no one-size-fits-all PSA or communications campaign that will encourage everyone to vaccinate. Vaccine choices are nuanced and influenced by many factors, including the perception of safety and efficacy, antigen, individual factors related to a person’s health and history and social influence.

“But, pro-vaccine campaigns can be used to move the needle and encourage some fence-seekers who are still undecided about vaccines to vaccinate,” Bradshaw said.

They can also encourage pro-vaxxers to share vaccine-positive messages that may influence others in their peer network to make similar choices by helping to normalize vaccination, she said.

Effective pro-vaccine messages are two-sided, focused on individual benefits rather than community immunity, and are not shaming

Since COVID-19, Bradshaw said the topic of vaccination has become more politicized, and pro-vaxxers are more hesitant to engage in the topic, especially on social platforms, due to worries over controversy or the perception that deciding to vaccinate is a personal choice.

“Thus, effective pro-vaccine messages should seek to be two-sided and encourage a dialogue rather than being shaming or moralistic,” she said.

The participants in Bradshaw’s third study, who all identified as pro-vaccine, disliked messages that had a moralistic undertone or shaming message (e.g., everyone who is smart vaccinates without question), she said.

“In fact, they related more to the idea that good parents do ask questions — and seek credible sources to answer those questions,” she said.

Bradshaw said she learned that messages centered on personal health benefits tend to be more effective in promoting childhood vaccination than messages that encourage individuals to vaccinate for the sake of others in the community.

“These messages should be grounded in research and point users to credible links/sources to do additional research,” she said, “particularly for those who tend to process information more centrally and who want to access more than peripheral cues about vaccination.”

The need for stakeholder buy-in and credibility 

Before undertaking a vaccine campaign on social media, Bradshaw said the effort should be carefully thought out and strategized, garnering buy-in from major stakeholder groups.

“In the case of the #DoctorsSpeakUp campaign, the voices of the medical community were quickly drowned out by anti-vaccine advocates, and only a small minority of tweets studied (<17%) originated from pro-vaccine doctors, despite the campaign’s original intent to bring the medical community together to promote vaccines,” she said.

Bradshaw said the campaign could have been more impactful if organizations such as the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, etc. endorsed it, actively participated in it, and encouraged their members to do the same.

“Interestingly, at the time of data collection in Study 1, most of the aforementioned organizations, state health departments, universities, and other major medical entities were silent and not publishing paid vaccine content on Facebook,” she said,” which was a bit surprising due to the timing and context of the research (March-May 2020).”

Bradshaw said Study 1 also revealed that 26% (n = 41) of advertisers representing an array of vaccine stances were individual political candidates or their political campaign representatives, which may have contributed to the continued politicization of vaccines, including the (then-hypothetical) COVID-19 vaccine.

“In short, despite the potential backlash, there is an important role for medical professionals and organizations to play in communicating about vaccines on social media,” she said.

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker

School of Journalism and New Media professors offer advice for college students

Posted on: August 19th, 2022 by ldrucker

The graphic features a cork board with pins and reads Advice for Students

A new semester has begun at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, and some of our professors are offering the following advice to students:

Graham Bodie

Graham Bodie

Listen to Other Perspectives. Graham Bodie, Ph.D., professor of integrated marketing communication, said go to class and ask questions that provide deeper understanding, especially around issues that are complex and infused with multiple diverse perspectives.

“Learn to hold two or more seemingly contradictory perspectives as plausible before accepting or rejecting anything out-of-hand,” he said. “Try to read something or talk to someone who disagrees with you every day.”

Speak Up. Bodie said speak with passion and confidence toward a position you feel strongly about and about which you have some knowledge and/or experience, and always listen like you might be wrong.

You Might Be Wrong. “Don’t be surprised when you are wrong, and don’t treat others’ wrongness as a weapon to wield in a battle over who gets to win an argument that may not actually have a single right answer,” he said.

When you have the privilege of being in a position of power, Bodie said “leverage the diversity of views and perspectives on those large, messy, complex problems with which you have been tasked, and take risks on solutions that involve collective intelligence.”

Fail. And remember, we sometimes learn by failing.

“Fail here, while you can do so in a ‘safe’ environment,” he said. “Don’t read ‘safe’ as an environment that makes you feel comfortable. You should sometimes be uncomfortable.”

Emily Bowen-Moore

Emily Bowen-Moore

Communication is Key. Emily Bowen-Moore, instructional associate professor of integrated marketing communication, said to communicate with instructors.

“It makes all the difference in the world,” she said.

Elizabeth Allen Estes

Elizabeth Allen Estes

Read the Directions. Elizabeth Allison Estes, adjunct instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, shared this message:

“Dear Gen Z Student, You are so wonderful in so many ways. But having grown up entirely immersed in digital technology, you tend to assume that you can accomplish tasks intuitively. You will save us both a lot of extra work and sadness if you will read the directions FIRST, and then just follow them. With great affection, Professor Gen X.”

Senior Lecturer Robin Street discusses a class project with two students in her PR Case Studies class. From left, are IMC major Jessica Lanter, Street and IMC major Naiomei Young. Photo by Maddie Bridges.

Robin Street

Record Due Dates in a Calendar. Robin Street, adjunct instructor of integrated marketing communications, said her advice is basic, but effective.

“At the beginning of the semester, get all your syllabi together,” she said. “Then get a calendar, either a hard copy or a digital one. Carefully go through each syllabus and highlight every due date. Then, one by one, put all those dates on your master calendar.

“Yes, it will be tedious, but it will help you so much. If due dates change, be sure and go back and change your calendar.”

Write Reminders. Street said it’s helpful to make note of items a week or two before the due date.

“Write on your calendar on Oct. 15 that a paper is due in two weeks. That way, dates don’t sneak up on you.”

Work Each Day. Street’s second piece of advice is to devote a little time daily towards a big project.

“The longer you put that project off, the bigger it gets,” she said. “I do this myself when I have a lot of papers to grade. I devote one hour to grading. I don’t get them all graded, of course, but it makes headway. Then, the next day, I devote another hour.”

Kristen Alley Swain

Kristen Alley Swain

Build Your Skills. Kristen Alley Swain, Ph.D., associate professor of journalism, said search for ads for your dream job(s). Then make a list of the skills and background these employers want that you could obtain while enrolled at UM.

“College is the easiest time to do this – because right now, you have the resources and support to do it,” she said. “For instance, you might produce content for a nonprofit or campus office, attend events related to your interests to help you network, and volunteer for leadership roles in a student club.

“Use every course to help build your professional ‘toolbox’ — add skills, perspectives, experiences, knowledge, content, publications, and other deliverables that will help you succeed in a tough job market. Demonstrating tenacity, a strong work ethic, effective time management habits, and a willingness to actively participate in every class will greatly help you get good references and launch a fantastic career.”

Stefanie Goodwiller

Stefanie Goodwiller

Talk to Your Professors. Stefanie Goodwiller, adjunct instructor of media design, said don’t be afraid to ask questions.

“If you are unsure of something, ask your professor before asking your peers,” she said.

Debbie Woodrick Hall

Debbie Woodrick Hall

Set Goals. Debbie Woodrick Hall, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communication, shared a few Ole Miss Student Survival Tips written by Bonnie Brown. 

“So maybe you haven’t answered the question of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up,’” Brown said. “The Career Center can help with that. But you can set some goals for the semester—a certain GPA, some type of behavior modification, establish an exercise routine, actively participate in class. Whatever it is, make it yours, and set yourself up for success! You got this!”

Robert Magee

Robert Magee

Use Memory Recall. Robert Magee, Ph.D., associate professor of integrated marketing communication, said a good way to prepare for a test is to use a blank sheet of paper.

“Write down everything you can remember,” he said. “Then, compare it to your notes to see what you missed. Recall memory is much more difficult than recognition memory, so this will give you an idea of how well you are prepared.”

Define a Concept. “When you’re trying to master a concept, see if you can define it in your own words in no more than two sentences,” Magee said. “If you can’t define it in two sentences or less, then you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s a sign of muddled or half-baked thinking. To write well, you first must think well.”

Lynette Johnson

Lynette Johnson

Look for Opportunities. Lynnette Johnson, Ed.D, said, “Be open to unexpected opportunities that arise. Walk through that door of opportunity…you never know where it may lead. If you don’t ask, then the answer is already ‘No.’”

Ellen Meacham

Ellen Meacham

Get Involved. Ellen Meacham, adjunct assistant professor of journalism instruction, said attend every panel discussion, guest speaker or free event you can.

“It’s a great chance to learn about the world from people who are out there in it,” she said. “You will never have such a distinguished, informed, cross-section of experts so easily accessible again. You will learn a lot, and it’s also a great way to make contacts and network for future internships and jobs.”

Mike Tonos

Mike Tonos

Come to Class. Mike Tonos, journalism coordinator and instructional associate professor, said show up and get to know your instructor, even if that means a one-time, short, one-on-one meeting. This applies across the board, not just to in-person classes.

“For all, do the work you’re assigned,” he said. “In my classes, you’ll get at least some credit for turning in your assignments. The alternative is an automatic zero.”

Debora Wenger

Debora Wenger

Remember — it all matters. Debora Wenger, Ph.D., associate dean, said there’s no such thing as “syllabus day.”

“Seriously, make every class period count and stay on top of assignments,” she said. “It’s always going to be easier to do well in a course if you avoid falling behind.

“Pro tip: Take advantage of every extra credit opp — you never know when you’ll need those three more points.”

Smith named Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics Fellow

Posted on: August 18th, 2022 by ldrucker

Dr. Marquita Smith, associate professor and assistant dean for graduate programs in the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, has been named a Fellow at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi, Center Chairman Charles Overby announced today.

“Marquita brings to us an impressive blend of professional experience and academic accomplishment,” Overby said. “Her work signals a broader interest in the media’s role in democracy.”

Smith’s role at the center will focus primarily on creating the Mississippi Democracy Dashboard, a collection of data designed to help users increase their political engagement.

Dr. Marquita Smith

Dr. Marquita Smith

“The Democracy Dashboard will highlight trends in governance, particularly; democratic participation and voting; institutional functioning in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; and perhaps media capacity,” Smith said.

The dashboard is an effort to help strengthen community engagement in the political process while also serving as a resource to smaller local media outlets. It will be a non-partisan resource.

Smith joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi in 2020 from John Brown University, where she was an associate professor of journalism and the division chair for Communication and Fine Arts. While at JBU, she served as the inaugural coordinator of diversity relations and helped implement the university’s first diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plans. She was also a U.S. Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ghana, Legon.

Prior to transitioning from the newsroom to the academy, Smith worked for more than a decade as a student media advisor and was an adjunct professor at two historically Black institutions, Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia, and Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. She is a well-published, award-winning teacher, and her leadership in journalism education is well known.

In addition to her academic achievement, she has significant professional experience.

She was a bureau chief for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia.; the Go editor who coordinated/edited a team of seven reporters prepared to deploy in a crisis from multiple bureaus; and the Portsmouth city editor and interim city editor for Chesapeake.

During her years with The Virginian-Pilot, she was named a Knight International Journalism Fellow to Liberia, providing hands-on training, workshops and seminars to help media play an active role in the redevelopment of the country.

She was assistant city editor at The Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery, Alabama; an urban affairs reporter at the Lexington Herald Leader in Lexington, Kentucky; a religion and education reporter at The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi, and a general assignment reporter at the Knight-Ridder, Washington, D.C. bureau.

She is a senior consultant and owner of MQ Communications, which designs training packages for new journalists, or specialized continuing education courses for existing media operations. Primary training typically involves newsgathering, writing, assignments, shooting, editing and producing.

The firm also provides companies with diversity training and tools they need to increase their communications capacity and use high-impact strategic campaigns to achieve their goals.

Smith has a Doctorate in Higher Education from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Maryland in College Park, and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In 2021, Smith was named Alumna of the Year of UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media.

Most recently she was recognized as the News Leaders Association’s 2022 recipient of the Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship, “which recognizes an educator’s outstanding efforts to encourage students of color in the field of journalism.”

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics was founded in 2007 through a grant from the Freedom Forum. The center features programs, multimedia displays and publications exploring the complex relationships between politicians and the press, with a focus on Southern perspectives.

Putting Yourself Out There: UM School of Journalism and New Media students land jobs with BBDO Worldwide

Posted on: July 27th, 2022 by ldrucker

When Kirsten Flanik, president and CEO of BBDO New York, spoke during an Overby Center presentation last year, she mentioned that the company was interested in interviewing more University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media students.

Flanik brought Olivia Dames, vice president and director of agency marketing for BBDO New York, who is a 2017 UM graduate. Dames earned a degree in business/commerce with minors in marketing and French.

Gulfport native Thomas Lee was in that audience, and his story proves that putting yourself out there sometimes pays off.

“Following the conclusion of the event, I walked up to thank both of them and handed both of them my resume,” said Lee, a UM graduate student. He said, “I really enjoyed your presentation and would love to intern with you all if you have any positions available.’

“We stayed in touch after the event. I sent a lot of emails throughout the fall and spring to both of them just trying to keep myself at the top of their minds. Kirsten encouraged me to apply for the internship program. I applied and landed the opportunity of a lifetime.”

The graphic features a world with people standing on top of it and reads: Putting Yourself Out There.

The graphic features a world with people standing on top of it and reads: Putting Yourself Out There.

Flanik and Dames spoke about the global presence of BBDO Worldwide. BBDO (short for Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn, a merger between two companies) is one of the largest advertising agency networks in the world with more than 15,000 people in 289 agencies across 81 countries.

Flanik said she’s had to bring in new voices, like Dames, to keep up with changing times. But she’s not the only UM grad working for the company.

Other UM School of Journalism and New Media grads who have worked for BBDO, according to LinkedIn, include Samantha Rippon, Abbie DeLozier, Jasmine Meredith, Mallary Goad, Micah Crick and Lee.

This is a photo of Thomas Lee standing in front of green trees.

Lee, a UM grad who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with an emphasis in International Conflict and Cooperation and Arabic with a minor in Spanish, said he decided to shift to IMC for graduate studies because he has always had a passion for language, culture, and graphic design. He puts those skills to use at BBDO.

Greenwood native Micah Crick, 22, started working remotely as an account management intern at BBDO Atlanta before moving there to continue working for the company.

“I found the job by deciding I wanted to work for one of BBDO’s offices,” said Crick, who was originally assigned to an account management team working on competitive research and providing support before she was promoted to business affairs coordinator. Now, she assists business managers in the Business Affairs Department.

Crick holds her diploma while wearing her cap and gown at graduation.

Crick holds her diploma while wearing her cap and gown at graduation.

The recent UM graduate who studied integrated marketing communications with a specialization in visual design and a minor in general business said she has also learned that putting herself out there can be rewarding.

Crick felt like she wasn’t involved in campus activities until her senior year of college. Then, she decided to say “yes” to everything she could. That led to new opportunities, including work with BBDO.

Crick became the visuals editor for The Daily Mississippian her senior year, sold advertising for HottyToddy.com, was involved with the National Student Advertising Competition with Instructional Associate Professor Chris Sparks’ campaign class, and she interned for Parents of College Students/662 Marketing.

Lee, who spent the summer working with BBDO as an account intern in New York City, said his best advice to other journalism and IMC students is to “always have an open mind and apply, apply, apply.”

“I went on a massive LinkedIn internship hunt and got hundreds of rejection emails, but it’s important to not get discouraged,” he said. “ . . .  I truly believe that I would not have been in this position if I did not put myself out there – you never know what can happen if you do.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

Learning Behind the Mask: Communities come together in remarkable ways to learn and adapt through COVID-19

Posted on: July 25th, 2022 by ldrucker

It has been two years since Ole Miss students were sent home, in-person classes were moved online and COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. There have been challenging moments, deep sorrow over lives lost and moments of social disconnect. Nonetheless, communities have come together in remarkable ways to learn how to adapt and reconnect.

Integrating technology into classrooms has provided opportunities for students to learn beyond the traditional classroom setting and instantly connect with anyone, anywhere and at any time. The enhanced learning environment inside and outside the classroom has provided interactive experiences and intentional education. The combination of in-person, virtual, and hybrid appears to be conditioning students for the technologically-dependent world they live in today. The current student generation should be better equipped, more resilient, and more prepared to face whatever communication challenges and experiences should come because of the skills learned by communicating online.

Video conferencing, for example, has served a variety of purposes and enhanced learning because people have been able to virtually connect from across the globe with their peers, co-workers, and family members. Students meet inspiring speakers from their field on a Zoom call that they may not otherwise have had the chance to meet if they were in a traditional, everyday classroom setting. Throughout the school year, many professors, club leaders and organizations invite alumni and guest speakers to speak on Zoom.

Jacqueline Cole is a junior integrated marketing communications major from Memphis, who enrolled at Ole Miss in Fall 2019. Cole reflected and compared her experiences before and through the pandemic.

The graphic reads: Learning Behind the Mask: Communities come together in remarkable ways to learn and adapt through COVID-19

The graphic reads: Learning Behind the Mask: Communities come together in remarkable ways to learn and adapt through COVID-19

“We didn’t video-conference in our classes or anything before the pandemic,” Cole said. “But now, it’s a regular thing that I look forward to in many of my classes and clubs. Last semester, we had an influencer reach out to my internet marketing class. The influencer, Sara Caroline Bridgers, actually went to Ole Miss. She now lives in Hawaii, and we were able to talk to her about how she became an influencer, how she makes money, and how to promote a self-brand.”

Remote opportunities have also provided many options for students in terms of learning and future possibilities for flexibility in the workforce. It has been to the advantage of students to learn more about the latest opportunities that have emerged in the past few years.

“I can go beyond what I have always known because I have the idea now that you can work remotely from everywhere. So, I don’t feel like I have to be stuck in one city,” Cole said. “I could definitely move around and have the opportunity to work for the same company, and my life wouldn’t be affected because I had to move to a different location for another job. I feel like this [opportunity] has definitely opened up since COVID.”

Since returning to campus this school year, Cole has noticed the empathy of her professors. She feels like her health is a priority. When Cole has to miss class for being sick, she knows she can rely on her professors to work with her outside of class to make up her work. She feels less pressured to constantly show up for class when she is not feeling well.

“The teachers have become more understanding,” Cole said. “I have noticed that the teachers take more time and are a lot more caring about out-of-class circumstances. When students are sick, Zoom options for students make things healthier, especially for someone who gets sick all the time. I never feel like I’m missing something anymore.”

As the world is evolving at an extremely fast technological pace, The University of Mississippi is growing with it. The University has employed several initiatives to help students continue to learn and prevent learning gaps.

“I have been able to connect with people despite the literal communication gaps,” Cole said. “I think the pandemic has helped the world, as a whole, communicate.”

Students can pursue and balance their passions and hobbies with their academics when flexibility is built in by a remote schedule. Combining traditional and virtual procedures where necessary, timely, and convenient helps the day-to-day tasks flow more smoothly. The developments from the past few years, such as online advising, virtual tours and virtual speakers, should remain because they are efficient and informative.

Dawson Wilson is a senior majoring in integrated marketing communications from Ocean Springs. He is the current director of photography for UM Square Magazine and was the 2020-2021 photo editor for The Ole Miss yearbook. Wilson also shoots freelance photography.

“Ever since COVID hit two years ago, I have learned just how much better of a learner I am when I take online and pace-yourself classes,” Wilson said. “I am a photographer, so this gave me leeway to really hone in on my craft while also being able to do school on my own time. I ended up finding the perfect balance of work, school, and play.”

The novelty of the technology and circumstances at hand proves there is no true expert in the room–or on the Zoom. However, this is how and where great ideas can be born and developed. Students are navigating, growing, and learning during a highly confusing time when much of the world is trying to do the same.

“I feel like going through all of this and knowing what I know now, the basic message that I have learned is just to live your life,” Wilson said. “If you don’t do it, your mind will eat away at you with the ‘what-ifs,’ but if you do it and don’t like it, then you have the ‘well, at least I tried it’ mindset.”

Wilson went on to say, “I think that whenever something major like this happens, technology will always advance to make things easier for us. As much as I think I remember the internet being super popular before the pandemic, it, no doubt, got much more popular during and after COVID. A big thing that people learned is how easy it is to find inspiration and a passion, while also being able to monetize that passion. At the beginning of the pandemic, when people were making small businesses in their homes with their stimulus checks, they realized how much the internet could open the world to everyone.”

The University of Mississippi PRSSA chapter members.

The University of Mississippi PRSSA chapter members in masks.

The world is more than what students have known thus far, in terms of location or opportunity. With the world becoming more technologically advanced, each generation must refine their online communication skills. Integrating technology into the classroom has helped college students navigate the complexities of communicating professionally and socially.

“I was literally blown away when Kara Brand, who worked at Vogue, told us her story in our Square Magazine virtual meeting one day,” Wilson said. “The story was that she had graduated from Ole Miss and decided to move to New York. She worked for the MET Museum, where she worked the MET Gala annually.

“One year, she met the editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, and she was offered a job on the spot. From there, she moved to L.A. to work for Teen Vogue, where she eventually ended up landing a job at Vogue in New York City. That is the short story, but I was so fascinated by her and her luck. I definitely do not think we would have gotten to hear from her if we had not had the pandemic.”

Elena Ossoski is a sophomore pursuing degrees in education and integrated marketing communications with an emphasis in public relations. Ossoski currently serves as editor-in-chief of UM Square Magazine, where she works with a team of directors to lead the staff. The staff worked together to publish the first volume of the student-run fashion magazine during the pandemic.

The pandemic provided an opportunity for reflection, outreach, and creativity for Ossoski and the magazine staff. Since UM Square Magazine posts weekly content online, including social media and blog posts, the team members could still contribute to story-telling, despite obstacles put in place by the pandemic.

“I’ve been able to form connections and relationships with people through social media and email, whether they are professional or friendships, even with people I haven’t met in person,” Ossoski said. “I would reach out to alumni, fellow students, and just people I thought were cool. Since it was during the pandemic, most people I interviewed I haven’t met in person. I would form relationships and share the stories through Square.”

“It has been very rewarding,” Ossoski said.

Social media became a direct reflection of what people were craving during the pandemic. Society had been missing out on normalcy: students wanted to know what everyone else was doing daily, so students constantly watched everyone post about it online. Students longed to be with each other.

“There’s so much knowledge that you can share from one person to another,” Ossoski said. “You can share someone’s life experiences, what they did that day, what they did at school, what they choose to wear each day–it’s a very intimate way to get to know somebody–and it also happened during the pandemic, when we also weren’t able to meet face-to-face, so it was just nice to hear about how other people lived their lives and share about these experiences on social media and on the blog. It just gave more insight to life in general.”

Social media and blogs became an outlet to get to know each other. Students desire human connection. Sometimes, you need that “push” from someone who has done something slightly scary before you; deep down, you know it will be okay, but when you hear a story from an inspiring individual who has “made it,” it motivates you. Social media provided that extra level of connection during that time of disconnection that allowed our generation to reach out instantly and take that leap of faith that students otherwise may not have been brave enough to take.

This story was written by By Haley Clift.

To read more stories from The Review: https://issuu.com/mrmagazine123/docs/the_review_all_pages_final

To learn more about our programs: https://jnm.olemiss.edu/

To follow our school on social media @umjourimc: https://linktr.ee/umjourimc

Apply now: https://bit.ly/36t5f3l

 

The graphic features a student sitting at TV monitors and reads: Turn Your Dreams Into Reality.

 

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.

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.


You can read additional graduation stories at this link.

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.