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

Posts Tagged ‘R.J. Morgan’

Morgan named fellow at Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics

Posted on: February 8th, 2022 by ldrucker

Dr. R.J. Morgan, an award-winning teacher and director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, has been named a Fellow at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss, according to chairman Charles Overby.

His role at the center will focus primarily on scholastic media, journalism education and related topics. He will also coordinate scheduling and operations for the center and function as a liaison between it and the School of Journalism and New Media, where he is an instructional associate professor.

“R.J. has the practical experience, enthusiasm and engaging personality that students love,” Overby said. “He will help energize the Overby Center, and he will help promote First Amendment values for our next generation.”

R.J. Morgan speaks at a podium.

R.J. Morgan.

Morgan is a nationally-recognized speaker, judge and scholar in the field of high school journalism. He has served as MSPA director since 2013 and recently launched the Integrated Marketing Communication Association, a national high school media/marketing organization housed at the University of Mississippi.

He sits on executive/advisory boards for multiple scholastic media organizations, serves on the national certification committee for the Journalism Education Association, and was named Awards Chair for the Scholastic Media division of the Association for Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication last fall. He received the Elizabeth Dickey Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Interscholastic Press Association in 2018 and earned Master Journalism Educator status from JEA in 2020.

“I’ve been involved in student media in one role or another since I was in the eighth grade,” Morgan said. “The time I spent on my high school and college newspaper staffs was easily the most influential and rewarding experience of my educational career, so being able to help create those same powerful learning environments for successive generations of students has become my life’s work. As a lifelong Southerner and a strong First Amendment advocate, I am beyond excited to continue these efforts through the Overby Center.”

Among other university appointments, Morgan is a member of the School of Journalism and New Media’s executive committee and leads the school’s Talbert Fellows honors cohort. He was elected to the University of Mississippi Faculty Senate in 2021.

Morgan has a Ph.D. in K-12 education leadership from the University of Mississippi. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Mississippi State University and began his teaching career at Starkville High School, where he received several honors including STAR Teacher, Third Congressional District Teacher of the Year and the Paul Cuicchi Innovative Educator Award.  He also advised the school’s newspaper, yearbook and broadcast programs and was thrice named MSPA Adviser of the Year.

Morgan spent 16 years covering college sports for The Associated Press and has written pieces for Religion Unplugged, Sporting News magazine, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and the Memphis Commercial Appeal, among others. He is currently working on his first book-length project about the folk and civil rights movements of the early 1960s.

A ‘Gentle Insistence on Excellence’​: Dr. Dupont will retire from UM School of Journalism and New Media after spring semester

Posted on: February 9th, 2021 by ldrucker

A 'Gentle Insistence on Excellence'

At the end of the spring semester, Dr. Nancy Dupont will retire from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. She has been a vital part of the school since 2006 – teaching across a wide swath of the curriculum and playing a critical role in the growth and achievements of the broadcast journalism program. 

While the entire faculty will miss her, that absence will be strongly felt by Interim Dean Debora Wenger, who has worked with Dupont in one way or another for more than 30 years.

Dr. Nancy Dupont teaches a class.
Nancy Dupont teaching students.

When Wenger moved to Charlotte, N.C. to produce the 11 o’clock news more than 30 years ago, Dupont was the 6 o’clock producer, supervising the station’s hour-long show.

“Despite the fact that she was under an incredible amount of pressure in that role, Nancy was always funny and fun to be around,” Wenger said.

Wenger’s responsibilities included coming into the station about 2 p.m. and monitoring the news feeds that came from the network and other sources so she could alert Dupont about any great video she should include in her show. She also helped write breaking news stories for the 6 p.m. news and led the production of the late show.

“My first impression (of Nancy) was that she was good at her job, and that I could learn something from her,” she said. “My second impression is that she was someone I wanted to be friends with because she sure knew how to make people laugh and to like her.”

Not much has changed, Wenger said.

Dean Debora Wenger
Dr. Debora Wenger, interim dean.

“After 30+ years of knowing Nancy, I still learn things from her, and I still enjoy being her friend,” she said. “When my husband, Mitch, was interviewing for a job at the University of Mississippi, Nancy was the first person to put my name forward as a candidate for an open position in the then Department of Journalism.

“Once I got the job, she was a huge help in getting me settled into my new role – and for the past 10 years, she has been a source of great ideas for making our program stronger, and she has been a great advocate for me always.”

For many years, Dupont was the faculty adviser for NewsWatch Ole Miss, and Wenger said Dupont deserves immeasurable thanks and credit for taking the program to a higher level. She was also a key driver behind the curriculum development that has made our broadcast program a much more relevant and robust component of the school. 

“My first impression (of Nancy) was that she was good at her job, and that I could learn something from her. My second impression is that she was someone I wanted to be friends with because she sure knew how to make people laugh and to like her.”
Debora Wenger
Debora Wenger
Interim dean

Dupont has served as chair of the Electronic News Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and was twice named chair of the news division of the Broadcast Education Association. In 2019, she was elected to a two-year term on the Broadcast Education Association Board of Directors. 

Dupont’s scholarship is extensive. She co-authored the book Journalism of the Fallen Confederacy in 2014 and has authored a dozen or more book chapters. She has also been a prolific presenter at national and international conferences.

“I got an education at Loyola University in New Orleans, and set out to be a reporter,” Dupont said. “I soon tired of that, because the producers boss people around all day, and I wanted to be a producer.”

Dupont joined the UM faculty in 2006 after spending 17 years as a broadcast journalist and 13 years as a journalism educator. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1997.

Dr. Nancy McKenzie Dupont
Dr. Nancy Dupont

Wenger said one of the things she has learned from Dupont is to keep her love of breaking news alive.

“Whenever a big story emerged in the state, Nancy was always the first person on the phone to me saying, ‘Who can we send,” she said. “A ‘go-get-’em’ journalist’s heart is alive and well in Dr. Dupont, and she’s helped to keep it beating strong in me as well.”

Dupont said Wenger is the “smartest person I have ever known.”

“She has such confidence in herself,” Dupont said. “She can do anything. She taught me how to be a good producer … She taught me to take the challenge.”

Wenger said Dupont has been a role model – someone who exemplifies what it means to be a teacher first.

“Though she was an excellent researcher and contributed countless service hours, she has always focused on students,” Wenger said. “That’s why I’m so glad that one of the ways we will honor her is by naming the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Broadcast Adviser of the Year Award after Nancy.”

R.J. Morgan
Dr. R.J. Morgan

The MSPA Board of Advisers unanimously approved a request by the University of Mississippi School of Journalism & New Media to rename its Broadcast Adviser of the Year award in honor of Dupont.

“Dr. Dupont is a highly-decorated journalism educator and the long-time faculty adviser for the award-winning NewsWatch, UM’s daily live student-run news broadcast,” said Dr. R. J. Morgan, director of the MSPA. “Throughout her career, Dr. Dupont has been a friend to scholastic journalism and a mentor to generations of young communicators.

“As such, she embodies both the spirit and substance of those educators our adviser of the year awards seek to honor, and I think I speak for the entire board when I say we are incredibly excited to have her name attached to this honor going forward.”

Morgan said the award, which honors the state’s best high school broadcast adviser,  will be awarded at the spring convention, to be held virtually on April 9. Dupont will be involved in the judging process.

According to some of Dupont’s colleagues, naming the award for her could not be more fitting.

"In all your teaching, I saw you set the highest standard of professional journalism practice, and the ‘students’ responded to that in ways that will be rewarding for them all through their careers. Your gentle insistence on excellence has been inspirational ..."
Charlie Mitchell
Iveta Imre in Croatia
Iveta Imre

Professor Charlie Mitchell said when he visited NewsWatch in action, it was clear that students were “at work” as opposed to “in a class.”

“This is not insignificant,” he said. “In all your teaching, I saw you set the highest standard of professional journalism practice, and the ‘students’ responded to that in ways that will be rewarding for them all through their careers.

“Your gentle insistence on excellence has been inspirational to me, too. While you engaged in serious scholarship, you also organized Broadcast Day and attracted every news director in Mississippi and several from Tennessee to visit campus and meet with students each year. This was truly service above self and, again, something to admire.”

Samir Husni, Ph.D., founder and director, professor and Hederman Lecturer of the Magazine Innovation Center, said the only silver lining after the horrors of Hurricane Katrina was that it provided the opportunity for the department to hire  DuPont.

“Her combination of professionalism in the newsroom and classroom is unmatched,” he said. “From day one, she put both skills into the service of our students, and she excelled as a mentor and as a teacher. I’m very proud to have had the honor of working with her as a colleague and to also call her my friend. I wish her the best in her retirement.”

Iveta Imre, Ph.D., a UM assistant professor of journalism, said she is sad Dupont is leaving.

“Your endless energy and passion have been amazing to witness during the short time I have had the pleasure to work with you,” she said. “I was always amazed at your dedication to work with NewsWatch students day in and day out for hours on end, to help them grow into budding journalists and support them on their journey. You are leaving big shoes to fill.”

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor named Master Journalism Educator

Posted on: December 10th, 2020 by ldrucker
A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professor has been named a Master Journalism Educator.
The Journalism Education Association has announced that R.J. Morgan, Ph.D., who leads the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, has completed the requirements for Master Journalism Educator certification.
The certification recognizes teachers who have achieved national standards of preparation to teach high school journalism classes and advise student media.
R.J. Morgan

The certification requirements include a minimum of five years of experience in journalism teaching and advising, previous achievement of Certified Journalism Educator status, completion of a JEA-approved project, and passing an examination that demonstrates the educator’s proficiency in journalism teaching and advising.


“It’s quite a thrill and an honor to be considered a ‘master’ in a field that has given me so much,” Morgan said. “I’ve been shaped by and in love with journalism education since the first day I joined my school newspaper staff in the eighth grade, and it is my life’s work to be able to help create similarly impactful classroom experiences with both my own students and with others from across the state of Mississippi and beyond.”

Morgan is also a JEA Certified Journalism Educator who earned his Ph.D. in K-12 education leadership. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Mississippi State University and previously taught at Starkville High School, where he received honors including STAR Teacher, Third Congressional District Teacher of the Year, the Paul Cuicchi Innovative Educator Award, and the MSPA Adviser of the Year (three times).

His media experience includes writing for The Associated Press, Sporting News magazine, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and The Commercial Appeal. Morgan is the recipient of the 2018 Elizabeth Dickey Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Interscholastic Press Association.

University hosts annual MSPA convention for student publishers

Posted on: March 28th, 2019 by ldrucker

Hundreds of Mississippi’s aspiring writers, publishers and journalists visited Oxford in April for the 72nd Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Convention hosted by the University of Mississippi.

Students from high schools across the state came for the one-day event Monday, April 1, to hear speakers, participate in seminars and immerse themselves in the Ole Miss campus.

The convention helps high school students who work for their respective school newspapers, yearbooks, broadcasts and literary magazines realize they share a passion for publication with hundreds of peers in the state, said R.J. Morgan, MSPA director.

“(The convention) is a great opportunity for the university and a great opportunity for Mississippi high school kids to get on a college campus and see what college life is like,” said Morgan, an instructional assistant professor of journalism at UM.

“There will be a lot of these students who have never been on a college campus, so letting them see how college works and exposing them to that environment gets them thinking in terms of attending college. The convention really serves as a rallying point and pep rally in terms of helping these students understand that this is something they should feel proud of, something they can hang their hat on.”

The highlight of each year’s convention is the MSPA awards ceremony, Morgan said. This year, besides announcing more than 100 winners and finalists, including best-of honors for several publication types, the MSPA announced a new honor called the All-Mississippi recognition. Ten students were selected from a field of 20 candidates who submitted portfolios of their journalism work.

More than 700 individual pieces of work were submitted for the various prizes.

“The awards are really what the kids are most excited about,” Morgan said.

This year’s Pam Hamilton Keynote Address was delivered by Ronnie Agnew, an Ole Miss alumnus and director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Agnew is a veteran of the newspaper and news industry, previously serving as the executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson.

High school students at the 2018 MSPA spring convention listen to keynote speaker Jesse J. Holland. This year’s keynote speaker was Mississippi Public Broadcasting director Ronnie Agnew. Photo courtesy UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education

“(Agnew’s) wealth of experience in both print and digital media, as well as his dedication to education and serving others, made him a natural choice to deliver this address to our statewide audience,” Morgan said.

Other speakers include Pablo Correa, a documentary filmmaker working on a feature-length film about Fannie Lou Hamer, and Lori Oglesbee-Petter, a nationally recognized newspaper and yearbook adviser who serves as an advocate for First Amendment rights.

“There’s never been a greater need for good communicators,” Morgan said. “The number of platforms and reasons to tell those stories has greatly diffused in the last decade, and we really need good storytellers to cut through the noise in our society.

“We hope to help these students find their voice and refine that voice and teach them going forward how to be good citizens and good communicators.”

Besides attending the convention, Correa discussed his work with the “Fannie Lou Hamer’s America” documentary team in a separate event in the Overby Center Auditorium.

The MSPA was created in 1947 to “support, promote and nurture journalism in a high school setting through workshops, competitions, conventions and online aids and advice. Membership is open to any Mississippi school that has a newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, online publication, broadcast and/or journalism class.” It is housed at the university.

UM has hosted the spring convention since its inception. Two years ago, a fall convention was added at the University of Southern Mississippi. The event usually draws approximately 500-600 high school students, Morgan said.

For more information on the convention or MSPA, visit its website.

This article was written by Justin Whitmore of University Communications.

Mississippi Scholastic Press Association State Convention set for March 31 at UM

Posted on: March 19th, 2017 by ldrucker

High school journalism students are among the smartest students in their schools. They are the creatives, intellectuals and critical thinkers. They question everything around them, and high school journalism teaches them life skills that are transferrable to any other career.

R.J. Morgan, left.

That’s why R.J. Morgan, Mississippi Scholastic Press Association director, is passionate about his job and the MSPA State Convention set for Friday, March 31, on the University of Mississippi campus.

UM will soon welcome 500-600 high school students. The convention will be held in Farley Hall with breakout sessions in Lamar, Yerby and Brevard Halls. The event will begin with breakfast and registration in the Grove from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and an opening welcome. Students will attend three breakout sessions at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. They will break for lunch in the Grove at 12:15 p.m., and the afternoon events will begin at 1 p.m. in the Ford Center with the keynote speaker and awards program. The deadline to register is March 20.

The keynote speaker is essayist and Jackson native Kiese Laymon, who attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College, a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio. He earned a master’s degree in fine arts in fiction from Indiana University and is now a professor of English and African American studies at the University of Mississippi.

Laymon is author of the novel Long Division and a collection of essays called How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016. He has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony and Guernica, according to his bio at He has two books in the works, including a memoir called Heavy and a novel called And So On, expected in 2017 from Scribner.

“He’s a native Mississippian, who has gone on to be a highly respected and published voice,” Morgan said. “He’s so nuanced and really does a good job of articulating a point of view. That’s what I think he’s going to talk about. He was a high school journalist. When we can, we like to find people who were high school journalists.”

Morgan said the MSPA includes about 80 high school member publications. Web only is a small part. Most are newspapers, yearbooks or broadcasts. He said high school journalism teaches students how to organize their thoughts and express them clearly and concisely. It teaches them how to communicate, talk to their peers and strangers, and interview someone.

“It teaches them the importance of deadlines, the importance of design, and the way you structure things for maximum utility,” Morgan said. “High school journalism teaches them to question society, to look at things around them, and to look at what is being presented to them on the surface and critique it, whether that is their school policy on dress code or whether that is a bigger community issue.”

Oxford High School recently published a story about homelessness in Oxford. The student journalists identified and interviewed 93 members of their school district who are homeless in Oxford, Morgan said.

“Now there are groups and community organizations that are donating and trying to help those people,” he said, “and so it’s an extremely valuable learning experience that those kids take with them.

“To use education terminology, high school journalism is a really good exercise in the project-based learning theory. You give students an outlet, whether that is tomorrow’s broadcast or next week’s newspaper. You teach them the base skills that are required of that, and then you let them innovate, develop and create their own process to get from point A to point B, and that type of learning is really advanced and really challenges them as individuals.”

MSPA is the high school journalism organization in Mississippi. The association works with high school staffs all across the state in four areas – school newspapers, including online-only publications, print publications and news magazines; yearbooks, which almost every school has; broadcasts, which have doubled in the last two years; and awards and sessions for literary magazines for creative writing students.

“Our state convention offers skills workshops and education to help students better serve the communities in which they live and work,” Morgan said. “We also run a number of contests to honor and validate people in those four areas.”

The convention always offers basic interviewing, newswriting skills and yearbook design sessions. This year, they’ll also hold sessions on press rights and censorship in schools.

“We’re going to do a session on the current climate around media in our country, and the way we’ve been labeled, and how students can go about dealing with that,” Morgan said. “We have several different specialty sessions I’m excited about.”

Robby Donoho, a sports anchor from WCBI in Columbus, will lead several sessions.

“We really try to gather speakers in the industry and those who are teachers of journalism from across the state and beyond,” Morgan said. “I have a photographer coming from Forsyth County News in Atlanta. He is a photographer and also a content director for the non-daily newspaper, and student publications are essentially non-dailies. They might publish once a month if they are lucky. Usually, it’s more like twice or three times a semester, and so I think having the ability to hear some professional non-daily workflow information will be really neat.”

Morgan said they also try to bring in marketing speakers because the University of Mississippi has an integrated marketing communications program. They try to teach students how to market their publications and better develop their brand identity.

When MSPA started in 1947, Morgan said the convention was similar to a camp. The role of school publications has changed a lot in the past 70 years, and the convention has been a one-day event since the 1970s.

“We are one of the older scholastic press associations and one of the best attended scholastic press associations in the country,” said Morgan. This is his fourth year to direct the convention, and he said students teach him more than he teaches them regarding language evolution and technology.

“This generation – they are really innovative storytellers,” he said. “I don’t think they necessarily see themselves that way, but the way they communicate with themselves and their peers through social media and print – through broadcast, shorthand, longform – there are so many different ways they can communicate and get information to their audience. They really just amaze me.”

Morgan’s goal for every conference is to give students seeds of knowledge in new areas.

“When they get back to their schools,” he said, “it is then up to them, their communities and their teachers to foster the growth of those seeds, to the extent that we, in five and six hours, can open their mind to a new way of doing things, a better or more professional way of handling themselves, covering an event or telling a story.”

Morgan said he hopes the MPSA is a factor in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s growing enrollment. It is one of the fastest growing programs at UM.

“Anytime you can get 500 of the best and brightest high school students from the state on your campus, and on a campus as beautiful as this, they can’t help but take something away from it,” Morgan said. “Anytime you can get them in a facility interacting with professors that are as engaging and as interactive as ours, I don’t see how that doesn’t spark their attention.”

Morgan said the MSPA is not a recruiting arm, and they do not try to indoctrinate students about UM. They are a statewide organization focused on developing high school journalists.

“But a rising tide lifts all boats, and you can see the quality of students coming to Ole Miss begin to rise,” said Morgan who believes high school journalism is an important part of education in a media-saturated world.

“I talk to high school administrators all the time who have cut the school newspaper, or who have cut the journalism program from the school because there’s so much pressure at that level for state testing and core curriculum, etc.,” he said. “I had a school administrator tell me one time, ‘Yeah. We don’t do a school newspaper anymore because nobody reads those. Newspapers are kind of a dying thing.’

“And after I calmed down, I challenged his point of view, and I said, “So your position is that a student living in 2017 needs to know less about how media works and media literacy than they did in 1985? We are such a media society now. We are over-saturated with media, stimuli everywhere you look – on our phones, on our television screens, 24 hour news, Twitter, the barrage of bits of information that are coming to us all the time. So by teaching students journalism skills, by teaching them to be better thinkers, it also teaches them to be media consumers.”

If you plan on attending the convention or following it, the event hashtag is #MSPA17.

Contact R. J. Morgan for more information at or 662-915-7146.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor