School of Journalism and New Media

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UM School of Journalism and New Media students, faculty spend winter break on Puerto Rico reporting trip

Posted on: January 8th, 2019 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media continues to offer students extraordinary reporting opportunities outside the mainland United States. A group of students and faculty were in Puerto Rico for Winter Intersession on a multimedia reporting trip to interview island residents about the impact of Hurricane Maria.

Brittany Brown interviews the mayor of Loíza. Loíza, in northeastern Puerto Rico, is the center of Afro-Puerto Rican culture.

Students used social media tools to identify sources before the trip, and while they were in Puerto Rico, they used social media to post frequent updates. One student was invited to join media professionals on a documentary project in Puerto Rico later this year. They were impressed with the content she posted from this trip.

A guided night tour of Old San Juan. Pictured are professors Iveta Imre and Pat Thompson, and students

The group has visited several cities and villages for interviews. Their content – articles, photos, video, audio, graphics and more – were produced for a website and available for other platforms.

Christian Johnson and Devna Bose take photos on a beach in Aguada in northwestern Puerto Rico.

 

University of Mississippi journalism professor’s Black Mirror Project mentioned in Harvard Political Review

Posted on: January 1st, 2019 by ldrucker

Last week, Netflix dropped the first feature film released by the popular, science fiction anthology series “Black Mirror.” “Bandersnatch” is the story of a “programmer creating a video game based on the fantasy novel of an unhinged genius,” Mashable reports.

This is exciting to fans and some University of Mississippi students because the UM School of Journalism and New Media has its own class that incorporates episodes of “Black Mirror.”

Harvard Political Review recently mentioned The Black Mirror Project created by a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism professor that envisions the future of media through the lens of the science fiction television series.

After learning about the history of media, professor LaReeca Rucker asks students in Journalism 101 to envision the near future of media after watching several specific episodes of the series. They are asked to use their imagination to write a synopsis of their own “Black Mirror” episode. The most creative and original responses are published on The Black Mirror Project website: https://blackmirrorideas.wordpress.com/

“Black Mirror” is a British science fiction television anthology series set in the near future that explores the potentially dark consequences of technology and social media. Each episode has a different cast with a unique story and, like most science fiction, it offers a speculative warning about what could happen if we lose control and allow technology to control us.

The show, created by Charlie Brooker, was first broadcast on British television in 2011. It is now a Netflix original series, and some have called it a modern day “Twilight Zone.” Recognizing its potential for the discussion of modern and future media, some colleges and universities across the country have incorporated “Black Mirror” into their journalism and communications classes.

 

Harvard Political Review recently published the article Primetime Paranoia that mentions Rucker’s “Black Mirror” Project. The article explores “Black Mirror” and modern anxiety.

It reads, “At the beginning of most Black Mirror episodes, viewers enter a near-future world with a technology that appears novel, even benign. Then this technology goes horribly, unpredictably wrong. In this chaos are echoes of our paradoxical anxiety, which grows worse and worse in a world becoming better and better. Black Mirror has resonated. The series has earned huge ratings, prestigious awards, and praise from figures ranging from Jordan Peele to Stephen King.”

The School of Journalism and New Media also plans to offer a different, but similar “Black Mirror” class this summer as an elective. Those who are interested may email Rucker at ldrucker@olemiss.edu.

Read the Q & A with Rucker about “Black Mirror.”

Q: What is the Black Mirror Project? Why did you get involved with it, and what results has it borne?

A: The Black Mirror Project is a website I created and an ongoing assignment I give my mass communication students each semester. After they spend most of the semester studying the history of media, we shift the focus to the future of media. I assign four specific episodes of “Black Mirror” for them to watch and ponder.

I have always been a fan of science fiction, and when this series came out, I thought it was mind-bending. I also liked that the first season of the series focused a lot on social media usage and offered some scary episodes regarding social media that seemed very plausible. I like that the show is set in the near future – not hundreds of years away. I think that makes it more frightening and relevant.

As a result of starting this project, I have been contacted by people from several different states and countries who have used “Black Mirror” in their college and high school classes. Some have reached out asking if they can submit their students’ Black Mirror Reflections to be published on our website, and I have encouraged them to do that. I love collaborating with others.

 

Q: How have you integrated Black Mirror into your teaching, and what does it add to your classroom?

My students are asked to write a Black Mirror Reflection by thinking about the episodes of the show they have been assigned while pondering technology and social media in the near future. Then they are asked to research the future of technology by Googling and reading several articles on the subject, and talking to friends, family and professors to get ideas.

They are asked to imagine that they’ve just been hired as a writer for the show. It’s their job to come up with a storyline for their own episode, but they only have a week to do it or they (fictionally) get fired. They are told to imagine it will be featured in the next season of “Black Mirror.”

Students write a one-page, double-spaced report describing their episode and the characters they imagine starring in it. They discuss what technology is used and how? They think about a scenario involving technology and social media, and take that idea to an extreme. That’s the story.

I read them and select the best ones to publish on our Black Mirror Project website. You will find a collection of creative “Black Mirror” responses there. I think the exercise helps students begin to think about their personal relationship with technology, social media and electronic communication. Some have said it was “eye-opening.”

Q: In what way is Black Mirror a “modern day Twilight Zone,” as the Black Mirror Project website says? Does the show diverge from the Twilight Zone in any noteworthy ways?

I think one of the differences is that “Black Mirror” seems to be set in the near future. To me, that makes it more frightening and plausible because many of the episodes involve scenarios that we are on the verge of experiencing now. While some of “The Twilight Zone” episodes were like this, many were set many years in the future and were often more fantastical than reality-based.

I wanted to show students several episodes of “The Twilight Zone” that could be compared and contrasted with “Black Mirror,” hoping in my research I would find some “Twilight Zone” episodes from more than 50 years ago that had envisioned the future spot on, but I had difficulty finding episodes that I thought would be a good fit. However, the Harvard Political Review article does offer up a lot of interesting points about what the “The Twilight Zone” has meant to our culture.

I do show one “Twilight Zone” episode called “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” that is about the idea of beauty and perfection, which is still very relevant to viewers today.

I think the scenarios that “Black Mirror” presents are warnings about the near future in the same way “The Twilight Zone” warned us about our world. They both were important shows with confrontational, yet helpful messages that we should pay attention to.

Science fiction is prophetic vision.

Beatty works behind the scenes for the Ole Miss Rebels

Posted on: November 14th, 2017 by ldrucker

Videographer, journalist and social media guru are all words used to describe Kayla Beatty. Beatty is a senior at the University of Mississippi and in her second year working for Ole Miss Athletics in production.

As a journalism student, she has gained essential skills for working professionally in the field. As a main videographer for Ole Miss Athletics, Beatty has worked every sports event at Ole Miss. Her favorite sport is basketball, but not always.

“I grew up watching soccer,” she said. “I knew nothing about football, basketball or baseball.

She quickly learned the sports and now sometimes thinks she could coach them. Beatty works on a team of roughly nine to 12 people. Half of them are students. This a paid job, but her first year counted as internship credit.

“While I may not go into the sports production field, the skills and opportunities I have been given are out of this world,” said Beatty.

Before every basketball game, the team of videographers meet two hours before to begin testing equipment. There are multiple cameras around the Pavilion to get high and low shots. They check lighting, sound and angles to get the perfect shot at game time.

 

An hour before the game begins, they get into position. They start getting clips of the crowd, and the teams warm up. The team films everything that spectators see in the arena and what is posted throughout the game on social media.

Everything that the cameras in the arena pick up is sent immediately to the control room. There, staff members operate music, lights and everything you see on the jumbotron. They also quickly make graphics for social media and talk with SEC Sports.

“We all have headsets on so we know what we all are doing,” Beatty. “Communication is key in the industry.”

Beatty’s favorite video to capture is when she follows the ball closely on camera and gets the angle as it lands in the net. She uses a “slash camera” to achieve this. This was one of the hardest skills to perfect. She said she is still learning.

Videography and photography is all about practicing. When she first started, she shadowed an existing staff member to learn the basics.

“They take baby steps so they can ensure you will know everything before you are on your own,” she said. “A lot of basic skills I taught myself on my iPhone.”

After shadowing someone with experience, the videographers are on their own. After about a year, they usually end up having a shadow or “buddy” to teach.

Beatty said the most important piece of advice is know your equipment. Supervisor Hank Lena is their main support. Lena works the control room and is in charge of the team during the game.

“The staff is so talented,” Lena said. “They are always eager to learn. For my students, I am here to make sure they are getting the knowledge they will need to continue a career in production and journalism.”

Another favorite part of the job for Beatty is creating graphics for Ole Miss sports teams’ social media. Within minutes of the live footage, the staff sends Tweets, Instagram posts and Snapchats.

A great part of working for Ole Miss productions is they allow everyone to rotate positions. Everyone may have their preference, but they are given the opportunity to use a high camera, low camera or work in the control room. Staff is exposed to videography, still photography and social media.

“I get to play with toys and get paid,” said Beatty. “I get to work with the best cameras and equipment in the industry.”

Work does not feel like work when it is doing something you love. Everyday is different working in production.

“I love what I get to do for a living, so hiring people that are also so passionate about journalism is the best part,” said Lena.

A lot of hard work goes into what looks easy to the average viewer at a sporting event. From preparation to putting all the footage together at the end, students and staff move quickly.

Beatty said she wishes she had known about this job earlier in her college career because of the skills she has learned and the connections and people she has met. She hopes to continue learning as much as she can this upcoming basketball season.

By Kelly Zeidner
Oxford Stories
knzeidne@go.olemiss.edu

Dennis Moore awarded Silver Em and journalism students honored

Posted on: April 6th, 2017 by ldrucker

From left, Debora Wenger, Dennis Moore and Will Norton Jr.

In 1975, the Memphis Commercial Appeal asked the University of Mississippi to nominate two students for potential internships. Dennis Moore was one. He traveled to Memphis and survived an odd interview with the managing editor, who asked a variety of strange questions, such as “Name the countries you fly over when traveling from Memphis to Antarctica?”

“Despite the bizarre nature of the interview, he demonstrated an ability to be removed from the chaotic nature of questioning and keep his wits,” said Will Norton Jr., Ph.D., professor and dean of UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “He has followed a similar pattern throughout his career. His achievements demonstrate that, while the Meek School has more prominence today than it had 40 years ago, its graduates have always had national stature.”

Moore was honored Wednesday night as the 58th recipient of the Samuel S. Talbert Silver Em award at the Inn at Ole Miss on the UM campus. The Silver Em is UM’s highest award for journalism. Recipients must be Mississippi natives or have led exemplary careers in the state.

Moore began his journalism career as an intern at The Germantown (Tennessee) News. He later directed breaking news coverage for USA Today, the nation’s largest circulation newspaper, on stories such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; the spread of Ebola from Africa to the United States; and the trial of one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Earlier at USA Today, he was managing editor of the Life section, which put him in contact with Mick Jagger, John Grisham, Steven Spielberg and and many other notable people.

Moore said his favorite entertainment interview was with Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her role in “The Help,” a book that became a movie written by fellow UM graduate Katherine Stockett set in Jackson, where Moore began his professional reporting career at The Clarion-Ledger.

Moore is now co-editor of Mississippi Today, a news website, with Fred Anklam, also a USA Today and Clarion-Ledger veteran, Ole Miss graduate and Silver Em recipient.

“When I found out I was going to receive the award, I thought I don’t measure up to the previous recipients,” Moore said Wednesday during his acceptance speech. “I don’t think my accomplishments are as stellar as theirs.

“I’ve never endangered myself and my family for editorializing about a social issue. I’ve never revealed government malfeasance. I’ve never helped the community overcome a major natural disaster. I spent most of my career covering entertainment, movies, television, music, and the slightly higher respectability chain, books.”

However, Moore said he believes the staffs he’s worked with over the years have applied the same enthusiasm, vigor and aggressive newsgathering that people on other beats did while covering the entertainment industry.

“We just had more fun,” he said.

Moore said he likes to think he’s helped people understand the importance of critical thinking. “I believe if you look insightfully, if you look aggressively at popular culture, you can find out as much about society as if you write a news story,” he said.

Moore said he’s concerned about the lack of critical thinking in modern journalism. He said journalists must present facts and provide information to defend them because, in a “fake news” era, the public questions the media.

“They don’t have the confidence,” he said. “I believe we can do that by reporting and providing context. By context, I don’t mean let’s interpret for people. Let’s get enough facts so that we can speak confidently, authoritatively and can address issues in a way that can’t be questioned.

“If there’s a problem, we can possibly offer alternatives. We can treat the people we deal with on our beats with respect. Hold them accountable, but don’t present them with our agenda. I think that’s what a lot of news organizations are starting to do now.”

While Moore is concerned about the state of journalism today, he said he’s also encouraged, because he thinks journalists are on a good path.

“We have to report with depth, insight, and then we may be able to affect change,” he said.

Moore credited several people with his success, including Norton, who he described as “inexhaustible” and a “genius.”

“He will very humbly describe himself as making connections, when actually what he does is he creates character and careers,” said Moore. “The Meek School would not be the Meek School without Dr. Norton.”

Norton said he went through issues of The Daily Mississippian from 1973 to 1975 to look at some of Moore’s work as a student journalist. He found several stories, including one titled ‘Dorm Hunting, the night I kicked my leg through the wall, I decided it was time to move.’ Moore wrote light and serious pieces for the college newspaper, including stories about UM applying again for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and voting issues.

“Whether it was about shoddy campus housing, lack of freedom for faculty members or voting rights, tonight’s honoree always seemed to focus on important news,” said Norton, who gave attendees an update about the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

“During the 1974-75 academic year, the Department of Journalism had fewer than 100 majors, and an accreditation team made its first site visit to the campus,” he said. “The endowment of the department was less than $50,000.

“Today, the Meek School has more than 1,500 majors in Farley Hall and the Overby Center, and is raising funds for a third building that will be situated in the parking lot between Lamar Hall and the Overby Center, and the accreditation team called the Meek School a destination – and one of the elite programs in the nation.”

Norton said the endowment today is more than $13 million with a major estate committed to the future.

“The Meek School is prominent nationally now, if not globally,” he said. “Clearly, media education at Ole Miss has gained a great deal of exposure. Several times over the last few weeks, the chancellor has called the Meek School one of the two best schools on the campus. That exposure is based on the strong foundation established in 1947 by Gerald Forbes, the founding chair. He was joined by Sam Talbert and Dr. Jere Hoar. They produced outstanding graduates.”

Hoar was one of the event attendees Wednesday night, and he was recognized for his contribution to the school.

The Silver Em award is named for Talbert, the professor and department chairman, who believed a great department of journalism could be an asset to the state of Mississippi. An “em” was used in printing. In the days of printing with raised metal letters, lines of type were “justified” by skilled insertion of spacing with blanks of three widths – thin, en and em. The Silver Em blends the printing unit of measure with the “M” for Mississippi.

“The award has been presented annually since 1948 as the university’s highest honor for journalism,” said Debora Wenger, associate professor of journalism. “The requirements are that the person selected be a graduate of the University of Mississippi, who has had a noteworthy impact in or out of the state, or if not a graduate of Ole Miss, a journalist of note who has been a difference-maker in Mississippi.”

Meek journalism students were also honored during the event, which featured the Best of Meek awards ceremony.

Students who received Taylor Medals include Rachel Anderson, Katelin Davis, Hannah Hurdle and Ariyl Onstott.

The Kappa Tau Alpha Graduate Scholar was Stefanie Linn Goodwiller.

The KTA Undergraduate Scholar was Ariyl Onstott.

Graduate Excellence winners were Mrudvi Parind Vakshi and Jane Cathryn Walton.

The Lambda Sigma winner was Susan Clara Turnage.

Excellence in Integrated Marketing Communications winners were Austin McKay Dean and Sharnique G’Shay Smith.

Excellence in Journalism winners were Maison Elizabeth Heil and John Cooper Lawton.

Who’s Who winners were Rachel Anderson, Ferderica Cobb, Austin Dean, Elizabeth Ervin, Leah Gibson, Madison Heil, Cady Herring, Rachel Holman, Amanda Hunt, Hannah Hurdle, Amanda Jones, John Lawton, Taylor Lewis, Ariyl Onstott, Meredith Parker, Susan Clara Turnage, Sudu Upadhyay and Brittanee Wallace.

The Overby Award was given to Susan Clara Turnage.

Kappa Tau Alpha inductees include Brandi Embrey, Elizabeth Estes, Madison Heil, Rachael Holman, Hannah Hurdle, Tousley Leake, Taylor Lewis, Jessica Love, Hailey McKee, Olivia Morgan, Ariyl Onstott, Alexandria Paton, Natalie Seales and Zachary Shaw.

Dean’s Award winners include Madeleine Dear, Lana Ferguson, Kylie Fichter, Jennifer Froning, Dylan Lewis, Emily Lindstrom, Sarah McCullen, Dixie McPherson, Anna Miller, Rashad Newsom, Hannah Pickett, Kalah Walker, Brittanee Wallace, Kara Weller and Anna Wierman.

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media was founded in 2009 with a $5.9 million gift from Dr. Ed and Becky Meek, Ole Miss graduates with a long history of support. It is housed in Farley Hall, with a wing for the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Today, the Meek School has 1,570 students in undergraduate and graduate studies working toward degrees in journalism and IMC.

For more information, email meekschool@olemiss.edu.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor

New Course: J353 Drone Journalism course offered during May Intersession

Posted on: April 4th, 2017 by ldrucker

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media will achieve new heights this spring when it offers the new May Intersession course Journalism 353 Drone Journalism, Section 1.

“This course will examine how journalists can use drones in a safe and responsible way to craft messages for a mass audience,” said professor Ji Hoon Heo, who will lead the course. “News stories and content can benefit from the aerial perspectives that drone mounted cameras can provide.”

Heo said the course will explore Federal Aviation Administration regulations, local regulations, drone operations and techniques, and drone use ethics. Students will take the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification at the end of the course.

“They will produce one journalism story using drones,” Heo said. “I am hoping that students will learn that drones, while fun and cool, are a tool we can use to enhance our journalism stories. Safety is a requirement, and it is important for us to abide by regulations and law so that we can continue to utlize this amazing tool.”

For more information, contact Ji Hoon Heo at 662-915-7643 or jheo1@olemiss.edu.

Students gain broadcast journalism experience working at Rebel Radio

Posted on: March 24th, 2017 by ldrucker

Rebel Radio is a student-run organization that broadcasts throughout much of North Mississippi and enables students to gain broadcasting experience by becoming volunteer interns.

Just like any other radio station, anyone can tune in and listen to sports, music, local or world events and news.

Hernando native Aaron Isom, a University of Misissippi junior majoring in broadcast journalism, is also a former Oxford Stories reporter. He is from Hernando and attended Northwest Community College two years before transferring to UM.

FullSizeRender (1)Isom became interested in broadcasting when he was young. “I always thought broadcasters had a cool job, even when I was little,” he said.

In high school, he was a part of the student news team. “The show came on every morning, and it proved to me that broadcasting was something I was very interested in,” he said.

Isom continued his journalism career at Northwest Community College, where he worked at the local newspaper distributed throughout Tate County while attending Northwest.
He became involved in Rebel Radio because of a family connection. “My brother’s girlfriend knew the manager, so she told him about my interest in radio,” he said. “I love to talk, so radio has just kind of seemed like a good fit for my personality.”

On Mondays at 5 p.m., Isom is on the air for an hour. On Thursdays at 8 p.m., he works for two hours.

“I do enjoy working at Rebel Radio, especially on Mondays, because that is when I get to talk,” he said. “During Thursday’s broadcast, I pretty much just play music. I mostly play a wide variety of hiphop on Thursdays.”

Isom said he’s not sure a lot of people realize how far-reaching Rebel Radio is. The station even airs in the Memphis metro area.

Although one cannot see Isom’s face when he is on air, he believes working at Rebel Radio will lead to bigger broadcasting opportunities. Isom said he wants to become a broadcaster at a big sports network.

Jackson Maddox, 21, is originally from Houston, Texas. He worked at Rebel Radio last semester and  switched his major to broadcast journalism before the beginning of the fall semester of 2016. Maddox discovered Rebel Radio last summer.

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Jackson Maddox. Photo by Jack Newsom.

“I am glad that I worked at Rebel Radio last semester,” he said. “It was a great experience, and I would definitely be open to being involved with Rebel Radio again.”

Maddox had two segments each week at Rebel Radio on Tuesdays and Fridays.

“On Tuesdays, I had a co-host, and we would talk about current events and pop culture,” he said. “I really wasn’t too knowledgeable about pop culture, and I don’t think she was that interested in current events, so sometimes it made for an awkward combination.”

On Thursdays, Maddox played his own music. “I really loved picking music for people to listen to,” he said.

Maddox said he didn’t have time to work at Rebel Radio this semester. “My schedule is kind of hectic this semester,” he said, “so I just didn’t want to commit to anything and then have to back out later. Even last semester, it could be hard to come to work, but that was because I worked both days at two in the afternoon, so it was sort of in the middle of the day.”

Maddox said he job was fun, and he would encourage any student to become involved.

Story by Jack Newsom, Oxford Storiesjsnewso2@go.olemiss.edu.

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 kieselaymon.com. 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 morgan@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7146.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor

Dennis Moore to be honored with Ole Miss Silver Em

Posted on: March 19th, 2017 by ldrucker

Dennis Moore

Dennis Moore, whose career in journalism has led him back to Jackson as co-editor of Mississippi Today, has been tapped as this year’s Samuel Talbert Silver Em recipient by the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss.

The Silver Em presentation will take place during the Best of Meek dinner that begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, in the ballroom of the Inn at Ole Miss.

The award, named for an early department chairman and leader in journalism education, is the most prestigious journalism honor the university bestows. Moore is the 58th honoree in the recognition limited to native Mississippians or journalists who have spent a significant part of their careers in the state. Selection is based on careers exemplifying the highest ideals of American journalism.

Moore, who studied journalism at the University of Mississippi, began his reporting career at The Clarion-Ledger, but his experience started earlier at The Germantown News in Germantown, Tenn. “I made a blind call to the editor and asked if I could work there,” Moore said. “She said I was welcome to drop in on production nights, but they could not pay.” Moore went, worked and learned. More experience was gained through an internship with Southern Living.

In Jackson, Moore, a movie fan, was allowed an extra assignment to write one review per week. When Jackson landed the International Ballet Competition, Moore was assigned to provide coverage, gaining more exposure and experience to writing about the arts and entertainment. His success took him to The Orlando Sentinel to direct its arts coverage and edit the newspaper’s award-winning Sunday magazine, Florida.

USA Today was next, and Moore advanced to managing editor of the Life section. In that role he traveled and routinely met with celebrities, including forming a real admiration for Steven Spielberg and being nervous before talking with Mick Jagger. He was also pleased when John Grisham reported that his mother had appreciated a story Moore had written about the author. Moore lists his interview with Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her work in “The Help” as his favorite actor interview.

Highlights in the Life years included attending the Oscars and an interview with his favorite actress, of Florida Magazine.

There was an abrupt change when Moore became breaking news editor for USA Today. In that role he guided the coverage of ebola in Africa and the United States, the violence and protests in Ferguson, Mo., the trial of a Boston Marathon bomber and the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Ala.

Moore was with USA Today during the development of its internet presence. In his newest position, he joined Fred Anklam, also a USA Today veteran, past Silver Em recipient and Ole Miss graduate, in launching an all-digital news service based in the state capital and devoted to nonpartisan reporting on Mississippi issues.

Moore called it a “true startup from creating a website to hiring reporters to introducing the new concept to readers.” Mississippi Today has seed grants from several national foundations with the purpose of informing the public about education, health, economic growth and culture.

For more information, contact the Meek School at meekschool@olemiss.edu.

 

Miss University dreams of becoming Miss Mississippi, Miss America and a broadcast journalist

Posted on: March 7th, 2017 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi senior, also known as Miss University, is studying to become a broadcast journalist, but dreams of becoming Miss Mississippi and Miss America.

Leah Gibson grew up cheering, singing and doing community service work, such as working with the organization Teens for Jeans to collect 100 pairs of jeans for the charity.

Gibson was part of the broadcast journalism program in high school. As one of a five-member staff, she helped create a newscast during her lunch hour, and she became became a features writer for her high school newspaper in 10th grade.

Gibson tried several majors before deciding on journalism. She first considered studying to be a lawyer or psychologist until she thought about the time those degrees required.

Instead, she wanted to do something that allowed her to be more creative and didn’t want to sit behind a desk daily. Gibson soon realized she loved being in front of the camera, going out and getting stories, and finding different angles for stories that have been told thousands of times.

Before deciding what college she wanted to attend, she initially had Mississippi State University in mind until she met former Chancellor Robert C. Khayat in Washington, D.C. while she was a Al Neuharth Conference scholar. He convinced her to look into the Meek School of Journalism and New Media program, and she decided on UM based on information she received from each school.

Gibson said she loves the Ole Miss sense of unity. She believes Ole Miss accepts its past and that the community wants to move forward.

“Every time something bad happens in the media, Ole Miss faces it head on, puts together focus groups, put out new policies, and ensures that everyone feels safe,” she said.

Gibson has volunteered as a cheer coach for Upward Basketball and cheerleading in Oxford, and believes this has made her a stronger person. She said she liked the idea of sharing something she was passionate about with other girls and hopes they will participate in competitive cheer.

She also volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club for a year and a half and started a mentoring program called GLAM squad. GLAM stands for Giving Learning Achieving Maturing, and focuses on teaching girls to accept who they are. She also focused on her pageant platform, highway safety.

Gibson has been active on campus for four years, but she is now involved with the Black Student Union, her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., being the Rebel Radio station manager, and fulfilling her duties as Miss University.

Some may wonder why Gibson wanted to be Miss University. It’s a dream she had many years ago. When she first began competing in competitions, they were small beauty reviews. She did the National American Miss Distinguishing Women Competition in high school, and did not win, but she wasn’t ready to give up.

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Gibson spends a lot of time in the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center.

Determined to win a title, her mother found the Outstanding Teen program within the Miss America organization. As a teen, Gibson placed within the Top 10 her first year, but soon realized she had aged out and could no longer compete because she was a graduating high school senior.

She then competed in Miss University and did not win, but her talent for singing did. She still felt like she wasn’t finished with competitions and went on to win Miss Meridian. She loves to compete because, for her, competitions are more than just pageants. She thinks about people from her hometown or little girls she might inspire in the process.

“You have to go through hurdles to get to where you’re trying to go for your ultimate goals to come to life,” she said. “I want people to remember me, not as someone who had potential, but as someone who always went after their biggest goals.”

What makes Gibson stand out? After working with her during the UM Apex leadership summit for rising high school seniors in 2012, Chad Knight said they didn’t talk much in college. However, they later both became orientation leaders and were Lucky Day residential community assistants.

A relationship formed, and he said Gibson is a vibrant individual, happy at all times, and has genuine care and concern for others. During her Miss University campaign, he watched her disconnect from everyone to focus, and that showed her passion and drive.

“Leah stands out from other Miss Universities in the past because of her drive and commitment to the title,” he said. “I believe she knows she is representing something bigger than herself. She is living up to the work of the title and not just the name.”

Gibson’s dream is to become Miss Mississippi, then Miss America. If that does not work out, she plans to take a year off after graduation and study abroad, because she believes traveling and culture is something you cannot teach, but something someone has to experience.

The author of this article, Lydazja Turner, 18, is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. Her dream is to become a radio host or vlogger. She has studied ballet most of her life and dabbles in yoga. Her schedule is packed with schoolwork and involvement in the Black Student Union. She wrote this story for a Journalism 102 class, and she is a writer for Oxford Stories. Read more stories about Oxford and North Mississippi people at OxfordStories.net.

Students get career advice at Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Day

Posted on: March 7th, 2017 by ldrucker

University of Mississippi student Torry Rees speaks with radio broadcaster Jeff Covington during the event.

When Abbie McIntosh was in 8th grade, her mother demanded that she finish her homework before watching her favorite football team play.

“I was a huge Texas fan,” said the Houston native. “I had to finish my homework before I could watch Texas. And that night at dinner, my mom was like, with how much you love sports, I think you should look into being a sports broadcaster.

“I thought about it, did some more research, and I really liked it. I did print (journalism) in high school, because we didn’t really have anything broadcast, but I wanted to do broadcast.”

Today, the University of Mississippi sophomore is preparing for a future in broadcast journalism. She attended Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Day at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media Tuesday in the Farley Hall on the University of Mississippi campus to have her resume critiqued and seek career advice from industry professionals.

McIntosh said she has learned a lot about broadcast journalism at the Meek School.

“I’ve just learned different techniques,” she said, “like how to do the proper standup.”

McIntosh said she’s also learned how to create a broadcast package, how to shoot B-roll, proper interview techniques, and how to use cameras and equipment.

“I’ve learned so much in my two very short years here,” she said. “I just wanted to get feedback on my work to improve myself.”

UM senior Lynecia Christion, 22, is also studying journalism.

“I’m basically just trying to get some advice and criticism,” she said Tuesday. “I brought my resume so I could tweak it a little bit. I didn’t realize how fast the year was going to go by, and now it’s really kicking in, and you go to places like this and realize graduation is about to be here.”

Christion said she’s trying to get her name and brand out to future employers.

“Right now, I’m not so big on being in front of the camera,” she said. “I like the background scene in producing, editing and directing. I am willing to report if I need to just to get to a background spot.”

Nancy McKenzie Dupont, Ph.D., organized Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Day.

“It’s everything I hoped it would be,” she said, referring to the event. “I’m always nervous before this event every year because there are so many moving parts, and everything has to come together, but the broadcasters of the state have supported our students, and many students get internships and actual jobs every year.”

A journalism or integrated marketing communications degree can lead to a job in public relations, marketing, sports promotion, creative services and many other categories.

Dupont said the event teaches students how to succeed in broadcast journalism and marketing jobs at broadcasting stations. It involved portfolio critiques in the morning, a meeting with faculty, and small group discussions in the afternoon. The public was not invited. It was only for students and faculty only. Dupont said said 15-20 broadcasters attended.

“Broadcasters want to come to the Meek School because they believe it’s the best program in the state,” she said. “They want to help students during their time here. It would be a mistake for students to miss this opportunity to get a professional critique of their work and advice on how to land the job they want.”

Dupont said many students start out with the goal of becoming newspaper and broadcast reporters, but because many jobs have changed, there are many more career options for students. Her advice: Develop as many skills as you can—writing, video shooting, editing, social media, etc.—and intern at more than one place to gain experience.

For more information about the event or the University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s broadcast journalism program and and classes, contact Dupont at ndupont@olemiss.edu.

  • Story by LaReeca Rucker, adjunct journalism instructor