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

Posted on: June 29th, 2022 by ldrucker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to read the full list of winners.

Art/Graphics

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

Television

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

Two University of Mississippi journalism students place in prestigious Hearst competition

Posted on: June 20th, 2022 by ldrucker

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

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

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

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

Rabria Moore is pictured in the photo.

Rabria Moore is pictured in the photo.

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

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

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

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

Moore said working on this project was different from others.

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

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

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

Billy Schuerman is pictured in this black and white photo.

Billy Schuerman is pictured in this black and white photo.

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

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

He said the project was meaningful.

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

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

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

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

Posted on: June 6th, 2022 by ldrucker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrea Hickerson Named Dean of School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: May 20th, 2022 by ldrucker
Andrea Hickerson, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, as well as associate dean and professor, is the new dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media. Hickerson is a respected researcher, educator and administrator whose vision for the school involves preparing students to succeed in an evolving modern media landscape and deal with ongoing technological and social changes. Submitted photo

Andrea Hickerson, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, as well as associate dean and professor, is the new dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media. Hickerson is a respected researcher, educator and administrator whose vision for the school involves preparing students to succeed in an evolving modern media landscape and deal with ongoing technological and social changes. Submitted photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WTVA multimedia reporter is among those graduating from UM School of Journalism and New Media with master’s degree

Posted on: May 7th, 2022 by ldrucker
Taylor Tucker graduated from UM in May of 2020. That year, she was hired as a multimedia journalist at WTVA in Tupelo. Now, the 2022 master's grad also works as the station's morning and weekend anchor.

Taylor Tucker graduated from UM in May of 2020. That year, she was hired as a multimedia journalist at WTVA in Tupelo. Now, the 2022 master’s grad also works as the station’s weekend morning anchor.

Taylor Tucker graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media in May of 2020. That year, she was hired as a multimedia journalist at WTVA in Tupelo and received a promotion her first year. Now earning her graduate degree, the 2022 grad also works as the weekend morning anchor on WTVA from 5 a.m. until 7 a.m.

“News has earned my heart,” Tucker said, “and I plan to continue my journey as a news anchor and reporter. It’s comforting to know I now have my master’s and plan to utilize it later in my career.”

Tucker is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.

Interim Dean Debora Wenger said one of the things that stands out about Tucker is her kindness.

“As a journalist, I know she will tell stories with compassion and care,” she said.

Wenger said Tucker is also one of the students who loves learning.

“She took advantage of opportunities to build her skills in the classroom and in the newsroom,” she said. “While still in graduate school, she started working as a reporter for WTVA in Tupelo, and the combination of professional experience and a master’s degree is going to take her far.”

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has forged relationships with news directors across the state and around the region.

“When the folks at WTVA met Taylor, the saw huge potential and offered her a position,” Wenger said.

Tucker’s advice to fellow students: Take advantage of every opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to better perfect your craft.”

Read a previous story we wrote about Taylor below.

Taylor Tucker sits at the WTVA news desk.

Taylor Tucker sits at the WTVA news desk.

DaLakin Crawford
Oxford Stories
dkcrawfo@go.olemiss.edu

When interning as a freshman, Taylor Tucker said she felt as if she was not in the right career field because she didn’t know much about news stations and reporting in general and she was intimidated by the people who were already on the job.

“They were so much more advanced,” she said.

Taylor Tucker reporting for WTVA.

Taylor Tucker reporting for WTVA.

This made her feel behind and not in the right field. As a freshman, she became discouraged until she realized she was just getting started and still had more work to do.

When Tucker became a junior at UM, she received another internship. She knew what to expect and felt more confident because she realized she would learn as she goes.

While Tucker encountered some difficulties as an undergraduate on the road to becoming a journalist, she has also faced challenges as a young professional. One such challenge involved a February snowstorm.

It was Tucker’s first time reporting in those weather conditions. She had to drive on the roads and was afraid of what might happen. However, she managed to overcome that fear and get the job done.

“You never know what you are getting yourself into,” she said.

Each day, her job is different.  Tucker said she has to be mentally prepared because some days are challenging, but she wouldn’t want to do anything else.

DeAndria Turner, friend and former classmate of Tucker, graduated from the University of Mississippi in May 2020 and now works as a news reporter at Fox61 in Hartford, Connecticut. She described Tucker as a hardworking person who never gives up and is always willing to learn more about her career so she can improve as a journalist. Turner said those qualities are what she admires most about Tucker.

“She is always looking for ways to improve her craft,” said Turner. “She is always looking for ways to become more creative and engage the audience.”

Turner said Tucker feels she can never be too good or know enough. Therefore, she watches other journalists and learns from them.

“She isn’t afraid to ask questions, and she holds herself and others accountable,” Turner said.

Tucker may be graduating with a second degree, but she’s not ready to stop learning, yet.

“I think we all need continual growth and lessons to keep becoming better journalists,” Turner said. “Especially so we don’t get complacent in our craft.”

You can read the full story at OxfordStories.net.

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.

NewsWatch leader will pursue sports journalism and legal career

Posted on: May 3rd, 2022 by ldrucker
A. J. Norwood dreams of becoming a national sports reporter and an attorney. The graphic features hands stacking blocks with icons on them. The top block features a graduation cap.

He has dreams of rising in the ranks as a national sports reporter and becoming an attorney.

The sky is the limit for A.J. Norwood, a Batesville native whose desire and ability to achieve excellence left a memorable impression on University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media leaders. He is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared his Journey to Commencement.

“I came into college knowing that I wanted to be a broadcast journalist,” said Norwood. “More specifically, I knew I wanted to be a sports broadcaster.”

The broadcast journalism major with a minor in legal studies has worked for NewsWatch – UM’s live, student-run news broadcast, since his freshmen year.

“Auditioning for NewsWatch Ole Miss and getting hired there was pretty much how I got my start doing that,” he said. “It opened up a lot of opportunities for me due to the work that I put in, and I was blessed to be able to make things happen as a result of it.”

Norwood started out as a sports anchor with NewsWatch, then worked his way up to sports director, overseeing sports reporters and anchors.

He also served as a school ambassador, leadership and engagement ambassador, a Luckyday team leader and media specialist, and president of the University of Mississippi Association of Black Journalists during his college career.

“Sports journalism was my first goal,” he said. “Being in college now and getting real-world experience, I know I can do news and sports.”

Student A.J. Norwood sits behind the anchor desk at NewsWatch. Norwood said he was drawn to UM because of its journalism program, and his older sister, Taylor, graduated from UM in 2020. 

He became interested in law during his sophomore year while taking JOUR 371 Communications Law, and decided to pursue legal studies as a minor. He said he’ll most likely pursue journalism first after graduating.

Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson, who leads the Student Media Center, said she has worked extensively with Norwood in her role as student media director and faculty adviser for the UMABJ.

“I recognized A.J.’s strengths as a young sports journalist and his leadership potential and helped recruit him for NewsWatch and UMABJ,” she said. “He’s here with NewsWatch five afternoons a week.

“Like many of our top high-achieving, hard-working students, he runs the risk of being tapped by different departments for too many campus activities. He rarely says no to any opportunity, and he still manages to excel in his work at the (Student Media Center), with UMABJ and in his internships.

“He was one of the students we sent to cover the Sugar Bowl for the SMC. I have no doubt he is going to have an awesome career. Any TV station in the nation would be lucky to land him.”  

LaReeca Rucker, adjunct instructional assistant professor of journalism, said Norwood showed great promise early on in a beginning journalism course.

“Some people stand out because they demand attention, and some stand out because they demonstrate a quiet excellence,” she said. “A.J. always knocked every assignment out of the ballpark. His work spoke for itself, and he took home the top honor in my class.”

Assistant Dean Jennifer Simmons said Norwood has the drive and determination for the goals he sets for himself.

“A.J. has the talent, skills, and personality to be a phenomenal broadcast journalist,” she said.

Interim Dean Debora Wenger said Norwood is a gifted communicator.

“I know he is going to be a success,” she said. “He has many talents, but he remains humble and willing to learn from everyone he encounters. No matter where he goes, he will be an asset to the organization as he was to our school — a good student, a good journalist, a good person.”

Norwood believes hands-on experience has given him the tools he needs for success.

“I think I am pretty prepared for whatever I need to do after college,” he said.

He also enjoys photography and has worked as a media specialist for Luckyday Residential College.

“I kind of do photography for both work and fun,” he said. “I figured out that it was something that I can be really good at if I just put in the time to do it.”

Norwood encourages students to pursue their interests in college.

“If there is something you are passionate about, believe in yourself and take that step,” he said. “Do it. You want to always be able to look back and say, ‘I had no regrets while I was here,’ but obviously make good decisions.”

When he’s not reporting, shooting photos, or attending classes, he enjoys spending time with friends. Some of his best memories are late-night runs to Insomnia Cookies on the Oxford Square.

Norwood, one of four children, graduated from South Panola High School, where he played football and soccer while participating in organizations and honor societies.

“Following graduation, I plan to either attend law school or pursue a career as a professional journalist,” he said. “I have a few job offers, but it’s a matter of figuring out the best decision to make for myself right now.”

His advice to students: “Do something (you’re) happy doing in college, in terms of a major. Regardless of how difficult the course load is … if you have a dream job, pursue it. Nothing is going to come easy, but the payoff will be greater in the end.

“I would also tell younger students to make the most of their time in undergrad. I understand that we are all here to get a degree, but these are supposed to be some of the best years of your life. Don’t take it for granted.”

Jena Stallings contributed to this story.

University of Mississippi journalism grad student from France plans to pursue filmmaking career

Posted on: April 29th, 2022 by ldrucker
Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, came to the United States for the first time as an study abroad exchange student in Georgia. When the year ended, she returned to her home in 2022 graduate Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, came to the U.S. first as an exchange student in Georgia from Lille, France and decided to return to attend graduate school at the University of Mississippi. , France.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, came to the United States for the first time as a study abroad exchange student in Georgia. When the year ended, she returned to her home in Lille, France.

“I really wanted to go back to the South, which surprises most people,” she said, “but I really like the atmosphere and kindness of people around here, and I also love that Oxford is a small-town, close-knit community.”

Denoulet returned to the American South for graduate studies. She applied to several schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media awarded her an assistantship that allowed Denoulet to earn her Master of Arts in Journalism. She is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, is a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student from Lille, France.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, is a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student from Lille, France. She is pictured on assignment with Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism.

“I have loved these past two years,” she said. “I have tried to be as close to the international community as I could, trying to build community. In terms of classes, I have tried to take as many videography and documentary courses as I could, since I love filming.

“I got to work on so many projects, and experience the most random things, ranging from petting a baby goat to jumping on a trampoline with several kids, to visiting a catfish farm. This is what makes me love what I do, and I cannot wait to work on many more projects.”

Denoulet’s love of storytelling led her to apply for a Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Expression with UM’s Southern Studies department.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, is a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student from Lille, France.

Elise-Joelle Denoule.

“That’s my first option so far, but I also intend on applying to jobs in documentary filmmaking as well as video journalism all around the world, especially in Northern Africa or in the Middle East, so I can make use of my Arabic and learn some more,” she said.

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, has worked closely with Denoulet on many projects.

“Elise is willing to do the little things and the big things that make stories successful,” he said. “When my TV Documentary class was covering the illegal drug problem in Southeast Mississippi, she was willing to drive back down to cover a drug program graduation ceremony that was critical for the story.”

Fagans describes her as friendly, confident, quietly talented, a hard worker, and a student that receives criticism and applies suggestions to make her storytelling more effective.

“I have been fortunate to have taught her in two classes,” he said, “and I am on her professional project committee that she successfully presented and defended earlier this week. She immersed herself in the catfish industry in our state, interviewed some noted authorities, traveled around the Delta and Northern Mississippi, and created an enjoyable and informative documentary film. I am looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the Southern Studies program and then later in our field.”

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, is a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student from Lille, France.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet.

Denoulet said being an international student brings an additional level of difficulty compared to what American students might experience.

“For instance, while my classmates had to write a 10-page essay, I had to write a 10-page essay in my second language,” she said. “Everything is a little more challenging, but also so rewarding.”

During her time at Ole Miss, she audited language classes. She refreshed her Spanish and began learning Arabic.

Her advice to students: “College only lasts a few years. Take advantage of that time. As a French student, I can tell you there are so many more opportunities I got while studying here than I would have had in France, in terms of student life, academics, and work opportunities.

“Attend events, get involved on campus, and do your best work in class. Getting yourself noticed by teachers or faculty will bring you rewarding opportunities.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

First generation DeSoto campus grad will join advertising firm after graduation

Posted on: April 28th, 2022 by ldrucker
The graphic features a graduation cap and a picture of Benjamin Wilson, an IMC student, who will be the first in his family to graduate from college.

When Benjamin Wilson, 24, graduated with a degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) from the University of Mississippi DeSoto campus in Southaven, he became the first person in his family to earn a college degree.

The Pontotoc native who lives in Southaven with his wife is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared his Journey to Commencement.

“I am the first person in my family to ever go to college,” he said. “People did not expect me to go to college and definitely did not expect me to be successful.”

Wilson said he took a year off after graduating high school to work and save money for college. He earned an associate’s degree from Itawamba Community College, then skipped another year of school to get married, work, and save more money before returning to earn his bachelor’s degree.

“When coming to Ole Miss, I was undecided in my major,” he said. “I was interested in business and marketing. I had never heard of IMC until my advisor at Ole Miss told me about it. I instantly knew it was the major for me. It opens up career opportunities in business, marketing, communications and more.”

Benjamin Wilson While much of Wilson’s time in college happened virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has served as a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success. He has also earned a spot on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll each semester.

Wilson said his favorite class has been IMC 205: Writing for Integrated Marketing Communication, taught by his favorite instructor, Patricia Overstreet-Miller.

“It was one of the first IMC classes I took,” he said, “and it assured me I was in the right major,” he said.

Wilson said his biggest personal and educational challenge during college was prioritizing.

“I have worked full time all throughout my college career,” he said. “Juggling my job, school, and being a husband has been very challenging. I have had to sacrifice some of my social life and ‘fun time’ in order to prioritize schoolwork. While it is not fun at the moment, I know it will all be worth it when I graduate in May.”

Wilson will work as a junior SEO specialist at Neon Canvas – an advertising firm in Memphis.

“I did a summer internship with the company last summer, and they offered me a full-time position after my internship,” he said.

Overstreet-Miller, an instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, said Wilson is a born leader, who is talented, hard-working and committed.

“Like others among the regional students, he balances personal responsibilities and a full-time job with a heavy class load,” she said. “From the beginning, I’ve seen both talent and character in Ben. He will make us all proud.”

Wilson’s advice: “I think the number one piece of advice I would give is to not be afraid to put yourself out there – even if you are more reserved or introverted,” he said. “College is a difficult task, and it is really hard to go at it alone. I would encourage everyone to surround themselves with a good support system – family, friends, and especially other students in your major and classes.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

UM broadcast journalism grad speaks to classes about working in reality television production

Posted on: April 22nd, 2022 by ldrucker

UM grad Regan Looser works in the field of reality television.

 

A University of Mississippi broadcast journalism graduate stopped by Farley Hall this week to share insights about her career in reality television production with students in several classes.

Brandon native Regan Looser, 31, graduated from  Northwest Rankin High School before enrolling in UM in 2009. She majored in broadcast journalism with a minor in cinema. After graduating, she moved to Los Angeles, where she now works in production for reality television.

Looser has worked in production on shows that include “Dancing With the Stars,” “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “Shahs of Sunset,” “America’s Got Talent.” She started her career as a post-production assistant on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Although she loves seeing a story come together in the editing bays, she said she wanted to be in the middle of the chaos, creating stories out in the field.

“Breaking into producing is competitive and challenging at best, so I started by assisting talent during the shows to get to know what they think and say when cameras are not around,” she said. “I used this to help give myself a better understanding of how to talk to them and treat them once I became a producer.”

Looser has worked as a talent assistant on several reality TV shows.

“Because I have worked directly with actors and guests on reality television shows, I have had the opportunity to sit in on their interviews with the producers,” she said. “The more I listened to the producer’s interviews, the better I understood how they made filming decisions to bring the story together. At that point, I knew becoming a producer was my career goal.”

UM grad Regan Looser works in the field of reality television.

UM grad Regan Looser works in the field of reality television.

Because she works as a freelancer, Looser said she bounces from show to show. She recently worked as a segment producer for a show that aired in February called “The Real Dirty Dancing” featured on Hulu.

“Fun fact,” she said. “I am the one being lifted in the lake scene in the promotional ads and trailer for the show.”

Some of her job responsibilities have included:

  • Creating storylines to follow throughout the season.
  • Taking notes in the field while filming what happened.
  • Directing cameras while filming.
  • Developing interview questions.
  • Conducting one-on-one and on-the-fly interviews, and most importantly…
  • Trying to keep all cast and crew happy.

“I absolutely love what I do,” Looser said, “and the best thing about it is that I am constantly learning—for example, individual cultures and backgrounds. I was on the producing team for ‘Bling Empire’ and learned so much about Asian culture, food and history. The people I get to work with have expanded my knowledge and made me curious about the world.”

Her most important piece of advice is: “Ask for help.”

“If you are trying to get in this industry and know anyone, or know a friend of a friend, then ask them for help,” she said. “Meet for a coffee or send an email asking whatever questions you have.

“Networking gets you in and keeps you in, so do not be afraid to reach out to someone even if you don’t know them very well. Besides that, be kind to everyone. Yes, I know that sounds cliche, but you never know whom you’re talking to here. Everyone knows everyone.”

Looser also says: “Just start creating.”

“Many Facebook groups are full of cameramen/women, producers, stylists, hair and make-up, and talent just wanting to be involved,” she said. “If you have a fun idea for a segment, or interview, or anything you’d like to see on TV, create it yourself. The amazing thing about this industry is meeting new people and sharing ideas so you can help each other bring them to life.”