Meet the 2019-2020 Student Media Managers
By Lucy Burnam and Ingrid Valbuena
GRACYN ASHMORE – NewsWatch Ole Miss Manager:
Oxford native Gracyn Ashmore visited NewsWatch Ole Miss during her senior year of high school, and volunteered to help with a summer project. After that, she was hooked.
Ashmore, a junior broadcast journalism major with a minor in political science, has been a correspondent and graphics producer for the newscast. She was selected as NewsWatch station manager for fall semester 2019.
“I want my talent and staff to learn from me and I learn from them,” Ashmore said. “I want to help each and every person involved feel valued and to succeed.”
Ashmore oversees everything that goes into the daily, 30-minute live newscast for Lafayette County, Monday through Friday. She works with more than two dozen producers, directors, anchors and correspondents to make sure the show runs as smoothly as possible.
“It is a team effort and we run like a well-oiled machine. I adore my staff.”
During the last academic year, Ashmore worked as a weekend reporter for WTVA 9 News in Tupelo for six months. Her experience further confirmed her dream of working as a reporter after graduation.
“It was the most incredible learning experience in my work besides NewsWatch,” Ashmore said. “I would have never had that opportunity if I had not worked for NewsWatch as a freshman at Ole Miss.”
Nancy Dupont, journalism professor and NewsWatch adviser, said that Ashmore and Executive Producer Brian Barisa bring intelligence, skill and energy to their jobs.
“When disaster strikes, as it frequently does in preparing a live newscast, Gracyn and Brian remain calm and level-headed,” Dupont said.
BRIAN BARISA – NewsWatch Ole Miss Manager:
Brian Barisa is majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in political science. In the spring semester, he will take over as NewsWatch newscast manager, and Ashmore will become executive producer.
“I was the senior producer after four years of classes in high school broadcast and wanted to keep working in media as quickly as I could,” Barisa said.
As executive producer, he is in charge of the scriptwriting and time setting for the daily newscast. This year he is most excited to work with the recently purchased full HD system.
“My favorite part is finding content and building up a show before anyone else has gotten started,” Barisa said.
Barisa had an internship with RealNews PR, a public relations agency based in Dallas. He created graphics, videos and content for clients. “It was my first chance to use programs like Adobe After Effects professionally and dive deeper into how to create better content.”
Outside of the SMC, Barisa can be found participating in the Ole Miss Esports program. “I’ve been able to get heavily involved with it because it combines my hobby of gaming with my competitive nature and drive to always win, while also being something modern and new that is groundbreaking on the campus,” Barisa said.
Barisa’s dream is to someday travel the world as a GT car racing driver.
REBECCA BROWN – Advertising Sales Manager:
Becca Brown is in her second year as advertising sales manager. Rarely does a student serve two years in the top position.
Her dream of pursuing cheerleading led her from Hallettsville, Texas, to Ole Miss. After two years as an Ole Miss cheerleader, Brown wanted to become even more involved on campus. A friend recommended her for the SMC sales position and she quickly showed her leadership potential.
Brown is a senior majoring in marketing in the business school. She supervises a staff of five account executives. Her goal for this year is to bring the best revenue numbers The Daily Mississippian has ever seen, and to grow the revenue from digital and broadcast student operations.
“I love the relationships I have made with clients and the value small business brings to the Oxford community,” Brown said. “I am always pushing our team to do the absolute best we can.”
Roy Frostenson is SMC assistant director for advertising. “It’s not often we’re able to get someone to repeat in this position so we’re excited to have Rebecca back, with her experience, leading our sales team for another year,” Frostenson said. “She’s organized, focused on details and task oriented – all qualities you want and look for in a sales manager. Rebecca brings a lot of drive and determination to the job and is a great leader for the sales team.”
In the summer of 2019, Brown served as a financial adviser intern for Edward Jones Investments, and she hopes to work there again when she graduates in May.
“I had such a wonderful experience and got to utilize some of the skills I learned with the SMC,” Brown said. “The internship this summer gave me a peek into what daily life is like for a financial adviser and I could not be more excited.”
LAUREN CONLEY – Rebel Radio Station Manager:
A radio show called “Electric Ladiez” was Lauren Conley’s first introduction to Rebel Radio in the Student Media Center. When she became a DJ and got to talk about how topics in entertainment reflected culture, she felt a certain tranquility in the booth and knew it was something she wanted to pursue.
“I would feel at peace every time I would walk into the booth because it was like a personal safe space,” Conley said. “Now the whole station is my safe space because every time I walk in, I hear music and that is my agent of calmness.”
Conley is from Grenada, Mississippi. She is a senior broadcast journalism major with a specialization in media sales and a minor in theater arts. The summer before she became involved with the SMC, she interned as a producer with WTVA 9 news in Tupelo.
“I was met with a demanding newsroom setting full of strict deadlines and high expectations,” Conley said. “It was difficult at first, but after I got the hang of it, I became more confident in myself in this line of work. This pushed me to try out for NewsWatch and Rebel Radio.”
During her junior year, she was a DJ for Rebel Radio and also an anchor for the NewsWatch team. A year later, she is the Rebel Radio station manager. Conley said her love of producing, which started during her WTVA internship, led her to apply to lead the station. Producing attracts her because it involves deadlines, scheduling and management.
As station manager, Conley is in charge of 50 DJs and a staff that includes a news director, a music director and marketing directors. She schedules live remotes for events, conducts partnerships with companies in Oxford for sponsorship, and is also the person to call if something goes w rong in the studio.
“Something cool about my job is that I get to discover who my DJs are and understand why one person likes this and not that and what their musical choices say about them,” Conley said. “We form a little community within itself here at this station. With my staff, I feel like we have gotten to know each other on a personal level. We all have a great friendship to the point where it doesn’t feel like a job, but a bunch of people that come together to make the station better.”
Her goals for Rebel Radio are to gain more exposure for the station. She wants to implement more live remotes to have students speak about different topics, and have student organization leaders on air to inform students about campus involvement. She wants to feature DJs’ shows on their YouTube channel for listeners to play their favorite shows on the go. One big accomplishment this year: She worked with SMC professional staff member Hannah Vines to redesign the radio station website.
“Lauren brings a lot of enthusiasm to her job as station manager and is constantly looking for ways to motivate her staff and improve the station,” said Roy Frostenson, adviser for Rebel Radio.
While pursuing a career in acting, Conley plans to work as a DJ or manager for another radio station after graduation in May. Most recently she was an extra for the NBC drama “Bluff City Law.”
DANIEL PAYNE – The Daily Mississippian Editor-In-Chief:
When Daniel Payne asked his SMC colleagues what word best described him, the answers all boiled down to a similar thread: passionate.
“I don’t mean that I’m the kind of person that stands on my desk and barks orders,” Payne said. “I’m passionate in that I’ll lie awake late after work and think about the next story, next post, next paper.”
Originally from Collierville, Tennessee, Payne is a senior Honors College student majoring in print journalism and minoring in political science. He got involved with The Daily Mississippian when friends told him the DM was searching for writers. This year, he is editor-in-chief.
“When I started spending more time in the SMC, I learned so much in such a short amount of time,” Payne said. “The advisers, professors, editors and writers I worked with gave me knowledge and instincts that I can’t imagine getting anywhere else.”
Greg Brock is Daily Mississippian adviser this year. Brock is a former DM managing editor and a recently retired New York Times editor.
“Of all of the young journalists I have worked with through the decades, Daniel is the one whose talent I could not quite quantify when I began teaching him and working with him in student media,” Brock said. “It finally hit me one day: He simply was born with journalism DNA. His talent goes far beyond his reporting, writing, editing and leadership skills, which are vast. He is the rare young journalist with an old soul, drawing on the best of the past to lead this next generation.”
Payne said his position involves a lot of thinking about what a great publication should be and then trying to execute that vision. He spends his day thinking about how to work with many aspects of journalism at once, from reporting to motion graphics, saying it’s one of the most challenging things he’s ever done creatively but also part of what makes the job fun.
“I try to remind myself and others that it’s OK to throw out some silly ideas before you settle on one,” Payne said. “By allowing myself to be creative without judgment at first, I can find some solutions that I wouldn’t have been able to get without allowing myself to try something new. It isn’t until I’ve tried several options that I know which one is best.”
While Payne wants content to drive the pieces they create, he said one of his main goals is making the DM more relevant in the digital world since that’s where so many people, especially students, get their information.
“We have totally redesigned our online presence, which means that students can find news that matters to the community on our website and social media,” Payne said. “We want students to understand the world that is immediately around them as well as enjoy the stories that come from this special place.”
One of his favorite internships was with online publication The Globe Post in Washington, D.C. While he said it was uncomfortable at first to try to learn digital journalism skills and also learn how to produce good pieces on important events that were happening all the time, he was obsessed with it all. One of his assignments: Cover the first trial of former lobbyist Paul Manafort. Photo caption: During his internship in D.C., Daniel had the opportunity to attend a White House press briefing.
As DM editor-in-chief, Payne leads a staff that includes dozens of editors, writers, photographers, designers, social media coordinators, cartoonists, videographers and more.
“Working with really talented, passionate people is another great part of the job,” Payne said. “I’ve learned so much from them, and the editorial staff has become a close group of friends so quickly. I’m inspired by the work that they produce individually and proud of the work we do as a whole.”
MEGAN SUTTLES – The Ole Miss Yearbook Editor-In-Chief:
Megan Suttles always knew she wanted to attend the University of Mississippi because of her family’s love for the school. But she didn’t originally plan to become part of student media.
“Last year’s editor-in-chief reached out to me through social media and offered me the photo editor position,” Suttles said. “Photography has always been my biggest passion and I knew I would be missing out on a great opportunity if I declined, so I took the job and it ended up being a life-changing decision.”
Suttles, a native of Meridian, Mississippi, is majoring in Arabic and journalism. This year, as editor-in-chief of The Ole Miss yearbook, she gets to lead a staff working to put together the annual for students and alumni as they reflect on their time at UM.
“That has to be the coolest part of my job,” Suttles said. “Being able to use my passion for photography to tell stories, while also getting to write and design a book with a group of other people who feel just as passionate about this school.”
While Suttles said she has big shoes to fill, she hopes to create a yearbook that’s just as good as previous yearbooks.
“I want students to be aware that their time at Ole Miss is one-of-a-kind and unlike any other year, so they should cherish the fact that there will be a book to document all of this change,” Suttles said. “I want more students to get involved with the yearbook, maybe even write or taking pictures for us, so that they can be a part of documenting everything.”
“This semester, we are enjoying watching Megan and her staff create their theme for the 2020 yearbook, design a cover to reflect that theme and assign and edit articles and photos and other content,” Thompson said. “Megan’s enthusiastic spirit inspires her staff and the rest of the SMC.”
Suttles said that if she could go back and give advice to herself on one thing, it would be to be more confident, knowing it’s OK to be insecure about where you will end up, but having confidence and doing your best can bring about some amazing things.
“I’m stressed out a lot of the time, but I think people see that I’m stressed out because I’m ambitious and I care about accomplishing my goals,” Suttles said. “I think ambitious would be a good word to describe me.”
Suttles, a senior, said her long-term goal is to be a journalist based in the Middle East.
Q& A with Ole Miss students interning for 60 Minutes, Fortune magazine
Two School of Journalism and New Media students are in New York this semester, taking classes and interning through the Semester in Journalism program operated by a journalism institute at The King’s College in NYC.
60 Minutes intern Matthew Hendley is a junior broadcast journalism major from Madison, Mississippi. He has worked as a NewsWatch Ole Miss anchor, play-by-play announcer for Rebel Radio and local government reporter at the Beat Reporter. In his freshman year, Matthew won first place in the Southeast Journalism Conference TV newscast anchoring competition.
Fortune magazine intern Hadley Hitson is a junior journalism and Spanish double-major from Mountain Brook, Alabama. She has worked as a Daily Mississippian writer and assistant news editor, an intern in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Public Affairs, and with the White House Internship Program in the Communications and Press Office.
The New York City Semester program partners with 37 universities.
Tell us about your internship. What’s a typical day like?
I get in around 10 and take care of my intern duties – distributing papers to correspondents and producers, stocking the kitchen and refilling printers. Then I usually have an assignment once I get settled at my desk. It’s all about forming relationships with the producers. They give you simple tasks, and if you do it well then they’ll give you more work. Eventually, they trust you with actual reporting – calling courtrooms, getting information, conducting research and aggregation – and you become an essential part of the story production. In my downtime, I work on story pitches and answer phone calls from viewers.
How are you using the skills you learned in your journalism classes and at the Student Media Center?
Aside from learning to be a student of current events and fluent in news lingo, I use several other reporting tactics and journalistic techniques I learned from the SMC and in the classroom at Ole Miss: Whether it’s calling sources and knowing how to ask for what you want, thinking through and constructing complete story ideas, or simply interpreting news stories and research related to a story being investigated by 60 Minutes – these are all things I learned from working at NewsWatch and deciding to view daily life through a journalistic lens.
What’s the single most exciting or memorable thing that has happened to you so far during your internship?
Probably meeting and chatting with Anderson Cooper. Or getting coffee for Adam Sandler.
What’s been your favorite assignment so far?
We spent weeks pulling pictures and posts from alleged Russian operative Maria Butina’s Facebook pages. The producers ended up using several of the photos we pulled in the story that went to air. It’s great getting to see how our small, yet tedious work contributed greatly to such a big story.
What do you miss most about Ole Miss while you are away?
Aside from football season, the community and atmosphere in Oxford, I miss reporting. For student journalists, we’re blessed with the curse of attending a school where there always seems to be something newsworthy happening. I miss being a part of those stories.
What advice would you give other students interested in the Semester in Journalism program?
If you want to give New York a test run, do this program. You’ll learn from talented former journalists who’ll guide you if you need it. It might seem scary, but it’s really not all that crazy. Ole Miss students have really stood out in this program. Our journalism school puts us above the fold. I’d suggest applying for the internship you want in NYC rather than waiting to be placed in one by NYCJ. That’s how I landed 60 Minutes.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
A few days ago, I hopped on a 9-hour bus ride to Buffalo to chase a story for my religion reporting class. And that’s why I love it up here. There’s a gold mine of stories, and they’re all within reach. When it comes to a good story, sometimes you just gotta do it.
Tell us about your internship. What’s a typical day like?
No two days interning at Fortune Magazine have been the same. Whether I’m sitting in on editorial brainstorms, pitching my own articles to editors, doing research for Fortune‘s famous lists or working on the backend of the website to help publish content, I am getting the opportunity to do real work for a magazine with a readership of nearly 5 million people. So far, I have been published with an individual byline four times online and twice in print.
How are you using the skills you learned in your journalism classes and at the Student Media Center?
Nothing could have better prepared me for this internship than working for The Daily Mississippian. Thinking of creative story angles, writing articles on quick-turnaround deadlines and being able to work well with editors are just a few of the many skills the DM taught me that I use on a daily basis at Fortune.
What’s the single most exciting or memorable thing that has happened to you so far during your internship?
I don’t think anything can compare to the elation I felt seeing my byline printed in Fortune for the first time. The first week I started, I was able to help research and write for Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International list, which appeared in the October issue of the magazine. Going to the newsstand to buy that issue and being able to retweet the article from Fortune‘s verified Twitter, those were my two favorite moments.
What’s been your favorite assignment so far?
I was initially nervous about the fact that Fortune is a business magazine, but I have discovered so many business-related topics that I want to learn more about. For the November issue, I pitched an article about the current state of election security one year out from the 2020 vote, and somehow, my editor liked the idea. Writing that article and really digging into what officials and experts still think needs to change before next November was definitely my favorite assignment thus far.
What do you miss most about Ole Miss while you are away?
Hands down, the two parts of Ole Miss that I miss the most are The Daily Mississippian and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. I love that I’m getting to cover national topics like election security, but I really do miss reporting on Oxford, especially with all of the news that has happened since I’ve been gone.
What advice would you give other students interested in the Semester in Journalism program?
Apply! Even if you don’t think New York is the city for you, even if you’re worried about missing Oxford and your friends there, you should challenge yourself to learn by experience. The King’s College is almost the exact opposite of the University of Mississippi. It has less than a thousand students. It is located in the most populous city in the United States, and it is a Christian liberal arts school. NYCJ is the chance to experience and grow in this contrasting environment for one semester with the safety net of knowing you can return home to Ole Miss the next.
Congratulations to The Daily Mississippian
The DM is one of four finalists in the four-year university category. The other three are student newspapers at Iowa State, Texas A&M, and the University of Texas-Austin. The category is for newspapers published at least three days per week. It recognizes excellence in coverage and content; design, graphics and illustrations; photography; service to the campus community; and reporting, writing and editing. Each entry consisted of one edition published in fall 2018, one edition published spring 2019, and one other edition from anytime during the 2018-2019 academic year.
Winners will be announced at a College Media Association conference in November.
New Look for the SMC
What we did on our summer “vacation”
- NewsWatch Ole Miss has a new switcher, monitors, cameras and related accessories. The newscast should now be much more vivid and viewers will see more details in true HD quality. A plus is that the new equipment takes up less space and uses less electricity. The student staff is starting training this week to learn how to use the new equipment.
- New software was purchased for all lab machines, including Adobe Creative Cloud for more than 25 computers and Microsoft Office 2019 for all lab machines.
- The SMC classroom has a new projector with a number of improved features.
- The summer Daily Mississippian editorial staff and adviser Greg Brock worked with Jared to redesign theDMonline.com. It will launch this week. The website has a new theme and is easier to use, with better aesthetics and improved security. The DM site was moved to its own private server, which will increase speed and response times, with a cool mobile version. The old website will be renamed thedmarchives.com, and will be available for as long as we want. It includes previous archives; articles as far back as 2009 will continue to be accessible.
- The DM print edition has also undergone a major redesign. The first print paper of the semester, which includes our annual Back to School special section, will be distributed August 26. The DM will have a print edition 3 days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays).
- Rebel Radio’s website is undergoing a major redesign and theme upgrade, led by Hannah Vines and others on the professional staff working with Rebel Radio student staff.
- If you didn’t check out the yearbook website last year, please do so this year. MacKenzie Ross, editor of the 2019 yearbook, redesigned the site and it includes some awesome drone footage and content that complements the printed yearbook. This year’s yearbook staff will continue to modernize the website.
- Graduate assistant Ingrid Valbuena is redesigning our recruiting materials.
- I’ve been here for 10 years, and I can’t recall a summer with more breaking news stories of local and national interest. TheDMonline.com had 450,000 page views this summer (very unusual for the summer; we’re already close to 1.2 million for the year), and the electronic newsletter has more than 1,100 subscribers.
UM School of Journalism student is intern at Dateline NBC this summer in NYC
A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student entering her senior year landed a spot in the National Association of Black Journalists/NBC News Summer Fellows program.
DeAndria Turner was assigned to Dateline NBC’s primetime long-form journalism news program. She’s working every day at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. The program is a paid internship, and also includes a housing stipend.
Turner’s daily duties include collaborating on the morning rundown multimedia presentations and keeping executive producers updated on breaking news; transcribing interviews; working with producers to fact check and research stories; and shadowing on-site promotional shoots.
Turner is from Gautier, Mississippi, and before her internship began in early June, she had never been to New York.
“I’m a small-town girl navigating my way around this huge city,” Turner said. “I’m most enjoying exploring the not-so-touristy parts of New York. I like to go to Brooklyn and Queens and really see the history and the people. There’s so much to do here and so little time, but it’s a blast.
“The best thing about my internship is that I’ve never done this before. I want to be in front of the camera, but I’m learning what it feels like to be behind the screen. I’m trying to take everything in to learn how to be a better storyteller visually and in my writing. Everything I’m learning here will help me be a better news reporter, and it’ll especially help me with my new job next year.”
Turner was Rebel Radio student manager and a correspondent for NewsWatch Ole Miss last year. When she returns from her internship, she will work at the Student Media Center as multimedia director, coordinating content and producing packages for The Daily Mississippian, NewsWatch and Rebel Radio.
Assistant Dean, Students Earn 21 Awards at Journalism Conference
Assistant Dean of the School of Journalism and New Media Patricia Thompson was honored as Educator of the Year at the 33rd annual Southeast Journalism Conference last weekend.
“I had no idea I was even nominated for the award, so it was a complete surprise to me,” Thompson said. “I’m still pretty emotional about it. Journalism has been my passion since I was elected editor of my school newsletter when I was 11 years old. I’ve been teaching here and in charge of student media for almost 10 years, and it has truly been a dream job.”
Middle Tennessee State University hosted the 2019 conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with over 300 students and advisers in attendance.
Thompson was nominated for the honor by current and former students, and she was chosen by a committee of the three most recent recipients of the award. After graduating from the University of Missouri, Thompson worked for The Washington Post and taught at Northwestern University. She was also a part of the San Jose Mercury News staff that was awarded the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for general news reporting.
“Assistant Dean Thompson has been a leader for many years in journalism education,” said Will Norton, the dean of the School of Journalism and New Media. “As the executive director of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, she is the major player in maintaining the quality of journalism education around the world.”
University of Mississippi students also won awards in the two regional contests sponsored by the conference. The Best of the South contest honors the work of student journalists from throughout the previous year, and the on-site competitions gave students the opportunity to compete on deadline during the conference.
In the Best of the South competition, The Daily Mississippian was awarded fifth place for Best College Newspaper. It was the only daily newspaper competing for Best of the South.
“I’m incredibly proud of our staff’s work over the last year, and I think this showing among a field of weekly and monthly papers is a testament to some incredible dedication and hard work over here,” Slade Rand, editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian, said. “It was really cool to get that award, even if it is simply a reminder that other people do notice what we do.”
Also in the Best of the South contest, NewsWatch Ole Miss’s Madison Scarpino won first place for TV hard news reporting.
Second place Best of the South awards included Devna Bose for feature writing, Elizabeth Blackstock, Katie Campbell and Jessi Dressler for journalism research paper and Rebel Radio for radio news audio program.
Third place awards included Hayden Benge for news graphic design, DeAndria Turner for radio journalism and Rebel Radio for radio station.
Other individual awards included: Mary Clair Kelly, who won fifth place for TV news feature reporting; Slade Rand, who won sixth place for news writing; Liam Nieman, who won seventh place place for arts and entertainment writing; Jaz Brisack, who won seventh place for opinion-editorial writing and Brittany Brown, who won eighth place for College Journalist of the Year.
“I’ve worked with some super talented young journalists who have graduated and are doing great work as professional journalists, and I know this year’s staff will do the same,” Thompson said. “Every day, I marvel at how hard they work under deadline pressure to produce such outstanding content to keep the community informed.”
In addition to 13 Best of the South awards, the University of Mississippi also won second place for the Grand Championship of on-site competitions with seven individual wins.
“I was absolutely thrilled for our students that won awards at SEJC, especially the on-site awards,” NewsWatch Ole Miss Station Manager Abbie McIntosh said. “Those awards showed everyone and ourselves, that we know how to produce good work under pressure and tight deadlines. Like I’ve said before, everyone puts in hard work and dedication, day in and day out, and to win some awards is a really good feeling.”
Matthew Hendley won first place in the on-site competition for TV anchoring, and Hayden Benge, Hailey McKee and Davis Roberts won first place as a team for public relations.
Second place awards went to Devna Bose for feature writing and Abbie McIntosh and Madison Scarpino for TV reporting.
Third place awards went to Liam Nieman for arts and entertainment writing and Slade Rand for news writing.
This story was written by Hadley Hitson and originally published in The Daily Mississippian.
Newswatch Students Bring Home SEJC Awards
Congratulations to Matthew Hendley and Madison Scarpino for winning first-place awards in Southeast Journalism Conference competitions.
Hendley, a NewsWatch Ole Miss anchor and correspondent, won first place in the SEJC onsite anchoring competition. Judges said the entries were unusually strong this year, and Hendley, a sophomore, came out on top.
Scarpino, a junior, was named Best TV Hard News Reporter for packages that aired on NewsWatch Ole Miss last year about Hurricane Michael and the Journalism and New Media forum after Ed Meek’s Facebook post. Scarpino was social media producer for NewsWatch last semester.
JNM Professor Nancy Dupont is NewsWatch adviser and has worked with both students.
“They’re both incredibly talented student journalists,” Dupont said. “I’m not surprised that Madison took first place in reporting because she’s an excellent storyteller. Matthew is the one of the best at interpreting the news, but I’m so proud of him for taking first place in anchoring, which is a really competitive category.”
The SEJC conference was February 14-16 at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, near Nashville. For the anchoring onsite category, Hendley was given about 10 minutes to read the script, and then he went on the air for about five minutes reading the script and doing a sign-off in a virtual newsroom. It was a mini-newscast with four or five local Tennessee stories, requiring him to switch from one camera to another after the anchor intro.
“It was neat to see another school’s newsroom,” Hendley said, “though I was not a fan of the virtual newsroom…of everything being painted green! But it was another great experience and an honor that I will always remember.”
Abbie McIntosh, NewsWatch Ole Miss student manager, shared a second-place award with Scarpino in the onsite TV reporting team category.
“Having Madison take home the top prize for Best TV Hard News Reporter made me so happy because I know how hard Madison works on her projects. I was able to witness the work that was put into the packages we submitted for SEJC and I was beaming with pride, not only as her friend, but as her student manager,” McIntosh said. “And having Matthew take home Best TV Anchor made me grin from ear to ear. Matthew is such a character on the desk and I’m so glad everyone else realized that, too.”
Introducing our 2018-2019 Student Media Leaders
Article by Ingrid Valbuena
Advertising Sales Manager: Rebecca Brown
Brown, a junior marketing major from Yoakum, Texas, is a former Ole Miss cheerleader. Her goal for this year: to increase the profitability of the SMC’s publications, broadcasts and websites, and to increase the brand’s recognition around campus and in Oxford.
“The most successful person in the company gets told no 95 percent of the time, but they are making more calls than anybody else,” Brown said.
Roy Frostenson, SMC advertising adviser, describes Brown as focused, ambitious and goal-driven. “She’s dedicated to helping the Student Media Center expand our advertising revenues, especially our digital and broadcast sales,” Frostenson said.
Brown said a friend recommended she apply for a sales position, and she is glad she did. She supervises a staff of five account executives.
“My favorite part is that I’m really kind of treated like an adult when I go to my clients because a lot of times they don’t realize that we are in college,” Brown said.
“And that’s something that I have never really gotten before in any other job. They treat me like I’m on the same level as them. They treat me with professionalism and I do the same with them.
“It’s so rewarding working really hard on something and thinking of a pitch and working with the client and looking at what you think they would like and when they say yes, it makes all those little things so worth it.”
Brown worked for the Edward Jones investment company in Texas last summer, and she hopes to return to work there next year. Her long-term goal is to open her own office as a financial adviser.
NewsWatch Station Manager: Abbie McIntosh
Abbie McIntosh is in her second year as station manager for NewsWatch Ole Miss. Rarely does a student serve two years in the top position.
“I was terrified this time last year,” McIntosh says. “But it all worked out. It’s been good. I like managing, calling the shots and producing. It’s stressful but it’s good.”
Nancy Dupont, journalism professor and NewsWatch Ole Miss faculty adviser, said she was delighted McIntosh applied to be station manager again this year.
“She pushes herself harder than I ever push her,” Dupont said. “She already has excellent habits, so I expect bigger and better things this year.”
McIntosh is focusing on working with her team to deliver the best show possible Monday through Friday evenings. She is in charge of a staff that includes more than 30 producers, directors, anchors and correspondents. They are in the newsroom each afternoon producing a live, 30-minute newscast for Lafayette County that is broadcast on Channel 99 and is also available on websites and via livestreaming and social media.
“I hire them in September, and I want them to walk out in May better than they were when they walked in the door. Hopefully, I can help them achieve that,” McIntosh said.
This senior broadcast journalism major from Cypress, Texas, is a big fan of breaking news and highlights the December 1, 2017, newscast as her all-time favorite. The award-winning show featured breaking news about sanctions against Ole Miss Athletics and its football team.
Earlier this year, McIntosh was awarded first place as Best Television Hard News Reporter from the Southeast Journalism Association, and she was part of a multimedia reporting team that placed in the Top 20 in the national Hearst journalism competition for a project about Oxford church members helping a Texas community recover after Hurricane Harvey. In October, she
was one of three broadcast students who traveled to Florida to report on rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Michael.
In summer 2018, McIntosh landed an internship with KDFW Fox 4 in Dallas. Her eyes were opened to all that it takes to get a newscast on the air and it strengthened her passion for the buzz of the newsroom.
When she graduates in May, McIntosh plans to work as a television producer.
The Daily Mississippian Editor-In-Chief: Slade Rand
Since the day he was introduced to Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson at the Student Media Center, Slade Rand has been hard at work at The Daily Mississippian.
“She connected me with then managing editor Clara Turnage, who just brought me in right off the bat and told me to come along with her to an interview with the director of parking and transportation,” Rand reminisces. “She helped me lead the interview and brought me to the office and told me to write the story, gave me suggestions and made a graphic to go along with my story and then put it in the paper.”
Rand initially was an integrated marketing communications major, but switched to journalism at the end of his sophomore year when he realized how passionate he had become about reporting and writing. He honed his skills by participating in three depth reports in Mississippi and Sri Lanka, led by journalism instructor Bill Rose.
This year, Rand, now a senior, leads a staff that includes about 15 student editors and several dozen writers, photographers and editorial cartoonists.
“We want to be producing editions that people are going to keep with them and put on their walls,” Rand said. “Not just because they look nice, but because it reminds them about things they can be doing to better our campus, things they can be doing to better their own lives.”
Faculty adviser Thompson said Rand has put together a “dream team” of very talented editors who have done an outstanding job covering major breaking news stories in an unusually busy fall semester, and planning and producing special sections tied to important issues.
“Slade works very hard, for hours every day,” Thompson said. “He’s a strong editor who also can write well on tight deadlines, and he has great range from news to profiles to music reviews.”
When Rand graduates in May, he plans to pursue a career doing what he loves best: storytelling. “Now that I have had a taste of this, I don’t think there is another job I could do that would make me feel as satisfied or productive at the end of the day.”
The Ole Miss Yearbook Editor-In-Chief: MacKenzie Ross
This Oxford native did not have to go too far away from home to find her passion. She found it at the Student Media Center.
“I already knew Professor Chris Sparks, and she told me about the Student Media Center so I came over,” Ross said. “I got to meet some really cool people my freshman year. It was her interest in me that sparked my interest here.”
Ross, yearbook editor-in-chief, wants to focus on the campus’ hidden gems and continue increasing the online presence of the yearbook.
“We are focusing on the things you might forget,” Ross said. “We are also excited to be back in the Student Union for portraits, getting students interested in coming into the Union to get a look before it officially opens to everyone.”
Ross hopes students are keeping up the yearbook’s social media networks, where content is frequently updated. Students can see photo galleries and stories that might not make it into the printed book.
Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson said Ross is a top-flight designer, a strong leader, and super organized. Ross’s staff includes assistant editors, writers, photographers, designers and artists.
Thompson said it has been fun to watch how well student managers have worked together this year.
“MacKenzie is a senior who has worked for the yearbook and The Daily Mississippian, and those two staffs collaborate on stories and photos,” Thompson said. “Abbie has worked for The Daily Mississippian and NewsWatch. One recent night, when she knew her DM colleagues would be here late producing a special report, Abbie brought them cookies to keep them energized. MacKenzie has designed an SMC T-shirt for all the students who work here.”
Ross is president of the campus Society for News Design chapter. She also was part of the Hurricane Harvey team that placed in the Hearst competition, and she won SND awards for digital storytelling for the Harvey project and for her magazine cover for the Sri Lanka depth report.
Ross said her plans for her post-graduation future change almost every day, but she knows that as long as she has a career where she creates graphic designs that inspire others, she will be happy.
Rebel Radio Station Manager: DeAndria Turner
DeAndria Turner got her start in Rebel Radio in her freshman year. Turner, a junior broadcast journalism major, serves as manager of the entire station this year.
“She’s a true Rebel Radio veteran and did a good job for us last year as News Director, so this was a natural move for her,” said Rebel Radio adviser Roy Frostenson. “The best thing about DeAndria is she always wants to do better and I think she will help Rebel Radio be even better this year.”
The Gautier, Mississippi, native wants to make Rebel Radio more known on campus to a wider variety of students. She is proud of the staff’s diversity, in its staffing and in its programming, which features an eclectic variety of rap, oldies, underground, indie and even life-advice shows on 92.1 FM.
“I want our DJs and reporters to be able to be light in our community, to be able to play the music or have the segment they want to do because sometimes the right song and the right place and the right time could change your life,” Turner said. “Music is just a really big thing.”
To inspire and motivate her staff, Turner has placed dozens of colorful post-it notes on the radio studio window, with phrases like “We can’t always choose the music life plays for us but we can choose how to dance to it” and “Enjoy small things.”
Turner fondly remembers that during her freshman year, Leah Gibson was station manager and appreciated Turner’s persistence. Today, it is one of the adjectives Turner uses to describe her strengths, and she is thankful to have been given the space to tell others’ stories on Rebel Radio.
This past summer, during her internship with WMC Action News in Memphis, Tennessee, Turner gained experience working on the digital team, shadowing reporters and even doing her own reporting. It was an exhilarating experience, and Turner said the most important things she learned were to take initiative and stay flexibility in order to be a well-rounded reporter.
Turner plans to return to Rebel Radio as News Director during her senior year, as she prepares to get an on-air local news broadcast job after college.
DM Managing Editor Devna Bose Chosen for Reporting Workshop in Washington, D.C.
Devna Bose, Meek School journalism major and Daily Mississippian Managing Editor, was selected by the Chronicle of Higher Education for its reporting workshop in Washington, D.C. During the workshop, which took place on September 6 and 7, Devna networked with talented editors and student journalists from all over the nation, and learned tips for reporting about higher education, like how to read find and read college form 990s. The Chronicle paid all expenses for the students selected.
“I applied not only because I was eager to improve my own reporting skills, but also to discover resources to bring back to the Daily Mississippian newsroom,” Devna said. “I learned a multitude of things that will allow me to more efficiently serve the LOU community as a journalist.”
In the photo at the top, she is getting help finding resources for a story from one of the Chronicle editors. The photo below is of all the students participating in the workshop.
UM Students Win SEJC championship
University of Mississippi students won 25 awards in two major regional contests this past weekend, and were named the 1st Place Journalism Champions for the on-site competitions.
The Southeast Journalism Conference 32nd annual convention was February 15-17 at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. SEJC has more than 40 member universities in seven southeastern states, and sponsors two contests. The Best of the South contest recognizes the best student journalist work published or broadcast in 2017. In this year’s contest, there were 412 entries from 30 universities. Each UM entry consisted of several examples of student and staff work, from The Daily Mississippian, NewsWatch Ole Miss, Rebel Radio, internships and published projects.
The on-site competitions are held during the conference, and students in attendance compete against one another to produce content on deadline in 15 separate categories. Harding reported that 170 students competed in the on-site competitions this year.
Meek School of Journalism and New Media students won five first-place awards. In the onsite competitions, first places were won by Devna Bose for arts and entertainment writing; Marlee Crawford, for sports photography; and Ethel Mwedziwendira, for current events. In the Best of the South contest, Abbie McIntosh won first place for Best TV Hard News Reporter, and Thomas DeMartini and Austin Hille teamed to win Best Broadcast Advertising Staff Member.
Other awards won by UM students:
Second places in Best of the South: Lana Ferguson, Best News Writer; Lana Ferguson, Best Feature Writer; Madison Heil, Best Journalism Research Paper; Erin Pennington, Best Radio Hard News Reporter.
Second places in the o-site competitions: Hayden Benge for newspaper design; Clifton Carroll for public relations; Marisa Morrissette for media history/law/ethics.
Third places in Best of the South: Jake Thrasher, Best News-Editorial Artist/Illusterator; DeAndria Turner, Best Radio Journalist; NewsWatch Ole Miss, Best College TV Station. NewsWatch is a live, daily newscast, compared to some others in the competition which are weekly recorded and edited shows.
Third places in the on-site competitions: Matthew Hendley for TV anchoring; DeAndria Turner for radio reporting.
In the Best of the South contest, some of the categories – especially the newspaper categories – attract more than 30 entries each and awards are given out up to 10th place. Other UM students/staffs who placed in Best of the South: The Daily Mississippian, a daily newspaper competing against student newspapers published weekly or semiweekly, won fourth place for Best College Newspaper; Marlee Crawford won fifth place for Best Press Photographer; NewsWatch Ole Miss won fifth place for Best College News Video Program; Devna Bose won sixth place for Best Arts and Entertainment Writer; Ethel Mwedziwendira won seventh place for Best Newspaper Page Layout Designer; Hayden Benge won eighth place for Best Newspaper Page Layout Designer; Grant Gaar won eighth place for Best TV News Feature Reporter; Liam Nieman won eighth place for Best Opinion-Editorial Writer.
Fifteen UM students traveled to Arkansas to participate in the onsite categories, accompanied by Meek School Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson, who oversees all of the Student Media Center.
“Year after year, our students excel in both the Best of the South and the on-site competitions,” Thompson said. “Some of them are in our newsroom for many hours each day, five days a week. They use what they learn in classes to produce outstanding work, and they do so not just to gain practical experience for internships and jobs, but also because they are passionate about keeping the campus and community informed about events and issues.”
This is the sixth time in the past eight years that UM students have won SEJC’s on-site journalism grand championship award. University of Mississippi students were ineligible to compete in the on-site contest last year because the Meek School of Journalism and New Media was the host for the 2017 conference in Oxford.
SEJC’s Friday night awards banquet speaker was Sonia Nazario, who won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing and other national awards for “Enrique’s Journey” when she was a Los Angeles Times staff writer and is now an author, activist and frequent New York Times contributor. The conference did not have an overall theme, but it included workshops and panels focused on digital content, engaging audiences, broadcast storytelling, yearbook journalism, how to cover campus hazing issues, photojournalism, design, and a look back at the Little Rock Nine and the role journalists play in documenting stories about marginalized people.
SMC student selected for national multimedia project investigating hate crimes
Meek School major Brittany Brown is one of 26 students from 19 universities selected to participate in a major national investigation into hate crimes in the U.S. as part of the 2017 Carnegie-Knight News21 multimedia reporting initiative.
Brittany is a junior from Quitman, majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in Spanish. She is in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a digital content producer, anchor and correspondent for NewsWatch Ole Miss. She was an intern at WTOK-TV in Meridian and a research intern in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Summer Research Program, and she is co-president of the University of Mississippi Association of Black Journalists.
Headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, News21 was established by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to demonstrate that college journalism students can produce innovative, in-depth multimedia projects on a national scale.
Students from journalism programs across the U.S., as well as Canada and Ireland, will join Cronkite students for the 2018 investigation. They will examine the major issues surrounding hate crimes in America.
The students are participating in a spring semester seminar in which they are conducting research, interviewing experts and beginning their reporting. The seminar is taught in person and via video conference by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and Cronkite’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism, and News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former senior editor for investigations and enterprise at the Houston Chronicle.
“We chose hate crimes and hate incidents as this year’s timely News21 topic because of the apparent increase throughout the country of such acts – from bullying and vandalism to assaults and murders – involving racial, religious, nationality, gender and sexual orientation bias,” Downie said.
Following the seminar, students move into paid summer fellowships, during which they work out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School in Phoenix and travel across the country to report and produce their stories.
“We will be able to do what many newsrooms cannot, which is to deploy dozens of student journalists to investigate the culture of hate and related acts of violence in every state in the nation,” Petchel said. “Not only do recent attacks on people of different races and religions call for it, it is the right thing to do in the name of public service journalism.”
Over the past eight years, Carnegie-Knight News21 projects have included investigations into voting rights, post-9/11 veterans, marijuana laws and guns in America, among other topics. The projects have won numerous awards, including four EPPY Awards from Editor & Publisher magazine, the Student Edward R. Murrow Award for video excellence, and a host of honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hearst Awards Program, considered the Pulitzer Prizes of collegiate journalism.
Cronkite fellows will be named later this semester. In addition to the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, the other universities are:
· DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana
· Dublin City University, School of Communications, Dublin, Ireland
· Elon University, School of Communications, Elon, North Carolina
· George Washington University, School of Media and Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.
· Indiana University, The Media School, Bloomington, Indiana
· Kent State University, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kent, Ohio
· Louisiana State University, Manship School of Mass Communication, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
· Morgan State University, School of Global Journalism and Communication, Baltimore, Maryland
· St. Bonaventure University, Jandoli School of Communication, St. Bonaventure, New York
· Syracuse University, S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse, N.Y.
· University of British Columbia, Graduate School of Journalism, British Columbia, Canada
· University of Colorado Boulder, College of Media, Communication and Information, Boulder, Colorado
· University of Iowa, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Iowa City, Iowa
· University of North Texas, Mayborn School of Journalism, Denton, Texas
· University of Oklahoma, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Norman, Oklahoma
· University of Tennessee, School of Journalism & Electronic Media, Knoxville, Tennessee
· University of Texas at Austin, School of Journalism, Austin, Texas
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provides core support for the News21 program. Individual fellows are supported by their universities as well as a variety of foundations, news organizations and philanthropists that include the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Hearst Foundations, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, International Ireland Funds, The Arizona Republic, The Dallas Morning News, Myrta J. Pulliam, John and Patty Williams, and Louis A. “Chip” Weil.
Former Daily Mississippian Editor Clara Turnage Wins Chronicle’s Miller Award for Young Journalists
Clara Turnage, who graduated from the University of Mississippi in May, has won The Chronicle’s 2017 David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists, which is presented annually to the top intern who worked at The Chronicle during the previous year.
The $3,000 award, now in its 15th year, recognizes Ms. Turnage for articles she wrote during her internship this past summer. She is now a reporter at The Natchez Democrat, in Natchez, Miss., where she covers education and crime.
Members of the committee that chose Ms. Turnage for the award cited her for the diversity of the three articles she had submitted for consideration, showing her talent for breaking-news, enterprise, and investigative journalism. Committee members also noted her writing style, marked by vivid language, a strong sense of structure and tempo, and, in one case, a willingness to simply let documents speak for themselves.
One article, filed from Charlottesville, Va., described the violence that struck the University of Virginia’s hometown when white supremacists, gathering for a rally, clashed with counterprotesters over plans to remove the statue of a Confederate general.
Ms. Turnage had traveled to Charlottesville to report for a different article, but she quickly shifted from that story to the one unfolding in the streets. She not only filed a series of lucid dispatches under deadline pressure but also took photographs, including one showing a balding counterprotester, carrying a cane and an umbrella, who is sprawled on the ground as he is beaten by club-wielding young toughs.
She was also recognized for a lengthy article exploring why the provost of Texas A&M University at College Station had been fired, in July. The answer was not clear. Among the possible reasons were an audit report that found a possible conflict of interest involving the provost’s spouse, a difference of opinion between the provost and the chancellor, and mysterious “enemies” at the university.
Ms. Turnage pursued the story tenaciously and provided The Chronicle’s reader with hints even as a definitive answer eluded her. The committee said she must have walked a legal tightrope in trying to find out what had happened, and had structured the story so as to sustain readers’ interest until the end.
Finally, she was honored for an article about the unusually difficult mental-health challenges facing international students on American campuses. Many such students, taking pressure-packed course schedules and coming from cultures that still stigmatize mental illness or even regard it as fiction, are reluctant to seek help.
She handled this sensitive topic, in part, by winning the confidence of a Chinese student who was recovering from depression and anxiety and who was willing to provide a window into her struggles. The article also described how colleges are trying to help such students. In an interview, Ms. Turnage called this story “the highlight” of her internship.
While a student, Ms. Turnage worked at The Daily Mississippian, the student newspaper, rising to editor in chief. She majored in journalism, with a minor in computer science.
She says she likes working now at The Natchez Democrat, where she writes two to four articles a day, because of “the impact of a community newspaper on its city.” Community newspapers’ personal contact with local people results in better journalism than can usually be gleaned from telephone interviews, she says.
The Miller Award commemorates David W. Miller, a senior writer at The Chronicle who was killed in 2002 by a drunken driver while returning home from a reporting trip. Mr. Miller, who was 35, left a wife and two young children.
In presenting the award, the Chronicle committee seeks to identify promising young journalists who exemplify the traits and values that Mr. Miller brought to his journalism: a passion for people and ideas, a zeal for good writing, and a commitment to balance and fairness.
– From The Chronicle of Higher Education
Ole Miss students win 18 awards, first for Public Service Journalism at Southeast Journalism Conference
University of Mississippi students earned 18 awards at the Southeast Journalism Conference awards ceremony Friday night, including a first-place honor for Public Service Journalism for The Daily Mississippian’s “The Red Zone” special edition.
Daily Mississippian Editor-in-Chief Clara Turnage led the award-winning project during fall 2016. It highlighted the issue of sexual assault, which Turnage said she felt was under-reported on campus. She said many of the editors and reporters she worked with wanted to tell the stories of sexual assault that happened on their campus and in their communities.
“It’s an incredible honor to receive this award, and I couldn’t be prouder of my staff,” Turnage said. “They are so talented, and I am so blessed to work with them.”
The University of Mississippi Student Media Center hosted this year’s conference. Its theme was “Spotlight on Storytelling: Watchdog Journalism in a Mobile World.” Meek School Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson was this year’s SEJC president.
H. Will Norton, dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, said he was truly proud of the Ole Miss students who participated in the conference.
“Assistant Dean Thompson and her staff and the students of the Student Media Center provided a wonderful weekend for those attending and communicated excellence to everyone who attended,” Norton said.
Conference speakers included Meek School faculty and journalists – including alumni – from The New York Times, Clarion-Ledger, ESPN’s The Undefeated, the Associated Press, Mississippi Today, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, E.W. Scripps, and other media companies.
The Best of the South contest honored work published or aired between mid- November 2015 and mid-November 2016. There were entries from 29 universities across seven southeastern states.
Turnage won second place in the prestigious College Journalist of the Year category. She was awarded a plaque and $500.
Daily Mississippian Managing Editor Lana Ferguson won first place for magazine writing, and DM Lifestyles Editor Zoe McDonald won first place for feature writing.
Second-place awards included: Hayden Benge, page design; Billy Rainey, radio reporting; Lauren Veline, journalism research paper.
Third-place awards included: Lauren Layton, TV feature reporting; Daniella Oropeza, TV hard news reporting; Clara Turnage, special event reporter; Lana Ferguson, news writing; Marisa Morrissette, graphic design; Jake Thrasher, editorial artist.
Other individual winners included: Julia Grant, fourth place, op-ed writing; Ellen Spies, fourth place, advertising; Brian Scott Rippee, eighth place sports writing.
The Daily Mississippian, the only daily newspaper in the contest, won fifth place as best newspaper, and theDMonline.com won third place for best website. NewsWatch Ole Miss, a daily live newscast, won fifth place as best TV station.
The Southeast Journalism Conference also includes onsite competitions, where students competed in 15 categories to produce content with tight deadlines. Georgia State University took first place in the Grand Championship Team Category. Belmont University and Southeastern Louisiana University tied for second place. As the host university, Ole Miss could not participate in onsite competition.
Middle Tennessee State University tied for fifth place in the Grand Championship Team Category this year. Faculty adviser for the MTSU paper Sidelines Leon Alligood said his students have been to five SEJC conferences together.
“We come every year,” Alligood said. “I liked the wide variety of speakers, and the Fake News program was excellent this year. …My expectations were high, and I’m happy to say they were met.”
Bryce McNeil, assistant director of student media at Georgia State University, hosted the conference two years ago in Atlanta.
“I was especially overwhelmed by how positive the speakers were in spite of so many clashes in the media,” McNeil said.
He said this year he brought 29 students to Oxford, which is the biggest group yet to represent Georgia State at SEJC. He said these conferences have a lot to offer to journalism students.
“First, the camaraderie is invaluable,” McNeil said. “And they leave knowing their profession really does matter.”
McNeil awarded Thompson a plaque of appreciation for her work as SEJC president. He said simultaneously running all the weekend’s events is very difficult, but Thompson did fantastic work during a fantastic conference.
Harding University will host the next SEJC in 2018. Faculty adviser Katie Ramirez said this was her program’s first time visiting Oxford.
“I think they’re all ready to move here,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”
Thompson said among the highlights for her during the conference were Jerry Mitchell’s keynote banquet speech, the support and help from Meek School faculty and other departments on campus, and the recognition of Ole Miss students’ work.
“They are full-time students who work as journalists for hours every day and night because they care about our campus and community,” Thompson said.
Spotlight on 2016-2017 Student Media Leaders
Upon meeting Leah Gibson at a conference in Washington, D.C., former Chancellor Robert Khayat and Meek School Dean Will Norton knew she would be an asset to the University of Mississippi. Gibson was a high school student at the time, and they recruited her.
“After meeting them at the conference and learning about the programs available here, I then visited Ole Miss and fell in love with the station and all the opportunities I’d be able to have,” Gibson said.
Gibson, a senior from Starkville, is majoring in broadcast journalism. In her freshman year, she auditioned for Rebel Radio and was hired as a DJ. She auditioned for NewsWatch and landed a role as a correspondent. Last year, she was a news correspondent for Rebel Radio. This year, in addition to serving as student manager for Rebel Radio, she is also a NewsWatch anchor.
Gibson worked at Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson as a radio news reporter this summer. She covered Mississippi current events, race relations, education and politics.
“I’m excited to see where Leah will take Rebel Radio in her year as station manager,” said Roy Frostenson, student media assistant director and adviser for the radio station. “She is a terrific leader, very organized and detail-oriented. She has a great amount of energy and enthusiasm and a lot of great ideas for the station. She does a good job of sharing her vision for the radio station and it’s easy to get excited about the future listening to her talk about Rebel Radio.”
Gibson’s plans for this year include more big events, talk shows, and much more.
“I want to do a campus spotlight where I have interviews coming in every week, giving people direct connection to the station,” Gibson said. She is creating a training manual for her staff, and she produced a training video for the DJs.
Gibson is passionate about music, saying that the right song can change a person’s mood, and she wants to be sure Rebel Radio gives that to its listeners.
“I really want 92.1 Rebel Radio to be a hot topic on campus. I want people to know exactly who we are, what we play. I want people to have a favorite show that they listen to, for people to be excited about everything that we do.”
Gibson manages to do her radio and TV work in addition to her many other activities on campus, such as serving in the Columns Society and as an orientation leader. She was Miss Meridian in this year’s Miss Mississippi pageant, where she placed in the top 15 and won a talent award and was a finalist in the quality of life competition.
Gibson will pursue a career in broadcast journalism or radio, and thanks the SMC for preparing her for her future.
“The SMC has provided me with numerous opportunities to meet people, to learn, and to better my craft. It gives you experience in the field which I feel is much more valuable than sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture.”
NewsWatch Ole Miss Manager: Payton Green
Payton Green had no idea what he was getting himself into when he joined NewsWatch his freshman year.
“I assumed it was a fun after-school activity. I didn’t realize that this was kind of a big deal. I first heard about NewsWatch in Journalism 101, and then I heard about it again in Freshman Convocation, so I decided to join. I figured it was just a bunch of kids putting on a news show.”
Now a senior, the broadcast journalism major from Pascagoula says he quickly realized that it was much more than that.
“I was so scared on my first day,” he said, laughing.
Fast forward a few years. Green recently traveled to New Orleans to accept a first-place national award for multimedia reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. Green was part of a team of Meek School students who won the award for their coverage of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.
“Payton has a great future, and we’re so privileged to have him with us this semester,” said Nancy Dupont, professor of journalism and NewsWatch adviser. “In many ways, Payton is the ideal student news manager because he is more concerned with developing his staff than he is with promoting himself. He’s assembled a great team, and he’s already showing strong leadership skills.”
Green worked as an anchor for NewsWatch for two years before becoming News Director, and fell in love with producing and “the behind-the-scenes thing.” He is serving as NewsWatch manager, in charge of the entire newscast, for fall semester 2016.
Among the improvements Green has already made this year: new titles and job descriptions for his staff, an emphasis on more social media interaction, more local news and campus coverage, and more live shots from the field and the newsroom.
Green’s favorite part of the SMC is seeing his student colleagues’ hard work pay off in a dream job. But he points out that it is not all hard work and no play at the SMC. Some of the goofiest moments end up giving them more insight into new ways to branch out on their show, he says.
“When people audition at the beginning of the year, we are there until late at night working long hours which really allows us to bond. During a break one night we began blasting an EDM (electric dance music) song that has a really great drop, and began dancing around and decided to Facebook Live film it. The video got 700 views! We had already been planning on starting to do Facebook Live videos, which are great because you are really able to see how well we are doing.”
Green interned at WLOX-TV on the Gulf Coast this past summer. When he graduates in December 2016, he plans to get a job as a TV producer in local news. He would love to someday be a producer for Dateline or 60 Minutes. He is grateful to the SMC for giving him the skills to pursue his dreams.
“If I hadn’t come here, I don’t know what I would be doing. If I hadn’t been producing this newscast, I wouldn’t have gotten those internships. It’s helped me learn what I want to do. It’s also given me the opportunity to meet and work with very talented people.”
The Ole Miss Yearbook Editor: Cady Herring
As she embarks on her year as Yearbook Editor, Cady Herring is no stranger to the SMC.
Herring began as a freshman photographer for The Daily Mississippian, and later became DM photo editor. Last spring semester, she was co-photo editor of the yearbook.
“I love news journalism and storytelling, and I believe that the yearbook is the perfect platform to creatively and eloquently document this year,” Herring said.
Herring, a senior from Memphis, is a double major in print journalism and international studies, with a minor in Spanish. She has participated in several multimedia journalism projects during her years at the Meek School, in the Mississippi Delta and in Ethiopia. She has studied abroad twice in Africa and once in South America.
This summer Herring spent a month in Tanzania in East Africa as the media intern for UM professor Laura Johnson’s National Geographic Society grant, Faces of the Mountain.
“We circumnavigated villages around Mt. Kilimanjaro to finish the grant by conducting surveys and project videos,” Herring said. “I was in charge of setting up African-style movie theaters, making sure all the equipment worked, and shooting photos and video.”
She is currently communicating with the media team in Tanzania to edit final videos and working with National Geographic editors to submit content.
“Working in Tanzania forced me to think innovatively to accomplish tasks that would be easy in the U.S., but almost impossible there,” Herring said. “The cultural and linguistic barriers were onerous, but I loved the challenge. I carry duct tape with me everywhere now!”
Student Media Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson noted that Herring has won national and regional awards for her photography and writing, including placing in the prestigious Hearst national journalism competition.
“Cady is one of those students who can do everything well, which makes her a natural for a job as yearbook editor,” Thompson said. “She is one of the most creative journalists I have ever met. Her photography in the Ethiopia depth report was stunning. I can’t wait to see the yearbook she leads her staff to produce.”
Herring wants to use the yearbook to bring students together this year.
“The Student Media Center has provided me with such an invaluable education that I wouldn’t be able to receive anywhere else,” Herring said. “It’s my plan to structure our staff like a team to foster that experience for other ardent students, so that this book will be a celebration of the amazing talent UM has to offer.” She and her staff are hard at work creating their theme and cover design, and they are planning events to reveal the theme later this fall.
“I want to make this yearbook extremely literary and artistic to highlight our campus, our students, and really show who we are as a University today, and I have an amazing staff to do it,” Herring said. “This year, we’re pushing the limits by redesigning the website to use unexpected technologies to more comprehensively present stories. We’re searching for contributors from every area of campus to have frequent content that ranges from high fashion to campus politics, so that it will be an information hub to keep up with the campus and Oxford. This yearbook will be for everyone.”
Herring graduates in May 2017, and is applying for internships and fellowships. She’s doing research this fall for her thesis about the relationship between the media and migrants, and hopes to continue using her storytelling skills in a career as an international documentary journalist.
Overby Center Senior Fellow and Meek School instructor Bill Rose is a writing coach for the yearbook staff. He has worked with Herring on several Meek School in-depth projects.
“Cady Herring is a young woman with a big heart for the less fortunate and a big talent for photos that capture people’s souls,” Rose said. “Her work in Africa, South America and the Delta demonstrate a strong sense of empathy and understanding for people of other cultures.”
Advertising Sales Manager: Ben Napoletan
Making the decision to give the top advertising job this year to Ben Napoletan was easy.
“Ben was one of our top sales account executives last year and so he was a natural choice for sales manager this year,” says Roy Frostenson, student media assistant director in charge of advertising. “He earned his spot with his great work last year.”
Napoletan is a senior majoring in finance with a minor in marketing. He is from Alpharetta, Georgia.
“Managing and growing account lists is the main duty of the job,” Napoletan says. “Since I am the manager this year, I mainly focus on providing my team with leads, organization, and maintaining my current accounts. Contacting my accounts and presenting them with current promotions and convincing them to advertise more is my goal with those accounts.”
This summer, Napoletan interned with Nissan Motor Company in its southeast regional headquarters in Atlanta. He worked on analytical projects ranging from after-sales forecasting to dealership incentive programs.
He says his favorite part of his SMC manager job is meeting monthly and annual sales goals. If they aren’t met, it just gives him even more motivation to work harder for the next month.
“Sales has a scorecard, so the only thing that matters is how much revenue we bring in. It doesn’t matter if it is from one business or 100 businesses, as long as we earn the most money possible, that is the goal,” he says.
Napoletan and his staff are creating video advertisements this year for the first time. And he is making his team work more efficiently by using call lists, which help his team avoid calling the same people twice.
“Ben is extremely organized and he’s brought that mindset to his job as sales manager and is working to make our sales operation more efficient and productive,” Frostenson says. “He’s a hard worker who puts in the time necessary to be successful and sets a great example for our sales team.”
Napoletan plans to seek a sales job when he graduates in May 2017. Long term, he wants to be VP of sales for a Fortune 500 company.
Daily Mississippian Editor in Chief: Clara Turnage
Clara Turnage knew on the first day of her freshman orientation in 2013 that she wanted to be involved with the Student Media Center. And even then, the persistence that makes her an outstanding reporter was evident.
“I remember hearing about the DM at the first day of orientation, so I went by that day but no students were there. So I went back again and told them that I wanted to write and get involved,” Turnage recalls.
The Sunday before the first day of classes, Turnage got a call from the DM editor in chief, giving her an assignment. Two days later, Turnage had a front-page byline. She was hooked.
Turnage is a senior from New Hebron, majoring in print journalism. Her minor is an unusual one for a journalist: computer science.
“ I became interested in computer science when Professor Deb Wenger asked if I would like to be in an Engineering Honors class that focused on the history of media systems,” Turnage says. “The class doubled as a computer science elective and the professor told me I should consider CS as a minor. I enjoyed what little coding we did in that class, and I valued the marketable skill I would receive with a computer science minor. So I decided to go with it.” It’s a skill she uses frequently to create timelines, website designs and other graphics.
Turnage says she loves seeing her staff of writers and editors grow as journalists. She started at the DM as a writer and photographer her freshman year. In her sophomore year, she was promoted to lifestyles editor. She was promoted to managing editor at the end of her junior year, and that summer she also served as news editor and designer.
Patricia Thompson, DM adviser and assistant dean for student media, has worked with Turnage every day for several years. Turnage is one of the best young journalists she’s ever seen.
“She is a fearless reporter, a gifted writer, a strong leader,” Thompson says. “On the outside, she seems sweet, and she IS kind and fair and thoughtful, but make no mistake, when it comes time for toughness, she has the ‘fire in the belly’ that I always see in the best journalists. I have seen her doggedly pursue stories others would have given up after a few rejections. Clara’s work and influence and commitment have been a major reason for The Daily Mississippian’s success in recent years.”
For the past two years, The Daily Mississippian has been named by the Society of Professional Journalists as one of the top three daily campus newspapers in the nation. In addition, Turnage has won several awards for her writing.
This past summer, Turnage was a copy editor intern for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock. The newspaper has one of the most sought-after internships in the country, receiving hundreds of applications for just a few spots.
So far this year, Turnage has led a major redesign of The Daily Mississippian, and increased its social media and digital media presence. In mid-August, she led a new training program for her staff.
It’s her last year at Ole Miss, and Turnage reflects on her time at the Student Media Center as a blessing.
“I spend a great deal of my time here. It is because of the SMC that I’ve had every internship and job that I’ve had. If you put in a little here, I promise you’ll get a lot out of it.”
At the start of fall semester, Turnage bought an air mattress sofa and often can be found sitting or lying on it, discussing stories with her staff or just hanging out with them as they wait for stories and photos to arrive for editing.
While they have fun in and out of the newsroom, Turnage says that she and her team work hard to tell the University’s story in full – the good and the bad. They take seriously their mission to serve as campus watchdogs and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information.
“The University is going through a time that is very stressful,” Turnage says. “There’s a lot of change happening on campus. I want to cover that to the best of my ability, while being as unbiased as possible. That is something we struggle with constantly. I am looking forward to continuing to cover in-depth stories that make our writers better and our newspaper better. “
Turnage will graduate in May 2017. Like most other students, she is applying for jobs and internships at media companies in many states, but she adds: “There’s a lot of opportunity for news gathering in Mississippi. I’m very interested in that, too. I think Mississippi is one of those states that would benefit most from skilled reporters staying where they are.”
By Mary Ruth Womble