Meek School • ISSUE 4 • 2016-2017

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MEEK SCHOOL ISSUE 4 • 2016-2017



Commencement 2016 Report on the Status of the First Amendment Meek School Students Catch The Big Data Buzz

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The mission of the institute is to identify talented young people and prepare them to assume positions of leadership in our state and nation. Selection of Institute Programs • Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy Leadership • Summer Leadership Institute for rising high school seniors • Lott Leadership Institute for rising ninth-graders • Lott Leadership Exchange which prepares young leaders to be citizens of the world

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The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi

At the Honors College, Ole Miss’ best and brightest study and work together in an environment that nurtures learning and excellence. It is a place that emphasizes foreign study, volunteer work, a search for fresh ways to look at old problems. A unique experience for the university’s best students.


ISSUE 4 • 2016-2017







Meek School is published by The University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media, 114 Farley Hall, University, MS 38677. Articles and opinions expressed in Meek School are those of the authors and do not represent the views of The University of Mississippi or the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reprinted in any manner without the written permission of the publisher. On the cover: Eddie Fritts




LETTER FROM THE DEAN........................3 EDDIE FRITTS....................................................4 REPORT ON THE STATUS OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT..........................7


MEEK SCHOOL STUDENTS CATCH THE BIG DATA BUZZ........................................................................10 KÅRE MELHUS..................................................13 ACT 6 EXPERIENCE BRINGS MAGAZINE MEDIA LEADERS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE TO INTERACT WITH STUDENTS..................16 PRESIDENT OBAMA ANSWERS MEEK SCHOOL STUDENT’S QUESTION AT COLLEGE REPORTER DAY BRIEFING.......................17 COMMENCEMENT 2016............................18 THE CALHOUN COUNTY JOURNAL.............................................................20


PHOTOS BY MIKKI K. HARRIS.................22 PHOTOS BY TIMOTHY IVY........................24 LAYNE BRUCE...................................................26 BLAKE TARTT III...............................................28 PHOTOS BY WILL JACKS..........................30 PHOTOS BY JOSH MCCOY.....................32 PHOTOS BY ALYSIA STEELE...................34


GRADUATE PROFILES.................................36 STUDENT PHOTOGRAPHY......................66 FACULTY HIGHLIGHTS...............................68


Letter from

Will Norton, Jr.


uring the last few decades, many outstanding graduates of the Department of Journalism were graduates of the public relations and magazine emphases and the broadcasting program. Very few graduates went into newspaper jobs. Now, with the weekend reporting trips, depth reports and continuing improvements in the Student Media Center and a quality Integrated Marketing Communications degree major, all aspects of the Meek School are churning out fine graduates in increasing numbers. An employer called me recently and said, “I am seeing really bright, aggressive young majors from the Meek School every time I have an opening.” The many contest awards that Meek School majors earn indicate that Meek School graduates will continue to be media leaders in the future. We are doing everything we can to publicize the school. As a result, enrollment has increased. The official census for Fall 2015 was 1,322. As of the end of the spring semester, the school had 1,390 undergrads, 442 in BAJ and 948 in IMC, an increase of

5.1 percent. In Spring 2015, the school had 1,192, an increase of 16.6 percent from the previous year. The school has outstanding students from throughout the nation and other parts of the globe. They never would have considered Ole Miss a few years ago. However, Whitman Smith, director of admissions, and his staff have done exceptional recruiting for the Meek School. *** During the last three months of 2015, and the first four months of 2016, I was invited to the Balkans, Chile, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and half a dozen universities in the U.S. where I told the story of the Meek School. Other faculty members are traveling more than ever, and they are demonstrating the quality of the Meek School. This would not be possible if it were not for the vision of Dr. Ed and Becky Meek, who have not only given major donations to the school, but also have established a business entity that will provide funds to the school for decades to come. When Ed and Becky made their major gift to the university to

create the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, their vision included more than putting funds into an endowment. They created New Media Lab LLC, whose profits would perpetually go to the Meek School. Allison Brown Buchanan (’82), the new CEO of New Media Labs, has had a successful communications and business career. She is charged with refining and building the two existing companies. and its sister magazine, Experience Oxford, are New Media Lab’s first companies. They provide internships for students in addition to profits that benefit the Meek School. This funding is providing a margin of excellence because of two entrepreneurs who love this school and understand that we cannot solely depend on state funding. With last year’s New Media Labs’ profits, the Meek School received 35 iPad Pros for faculty, camera equipment for student media, financial support for faculty projects and a state-of-the-art, school-wide digital display communications system. The Samsung digital display system is a network of five, 55-inch displays and one very large 85-inch display, which has yet to be installed as it awaits proper power hookups at Farley Hall’s main entrance. A portion of the New Media Lab gift went to the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center, which used the donation to purchase a new JVC camera for “NewsWatch,” the studentrun daily, live television newscast. Clearly, New Media Labs is making a difference for the Meek School, and that difference will be significant through the years. The author is dean of the Meek School.


Eddie Fritts

By Meggie Carter

W Photo by Timothy Ivy

hen the time came for Eddie Fritts (’63) to think of college, his choices were the University of Tennessee at Martin with his high school sweetheart or the University of Mississippi, three-and-a-half hours away from his hometown of Union City, Tennessee. Fritts visited the Ole Miss campus with his father and friends, and experienced the first taste of the Rebel spirit at a football game. “There was so much enthusiasm at the school; the aesthetics were so beautiful,” Fritts said. He chose the University of Mississippi. “I learned so much at Ole Miss, not only with academics, but as a first-generation college student and an only child,” Fritts said. “I learned how to interact socially, how to dress and so much about the human life experience. It wasn’t excelling in the classroom for me, but what I learned from all of the extracurricular activities I was a part of.” Following college, Fritts married his high school sweetheart, Martha Dale, and soon after, they were expecting their first child. They moved to Indianola, where Fritts borrowed a down payment from his mother to buy a down-and-out radio station, taking management skills he had learned from his father and applying them to his new venture. Fritts recalled coming home the second day from the station with $27.82 in his pocket and saying to himself: “You know, this might take longer than I originally thought.” Despite the challenges, Fritts and his family found their groove and eventually bought other stations in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. He served in chairman positions with the Mississippi Broadcasters Association, and then became president in 1972. He was elected to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) radio board in the late 1970s and later elected the NAB joint board chairman. In 1982, Fritts was elected president and chief executive officer of the NAB and served for 23 years in a position that took him to Washington, D.C. During his tenure, he had many victories, including the must-carry/retransmission consent provision in the 1992 Cable Act that aided in the transition from analog to digital television. He also helped secure the regulatory reform of radio and television in the 1996 Communications Act. “Eddie Fritts has been a national leader in broadcasting for years,” said Will Norton, Jr., dean

of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “And he has used his considerable skills to support and advance university causes. He has been an exceptional strategic advocate.” In 2006, Fritts started The Fritts Group, a boutique political affairs consulting firm that provides strategic counsel to various telecommunications companies in the areas of political consulting, government relations, international affairs and public relations. Representing clients such as CBS, Fox, NAB and Sprint, Fritts’ work with the NAB in lobbying and positioning for broadcasters has carried over to his current work for clients. Fritts works with the FCC and Congress in making sure the broadcast industry remains focused and competitive with other forms of media. In 2011, Fritts was honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the NAB for his contributions to the broadcasting industry. Previous recipients include former President Ronald Reagan, Walter Cronkite, Oprah Winfrey and Bob Hope. “After stepping down from the association five years prior, and for them to come back saying they wanted to honor me with the award, it was wonderful,” Fritts said. During Fritts’ time in Washington, he served as the vice-chairman of President Reagan’s Private Sector Initiative Committee. He received international awards, including being decorated with the French Medal of Arts and Letters, the Golden Ambrosiana of Milan and the Lion of Venice. “Reagan was the most influential and inspirational president we have had,” Fritts said. “He hired very competent people to do what needed to be done within the White House and administration.” Fritts witnessed firsthand Reagan’s presidency in visits to the White House several times a year, and he traveled with the president on international trips, such as a black-tie dinner at the Palace of Versailles in France that included the top 200 business leaders of America and corresponding countries. “As a young, relatively new Washington resident, I was all eyes. It was all fascinating to me,” Fritts said. “I just felt that Washington worked better as a town and as a country, that his leadership taught me that one person can make a big difference in this world, that one person who sets their mind to it can change the course of history.” The University of Mississippi remains a place of fond memories. Fritts calls it a “love affair” for him that has continued with his family. All three of his children graduated from the university, and he has endowed a scholarship with the Ole Miss Women’s Council in his wife’s name. Martha Dale Fritts serves on the Women’s


Council and also has served on the University of Mississippi Foundation board. Fritts is an Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame inductee and first-ever recipient of the Ole Miss Silver Mike award for his compelling contributions to broadcast journalism. He also has served on the board of the University of Mississippi Foundation. Currently, Fritts serves on the Board of Visitors of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and on The Trent Lott Institute Advisory Board. “Eddie Fritts is a giant among leaders in the communications field,” said Ed Meek, former assistant vice chancellor of public relations for Ole Miss. “He skillfully managed or influenced the diverse interests of the television networks and local television stations, and navigated the arrival of satellite and internet delivery while handling the industry’s critical issues with the Federal Communications Commission. “It is not an overstatement to say Eddie Fritts was one of the major power players in the nation during the time of the communications industry’s greatest growth. He also created one of the largest and most profitable technology trade shows in the world held in Las Vegas, which helped to finance the very important National Association of Broadcasters. Not bad for a ‘good ol’ boy’ from Mississippi.” With consistent visits to his beloved college town, Fritts loves seeing all the development and growth across campus. “For an old alumnus to see how far we have come in Ole Miss athletics and academia, with the intersection of old and new, and everyone having a good time, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Fritts said.

Fritts shakes hands with President Ronald Reagan at the White House.

The author is a 2016 Meek School graduate from Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Fritts attends his daughter Jennifer's (second from left) graduation at the University of Mississippi with his wife Martha Dale and daughter Kimberley.

Report on the Status of the

First Amendment By Gene Policinski


n the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment’s “blue collar” freedoms lead off. Those five freedoms — religion, speech, press, assembly and petition — are what most Americans “go to work” with every day. We employ those core rights daily, from the comments we post fearlessly on the web on virtually any subject, the political and social associations we proclaim in every Facebook post, and the office political debates we join to the diversity of religious faiths that a majority of us still choose to adopt. So it’s more than a bit ironic that the U.S. Supreme Court started off 2016 with Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case involving public employee union dues that is seen by many union leaders as the greatest threat in 40 years to the everyday political power wielded for more than a century by these collective blue-collar worker groups. Given that 2016 is a political year, the Friedrichs case took on an even higher profile when it was argued in January, with a close decision going against a California public employee union widely expected. But the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb. 13 ultimately led to a 4-4 tie on the court.

Announced March 28, the 4-4 split left intact a lower court decision that favored a system by which a nonmember must pay a public employee union a “fair share” of dues for negotiating wages and benefits that all workers enjoy. In 1977, the Supreme Court approved a system that recognizes such collective bargaining benefits accrue to all workers — but that permitted any individual to avoid paying a portion of dues to be used for political activities, so that Democrats were not compelled to pay to subsidize campaign support for Republicans and vice versa. The challenge the court heard Jan. 11 was raised by 10 conservative California teachers who argued that even having to pay dues in support of collective bargaining against their will was a violation of their First Amendment free speech rights — advancing the idea that having the right to speak also must include the right not to speak. While some say a decision in favor of the 10 teachers will have limited impact — noting some 25 states already forbid such “agency” payments by all — others claim throwing out the current system would be an intended body blow to public sector unions, using the First Amendment argument as a ruse. The latter claim is bolstered by statistics

about union membership. Nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “in 2013 there were 14.5 million members in the U.S., compared with 17.7 million in 1983. In 2013, the percentage of workers belonging to a union was 11.3%, compared to 20.1% in 1983. The rate for the private sector was 6.7%, and for the public sector 35.3%.” The numbers also tilt higher for public sector unions in a number of states considered Democratic strongholds — which, advocates of the present system say, makes the challenge on free speech grounds even more suspect. Cutting public employee unions’ access to fees from all workers will weaken — if not destroy — such unions as a powerful political force, say critics of the California challenge. Critics of the Roberts Court see a larger pattern in the expected outcome — a trend in which the court, while citing First Amendment values, effectively clears a path for the wealthy to influence elections. Most often cited is the court’s 2010 ruling, Citizens United, which removed most spending limits for corporations and unions in supporting political campaigns and candidates. To those critics, the decision opened a torrent of special interest spending

by wealthy, mostly conservative millionaires. One important element in the debate over election spending may be the relatively new — and unsettling — presence of the web, which can make a single voice or example during a political campaign shout out to the world, even as well-funded corporate or union web campaigns fail to show results. And a mitigating factor for union advocates may be to recall that in the last presidential election season, despite billions spent by rich individuals, corporations and unions, a turning point was the viral posting by one person of a surreptitious cellphone camera video of GOP nominee Mitt Romney criticizing “47 percent” of voters he termed irresponsible and overly dependent on government assistance. Still, the concentration of large public employee unions in larger, key electoral states like New York and California — which generally tilt to Democratic candidates — put a political tinge on the expected court action. In the other case on the court’s docket with direct and significant First Amendment applications, Zubik v. Burwell (and the several similar cases consolidated into it), the court sidestepped a decision — deadlocking at 4-4 – sending it back for clarification of issues, to be argued at a later time. In Zubik, advocates of the position held by a group of nonprofit religious institutions — including the Catholic nuns of the order of The Little Sisters of the Poor — said the court should overturn a system under which the groups can opt out entirely from a process in which they do not directly provide contraceptive care, but do have to fill out a form that enables employees to receive such services under insurance by a third-party provider. The third party is then reimbursed by the government. The groups told the court March 22 that merely participating in such a “transfer” of service and funding means the government is “hijacking” their insurance plans and forcing them to “sin” by engaging in services to which they are morally opposed. Proponents of the existing system say there is no “engagement” in simply filling out forms that permit employees to seek contraceptive coverage elsewhere. And they say nothing less than a constitutional threat of high order is embodied in the religious groups’ request: Allowing such a wide religious-objection loophole in this law raises the potential for similar broad religious belief challenges across a wide range of civil rights and other federal law. There’s one more item — on the court’s


horizon rather than this term’s docket — that has arisen and has major First Amendment (speech and association) and Fourth Amendment (search and seizure) implications: The spat between the FBI and Apple over “unlocking” an iPhone thought to contain some information pertinent to national security and the investigation of the San Bernardino terror shootings last December. Make no mistake — the debate over whether or not Apple should create a means for the FBI to “unlock” one of its cellphones is a defining moment in the rollout of the 21st century’s mobile, connected world. That the FBI found a third party and claims to have been able to unlock the phone without Apple’s help only defers the constitutional questions. This Silicon Valley-Washington, D.C., faceoff raises issues of privacy and national

right password using supercomputers to run through all potential combinations. FBI Director James Comey told Congress the bureau had been locked out of — and presumably stopped short of the maximum number of attempts to unlock — one of the shooter’s phones in attempting to gather evidence about the San Bernardino massacre. The federal magistrate’s demand — which she vacated March 29 — was based on the All Writs Act of 1789, which permits courts to issue orders in matters outside specific statutes. In a “letter to customers” posted early in the dispute, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote that “the United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers … the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers … the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.” security, of freedom of speech, and even foreign policy considerations with respect to repressive regimes and those governments hoping to track journalists’ sources. And lest we forget, Apple’s stance flows from a long-held business-based decision to protect its brand with customers who prize the data protection built into iPhones. In a New York legal dispute with prosecutors last year, The Daily Beast reported that the company said, “forcing Apple to extract data … absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand.” A federal magistrate — in what is said to be the first such order of its kind — had told Apple to create a new technological method that would allow government officials to override login safeguards built into its latest phones. One such method is to reconfigure phones to eliminate a feature in which a relatively small number of unsuccessful attempts — nine or 10 — will result in data being erased. If eliminated, so-called “brute force” efforts can find the

asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.” Calling the request “chilling,” Cook said “In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.” The Apple CEO defended his company, saying it has “no sympathy for terrorists,” and that the company has turned over requested data when asked and made Apple engineers available to offer “our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.” Cook acknowledged the government considers the new version of the operating system to be a “one-time use,” but said such smartphones have become the repositories of “incredible amount of personal information … our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.” Once there is a “key” to gain access to such data, Cook said, “the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices … the equivalent of a

master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.” Critics of giving government such methods to decipher communication — or of even creating such keys for company use if compelled by a court order — say it also will pave the way for skilled terrorists to undermine web security, potentially allow repressive regimes to track down dissidents and thwart press attempts to uncover corruption and human rights violations. Ironically, the White House criticized a similar Chinese government initiative regarding encryption override several months ago as antithetical to democratic reforms. Cook’s letter said, “While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good … ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.” In the end, a common view is that Apple and other tech firms fear that a single government request to override access protection — whether it’s called “backdoor” or just a one-time tool — will lead to multiple such “one-time” requests, and eventually to a flood of such demands by governments that foment terror rather than fighting it. Google CEO Sundar Pichai — whose company has the Android phone operating system, with encryption features similar to Apple’s iPhone system — said, “… we give law enforcement access to data based on a valid legal order. But that’s wholly different from requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices and data.” Any number of leading social media and tech firms also lined up to support Apple. The government’s case is not without support as well, particularly from those who see much less of an apocalyptic view of the order to Apple — and who downplay the broader significance of creating a onetime means to open a specific device. Comparisons are made to long-established legal precedents involving wiretaps and the limiting idea that Apple effectively can meet the order by providing the data to the FBI without handing over the software to unlock the phone. One NBC cybersecurity expert said the circumstance is no different than court orders to Facebook or email services for specific information about a specific accountholder. Blair Reeves, a writer for On Medium, an online blogging platform aimed at the new tech world, said the public should “bear in

mind: at no period in American history has there ever been any personal information, let alone any whole class of information, that was ever considered wholly immune to government access. The government has been wiretapping for a century. The FBI accessed bank records to catch mobsters in the ’30s. Location tracking — the old-fashioned way, in person — is as old as government itself.” The legal thicket involving the Applegovernment faceoff is rooted in laws on the ever-evolving concepts of privacy, first outlined in the late 1880s; in Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable search and seizure”; and national security actions and laws that have changed direction through the years — most recently to accommodate threats from foreign terrorists; and the debate over national security and surveillance following leaks by Chelsea Manning and later by rogue NSA analyst Edward Snowden. In 1928, in Olmstead v. United States, the Supreme Court said it was legal for federal officers to wiretap suspected bootleggers without a court order because tapping into the phone line did not involve an actual, physical intrusion into a home or business. However, during the late 1960s, in Berger v. New York and more prominently in Katz v. United States, the court reversed its view about the such “premises” requirements, and the legal precepts grew to include a broader “reasonable expectation of privacy” over such things as phone lines that reach outside the “home.” And in 2012 in Jones v. United States, a case involving police use of a planted GPS device to track the movements of a suspected drug dealer was ruled an impermissible “search” without a court warrant. In our new tech world of global communication and data-sharing, it’s not the content of phone calls that’s of so much interest as the “metadata” that can be gleaned from phones and stored transactional information about users, devices and activities. This renewal of a national debate over privacy, security and information will be an important milestone in the evolution of the digital world — even if the government is able to sidestep the issue for the moment with help from a third party. Apple’s argument about potential government misuse or criminal appropriation, and the government’s counter that the tradeoff with privacy in certain cases is needed to fight terrorists, will help decide how we balance safety and security

in the future against a suspicion about government intrusion into our lives. In a more pragmatic sense, the spat also is another historical marker in the changes wrought by new technology, in the manner in which the initial reaction by major news organizations to 2007 mass shootings on the Virginia Tech campus was the first time significant portions of staff were devoted to soliciting and using citizen emails and mobile phone videos rather than gathering news themselves, first-hand. One 19th-century definition of privacy called it the “right to be let alone.” The 21stcentury question arising from this Apple technological challenge is whether we add “… except when the government gets to go through your phone data” to that definition. On June 15, the Newseum Institute sponsored a mock Supreme Court session — with prior written briefs — to argue the issues raised in the confrontation, as Pear v. United States. Video, briefs and a report about that session can be found at Two other First Amendment cases were decided during this term of the court: • Heffernan v. City of Paterson (N.J.): A police officer fired for alleged political activity challenged the action, saying he simply was picking up a yard sign while on duty — not campaigning. The court sent the case back to a lower court to determine if a neutral policy that recognizes First Amendment rights applies; • Shapiro v. McManus: A challenge to Maryland redistricting, rooted in the First Amendment right of association. The court returned the case to the Fourth Circuit, saying that appellate court failed to follow proper rules regarding the appeal. The term ended with Republicans in Congress blocking any real attempt by President Barack Obama to fill the Scalia vacancy until the next president is in office — which also means that the court will spend considerable time in the next term facing the possibility of tied decisions. Still, as Justice Stephen Breyer said of Scalia and the situation, in a Feb. 25 program at the Newseum: “We’ll miss him, but we’ll do our work.” Breyer noted that half of the court’s cases each year end in unanimous decisions, and that generally just 20 percent a year end in 5-4 decisions. Gene Policinski is chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute and senior vice president of the Institute’s First Amendment Center.




ig Data”: It’s a buzzword as much as it is a technical term, one that — much like “multimedia” — gets tossed around frequently, despite the fact that few people agree on its precise meaning. And yet, there’s a growing awareness that being able to harness the power of Big Data is critical to success in any modern media or marketing environment. Last fall, the Meek School’s integrated marketing communications program director, Scott Fiene, invited representatives from two of the world’s top social media networks — Facebook and LinkedIn — to talk to students about the importance of data in the communications field today and how it’s used to build and retain customer relationships. Speaking before a full house at the Overby Center for the first Ole Miss New Media Data Day, Sean Callahan, senior manager of content marketing at LinkedIn, and Eric Schnabel, North America director of Facebook Creative Shop, provided their perspective and insights into current trends and opportunities within the industry. “It was quite a coup for us to have folks of that caliber here, sharing with us what exactly they do,” Fiene said. “There’s a whole side to marketing that’s all about the analytics and data. And while ours is a creative program, we no longer live in a world where you’re on one side or the other — it’s all the same side.” Following the event, Callahan and Schnabel were interviewed via email: How do you define Big Data, in simple terms? SC: There are many definitions of Big Data. Narrowly defined, Big Data is using powerful software to analyze — in the blink of an


eye — huge sets of unstructured data, such as meteorological data, surveillance camera video, a company’s emails, or healthcare data, to name just a few examples. I personally prefer a broader definition of Big Data. Think about the proliferation of computers today. As processing speeds have grown faster and storage costs have become lower, computers have become incredibly powerful. It’s the stuff of science fiction. These computers, as well as the smartphones that all of us carry around in our pockets, throw off so much data that more than 90 percent of the data in existence has been created in the past two years. With that in mind, Big Data is the network of computers, mobile phones, and a host of other digital devices that create streams of data that businesses can analyze to find actionable insights. Those insights can be as simple as identifying the demographics of the people visiting your website, which can have powerful implications to a company. ES: We don’t really use that term, but I guess I’d define it as data that allows companies and organizations to make their services or ads more personally relevant. At Facebook, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can use the things people like to drive the relevance of a person’s experience on our platforms. On Facebook, if we show you more posts

from people and companies you care about most, you’ll enjoy the experience more and spend more time. People use Instagram to explore their passions. Whether you’re into SEC football or Russian architecture, the more we help you discover what you love, the more you’ll be inspired to spend more time. For a young media professional entering the workforce today, what are some of the most exciting prospects made possible by Big Data? SC: Big Data is changing how many occupations are done on a day-to-day basis, and the media is not escaping the impact. On one level, journalists will have access to incredible amounts of data that can help them tell stories. For instance, a financial reporter has easy access to the financial filings of the businesses they cover and can use software to analyze trends much faster than they could in the past. This kind of data analysis can lead to stories full of insights that were basically unattainable before. On another level, journalists writing for a website will have almost instantaneous access to data on how many people are reading their stories, what characteristics define those readers, how they arrived at the story, and what actions they took because of it. Having access to this kind of information can be intimidating, but the most effective reporters will take advantage of it to understand

Big Data is changing how many occupations are done on a dayto-day basis, and the media is not escaping the impact.”

catch the

Big Data Buzz

what their readers want. At the same time, journalists have to still have an inner compass for finding a good story beyond what the visitor data tells them — otherwise they’ll be doomed to writing listicles for the rest of their professional days. ES: People in the media-related careers have always sought to create ideas, articles and columns that attract people’s attention. Well-considered audience data allows creators of all kinds to find huge audiences of people who care deeply about what they’re writing or filming about. When it’s much easier to find much bigger audiences who are interested in reading the things you’re creating, you can write with much more color and specificity. Let’s say you’re writing a story about an up-and-coming hip-hop artist in Mississippi. Once, the audience for that story might be limited to some regional print publications or blogs. At times in the past, you’d have to water down your story to make it appeal to a much larger audience. Now you can take that same story, write it the way you like and then target it to millions of hip-hop fans regionally, across the country or around the world. As the idea of using Big Data to drive more customer-focused, or audience-focused, efforts becomes more mainstream, are there any industries still currently untouched by Big Data? SC: Nope. Even agriculture, the oldest of industries, is deploying Big Data. Farmers can use data to analyze the soil and the weather to determine the precise amount of water to irrigate their crops. ES: In the U.S., Facebook Creative Shop works with clients across 13 different industries. The level of adoption varies greatly by industry. Leaders in e-commerce use data extensively to offer the right people the right

products. Retailers do the same. Automotive manufacturers want to serve truck ads to truck owners. If a small business or an individual is just starting to consider using data in their marketing research, where do they begin? With so many numbers, and so many ways of crunching them, how do you decide which ones to pay attention to? SC: In our book, “The Big Data-Driven Business,” Russ Glass, head of products for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, and I outline several steps to getting started with using Big Data. 1. Start with thinking about your customer and use data to analyze what characteristics your best customers have in common. Are they in a particular industry? A specific region? A certain size? The idea is to then identify prospects who have similar characteristics and go after them. 2. Start small. Focus on a single kind of data — for example, email click-through rates — that may have an outsized impact on revenue. 3. Don’t bet everything on technology. It’s not necessary to buy a bunch of software, especially if you’re a small business. Some analytics tools, for instance, are free. 4. Hire the right people. If you’re looking for a new employee to take over data, make sure they’re part “math men” and part “Mad Men.” 5. Finally, measure. If you’re using data to analyze a particular marketing metric, and you’re moving the needle on that metric in a positive direction, make sure that revenue is also increasing. If not, you may be focusing on the wrong data. ES: There are three million small businesses that advertise on Facebook every month and 50 million that maintain an active page. Many are some of the most savvy users of our

platforms. For a small business just starting out, the most important thing is to keep it simple. 1. Identify a business goal (a challenge or opportunity) 2. Figure out the one thing you would say to overcome the challenge or leverage the opportunity 3. Consider the audience who matters most and what you know about them 4. Think about an image that would convey just the right sentiment in that audience 5. Create a post using your image and a short sentence that offers them a pithy reason to give you a try Let’s say you have a pizzeria and you do decent, family-oriented business thanks to your Two for Tuesday promotion, but you think there’s an opportunity to expand by catering to college students in your area on the weekend. You can use Facebook to target people 1825 who live within three miles of your store with an edgier message designed to drive thrifty college kids in on the weekend. At the same time, you can run a campaign targeting area families during the week. You might even go broad with the Two for Tuesday message. If data is not being used to drive decisionmaking, is there any point in collecting it? SC: I would say no. The data is going to be collected anyway, and it’s a shame to have all this data at your fingertips and not use it to make decisions. You have to realize that even if you decide not to use it, your competitors are going to use whatever data they can get their hands on, and they’re going to leave you behind. ES: Businesses have always tried to learn more about their customers so that they can be more appealing to them. I’d say data is as


that connect the story to parents, populist politicians or environmentalists. As you pushed out a story to multiple communities who are disproportionately likely to care, why wouldn’t you tweak the headline for the audience? And maybe the key image or lead? Would that have helped an important story like that get much more attention a lot faster? With the creation of Big Data accelerating exponentially, is there even any point in trying to protect our privacy?

valuable as the decisions it helps you to make more objectively. What are some of the most credible existing sources of independent data for marketers? Journalists? SC: Data is everywhere. Marketers can better understand their customers and prospects by analyzing website traffic, email open rates, customer databases, and payment patterns. The most effective marketers are using data to analyze what characteristics their best customer share — and then going out and wooing similar prospects. For journalists, this is a golden age of data with amazingly fast processing power at their fingertips to analyze reams of sports statistics, government spending, business results, and healthcare trends. With the rise of data, marketers and journalists have to tap into their left brains and their mathematics. ES: Sources for data vary by industry. There’s first-hand data that clients collect for themselves. Who has made purchases on their website, for instance. When people refer to Big Data, I think they’re often referring to third-party syndicated data. This comes from companies who aggregate people who buy soda or only buy organic. Or purchase a specific vehicle. Journalists have been among the cleverest users of public records and other data to break news stories of all kinds.


At a time when seemingly everything we do is, to some degree, automatically data-mined, are we at risk of losing our instinctive judgment? I’m thinking here of how, if you worked at a commercial magazine in the pre-Internet era, writing great headlines was considered an art form — people spent hours on it, argued over it, etc., all from within a vacuum of knowing nothing for sure about what the audience might want. Fast-forward now to the days of SEO and content production, and the first priority is to write according to what people are already looking for. Are we really getting better at audience measurement and engagement, or are we all just working for Google? SC: No. Even in data, there is a human element to making it work. There’s an art to determining what’s important to measure and pay attention to, and an instinct in determining what it means and how to act on it. ES: There’s still plenty of room for spending hours sweating the nuances of getting a headline just right. Let’s say it’s a story about clean drinking water. Once you’ve written the perfect headline that sums up the story and put it out just like you normally would, you can keep going. You can consider audiences who may be interested in the story because it happened in the Midwest. Or you might think that there are angles

Given that you work for a company built on collecting consumer data and have a very nuanced grasp of just how granular that information gets, how concerned are you personally about managing your own privacy settings — whether on social media, web browsers, mobile, etc.? ES: My settings are fairly open. I never have my address posted, but most people can see what I’m up to. The author is an assistant professor of journalism in the Meek School.

Photo by Marlen Polito

Sean Callahan and Eric Schnabel

SC: Absolutely there is. If you’re concerned about your privacy, you can fairly easily manage the privacy settings on the sites you visit and the apps you use. Businesses respect these settings. I think businesses of all sizes are committed to protecting consumer privacy, because privacy breaches of any kind are incredibly embarrassing, and potentially very economically damaging to their bottom line and to their reputation. I think the chances of a business purposefully breaching the data of its customers is very low. The economic and PR costs are too high. The chances are much higher of a company’s encrypted customer data being breached by cybercriminals. Corporations need to make a stronger commitment to protecting their data from being hacked, and governments need to recognize the dangers of hacking and increase both the penalties for this crime and the policing of it. ES: Yes. Read up on your privacy settings on Facebook and other channels. You can limit exactly who you share information with. If you’re a college senior or young working professional entering the corporate world, consider the information that’s only a search away. Consider the image you want to convey. Should you “untag” yourself from some photos? Or, perhaps, change the privacy settings on your social media settings?

Kåre By Will Norton, Jr.


he conflict between radical Islam and the West has been fought for centuries in the Balkans, and everywhere there are memorials to the dead from one conflict or another. I realized the enduring nature of the conflict several years ago at a reception on the top floor of a bank building in Belgrade, Serbia. My host and I looked down on Belgrade Fortress, situated where the Danube and Sava rivers meet. “That fort has changed hands dozens of times between the Hapsburgs and the Ottomans,” he said. The next day we were to hear a speech by Boris Tadić, the president of Serbia. He would tell us that his administration was committed to bringing to justice those who had committed war crimes during the recent Balkan conflict. *** Last October an associated (cq) professor at NLA University College, the secondlargest private higher education institution in Norway, and I were in the Balkans to attempt to move the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication to one of the public institutions of higher learning in that newly formed nation. If the program is transferred, we are hopeful that Meek School faculty will teach journalism and integrated marketing communications in Kosovo in the near future. Kåre Melhus covered the Balkan conflict. He is a graduate of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, and was awarded a graduate degree in journalism by the University of Missouri. His school offers a master’s degree in global journalism and has been involved in establishing graduate journalism programs at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications in Pristina, Kosovo. The sculpture in ​downtown S ​ arajevo is of ​a father, Ramo​, calling his son Nermin to come out of the forest so that he can stay alive.


During our time in the Balkans, we spent a day in Sarajevo where Melhus briefly had covered the siege of that city by Serbian forces. Tito’s Yugoslavia had gradually declined, and the disintegration continued after his death. In October 1991, Bosnia-Herzegovina declared independence. In reaction, Slobodan Milošević, a Serbian, and Franjo Tuđman, a Croatian, agreed to take portions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bosnian Serbs established the Republic of Srpska east of Sarajevo. By April 1992, Serbian paramilitaries and members of the Yugoslav Army had laid siege to Sarajevo, and more than three years of ethnic cleansing ensued. Serbs in the hills surrounding Sarajevo lobbed mortars into the city every day. Two bombardments by the Army of the Republic of Srpska targeted civilians during the siege of Sarajevo. They occurred at the market place in the historic center of the city. The first was Feb. 5, 1994, killing 68 and wounding 144. The second was on Aug. 28, 1995, when mortars killed 43 and wounded 75 Bosnians. NATO responded with airstrikes in September. The damage was so severe that Balkan leaders accepted President Bill Clinton’s invitation to a peace conference in Dayton, Ohio.

At that conference Richard Holbrooke convened the delegates in a hangar in Dayton. The discussions did not seem to be heading toward peace, and Holbrooke told the participants that they had a deadline, and the discussion would end at that deadline unless they reached an agreement. *** “I did a lot of reporting from Oslo based on wire stories,” Melhus said, “but I was sent to Sarajevo then to find out how people on the ground would react to a peace accord. I flew commercially into Zagreb and then was flown from Zagreb to Sarajevo on a military transport plane.” The press stayed in one of two hotels. Melhus stayed in the Holiday Inn, which also housed Holbrooke and journalist Christiane Amanpour at times during the siege. “We had no electricity in the hotel,” he said. “The windows were plastic sheets. Sixty percent of the building was damaged or destroyed. A portion of the fourth-floor stairwell had been blown away and there was no elevator. “Trolleys ran in front of the hotel, going to the Old Town. One day I was outside and a trolley was stopped right in front of the hotel, but it did not move. “I asked why it was stopped there and was told a sniper in the hills had taken out the trolley driver.” Melhus talked to university and city officials. “Most of what I

Above: This plaque for the sculpture by Mensud Keco shown on page 13 recognizes two victims at Srebrenica. Right: This plaque marks the spot in Sarajevo where the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated on June 28, 1914, triggering World War I.


produced was aired while I was in Sarajevo. I transmitted with a BBC satellite phone system right there in the hotel. The phone bill was $8,000 for one week. “In those days, we had tape recorders. We put bits of paper into the tape reel to mark the beginning of each sound bite. So I had to do a lot of spooling while on the satellite phone, in order to transmit the content for my stories.” *** During our visit, we drove into Sarajevo and down the main street and stopped at the Holiday Inn where Melhus had stayed. We wanted to see how the hotel had been rebuilt. As we walked into the lobby we were stopped abruptly by a guard who told us the hotel was closed. He would not tell us why, but quickly escorted us out the door. A few blocks down the street was The Hotel Corner, right across from City Hall, which Hapsburg Archduke Franz Ferdinand visited before he was assassinated in 1914. Melhus asked the receptionist if the Republic of Srpska had been just across the river that flows along the street in front of the hotel. “Oh, no. I’m Bosnian,” she said, not understanding the question. With further discussion we learned that the hotel was in the Bosnian portion of the city, across the river from what had been the Republic of Srpska. *** “I am from Srebrenica,” she later told us. “I was only 14, and 8,000 of our people were killed by radical Serbs.

Sarajevo's Hotel Corner, at right, is across the street from City Hall. “Not all Serbs are bad,” she said. “The trouble was caused by radicals.” “My grandfather and father went to the forest to hide, and their bones were found later. “My father was shot in the temple. So he did not know he was a target. He did not see his killers, and he died instantly. “I feel worse about my grandfather because they blindfolded him and shot him from behind. “My father was 40 years old, and my grandfather was 70. “But my father would be happy because both my brother and I finished college, my brother in biology and me in economics.”

The economy of Sarajevo is still challenged. The best job she can get is a hotel receptionist, even though she has a college degree in economics. “Perhaps it is my bias as a Bosnian,” she said, “but Dutch soldiers were not helpful to those of us who were civilians. One Dutch soldier told a friend of mine that Serbs had a right to kill Muslims.” In July 1995, Dutch U.N. peacekeeping soldiers in Srebrenica failed to prevent the town’s capture despite the fact that the U.N. in April 1993 had declared the town a “safe area” under U.N. protection. ***

As we walked through the old city, we went by one park after another with graves and monuments to the estimated 10,000 who died during the conflict. The city had endured the longest siege of a capital city in modern warfare. The next morning, we drove by the Olympic stadium for the 1984 Winter Olympics. The green space to the south of the stadium was filled with gravesites. The memorials to conflict in the Balkans are everywhere. The author is dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.


ACT 6 Experience Brings Magazine Media Leaders from Around the Globe to Interact with Students By Angela Rogalski

“The Celebrate Magazines/ Celebrate New Launches” panel. Moderator, at podium: Aaron Day, CEO, Trend Offset Printing; Seated, from left: Ron Adams, publisher/founder, Via Corsa; Brandie Gilliam, founder/creative director, Thoughtfully Magazine; Monique Reidy, publisher and president, Southern California Life Magazine; Carey Ostergard, deputy editor, Simple Grace; Ryan Waterfield, co-founder, Big Life Magazine; and Garrett Rudolph, editor, Marijuana Venture Magazine


hat does it mean for students to be exposed to magazine media industry leaders on a face-toface, shoulder-to-shoulder basis for three days of intense discussion and idea building? Well, for the ACT 6 Experience, it meant internships and potential jobs for soon-to-be graduates and juniors, and it meant getting to know CEOs, publishers, editors and other important members of the magazine media industry and learning all they could from these generous and knowledgeable people while they were close enough to touch. The ACT Experiences (all six of them) have become the leading conferences to date for students to meet, greet and learn from the very prestigious lineups of talented industry leaders who are always more than willing to travel to Mississippi and give of their time. Here are what some industry leaders had to say about the ACT 6 Experience: John Harrington, a partner in Harrington Associates, LLC, and former publisher of The New Single Copy newsletter, had this to say about ACT 6: “In late April, I attended the ACT 6 conference, sponsored by the Magazine Innovation Center at the journalism school of the University of Mississippi. Samir Husni is the director of MIC. I have attended and spoke at each of these programs and, as I have stated often, have found them among the most significant and valuable publishing gatherings I have ever participated in, and believe me, over nearly 40 years there have been a bunch of them. The unique quality of the ACT conferences is the participation of the students, undergraduate and graduate. Samir has turned the school into a pipeline of talented people into the magazine media world.”


And Jim Elliott of the James G. Elliott Company had this to say: “Samir, you have done it again ... even better than the five that preceded ACT 6. This conference was your best. The panels were just great ... all of them, with tremendous takeaway value. The speakers were all focused. As a sponsor of all the ACT conferences, I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the experience is designed. One can meet all the attendees in a multitude of environments, all designed to foster communication and education. Congratulations on a job very well done.” Nathan Weber, who in May will receive his master’s in journalism with a concentration in integrated marketing communication, had this to say from a student’s perspective about the ACT Experiences: “The ACT Experience is unique in that it provides students the opportunity to hold a conversation with media industry leaders, when most of those students probably would never have that opportunity anywhere else.” The excitement continues as the Magazine Innovation Center gears up for ACT 7, April 25 to 27, 2017, where leaders, students and the entire magazine industry will celebrate its theme: “Magazines Matter, Print Matters.” For a look at the agenda of speakers that were at ACT 6: Angela Rogalski is a 2012 Meek School graduate. Currently she is publishing assistant to Dr. Samir Husni in the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School, writes for the Delta Business Journal and freelances for numerous publications.

President Obama answers Meek School student’s question at College Reporter Day briefing


hen Juan Oropeza came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant 25 years ago, he couldn’t have imagined that his daughter would one day ask the president about immigration policies. But that’s what happened in the White House Briefing Room on April 28 when Daniella Oropeza, a junior in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, raised her hand and was called on by President Barack Obama. “We weren’t supposed to meet the president, so I was shocked he came into the room and shocked that he called on me,” Oropeza said. She was chosen as one of 50 college journalism students to participate in the first White House College Reporter Day. Obama answered a few questions from students, and then called on “the young lady right there in red.” When Oropeza began her question, her first words were, “Hey, I’m Daniella,” which prompted Obama to teasingly interrupt by saying, “Hey.” He gave a lengthy answer to her question about whether his administration will make any further changes in its Mexican immigration policy. Oropeza’s question got attention. Immediately after the press conference with the president, Oropeza was interviewed by CBS News. She then received emails from Univision and Telemundo, the two Spanish-language networks, asking her for interviews, which she conducted in Spanish and English. “It was very exciting. I didn’t expect to see President Obama and I didn’t expect what came after with the interviews,” Oropeza said. “It was the experience of a lifetime.” Oropeza, of Clinton, Mississippi, had a summer internship in 2015 at WAPT-TV in Jackson. She was a correspondent during

the spring 2016 semester for “NewsWatch,” the Student Media Center’s student-run daily, live newscast. She worked last summer as a sales and marketing intern at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. Oropeza traveled to Washington with her mother and grandmother. They drove 14 hours from Mississippi to the nation’s capital, and stayed for two days. On their way back to Oxford, they stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in a small town in Georgia. While paying for their food, the waiter asked: “I’m sorry, but I just have to ask, were you on the news a couple of days ago?” “I was speechless,” Oropeza said, “but my grandmother was quick to say, ‘Why yes, she was!’ After paying our check, our waiter came back with his phone in hand and showed us a clip of my question to the president from the White House account on YouTube. That lunch still feels like a dream.” White House College Reporter Day was designed as an opportunity for student journalists to talk to senior administration officials about issues as varied as sexual assaults on campus and student loans. Students were selected based on applications they submitted, and they had a full day of events and briefings at the White House, including sessions with Press Secretary Josh Earnest, the White House press corps, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. Near the end of the day, Obama walked in, saying, “I hear there’s some hotshot journalists here.” USA Today reported that you could hear “audible gasps and freak-outs from the unsuspecting students.” At 3:28 p.m. that day, Oropeza tweeted: “When your Mom is so excited that you spoke with the POTUS that she can’t even type.”


Photos by Timothy Ivy


20 16


Calhoun ounty CJournal By LEAH GIBSON

The Calhoun County Journal, the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and the Student Media Center have separate histories, but the people involved have created a powerful foundation for each to succeed.



oel McNeece runs the Calhoun County Journal. McNeece got his start after the chair of the journalism department at the University of Southern Mississippi, the late Art Kaul, encouraged him to change his major after reading a paper he had written for a class. When asked about the role of the Calhoun County Journal in the state, McNeece explained that it is more specific to the county. “We are the newspaper of record, the recorders of history, the storytellers,” McNeece said. “The only shared medium that captures the most important moments in Calhoun Countians’ lives, we are the peoples’ watchdog for their local government, their only source for detailed, timely news and information about their home county. It’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly.” Not only is McNeece busy running the Calhoun County Journal, but he also spends his days as the president of the Mississippi Press Association. “My typical workday is the same as any other journalist — working to cover all the news in my county,” McNeece said. “As MPA president, I have to make time to study issues within the industry, seek opportunities to promote our industry, which often involves speaking to various organizations, including high school and college classes, and reach out to other newspaper publishers and government leaders to address a variety of issues that impact newspapers of all sizes.” McNeece admits to having help from


an insider with his MPA position — his wife, Lisa Denley McNeece, a University of Mississippi alumna, former MPA president, and daughter of journalist S. Gale Denley. “I get insight and advice from my wife about everything on a daily basis,” McNeece said. “I take a lot of pride in her accomplishments as a past president of MPA, and the same holds true for my late fatherin-law S. Gale Denley, who not only is a past president, but also in the MPA Hall of Fame.” Lisa McNeece was president of MPA in 1999, “before social media, right about the time email was just catching on, she said. Lisa and Joel met in 1998 at a Mississippi Press Association newspaper convention in Biloxi. “He was working for another newspaper at the time,” Lisa said. “We married the next year, which was during my MPA presidency. The issues we faced during our terms are so different.” Lisa has a special connection to the Meek School, the Calhoun County Journal and the Student Media Center. It is more than being a graduate of the university, she said. “My dad started teaching journalism at Ole Miss in the early 1960s, when I was a couple of years old,” Lisa said. She spent a lot of time in the journalism department throughout the years. “I audited some journalism classes at Ole Miss when I was a teenager, while working at our family newspaper at the same time,” Lisa said. “I graduated with a degree in journalism in the early 1980s. Will Norton

was one of my instructors. I was an adjunct professor at Ole Miss for a few years, several years ago, teaching newspaper management. I occasionally am asked to speak to a class, which I gladly do.” Lisa said that journalism is her life, and that it is all she has ever known. “I grew up stuffing newspapers, collecting basketball scores from coaches, taking pictures and developing film, all in my pre-teen years,” Lisa said. “My grandfather started the Calhoun County Journal in 1953, so I was lucky to work with my grandparents and now my sister and husband. I have seen a lot of changes throughout the years, but I have learned to embrace them all — digital cameras, desktop publishing, social media. It’s a challenge to keep up with all the changes that come our way, but that’s what makes it exciting.” Lisa’s father, S. Gale Denley, helped start the Calhoun County Journal at 17. His wife, Jo Ann Denley, worked as manager for 28 years. “I am a graduate of the university, and all three of my children have degrees from there,” Jo Ann Denley said. “(Journalism) has been my life, and I would still be working if I had not reached, or more than reached, retirement age.” Lisa explains what the connection of the Journal and the Meek School currently has, and has had, on her life. “The Calhoun County Journal is basically a three-person operation with my sister, husband and me,” Lisa said. “I have written a weekly column since 1981, designed all of the advertising, done the bookkeeping,

Lisa Denley McNeece, Jo Ann Denley and Joel McNeece covered meetings and ball games, taken out the garbage, et cetera.” As far as the relation to the school, she said, “I keep in touch with many of the students I taught, one of whom works for us during football season. Around five years ago, this student was visiting at our newspaper office and we got him to teach us Twitter. I love reading the alumni magazine and especially special publications produced by students.” S. Gale Denley made a major impact on the University of Mississippi and has had a great deal of influence on the journalists he taught and the ones in his family. They are all honored that the Student Media Center was named in his honor. “My dad taught journalism at Ole Miss for 35 years,” Lisa said. “(With the Student Media Center) named after him, I can’t tell you what that means to my family and me.” Jo Ann Denley agrees. “I think it is highly appropriate, because his students meant everything to him and he worked side by side with them long, hard hours,” Denley said. “He also fed those who did not have the money for meals. Incidentally, we gave no money for the SMC.

It was a tribute to my husband’s dedication.” Joel McNeece shared a special connection with Denley. “My personal connection to the S. Gale Denley SMC is my father-in-law. He was the greatest teacher I’ve ever known,” McNeece said. “I learned more about community journalism and the responsibilities that come with it sitting at his kitchen table than in any classroom. His legacy at Ole Miss carries on today through the [Daily Mississippian], radio and TV stations, and all aspects of the SMC. It’s something I take great pride in.” With the amount of guidance that McNeece received from Denley, he has a bit of advice for young journalists who want to be successful. He encourages a start with knowing the importance of reading and writing. “To become a better writer, you have to write a lot,” McNeece said. “I find a lot of inspiration in reading the work of other great journalists. Secondly, getting a broader view of the journalism industry, which weekly papers can often provide most effectively because it exposes you to so many different areas.

“It thrills me to see such skilled students coming right out of college,” McNeece said. “The Meek School doesn’t just produce graduates, it produces journalists. I think it’s so important that we, as journalists, stay involved with the school, and the school with local newspapers like ours. “We know what we need for students to be able to do when they get jobs, and we can communicate that to the administration. It’s very important, to me, to keep up with the Meek School. I like to know what’s going on such as special projects, new staff, et cetera.” “Journalism is such a rewarding career,” Lisa said. “We are literally recording the history of the county we live in. I embrace the changes and challenges in the print media industry. “And that’s one more reason the relationship between our industry and the Meek School is so invaluable. We have experience to guide these young journalists, but more than that, we can learn so much from them.” The author is a senior, broadcast journalism major from Starkville, Mississippi.


Photos by

Mikki K. Harris Meek School Assistant Professor


alcolm Brogdon graduates in May 2016 from the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy with a master’s degree in public policy. His next steps after graduation have not been confirmed, but he has positioned himself to have options that will force him to make a pretty tough decision: play professional basketball or work toward his goal of starting a non-governmental organization that changes lives in developing countries. Malcolm’s leadership, drive and understanding of self are traits that have helped him succeed as a scholar and as an athlete, but what’s most impressive is the example he sets, and the lasting positive impact he makes on life, both on and beyond the basketball court.



he Bernie Sanders campaign stops at Morehouse College in Atlanta during his “Feel the Bern� tour before the South Carolina Democratic presidential primaries Feb. 27, 2016. A multi-ethnic crowd with a range of ages filled the arena to hear Sanders discuss the minimum wage, college costs and social justice.

Covering the rally took me back to my start in journalism, covering the New Hampshire Democratic primary, and the Republican and Democratic national conventions of 2004. They are the front-row-to-history (in this case, press-riser) events that as a photojournalist push you to find faces and moments that tell the story of the event, allowing those who were not present to feel as if they were there.


shot this image while covering a mass celebration in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood on election night in November 2008 when Barack Obama won the presidency. Revelers gathered and marched along 125th Street celebrating the victory. I caught this man as he passed a storefront church.


Photos by

Timothy Ivy

Meek School Adjunct Instructor


shot this photo in East Orange, N.J., while on assignment for The New York Times. These officers gathered at the home of a detective from the East Orange Police Department who had been shot and killed the night before while chasing a suspect. The image shows the camaraderie of the officers who gathered to comfort the detective’s widow.



ayne Bruce is executive director of the Mississippi Press Association, and he has had many years learning the business. From the age of nine, Bruce saw journalism firsthand, watching his father, Roy “Spanky” Bruce, editor and later publisher of the Daily Times Leader, his hometown newspaper in West Point, Mississippi. By age 15, Bruce was working as a part-time photographer, and that early experience with journalism had an impact. “I spent a lot of time at the office,” Bruce said. “It instilled in me a love for the business, and I don’t think I ever had any doubt in my mind that it was what I wanted to do when I grew up.” He continued to work for the Daily Times Leader during his college years, attending Mississippi State University, where he studied communications.


However, tragedy struck in the spring of 1993 when he was in college. His father died suddenly, and the devastating loss resulted in his withdrawing from school that semester. “I worried that maybe I needed to consider a different career path,” Bruce said. By the next fall he had decided to continue working toward a degree in communications. “I know my father would be proud that I got my act together,” Bruce said. After graduation, Bruce served as a reporter for the Starkville Daily News, as publisher of The Star-Herald in Kosciusko and as editor and general manager of the Glasgow (Kentucky) Daily Times. “For those who truly enjoy journalism and have a real curiosity about the community, the country and the world, there is no greater reward than that of doing a

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things was to go to the Press Association convention each year in Biloxi,” Bruce said. “I met lots of interesting people.” good job on the story you’re reporting and seeing that work in print,” Bruce said. “It’s tangible evidence of your hard work and that is its own reward.” Bruce joined the Mississippi Press Association (MPA) in 2006 as the director of marketing. A little more than a year later, he was named executive director, overseeing the management of MPA, Mississippi Press Services and the MPA Education Foundation. “When I was a kid, one of my favorite things was to go to the Press Association convention each year in Biloxi,” Bruce said. “I met lots of interesting people. “It tickled me to get the chance to join MPA and work with many of these same people on a daily basis representing them on a state and national stage.” One of those people he met was Carolyn Wilson, then executive director of MPA. Wilson said she knew Bruce from the time he was in high school because his father was her neighbor. “Layne wrote for several papers,” she said. “When he moved to Kentucky, we continued to keep in touch. I knew that he wanted to come back to Mississippi, so I would let him know about opportunities here.” Wilson thought that being the marketing director for MPA would give him the opportunity to understand all aspects of the company and be beneficial for him to become the executive director. “We discussed the possibility of my joining the association and learning the ropes of working for a trade group representing the newspaper industry,” Bruce said. Later, Wilson confided in him that she was considering retirement. “Layne was a natural to become director of the Mississippi Press Association,” said Allen Beermann, executive director of the Nebraska Press Association. “He had the training, background and experience to become an executive of a major press association, and he has advanced quickly to a position of national prominence.” Greg Sherrill, executive director of the Tennessee Press Association, told how quickly he and Bruce collaborated: “Almost immediately the Arkansas,

Mississippi and Tennessee press associations planned a large, joint convention. “I was impressed with Layne’s attention to detail and willingness to help. Pulling off a large convention is no easy task — it requires definite business sense and people skills.” Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, expressed his astonishment at Bruce’s achievement. “Most people don’t get to be at his level at that young of an age. He has great newspaper experience at the community level, and he has a respected national reputation.” The Newspaper Association Managers tapped him for board service a few years ago. NAM is a professional organization composed of the executives of state, regional, national and international newspaper associations headquartered in the United States and Canada. As vice president of the board, Bruce chaired National Newspaper Week, an annual observance honoring the newspaper industry. He became president of NAM in August, succeeding Lisa Hills of the Minnesota Newspaper Association. “All good things come to an end, as the saying goes,” Bruce said. “I just hope that when the time comes, I can look back and know that I left MPA in as good shape or better than I found it. “I want MPA to be able to help our members meet the very real, very tough challenges of a changing landscape for the media. If I can look at what we’ve accomplished and be certain we provided some measurable help, then I’ll say it was a great job and worth all of the proverbial blood, sweat and tears.” Bruce also had some advice for those interested in a career in journalism. He said it cannot be about the money, because very few get financially wealthy in the profession. The author is a 2016 Meek School graduate from Como, Mississippi.



he University of Mississippi is well-known for shaping individuals who achieve success and recognition. Blake Tartt III (’84) is one of those individuals, but he does not consider success his greatest accomplishment. His focus is on being significant and, for him, being significant is giving back and helping others. He is passionate about both his business and Ole Miss, and he believes his greatest achievement is being fortunate enough to give back to the places that have molded him into the man he is today. Tartt is a fifth-generation Houstonian who made his first trip to the University of Mississippi in 1980. “I had never been to Ole Miss, and I flew into Oxford directly from Memphis on a beautiful spring day for Sigma Chi Derby Days,” he said. “Long story short, I drove up Sorority Row and then saw The Grove and said, ‘I’m coming to Ole Miss, and I’m going to be a Sigma Chi,’ and I never left.” “I’ve had a job since I was 10 years old, and there was never a time when I didn’t work,” he said. Tartt began as a newspaper boy at age 10, became a manager at Baskin-Robbins at 15 and started selling cars at the local Chevrolet dealership at 17. The summer he graduated from high school, Tartt had an internship opportunity to sell real estate, sparking his interest in the field. His work experiences translated into one of his biggest opportunities, becoming the campus representative for Coors Brewing Co. As a Coors representative, he marketed beer to Ole Miss students through giveaways and promotions. The idea for the Coors Silver Bullet was even founded at Ole Miss. “Terrell Knight, a fraternity brother of mine, came up with the idea of the ‘silver bullet,’ because after he would run eight miles in the heat, he would need a silver bullet,” he said. “I asked Terrell permission to use the name in a summer marketing contest at training in Golden, Colorado. It won.” His efforts translated into becoming the top college beer salesman in the nation, winning the marketing contest and, inevitably, getting a job in Golden. While at Ole Miss, Tartt majored in marketing because at the time, integrated marketing communications (IMC) was not an option. “If I could go back, I would major in IMC,” he said. “The quality of education that is produced at Ole Miss and the Meek


I wouldn’t be where I am without Ole Miss.” School of Journalism and New Media is outstanding.” Scott Fiene, a professor at the Meek School, said Tartt is deeply involved with the IMC program and Ole Miss. “He is an IMC guy to the core,” Fiene said, “and that applies to his Houston real estate firm, New Regional Planning.” IMC focuses on the experiences incorporated into all aspects of business, such as marketing, advertising and public relations. “Tartt would have succeeded exponentially in our program,” Fiene said. Tartt’s undergraduate experience was transformed when he had an opportunity to get to know and spend time with history professor David Sansing, now professor emeritus. “He was a big inspiration and taught me as much about the history of Mississippi as diversity and race relations,” Tartt said. “Blake was one of my all-time favorite students,” Sansing said. “He had such a lively interest in everything and was one of the few students I would often see outside of the classroom.” Their friendship is still of great importance to Tartt. It has become so much of an influence on him that he attributes much of his passion and love for Ole Miss and Oxford to Sansing’s influence. “I am inspired to give back to the school and town and, in fact, the new shopping center I’m building will be called ‘The Sansing at Oxford Commons’ after my friend, mentor and former professor,” he said. Linda Spargo, special projects coordinator and academic adviser, attests to how much Tartt has given back. “Blake has been very involved with recruiting students and with job placement for students. He has hired students to work in his businesses in Oxford and Houston, and he has expressed to me how impressed he is with the work ethic, dependability and creativity of our students. “He has created a niche that benefits the university and our students by providing real-life experiences in the work place, lively discussions and meaningful business practices for our students,” Spargo said. Through New Regional Planning, Tartt has made a name for himself by investing

in developments and real estate. Beginning in Houston and, in recent years, expanding to Oxford, he has developed properties that house a variety of retail and office spaces. “We live in the fastest economy ever, and if you’re not willing to change and adapt, you will fail,” Tartt said. He said owning a company and expanding his business results in new challenges every day. “I don’t ever look in the rearview mirror, and I make decisions very fast. It’s hard on the people that work with me,” Tartt said. As Tartt explained his business in greater detail, he revealed one of the keys to his success: hiring individuals from the millennial generation and taking advantage of their knowledge and expertise. “I’ve learned in the last five years that hiring younger people and putting them in positions of ownership has resulted in the most progress,” he said. Tartt not only has learned to adapt with the environment, but also to embrace it to better his business. He said the most important aspect of running a successful business is to not expect perfection. “You’re doing well if 20 percent of your work is mistakes, because no one is perfect and that means a majority of your work is succeeding,” he said. Although Tartt is continuing to push his developments in Houston, he has begun to expand his business to Oxford, and with much success. “Oxford is a culturally sound and an economically viable city, and it is a real, natural growth point for what I am trying to do as I expand out of Houston,” he said. Currently, Tartt owns multiple properties in the city of Oxford, both retail and office space. In addition to developing The Sansing shopping center, he has invested in PureRyde Cycling and Pilates. Tartt credits the University of Mississippi. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Ole Miss,” Tartt said. “I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life, and I attribute much of that to the experience I had while at the University of Mississippi.” The author is a 2016 graduate of the Meek School from Collinsville, Illinois.

Blake Tartt III By Lindsey Andrews Photo by Julie Soefer

Photos by

Will Jacks Meek School Adjunct Instructor

B.B. King jokes with Morgan Freeman and others just before playing a concert at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. Nearly 60 years after his first hit, the school awarded him an honorary doctorate.


’ve always loved this photo (and rarely shared it) because it shows such an intimate moment on B.B. King’s tour bus. In 2011, I was hired to document a concert by B.B. and was invited onto the bus while he visited with Morgan and others. The conversation was amazing, and I was most struck at how excited B.B. was to have Morgan at his concert. It was the first time the two had met, and B.B. was as starstruck as any regular person might be. He was effusive and humble, like a teenager meeting his hero. I thought to myself, “I can’t believe this is my job.” It was a great example of why I fell in love with photography — my camera has been like a golden ticket for me to see and experience the world in incredibly amazing ways. My job isn’t to make beautiful photos; it is to remain curious and keep seeking genuine moments, then use my camera to share those experiences with others.


Willie Seaberry, known to most as “Po’ Monkey,” keeps watch on his juke joint in Merigold, Mississippi. He’s run the business for more than 50 years and attracts visitors from around the world.


his is one of my favorite images because it shows Mr. Seaberry the way I’ve come to know him — as a very determined, strong, and observant man. He’s been photographed and written about countless times by worldwide media in the last 25 years, and is often depicted as a jovial, crowd-pleasing ringleader. For the last seven years I’ve been documenting Po’ Monkey’s Lounge, and I’ve certainly seen that side of him as well, but when the tourists leave, and Willie is among friends, his personality is different. To me, that’s what photojournalism and documentary work is all about — getting past the surface of things and into the authenticity of it. This photograph shows the crowd and activity that swarms the juke joint every Thursday night, but also shows the quiet side of Willie Seaberry.


Sugar Bowl: It’s a pure-joy moment from a player who has helped turn Ole Miss football into a national power. It was a dominating game for the Rebs, and the chaos just seems to really contrast with Laquon Treadwell’s smile. Half of Oxford was in New Orleans, and it was just one big party that resulted in a lot of good things for Ole Miss.

Pavilion: You have the opening tip of one of the best college arenas in the country. The picture shows all the excitement and depth of such an amazing facility. We went from what some would call the worst gym in the SEC to possibly the greatest overnight.


Photos by


McCoy Athletics Photographer, Marketing/Promotions, Ole Miss Rebels

Feature: It’s just pretty. Ole Miss and Oxford are beautiful, and I love being able to capture that beauty. It seems as though something is in bloom around here 24/7/365. Why would you ever want to leave?

Soccer Dogpile: A great photo to represent the best season in school history. I spent a great deal of time with this team this past season and really got to know their personalities and how hard they work. To see that joy and excitement still gives me chills. They deserved that win in that fashion and I was very honored to be able to be in Clemson to capture it for them.

Egg Bowl: I wanted to shoot The Golden Egg in a way it was never shot before. I took a chance that I wasn’t sure would work and was happy with how it turned out. I wanted the trophy to be the absolute focalpoint with the school colors surrounding it. I just think it turned out pretty cool.


Photos by

Alysia Steele Meek School Assistant Professor


hen I have a lot of free time, which hasn’t been lately, I love taking photos of newborns. I haven’t done it in several years because of work commitments and a busy schedule, but photographing babies is relaxing and fun for me. Here are two from my personal collection. The baby is Henry and he was about 5 days old when I photographed him. His mother is someone I met on an assignment when I worked in Columbus, Ohio, in 2010. I’d worked with her years prior to this moment and she liked my photography. When she was pregnant, she asked me to photograph her, and then when Henry was born, the family called me again. Henry is snuggled in his father’s arms. I purposely went when it was naptime to capture a peaceful moment. It took some convincing to get dad to take his shirt off, but I assured him he wasn’t the primary focus of the photo. This is one of my all-time favorite images.



he pregnant woman is the wife of a doctor, also in Columbus, Ohio — around 2004. They were expecting their first child. The wife was wearing a very heavy, loosefitting dress, but I asked her to put something on that was snug — I wanted to show her belly. Initially she was uncomfortable, but she relaxed when her husband complimented her. She went into labor a few days after this photo. At this moment, the baby was kicking and the father knelt down to feel the baby’s kick. This wasn’t a staged photo — and, this was when I used film. This was literally the last frame before I ran out of film.



avid Bradley (’64) is an innovator. His career has taken him around the globe and back home to Pleasanton, Kansas. Over the course of his career, Bradley transformed that sleepy farming town into the hub of his many media ventures. Bradley grew up immersed in the media and publishing world. His father ran and operated The Observer Enterprise, the newspaper in Pleasanton. He learned the printing trade at a young age by working with his father. “Dad and about three other people and me just worked everyday,” Bradley said of his early work experience. From a young age, Bradley was heavily interested in journalism and the media. “I applied (to Ole Miss) because of the reputation of Dr. [Samuel] Talbert.” Bradley remained active in the journalism school during his time at Ole Miss, and worked with The Daily Mississippian. He also joined ROTC, a four-year program, as an information officer. In his junior year, Bradley met Charlene Strickland, whom he would marry shortly after graduation. Bradley graduated as an officer and he was sent to Vietnam to provide field reporting. After months hopping between Vietnamese cities, Bradley returned stateside and finished his years of service at Air Force

As time went on and the media world evolved, Bradley had to adjust as well. “During the late ’70s and early ’80s, we tested many types of production equipment, trying to make publishing cookbooks as efficient as possible with as few employees as possible,” Bradley said. In addition to developing and using new techniques for efficient paper production, Bradley opened an office in Kansas City. The tiny job market in Pleasanton wasn’t suitable for Bradley’s booming business. “In the early ’90s, we started feeling the stress to keep the cookbook production growing, mainly because of the Internet’s gaining strength and recipes placed on the web,” Bradley said. Fundcraft Publishing, Bradley’s firm, hired two programmers to keep up with the competition and increase the web presence. At that point, Chris, Bradley’s son, became involved with the company. He had graduated from Ole Miss with a focus in marketing and technology in 1994. “Things just fell in place after Ole Miss,” Chris said. “With a marketing degree, along with a lot of background in computers and print, it was a natural direction to morph Fundcraft into one of the first self-publishing companies on the internet.” It was Chris’s idea to create Instant Publisher to publish authors’ books directly online. Since then, Fundcraft has grown larger and reached more people than ever, both online and through print. Fundcraft has owned 17 Internet domain names since the mid- ’90s, which are now valuable parts of the company. Fundcraft publishes thousands of recipes on these sites now. Instant Publisher has published Meek School, the alumni magazine of the school, annually at a generous discount and the depth reports, said Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “We owe Fundcraft and Mr. Bradley a great deal,” Norton said. Bradley’s triumphant story of a young man from small-town Kansas achieving success in the media world is a testament to a confident and aggressive attitude. He attributes this successful career to his willingness to try different ideas. “You’ve got to take some chances,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of things that didn’t work, but you’ve got to get out there. Some things are going to hit, and some things aren’t.” Bradley’s greatest piece of advice is to try new things and keep up with the times. “I like to try new things, even today, good or bad, but one thing for sure: I love new print-machine technologies,” he said. Chris Bradley shares his father’s passion for hard work and for trying out new ideas. “Changes happen quickly in the real world,” he said. “You must be aware of the changing environment and stay on top of all forms of media and technology, including those that are thought to be outdated.” Chris said the greatest lesson he’s learned from his father is that “you can achieve anything you really want as long as you’re willing to work for it.”

With a marketing degree, along with a lot of background in computers and print, it was a natural direction to morph Fundcraft intoone of the first self-publishing companies on the internet.” Lt. Gen. Sam Maddux Jr.’s side. He wrote speeches and “mapped VIP tours.” After his term of service, Charlene and Bradley bought a mobile home in 1968 and moved to Pleasanton. Bradley said his father never tried to lure him back to Kansas. He and Charlene made the decision on their own. Bradley’s father died soon after they moved back, and Bradley quickly went to work learning to run the family paper. After several years, Bradley expanded circulation by buying two neighboring papers and forming the Linn County News. This conglomerate became one of the largest-circulation weekly newspapers in the state of Kansas. One day on a quail hunt, a friend told Bradley about a successful company that printed cookbooks. Shortly after, Bradley was able to make a simple purchase that grew into a large-scale cookbook-selling and -printing enterprise. The cookbook business was so successful that in the mid-1970s Bradley sold his newspaper.


The author is a sophomore, integrated marketing communications major from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Graduate Profiles

David Bradley By Slade Rand

Photo by Stephanie Norwood



By Samantha Mitchell Photo by Forest Olivier

I’ve always been fascinated by radio, because it is like a theater in your mind.”


ot many people enjoy spontaneity quite like Ben Campbell (’90). The Atlanta native moved to Nashville with his family at the age of 15, and that is where his interest in the University of Mississippi developed. “I toured all of the SEC schools, and I figured Ole Miss would be where I would have the best time,” Campbell said. “I was not necessarily thinking about the future. I went there as a four-year vacation from reality.” It was with his good humor that he found one of his true passions in life — doing impressions. Campbell felt that the two options he could pursue would be either stand-up comedy or radio. Ultimately, he decided that radio would be a better fit and he graduated from Ole Miss with a broadcast degree in 1990. “I’ve always been fascinated by radio, because it is like a theater in your mind,” Campbell said. “I like painting pictures with sound, which is what I am able to do with radio.” Campbell’s broadcast career took him to his first job out of college at an independent television production company in Knoxville, Tennessee. One of his first assignments was working on a country music dance show as a cameraperson. On multiple occasions, he was asked to warm up the crowd with his impressions before the show, which would eventually lead him to his first big break into radio. On one particular night, a saleswoman from a local radio station happened to hear his impressions and urged Campbell to meet her boss. He was instantly offered a job doing overnight shows at WIVK-FM in 1991. “I would treat my overnight shows, which started at midnight on Sunday mornings and went to 8 o’clock in the morning, like a morning show,” Campbell said. “I had all of the freedom I wanted, so I started doing this psychedelic, crazy, productionbased, overnight radio show, complete with parody calls and celebrity impressions.” Campbell soon developed a small, cult-like following. On a random Saturday night, a radio program director drove through town and heard the show. The director showed up at the radio station and opened Campbell’s mind to the idea of being a part of his very own morning show. He would soon become the other half of the “Ben and Brian Morning Show” for WWYC in 1994 in Lexington, Kentucky. A year-and-a-half later, things really began to click for the show, and both morning talk-show hosts were invited to Phoenix for a potential morning show replacement opportunity. There was a bit of a catch, however. “Most of the time in radio, the show they hire to follow a popular predecessor is never expected to succeed,” Campbell said. “They’re usually the fall guys used to make the audience really appreciate anybody who quickly replaces them.” But the “Ben and Brian Show” continued for another five years

Graduate Profiles

in Phoenix at KMLE, where he met and fell in love with his wife, Hollie, who worked in the productions department. The “Ben and Brian Show” was hired by Clear Channel in 2002 for the morning show at WMZQ in Washington, D.C. It was syndicated in 16 markets. The hosts also had a recorded countdown show called “Ben and Brian’s Big Top 20.” It was a syndicated, three-hour show that was heard in more than 100 markets. After five years, Campbell decided that he missed the sunshine of Arizona. He arrived back in Phoenix without any particular prospects for a job. There happened to be a job opening at the KNIX country station, and the rest is history. He soon would become a part of the “Ben and Matt Show,” his position for the last eight years. “You don’t have to overthink life and what you are going to do — the road is there for you to follow,” Campbell said. Campbell co-hosts his morning show with Matt McAllister. “Ben’s a very likable guy and is a joy to work with every day,” McAllister said. “His ability to impersonate practically anyone is like having a weapon to fire that nobody else has. It adds that extra dimension to our show that is irreplaceable, and I’m glad we get to show up in the morning and make people laugh for a living.” Some of Campbell’s outside work includes voiceover contributions for both “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and the “Howard Stern Show,” for which he has won voiceover contests for impressions of well-known people such as President Barack Obama. During the course of his expansive career, he has won the 1998 and 2015 CMA Market Personality of the Year Awards, and the 2010 ACM Major Market Personality of the Year Award. Joe Wallace, the producer of the “Ben and Matt Show,” is thrilled to be working with Campbell on a regular basis. “As a radio producer, being afforded the opportunity to work with someone like Ben is akin to winning the lottery in our industry,” Wallace said. “He’s quite literally one-of-a-kind, and no one can do what he does. It’s like having a Rolodex of 150 celebrities on speed dial and every one of them is willing to say anything I can possibly dream up. It’s made infinitely better by the fact that Ben is hands down the nicest and most generous guy I’ve ever met, let alone had the pleasure of working with.” When it comes to advice for aspiring radio hosts and journalists, Campbell said, “Don’t let anyone discourage you that you can’t make it — anyone can make it if they’re hungry enough. Use your personality and just go pedal to the metal. Find what you want to do and work at it, and you’ll be happy.” Campbell currently lives in Phoenix with his wife and two sons, Parker and Collin. The author graduated in May 2016 with a Master of Arts degree in journalism with emphasis in integrated marketing communications.




By Samantha Mitchell Photo by Emily Assiran


t was basketball that took Karen Hinton (’80) to the University of Mississippi. She played for her high school team in Soso, Miss., traveled to Ole Miss for a summer basketball camp as a junior, and was successful in securing a scholarship to play on the university’s basketball team, which assisted in paying for her first semester. Choosing a major came next. For Hinton, who had written articles for her high school newspaper, the decision was journalism. It was a very popular major at that time. “There was a huge surge of students majoring in journalism after the release of the book, ‘All the President’s Men’ in 1974,” Hinton said. “There were a lot of young people who were suddenly very interested in investigative journalism.”

Savor every moment of your experiences, Graduate and appreciate that you’re allowed Profiles to be a part of something that is making the world a better place.” Jere Hoar, attorney at law and professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Mississippi, said Hinton “was an outstanding student in my classes. “She was also an idealist who wanted to make the South a better place for everyone and was eager to complete her studies so she could throw herself into the struggle,” Hoar said. “The Ole Miss campus is featured in history for its involvement in the civil rights movement and incidents on campus,” Hinton said. “I read about what was happening and had happened around the country — and I was standing on top of it.” The civil rights movement would ultimately captivate her attention for the rest of her time at the university, as well as her career. Hinton found herself searching the university library as well as the Square Books bookstore for books on Fannie Lou Hamer and other civil rights leaders, namely from Mississippi. Hinton started working for The Daily Mississippian, eventually starting her own publication — HottyToddy — during her senior year at Ole Miss. “She knows how to get things done,” said Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “She is very smart. “When a faculty member would give a test with an inaccurate test question, she would tell him. She did a lot of work for The Daily Mississippian and was a very aggressive reporter. She knew how to network and how to make contacts. “She’s a free spirit — a very disciplined free spirit.” Hinton graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1980 with a double major in journalism and political science. During her time as a reporter for the Jackson Daily News in the early 1980s, Hinton realized she was interested in advocacy reporting. “Advocacy journalism is writing about what you believe to be true and believe to be right,” Hinton said. “There should be a place (in journalism) for making your own judgment about a situation and putting it out there.” Hinton transitioned to working in politics in 1983 as press secretary for congressional campaigns in the Second District of Mississippi. After four years of working in the state, Hinton was hired in 1987 to work in Washington, D.C., as press secretary for Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Espy, the first African-American congressman to be elected from Mississippi. “When I started working as a reporter, I was drawn to issues that were about poverty and how to eradicate it, especially since I had grown up in the poorest state in the country,” Hinton said. “I found myself working on Democratic campaigns where that was a centerpiece of every candidate’s platform.” Hinton would continue to work in Washington politics until 2000. She worked as the Democratic National Committee’s director of publications and as editor of PartyLines from 1989 to 1991 under Mike McCurry, who later would become President

Bill Clinton’s press secretary, and the late Ron Brown, who was the chairman of the Democratic National Committee when Clinton was elected president. “(Ron Brown) was a great politician,” Hinton said. “He cared a lot about issues that I care about, and I was able to work with him and others who taught me a great deal about politics and communications.” Hinton found a job to satisfy her interest in working with programs for the poor through Andrew Cuomo, who was elected governor of New York in 2010. Cuomo was working as assistant secretary for community planning and development in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) when Hinton was appointed assistant secretary for public affairs in the HUD division. “(Cuomo) was very much interested in programs for the poor, or places that he felt had been left behind,” Hinton said. “It was a great experience learning about the lower-income communities that he was so dedicated to.” From these experiences, Hinton started Hinton Communications, her own public relations firm in Washington in January 2000. One of the better-known cases that Hinton has focused on has been the litigation against Chevron brought by a group of Ecuadorians who have been affected by pollution of the Ecuadorian rain forests. “That work has been one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever done,” Hinton said. “It is still in litigation now and has been a 23-year-old fight to try to get Chevron to clean up the contamination (of the rain forests).” From June 2015 to June 2016, Hinton served as press secretary for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. She originally had worked with de Blasio at HUD, where she feels that she contributed to issues “bigger than herself.” “Income inequality is such a huge issue in New York City, where housing and living costs are rising so much faster than income, while the trappings of wealth are everywhere for everyone to see,” Hinton said. “Mayor de Blasio is pushing for a higher minimum wage, paid parental and family leave, and more affordable housing to help deal with income inequality. For me, there was no better job than working on these types of issues.” Hinton’s advice to upcoming journalists and political staffers is this: “Savor every moment of your experiences, and appreciate that you’re allowed to be a part of something that is making the world a better place. “Soak it all up completely, because you’ll look back at your days (at Ole Miss), and they’ll be some of the best days of your life.” The author graduated in May 2016 with a Master of Arts degree in journalism with emphasis in integrated marketing communications.



imothy Allen Ivy’s (’01) life has been a sequence of happenstance. He can’t predict his future, and he certainly could not have predicted his past. Ivy was born the son of a preacher, an inner-city kid living in East St. Louis, Illinois. Even after his family moved to Oxford and he graduated from Lafayette High School in 1984, he had no idea where his life was headed. “I just didn’t have really any direction,” Ivy said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” One day, Ivy was inspired to tour Ole Miss on a high school visit day. “I had already graduated, so I couldn’t be an official participant. But I came anyway, because I wanted to check out girls,” Ivy said. “I just happened to look around, and I saw this guy with a huge camera and a light stand with an umbrella. And I started salivating. It was the biggest camera I had ever seen in my life.” Ivy soon discovered that the man was Robert Jordan, photographer for the University of Mississippi public relations department. “So I started asking all these questions, and he asked me if I was in school,” Ivy said. “I was like, ‘Nah.’ He said, ‘Well, I’ll tell you what. Come to school. I’ll give you a job.’” Ivy eagerly agreed. The next spring, he was enrolled at the university. “I signed up for one class so that I could technically be in school,” Ivy said. “And I started working as a student photographer. It opened up a whole new world to me that I, prior to then, didn’t know existed: photojournalism.” Not only did Ivy begin to learn about photography, but he was suddenly submerged in the craft. He gained access to magazines and newspapers as well as to unlimited blackand-white film and a key to the building where the darkroom was located. “So I had unbound access to all these images, and I just studied them and studied them and studied them. And I went out and tried to emulate them, so that was basically how I learned it,” Ivy said. “I pretty much dropped everything else and became a photographer.” Then something big happened. Just a few months into his new job, Ivy had the opportunity to cover a story that made regional headlines. “It just so happens that I was working as a student photographer at the PR department, and one night there was a plane crash


at the university airport. I was the only photographer on the scene.” The next day, Ivy found his photographs picked up by the Associated Press and splashed across the front pages of The Clarion-Ledger and The Commercial Appeal. Unbeknownst to Ivy, it was the first of many times the nation would see his byline. That same year, Ivy applied for another job in Oxford. “I met Tim in 1986 when he was still a student,” said Neil White, creative director and publisher at The Nautilus Publishing Co. “He walked into my newspaper (The Oxford Times, a short-lived alternative newspaper in Oxford) with a portfolio. I hired him on the spot. His eye for composition and subject matter was extraordinary, even at his age. After that, we started winning lots of awards for photography.” Unfortunately, even Ivy’s photography couldn’t keep The Oxford Times alive. After the paper folded, Ivy returned to the University of Mississippi PR department and transmitted photos to the Associated Press. He then became The Clarion-Ledger’s north Mississippi freelance photographer. In the summer of 1989, Ivy got an internship with The Commercial Appeal. “That was a dream come true, because that was one of the main papers that I used as an instruction tool,” Ivy said. “So I had seen all these photographers’ bylines, and then I was working with them. I was like, ‘Wow. This is amazing.’” After that summer, Ivy interned at the Birmingham Post-Herald in Birmingham, Ala., and for the StarTribune in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Then he contributed regularly to several national magazines and shot photos for nonprofit organizations. One of those organizations was the Foundation for the Mid-South. “I did like three or four projects traveling the region, documenting the programs that they were funding. And that was fun,” Ivy said. “But then I started missing the day-today newsroom activity.” That longing for adventure and excitement led Ivy to New Jersey in 2001. He remained there for 12 years as a photographer for various publications, but first and foremost for The New York Times. It was during the Staten Island ferry crash of 2003 that Ivy was hit with the realization of his success. “I shot an assignment for the paper — like a feature assignment — and I came back to my office to process the images, and I got a call saying, ‘We need you to go back out.

There’s this ferry crash. We need you to go to the airport; we’re going to put you on a helicopter.’ “And that’s when it all hit me,” Ivy said. “It was a beautiful October evening, and I was flying over the New York harbor leaning outside of a helicopter shooting pictures of an international news event.” After more than a decade of being on the East Coast, though, Ivy’s life and desires began to change. “I lost my father in 2008 and then my mother in 2012,” he said. “I had been there for 12 years, and I was ready to do something else. The bad thing about New York is that I was covering mostly news stories — a few features, but no real rich, cultural stories. And I missed that, so I wanted to come back to Mississippi.” While he was back in the South taking care of his parents’ estate, Ivy ran into Will Norton Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, on campus. “You know, it’s just weird how all these things unfolded, because I hadn’t planned to be there,” Ivy explained. “I had stopped by to see a friend, and she convinced me to stay for a meeting, and (Norton) happened to walk past and invited me to lunch. We talked, and he asked me, ‘What are you going to do with the rest of your life?’” That encounter led Ivy to accept a position at the Meek School as an adjunct instructor of photojournalism. Since then, Ivy has enjoyed handing over to students the lessons learned from his years of work in photography. “It’s good passing on the knowledge and passing on my experiences,” Ivy said. “I enjoy engaging with the students and showing them the passion and thrill of knowing how to tell a story through a picture. I’m very passionate about that, so trying to express that and pass it on to someone else has been very fulfilling.” Soon after Ivy returned to Oxford, he met Scott Coopwood, publisher and owner of Delta Magazine, Delta Business Journal and The Cleveland Current. “Tim introduced himself to me at one of [Ole Miss professor] Samir Husni’s ACT conferences. He recognized me from my magazines,” Coopwood said. “Tim gave me his card, and I was stunned when I returned home and reviewed his website. On the site, I found an endless array of beautiful photography. Immediately, I knew I wanted to work with him.” However, teaching photojournalism and shooting for Coopwood’s publications are just two of the many things Ivy is involved


Graduate Profiles


By Anna McCollum

Photo by Evangeline W. Robinson

in since he returned to Mississippi. In addition to building furniture for his online business, Mimosa Modern, Ivy was granted a fellowship by the Mississippi Arts Commission in 2014. His purpose became documenting the culture and life of people in the mid-South — “just telling people’s stories,” he said. “My motto is that everyone has a story. Having that challenge of hearing about someone’s life and their story and being able

to visually put that together is very fulfilling.” According to White, Tim’s success with people goes beyond the lens. “Not only is Tim an outstanding photographer, he is one great person,” White said. Coopwood even claims that Ivy is one of the best U.S. photographers of today. “He just has that ‘it’ factor in his work, and that is huge,” Coopwood said. “Most photographers strive for that uniqueness all of

their lives and never hit the mark. Tim does.” For Tim Ivy, though, it’s simple. “We all have stories,” he said. “You have to put forth an effort to find out what that story is. Just talk to people. Just have a conversation.” Do that, Ivy said, and things will fall into place. The author is a 2016 graduate of the Meek School from Corinth, Mississippi.


By Elizabeth Blackstock Photo by Robby Followell



Kirkpatrick 44 MEEK SCHOOL

ven as a child, Marlo Carter Kirkpatrick (’86) knew she was destined to become a writer. “Honestly, my career chose me,” Kirkpatrick said. “I knew from the time I was 11 years old that I wanted to be a writer, and I had teachers as far back as elementary school who encouraged me to pursue that dream. A few years later, I was that high school student who baffled all her classmates because I actually enjoyed writing term papers.” A Memphis native, Kirkpatrick was the daughter of an Ole Miss alumnus and grew up in a house she described as furnished in “Hotty Toddy décor.” “I never seriously considered going to college anywhere other than Ole Miss, especially when I realized that Ole Miss had an outstanding journalism department,” Kirkpatrick said. “It was the perfect place for me academically and personally.” Kirkpatrick earned degrees in journalism and English. “Once I got past all the freshman required classes, like the dreaded college algebra, and focused only on my journalism and English degrees, school was fun for me,” Kirkpatrick said. “The work I did to earn my journalism degree was exciting and challenging, and earning my English degree meant a lot of reading, which to me was like participating in one fascinating book club after another.” Outside of the classroom, Kirkpatrick kept busy preparing for a television news career. “I was one of several students who reported for and anchored the student newscast, known back then as ‘Tel-O-Miss News.’ I would love to see some of those old newscasts if they still exist on VHS tapes somewhere,” Kirkpatrick said. She also made lasting connections and memories. The University of Mississippi holds a special place in Kirkpatrick’s heart. “For me, the Ole Miss ‘mystique’ is a very real thing,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s a special place and I feel a deep connection to the people who shared it with me when we were all young adults there together.” After graduating from Ole Miss, Kirkpatrick worked in television news, public relations and advertising. In 1995, she launched her own advertising agency while also working as a freelance writer. Today, she is a partner with Kirkpatrick & Porch Creative, an advertising agency in Madison, Mississippi, and

continues to work as a freelance writer. While Kirkpatrick has worked in different variations of writing-related jobs, she has always focused on her one true talent. “I can say quite truthfully that writing is my only real talent,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’m terrible in math, I can’t carry a tune, I was always the last kid picked for the kickball team, and I certainly can’t cook. Let’s just say the list of everything I can’t do is pretty extensive, but writing tops the limited list of what I know I can do well.” Kirkpatrick attributes a great deal of her early success as a writer to her time with The Ramey Agency, where she worked as senior writer. Steven Hicks, the advertising agency’s creative director at the time, recalled observing Kirkpatrick’s growth as a writer. “The first time I read Marlo’s copy, I knew nothing about her beyond the fact that she wrote with both wit and grace,” Hicks said. “Twenty-some years later, she remains one of the most clever writers with whom I have ever had the pleasure to work. Her work has the ability to translate advertising copy into compelling, person-to-person writing for the reader. To this day, I can tell when Marlo has written a piece of copy, because her unique writer’s voice bursts through the page and into my mind. She is first and foremost an exceptional talent.” While Kirkpatrick makes her home in Mississippi, her work has taken her far beyond the state’s borders. Magazine and writing assignments have led Kirkpatrick to Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Canada, throughout the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and other places she never dreamed she’d see when she was a student in Farley Hall. “Of all the gifts my career has given me, one of the greatest is that I’ve had the opportunity to travel,” Kirkpatrick said. “Those experiences have made me realize how much I love exploring other countries and cultures and sharing those experiences with readers.” Her most influential experience abroad was falling in love with her husband, Stephen Kirkpatrick, a professional wildlife and nature photographer. The two met while collaborating on a book project, and fell in love on a writing and photography expedition in the Amazon rain forest. “When you fall in love in the Amazon, it is really love,” Kirkpatrick said. “Between the bug bites, the sweat, the dirt, and the lack of running water or electricity, I was not at my most attractive. We were married a year later at Machu Picchu, Peru. At least I think

we’re married — the mayor of Machu Picchu presided over the nuptials, which were all in Spanish. I struggled through four semesters of Spanish at Ole Miss, but I’m still not quite sure what he said.” The Amazon rain forest not only inspired Kirkpatrick’s marriage, but also one of her favorite projects. “‘Romancing the Rain’ is a coffee table book of Stephen’s Amazon photography and my writing,” Kirkpatrick said. “The photos are of the Amazon, but the text of the book is about the nature of love. It sounds like a disconnect, but it works beautifully in practice. ‘Romancing the Rain’ is my favorite of all the books I’ve written, both because the book itself is a beautiful project and also because of the personal connection I have with the Amazon as the place where I fell in love with my husband.” Kirkpatrick has also had the opportunity to tell a variety of stories as the writing partner in Kirkpatrick & Porch Creative. “Marlo has a gift for not just writing, but for relating to people so that she may share their stories with an emotion that stirs something deep inside the reader,” said Alecia Porch, a graphic designer and Kirkpatrick’s business partner. “When presenting ideas, whether it be a TV or video script, a new branding concept, or simply copy for a print ad, Marlo’s beautiful wordsmithing has literally brought our clients to tears,” Porch continued. “Her ability to capture raw emotion and put it into words is something our clients look forward to and have come to expect. I am inspired by her words when I approach a design project. The caliber of her creative writing takes my design to another level. I am blessed to work with such a gifted storyteller.” Kirkpatrick has written nine books, including Lost in the Amazon, Mississippi Off the Beaten Path and It Happened in Mississippi, and contributes to several magazines as a freelance writer. Her work has garnered more than 250 awards for writing and creative excellence in advertising. She has earned the title of the Jackson Advertising Federation’s Writer of the Year five times and is the recipient of the National Outdoor Book Award, the International Self-Published Book Award and three Southeastern Press Association Book of the Year Awards. Kirkpatrick also has donated her time and writing skills to several charities. “The projects where Marlo has given her time pro bono are most remarkable,” Porch said. “Marlo has given her talent as a writer to

Graduate Profiles organizations like MadCAAP (Madison Countians Allied Against Poverty). For the HOPE Today Capital Campaign for MadCAAP, Marlo spent time with several underprivileged families who were served by this organization. She was able to meet with the families in their homes and came to know them on a personal level. “The relationships she formed were crucial to her being able to tell their stories in a video and brochure, which raised over $500,000 to construct a new education and resource center in Madison County,” Porch said “I remember that Marlo brought one of the children a fishing pole as a gift on a return visit. Acts of kindness like those are something that people will never forget. More than just reporting a story, she made a difference in the little boy’s life by showing that she cared for him and his family.” Kirkpatrick said her job “has allowed me to meet and interview so many interesting people — a Secret Service agent, a celebrity chef, a face transplant surgeon, the inventor of the self-driving car, and all kinds of ‘ordinary’ people who have found themselves in extraordinary situations and done incredible things, “While in Jordan working for the Jordan Tourism Bureau, I was baptized in the Jordan River at the same spot where John the Baptist baptized Jesus,” she continued. “I also had unforgettable experiences in Haiti, where I was sent to write about a mission project and witnessed both despair and hope on a level I’ve never seen anywhere else in the world. On a magazine assignment to Botswana, I held hands with AIDS orphans and had an unforgettable encounter with a baby elephant. “In Honduras, I snorkeled with whale sharks, a trip that began as a vacation but that might turn into a magazine article. I’ve been so blessed to have a career I love that’s taken me to so many different places and introduced me to so many fascinating people,” she said. “I honestly never have a boring day.” The author is a sophomore, integrated marketing communications major from Marietta, Georgia.


By Meredith Parker


have never looked back,” the Rev. Canon David Johnson (’75) said. Although he does look back to special memories and significant flashbacks, Johnson has never questioned his transition from political lobbyist to ordained Episcopalian minister. Johnson graduated from the University of Mississippi with a double major in political science and journalism accompanied by a minor in history. He spent several years after graduation lobbying for the private sector in the oil industry, but Johnson recalls being internally drawn toward the ministry. The change surprised many, but he remembers the decision quite vividly. Visiting Washington, D.C., for a regular meeting, he was standing in the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel not far from Capitol Hill. “If you don’t do this now, you’ll regret it,” Johnson told himself. When he returned home, Johnson began the process of becoming a minister. Throughout each stage, he felt affirmation for what he was being called to do. To ease his transition into the 40-page papers of seminary at Sewanee University’s School of Theology, Johnson fell back on the countless classes he attended in the journalism school at the University of Mississippi. “I’m certainly not a great writer. I’ll never write the best-selling book, but I’ve been very comfortable in preparing sermons,” Johnson said. “I’m amazed how uncomfortable some people are with writing now — to be able to convey clarity of thought through the written word is just very important.” Johnson credits his self-assured writing to friend and mentor Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “He was a good guide and just helped me develop as a writer,” Johnson said. Norton smiled when thinking of Johnson, his former student, who was a part of his first advanced reporting class. “He’s one of these people that just really does what’s right all the time,” Norton said. “The advanced reporting class required each student to produce 30 stories a semester, which gave Johnson the experience of constantly improving his writing.” Norton advocated trips and activities outside of the classroom where he felt he had the opportunity to learn about his students. “I didn’t just ask them if they had a brother or what their daddy did,” Norton said. “If someone knows about you and will do everything they can to help you, that’s what I believe teachers ought to do.” According to Johnson, Ed Meek was another substantial mentor who provided countless experiences to the ambitious student. “I am crazy about Ed,” Johnson said. “He gave me some opportunities that were a formidable part of my writing, too.” Along with his job as wire editor at The Daily Mississippian, Johnson worked under Meek in the public relations office by turning out feature articles about current events from the university. Other opportunities that Meek set up for Johnson included shadowing Assistant Press Secretary Larry Speakes at the White


House for a day while former President Gerald Ford held office. “There was always someone in my life to step in and help me become who I am, so I try to repay that with many students,” Meek said. “Johnson was eagerly receptive and so focused. I love picking up the phone and helping students like that.” Johnson said, “Being an Ole Miss alumnus is very much a part of my identity, and I love it — I’m very grateful for the education I received up there.” Although Johnson appreciates everything he learned from the university, he counts the real value in his connection to Ole Miss as being the relationships that were formed while receiving his undergraduate degree. One of those lifelong relationships was with classmate and friend Stephanie Saul, who took the more traditional route with a journalism degree. The Pulitzer Prize winner and writer for The New York Times remembers an excellent classmate who could have turned into a seasoned journalist. “David is the kind of person who is thoughtful and empathetic, the friend you always want to run things by,” Saul said. “Asking things like ‘What do you think of this?’ or ‘What do you think of that?’ made him a great person to confide in.” While Saul never would have imagined in their feature writing class that Johnson would go on to the ministry, she agrees now that it is an ideal job for him. “In retrospect, he would excel in anything he does, because he is a smart person with a great personality,” Saul said. With more than 28 years of experience as an ordained minister, Johnson is considered a wonderful storyteller and sophisticated preacher by many of his peers, including Norton, by teaching matters of faith with abstract and concrete perspectives. “His time in politics taught him to understand what motivates people,” Norton said. “He stands in the pulpit with an understanding of the evil in us, as well as the good in us.” Although Johnson never bragged of his philanthropic work, his peers found it spot-on to explain and define his character. Saul spoke of him helping with projects in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and running in a half-marathon in Baltimore with his wife Nora to raise funds for leukemia and lymphoma research. Norton agreed that Johnson’s thoughtful heart sets an example for what a picture-perfect Ole Miss alumnus looks like. “David is doing things for humanity,” Norton said. “Its not that he’s an Episcopal priest; its not that he’s a church person; it’s that he’s found a place where he can do more good for people than if he were out there being a lobbyist.” With 41 years of marriage to wife Nora, Johnson has two children, Leigh and Chris. Johnson has held the prestigious position of Canon to the Ordinary for 15 years at the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. Reflecting on what he loves most about his journey, Johnson said, “Folks are folks and people are people; the joy of life is having relationships with them.” The author is a senior, broadcast journalism major from Brandon, Mississippi.

Graduate Profiles

David Johnson

To be able to convey clarity of thought through the written word is just very important.� MEEK SCHOOL 47



Graduate Profiles By Ashley Mallory


lthough Maury Lane (’92) now serves as president of Burson Campaigns, the Memphis, Tennessee-based corporate issues management arm of Burson-Marsteller, he was once a below-average student at the University of Mississippi. His success today is proof that hard work and dedication are what is needed to make it in your career field. Originally considering a career in banking, Lane said that his deep dislike for accounting led him to rethink his career choice. For guidance, he met with Will Norton, Jr., then chair of the department of journalism and now dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “I knew that my favorite thing to do in the morning was to get up, read the morning paper and sit with my cup of coffee,” Lane said. “But knowing from talking to Dr. Norton that I actually could write for the same paper I read each morning made it an easy choice on what to major in next.” He chose journalism as his major. Although Lane has gone on to be one of the top performers in his field, he was not always the best student in school. “I wasn’t really the GPA king, but I worked for the newspaper, helped run the TV station and worked hard in all of my journalism classes,” Lane said. “I’m very proud of the education I got. It really took me to a different level.” Actually, Lane was a presence in the department. “I always knew that Maury was smart,” Norton said. “If he didn’t want to do something, a lot of times, he wouldn’t do it, and that would affect his grades. Clearly, when he is devoted to something, he is going to work at it. It’s rewarding for me to see students who I have taught, who have done so much more in life than I have. And to see that people who I thought might be average become really prominent in their field. “Maury has achieved a lot because he is not afraid to say what he thinks,” Norton

continued. “And quite often what he thinks is what other people are thinking. He represents where the public is. And he is connected to what’s out there, and that’s why he is the best at crisis management.” Now, as an instructor at the University of Mississippi, Lane has a great reputation with students on campus. Ole Miss student Lindsey Forshee said, “Professor Lane is known around campus as being a hands-on teacher who doesn’t just teach what is in the textbook.” “I believe that you learn it by doing. And, you learn it even better by doing it again,” Lane said. “If someone lets you get away with not putting your best effort in, they have cheated you out of an opportunity to learn.” After graduating from Ole Miss, Lane was offered two positions, one as a bond salesman and the other with the Memphis Business Journal. Although he was struggling with the decision, he knew that pursuing his passion for journalism would make him happy. He decided to take the position with the Memphis Business Journal. Following his time as a reporter, Lane continued to network and advance professionally, working on several political campaigns and eventually serving as a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist. He said that of his entire professional career, working under South Carolina’s U.S. Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings proved to be the most challenging. The fast-paced working environment pushed him to grow professionally and enabled him to meet many interesting and powerful people. “Working for (Hollings’s) campaign was really challenging, but it allowed me to do things I had never done before,” Lane said. His work with Hollings taught him how to work under pressure, especially during a crisis. After working for Hollings, Lane worked on several other political campaigns that ultimately led him towards his work in public relations and crisis management. After his career in politics, Lane joined FedEx as the director of issues and crisis

management. He worked for the company for more than 10 years before making the leap to Burson-Marsteller. “Harold Burson, founder of BursonMarsteller, is an amazing man. He is inspirational, and a great person to work for,” Lane said. “He was born in Memphis and went to Ole Miss for his undergrad, so we have to be very good here in his hometown. “Starting this office was kind of a dream. As a company, we have really grown. We work with some of the biggest companies and organizations in the world, and we do cutting-edge integrated marketing and communications. This job is the most unpredictable job you will ever have.” Scott Fiene, head of the Meek School’s integrated marketing communications program, called Lane “a great friend of our school. ... He’s hired our students as interns, mentors them, and helps them land jobs after graduation.” Despite being constantly busy with his job, Lane makes sure to be there for his children. “My kids are very good kids, who put up with me being gone a lot,” Lane said. “And, you miss a lot of things, but I am good at coming back to see the important things in their lives. “We raise children for them to leave and be independent. That’s what my parents did, and that’s what we are going to do. That’s part of the transition.” A dedicated community donor and volunteer, Lane served on the board of the National Domestic Violence Hotline for 11 years, three of those years serving as the organization’s chairman. “I am blessed to be able to give back to the community,” Lane said. “Raising awareness of domestic violence is something I am very passionate about.” His accomplishments are evidence that with hard work and dedication, one can have not only a great career, but also a wonderful life. The author is a senior, integrated marketing communications major from Nashville, Tennessee.



e doesn’t understand the effect he has on people,” said Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, while reminiscing about Rocky Miskelly (’84), a former student and dear friend. Miskelly is a Ripley, Mississippi, native who arrived at the University of Mississippi in the fall of 1981. Growing up in Ripley, Miskelly’s father owned the B&M hardware store, down the sidewalk from the Southern Sentinel, a weekly published by Judge William H. Anderson and his wife Lois. As a curious young boy, Miskelly began spending time with the couple learning about newspaper publishing. While in middle and high school, Miskelly took an interest in writing about local sports news. While a student at Northeast Community College in Booneville, Mississippi, Miskelly became the first sports information director. “I put in about 10-12 hours a week on that,” Miskelly said. “It really piqued my interest in journalism.” Miskelly began covering sports for nearby county papers. He would phone the story in by reading it, and someone else transcribed it. The position also let Miskelly get experience in broadcast journalism. “I did play-by-play for two years,” he said. “With all that, that made me choose journalism at Ole Miss.” Miskelly was a well-known contributor to The Daily Mississippian. He wrote “Letters to Mom,” a column that discussed discreet political issues on campus between faculty and administration. “This was more than a gossip column to me,” said Miskelly. “It was a very fun time in my life.” Ed Meek served as the vice chancellor of public relations and marketing during Miskelly’s time as an undergraduate. “He was very bright, aggressive, determined, and a fine reporter,” said Meek. “He frequently gave me a hard time digging out stories, and I always respected him for his skills as a journalist.” Miskelly lived in the “Twin Towers” on campus next to a tripleoccupancy room. One of his neighbors became the inspiration for a character in a cartoon strip he wrote that appeared in The Daily Mississippian. “Ernie Bateman was a ‘nerdy’ comedic character created by the DM staff in a photo essay that ran in the paper’s orientation edition,” Miskelly said. “I used that as a basis for a caricature of Ernie and patterned the other two characters [Skip and Joe] on a fraternity boy and one of the guys next door, an older, nontraditional, back-to-college student, a somewhat burned-out hippie.” The four-panel cartoon appeared in the newspaper five days a week for about three years. Art Shirley provided the art for all but the first few weeks and continued the strip solo after Miskelly graduated. Miskelly managed both the NewsWatch TV station and WUMS-FM 92.1 radio for the Student Media Center and was sports editor for the DM. While working at the SMC, he developed a connection with S. Gale Denley. “He was the heart and soul of the journalism department,” said Miskelly.


Denley was a journalism instructor at the university from 19631996. In 2003, the SMC was named the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center. “He made a huge impact on me and other journalism students on the campus,” Miskelly said. Miskelly met Willie Morris, the well-loved Southern writer and former editor of Harper’s, during his second week at Ole Miss and, for three years, Miskelly was Morris’s assistant. “I would just answer his mail,” said Miskelly. Miskelly reflected on a day he was called out of class by Norton to head over to Morris’s house. “Dean Norton said, ‘We’ve been looking for you all morning. We didn’t think you would be in class. You need to go to Willie’s right now.’ I guess you can tell I wasn’t the best student back then,” Miskelly said with laughter. On that day, Morris’s dog Pete was dying, and Miskelly’s assistance as pastor was needed. “I was the presiding pastor for the services,” said Miskelly. “We took Pete to a secret location, and had funeral services for him in the rain.” The people Morris introduced Miskelly to still fills him with wonder. “C. Vann Woodward and Alex Haley were discussing race relations, and I was just happy to be a fly on the wall,” Miskelly said. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and physical education, Miskelly spent 15 months directing at a television station in Greenville, Mississippi, WXVT-TV 15. In 1987, Miskelly decided to take a break from journalism, and focused on a new passion. He enrolled at Emory University to study theology. After leaving Emory, he decided to backpack around Europe for a year. “Wouldn’t change that experience for anything in the world,” Miskelly said. “It gave me a better multicultural outlook.” From 1995-1999, he was senior pastor at Heritage United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. While he served as senior pastor, the church grew rapidly. Miskelly left in 1999 to work for Cargill Associates, a consulting firm that raised funds for non-profits, and he became a top producer. Miskelly now is the executive vice president and director of wealth management at Renasant Bank in Tupelo, Mississippi. He is supervisor of the financial services and trust department, and his financial advisers manage about $3.4 billion of “other folks’” money. “Every night when you lie down, you think, ‘There are a lot of people counting on me,’” Miskelly said. “It’s not the same thing every day. I get a lot of enjoyment working with other people. My dad taught me a long time ago that the best way to get what you want out of life is to help people get what they want out of life.” Miskelly lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife Raigan, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Columbus, which has its services broadcast on “My Mississippi.” He has four children: Walker, 24; Wesley, 22; Wright, 12; and Maguire, 11. “It’s sort of awesome to see how many Ole Miss students have become rich, famous, or significant. Rocky has ended up being all three,” Norton said. The author is a senior, integrated communications major from Canton, Mississippi.

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By Sabrina Clinton

Rocky Miskelly MEEK SCHOOL 51



By Rachael Holman


Photo by Cary Georges s children, we all have a dream of what we want to be when we grow up. Ignacio Murillo’s (’14) dream was “to work at one of the top fashion magazines in the world.” Fast-forward to 2016, and he is doing just that. He is a photo assistant at Harper’s Bazaar, America’s first women’s fashion magazine, based in New York City. But at as a child, that wasn’t always a dream he believed could become reality. Murillo was born in Mexico and never once thought he would have the opportunity to move to New York City after graduating college. At the age of 10, he and his family moved to the United States and settled in Horn Lake, Mississippi. He soaked up American culture and learned English. “I had never picked up a magazine until I came here, so I like to credit magazines for helping me learn English,” Murillo said. “I would get a magazine and then get my dictionary and try to figure out what it was talking about.” Although Murillo credits the South for shaping him to be who he is, he always had a vision of living in New York. During his junior year in college, he did a fashion internship at Factory PR. When the internship ended, he got a tattoo that reads “New York City,” as a reminder that he had to come back. Three months after graduating in 2014, Murillo finally did — this time, to stay. Confident he would find a job right off the bat, Murillo decided to crash with one of his close friends while job-searching. “I literally packed two suitcases and thought, ‘Oh, I have experience. It shouldn’t be that hard to find a job,’” he said, Murillo did have a lot of experience, including a wide array of jobs and internships while a student at Ole Miss. He was the design editor of The Daily Mississippian, the


I had never picked up a magazine until I came here, so I like to credit magazines for helping me learn English.” university’s student-run newspaper; an intern for Ole Miss Athletics working with PR and photography; and the creative director of Mud & Magnolias, a Mississippi magazine based in Tupelo. Patricia Thompson, director of student media, got to know Murillo very well in his many years of working on The Daily Mississippian staff. “He was an excellent designer — extremely creative — and an outstanding photographer,” Thompson said. “He worked hard, and he was always fun to be around.” Kim Ling, associate media relations director for Ole Miss Athletics, said, “Ignacio always went above and beyond what was asked of him. He was a very hard worker with a great attitude.” Murillo’s talents were unmistakable, but employers said his résumé was all over the place and too broad. He needed to focus on one specific thing and build his résumé from that. He continued his search and went through several interviews. He was turned down a few times but was determined not to give up. His love for social media and a little bit of persistence helped Murillo land his job at Harper’s Bazaar. “I got my job technically through Twitter,” Murillo said. After researching the magazine, he became “obsessed” with its executive editor/special projects, Laura Brown. Two months before graduating and determined to get noticed, Murillo began tweeting her. “It got to the point where I started just kind of being annoying,” he said. “I would Photoshop photos of me and her and kept tweeting at her saying ‘This could be us if I was your intern, but you are playing,’ but she never replied until I found out she was obsessed with [the TV series] ‘Game of Thrones.’” He cleverly Photoshopped her and him together making her one of the main

characters, Khaleesi the queen, and him a slave with the same tagline, “This could be us, but you are playing.” It worked. “I was in my English Literature class and my phone started blowing up,” Murillo said. “She had retweeted and Instagrammed my photo and said to call her office.” Murillo seized the opportunity and immediately sent her an email with his résumé. After a long process, including a 10-hour writing test and several interviews, it was concluded that his talents lay more in the art department than the features department. “[The art department] already had summer interns and kept telling me I needed more experience,” Murillo said. “The first thing I said was that I’m never going back to interning after I graduated; I wanted a real job. But after a month of no luck, I got a call from the art department asking if I wanted to intern. I got hired and interned from August to November.” After the internship, he continued to apply for jobs, but felt discouraged. He ran out of money and went back to Mississippi around the time of his birthday. He thought he didn’t want to go back to New York. “It was my mom who put me back on that plane and encouraged me to come back,” he said. That encouragement landed Murillo back in New York and, after keeping in touch with several of his former supervisors, he learned that Harper’s Bazaar was hiring. In March, after several interviews, his childhood dream finally became a reality. Murillo was officially hired as a photo assistant. Ironically, Emilia Clarke, the actress who plays Khaleesi on “Game of Thrones,” was featured on the cover of the first issue that had his name on it. “It was destiny,” Murillo said. As photo assistant, Murillo’s responsibilities include handling invoices, researching photo shoots, helping with concept ideas, producing

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shoots and interviewing potential new interns. The most time-consuming part of his job is the research portion. He uses Oxford as an example. “[Let’s say] we heard how great Oxford is and want to do a shoot. It’s my responsibility to do full-on research of Oxford and find the best locations and contact info for people and see if the location is available.” He also works closely with the fashion and beauty teams and helps book models, stylists, and photographers, making sure everyone is available for that particular day to work on a shoot. Murillo explained that Harper’s Bazaar is a “high-intensity environment,” but aside from the stress, working there is rewarding. “When an issue comes out, it just feels great that you are producing something of such good quality,” he said. He also points out that unlike other magazine corporations, Harper’s Bazaar has a much smaller staff, which he enjoys. “We are such a small team that you get to work with everyone and get to really know everyone. We are like a family.” When asked how it feels achieving his lifelong dream, Murillo said he considers himself lucky. One piece of advice he gives to people in search of jobs or internships is to stand out and to never give up. “It takes all the little things to be noticed. Kids these days feel entitled. You need to show them why you deserve it.” Thompson said she is not surprised that Murillo has been successful in New York. “Some of his designs were among the best I had ever seen,” she said. “Every semester he was here, he helped the DM get better.” The author is a senior, integrated marketing communications major from Tupelo, Mississippi.


Jesse Phillips By Will Norton, Jr. Photo by Bruce Newman


he first time I saw Jesse Phillips (’54), he had a handful of file folders and was walking briskly toward the Oxford Square from Rebel Press. Alma Stead, a journalism graduate student and a reporter for The Oxford Eagle, was about to introduce me to the clerks at the Oxford Courthouse when she saw Jesse. “That’s Jesse Phillips,” she said. “He’s publisher of the 'Eagle.'” In 1961, Phillips, Nina Goolsby and Walter S. Featherston bought the Eagle. Phillips was the Linotype operator, Goolsby was the bookkeeper and Featherston was the shop foreman. Later, Phillips and his wife, Jeanette, and


Goolsby and her husband, J.C., bought out the Featherston family, and Phillips became publisher. Goolsby became a renowned advertising manager, and the newspaper moved from a weekly to a daily. Jesse Phillips died Feb. 28. He was 84. “Jesse and Jeanette Phillips have provided almost unparalleled leadership to the Ole Miss and Oxford community for nearly a half century,” said Ed Meek, publisher and owner of New Media Lab LLC, which operates His wife survives him. “Jeanette was a great teacher at Ole Miss,” Meek said. “She was founder of the National Food Service Management Institute while Jesse, a journalism graduate at Ole Miss, served as a mentor to many young journalists and

businessmen, including me.” The Oxford Eagle was founded in the last year of the Civil War. The Oxford Falcon, early forerunner of the Eagle, was established by Samuel More Thompson in 1865 with the motto “Truth is a weapon with which we fight.” *** As publisher of The Oxford Eagle for 53 years, Phillips had been an intrepid promoter of the Oxford community. In addition to promoting business growth, Jesse helped facilitate integration of the schools. He was a longtime member of First Baptist Church of Oxford and filled many roles in its leadership. “Jesse probably held every leadership position in the church,” said the Rev. Robert

His career is a testament to the significance of community newspaper publishers in making the towns they serve better places to live and work.” Allen, administrative minister. “He’s been on major building programs, and he and Jeanette started a Sunday school for those at North Mississippi Regional Center more than 40 years ago. He’s been on all our major committees.” *** Although Phillips had retired before Layne Bruce became executive director of the Mississippi Press Association, Bruce described his impact on the entire state. “The newspaper industry and our association family lost a tremendous leader and patriarch with the death of Jesse Phillips,” Bruce said. “His career is a testament to the significance of community newspaper publishers in making the towns they serve better places to live and work.” In fact, the smaller dailies and weeklies in the state did not have much say about the running of the Mississippi Press Association until Phillips became president of MPA. It seemed as though he and Gale Denley, the late director of the Student Media Center at the University of Mississippi, drove to Jackson every week and worked to make the MPA an egalitarian association in which every newspaper, large or small, participated. *** For the last few years, Phillips endured failing health, and during a brief last visit with him, he didn’t speak, but his eyes told of his frustration at not being able communicate in words. He had been a longtime friend of our family, a newspaper partner, a loyal supporter of the Meek School and a model of commitment to doing what is right. During America’s frontier days, Phillips would be called a righteous man, a man of principle. For example, during the late 1970s some of the younger press association board members wanted to have a cash bar to serve alcohol at the summer convention at the Broadwater Resort in Biloxi. After much discussion, a cash bar was approved by one vote. Phillips voted with the minority.

However, on the opening night of the convention, there was no cash bar. The person serving as president of the MPA had decided to override the board vote. Those who had voted for a bar were incensed and, when they learned what had happened, they made a beeline for Phillips. “Jesse, you voted against having a bar, but you know that the majority voted for it, and you know that this is wrong.” Every bone in Phillips’s body was against drinking, but he listened to the protesters. Then he walked over to the president and pulled him aside to discuss the matter. Nobody knows what Phillips said, but his opposition to drinking strengthened his argument that MPA needed to do what its board had agreed to do by a majority vote and, in a few minutes, there was a cash bar at the reception. *** When Danny Phillips, Jesse’s and Jeannette’s oldest son, followed his father years later as president of the Mississippi Press Association, he and his wife, Susan, visited with my wife, also Susan, and me in Lincoln, Nebraska, where I worked for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. As we showed them around the capital of Nebraska, we talked about the future of the newspaper business and Danny’s vision for the Eagle. Both Danny and his brother, Tim, graduated with degrees in journalism from Ole Miss, and I had taught each of them in Advanced Reporting. I was interested in their career objectives. Danny had become a national leader. Danny and Tim seemed destined to follow in their father’s role as community leaders. However, not too long afterward, Danny’s health issues required him to undergo a kidney transplant, and Tim was the donor. During Danny’s days in the hospital, I received regular reports by email from Don Whitten, the editor of the Eagle, and the news seemed positive. Then Danny’s system abruptly rejected the kidney, and he died.

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I was in Nashville for Freedom Forum meetings, and Charles Overby, chairman of the board of the Freedom Forum, asked me to represent the forum at Danny’s funeral. I will never forget the gathering of journalists from newspapers throughout the nation and the long line of family friends who came to the visitation to express their support of the Phillips family, close friends of hundreds of Mississippians. *** Jesse Phillips was a hardworking, nonwhining man of integrity, and it was difficult to watch him slowly constrained by deteriorating health and then forced into solitude. Here was a man who seemed to know everybody and seemed to know how to do so many things, now needing help himself. In recent years we had several long visits, and his mind was as focused and precise as when he was building the Eagle into a strong daily. He was stimulated by the conversation, and he always said he did not want us to leave, but it also was obvious that long visits made him tired. *** When I was returning to Ole Miss in 2009, I wrote him that I did not have a place to stay. I asked if he would consider letting me stay in the old bus station, which he had converted into a downtown apartment. He not only welcomed my staying there, he told me I could stay free. Later, when Susan and I bought our home, I told him I needed to pay him something. He suggested that I make a donation to the scholarship fund that honors Danny. He and Danny were two of a kind — men of principle who were devoted to their hometown. Today, Jesse Phillips is not hurrying to the Square for business. He’s walking leisurely with Danny around the Square of heaven. The author is dean of the Meek School.


By Taylor Alyea Photo by Bruce Newman


he Oxford Eagle is a name known to many residents in the small Southern town of Oxford, Mississippi. Ole Miss alumnus Tim Phillips (’83) has worked at The Oxford Eagle for more than 33 years and is the newspaper’s publisher. At the start of his adolescent years, Phillips began selling papers for the Eagle, and his passion for journalism escalated from there. Growing up in Oxford, Phillips said that no other school or career path ever came into question when he thought about his future as a young adult. After spending years of waking at 4 a.m. at least two days a week to work in the pressroom helping to print newspapers, Phillips enrolled at the University of Mississippi with the intention of getting a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Throughout his years at Ole Miss, Phillips was an active member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity on campus, and he was managing editor of The Daily Mississippian his senior year. Although his father was always his biggest mentor, Phillips also listed Dr. Jere Hoar and Will Norton Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, among those who influenced him most throughout his time at Ole Miss. Hoar, who taught journalism full-time at Ole Miss for 30 years, remembered having Phillips in his classroom. “He was a participating student, he wanted to learn, he was interested,” Hoar said. He was an excellent member of the class.” Hoar and Phillips remain friends today, and Hoar spoke very highly, not only of the work Phillips did as a student, but also of him as a person. “He’s very loyal, and he is very close to his family,” Hoar said. Norton recalled Phillips as a leader. “He influenced other students,” Norton said. “He’s really a lot smarter than he wants you to know. He’s real charming, he can talk to anybody.” Today, Phillips and Norton maintain both a personal and business relationship. “I can not talk to Tim for months at a time, and yet we can continue the conversation just


where we left it,” Norton said. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree, Phillips went straight to full-time work with The Oxford Eagle, and his loyalty to the newspaper has not faltered in the three-plus decades since. Before becoming publisher, Phillips worked in many areas, from delivering newspapers to working on the press. “There isn’t much I haven’t done,” Phillips said. Hoar also mentioned Phillips’ varied experience, and he expressed his support for Phillips as publisher. “He knows how various departments work together and exactly what’s involved in many of the jobs because he’s occupied them,” Hoar said. “He was an excellent choice for publisher.” Working for the same company for more than 30 years can create deep professional roots for anybody. However, for Phillips, his ties to the Eagle amount to more than just business. “From 1983 to 2005, I had the pleasure of working with my dad and my brother,” Phillips said, as he reminisced about their presence around the small office. “There was no greater honor than spending time with them.” The personal connection extended in particular to his brother Dan, who died in 2005. Tim Phillips donated a kidney to his brother, but complications ensued, and Dan did not recover. “I can still hear Dan through the walls,” Phillips said as he looked around the office. The Phillips family not only worked as employees for The Oxford Eagle, but also co-owned the business with the Vasilyev family from 1953 to 2014. In the spring of 2014, they sold the newspaper. However, Tim Phillips was asked to stay on as a consultant. A month later he was promoted to publisher. “It’s rare to find someone with the depth of community newspaper experience Tim has,” said Kevin Cooper, vice president of Boone Newspapers, which manages the newspaper. “He’s truly touched every aspect of the business, including knowing how to physically run the printing press, which is a bit of a rarity among today’s publishers. “Tim worked for years in the shadows of

his father and brother, both of whom had legendary community journalism careers, making it easy for people to understand his talents,” he said. Cooper said Phillips’ leadership in the transition of ownership at the newspaper has been invaluable. Phillips also helped lead the newspaper’s launch of a Sunday edition in 2014. Phillips seems to truly enjoy his occupation. “A day in the life of a publisher is never the same,” he said. “It’s kind of a juggling act. I can be unstopping the toilet, I can be selling papers on the street, I can be on a route, or I can be on the press.” Phillips also notes how the town seems to be changing everyday.

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Tim Phillips “Oxford’s not the same Oxford I grew up in,” he said. The serious growth that the school has seen also has been reflected in the Oxford community. Phillips said that he had never considered leaving Oxford for school or a big-time job, but now things are not quite the same. Although Oxford is his home, he admits to wondering about what life would be like living with his wife and two kids outside of the city limits. The school alone now hosts more than twice the number of students than when Phillips was an undergrad. “When I was here, there was 11 (thousand),” Phillips said. “It’s a good growth,

but it also needs to be controlled where it does not get out of hand.” Phillips is an active member of Vision 2037, an organization focused on keeping the small-town feeling in Oxford, despite the considerable growth. Even after 33 years of success at The Oxford Eagle, Phillips still speaks passionately about his career. “Please, please don’t believe the myth that print journalism is dead,” Phillips said. “The newspaper is the voice of the community; it is the face of the community.” The author graduated in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She is from London, Ontario, Canada.


He has always had that gift of making people feel comfortable and getting them to talk.”

Lee “Scoop” 58 MEEK SCHOOL


Graduate Profiles By Hayley Ramagos and Sydney Patterson


or Lee “Scoop” Ragland (’78), being able to work at The Daily Mississippian was one of best things about attending the University of Mississippi. “'The Daily Mississippian' provided me a unique experience of being a college student, working on a daily deadline and engaging with a cross-section of students,” Ragland said. “Working on 'The Daily Mississippian' definitely prepared me for working in print journalism, which I did for 19 years.” Ragland started in sports at The Clarion-Ledger after graduation. He credits the Ole Miss journalism department with giving him the tools to be a proficient reporter straight out of college — though it was tough, he said. He attended one of Will Norton, Jr.’s first classes during his time at the university. Norton was a new instructor on campus at the time and is now dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “Will Norton taught magazine editing, and his final exam took me seven hours — and I was the first one to leave,” said Ragland. “But you learned in every one of his classes. Don’t even get me started on Advanced Reporting.” Norton reflected on the Ragland he knew from his classes and said his talent for reporting was always there. “Lee was an exceptionally knowledgeable sports reporter when he was in school,” Norton said. “He knew so much behind the scenes in the Southeastern Conference that he understood which angle to take on his stories.” An Oxford native, Ragland got his start in journalism as a teenager working for The Oxford Eagle. That is also when he got his nickname, “Scoop.” “A high school friend gave that to me in 1972 when I was writing for ‘The Oxford Eagle,’” Ragland said. “By the way, I was paid 10 cents an inch and I wrote some long game stories. The name stuck, and everyone still refers to me as Scoop. My full name is Gary Lee Ragland. I joke that if someone calls and asks for Scoop, it is a friend. If someone asks for Lee, it is my mother. If they ask for Gary, it is a telemarketer.” Clarion-Ledger columnist and feature writer Billy Watkins worked with Ragland at both The Daily Mississippian and The Clarion-Ledger. “He got the nickname ‘Scoop’ honestly. He would always chase a story,” Watkins said, referring to their college years. “He knew so many people, even at that age, that he could find sources to talk to him about almost any subject you could name. He has always had that gift of making people feel comfortable and getting them to talk.” Ragland’s career at The Clarion-Ledger led him in 1997 to a new chapter at GodwinGroup, Mississippi’s oldest and largest communications agency. He was hired as a PR manager primarily to write annual reports. In 2003 he was named vice president and director of public relations. Ragland described his transition from news writing to public relations as “interesting.” He said that he quickly learned the

differences between the two and applied his journalism skills to his new field. “As a public relations professional, you have to provide strategic counseling,” Ragland said. “Some of our best work is never seen by the public. But I truly believe a benefit of my journalism background is that I understand what type of stories journalists are looking for and respect their deadlines. I don’t pitch stories that I know aren’t newsworthy. I think a mutual respect exists between journalists and myself.” Some may think of public relations as just spreading business news through the media, but, according to Ragland, times have changed. He maintains that public relations should focus on brand and reputation management in addition to traditional public relations practices such as distributing press releases. He also stresses how important it is to have a target audience and really focus on whom the product or information is addressing. “You have to realize that your audiences receive information and communicate through a variety of platforms,” Ragland said. “There is not a one size that fits all, and it is 24/7 and instantaneous. You help meet clients’ needs by placing them in front of the correct target audience.” GodwinGroup provides services to a variety of clients and, Ragland said, involves itself in issues it believes are important. He is pleased by the response to a project he led for what was then Mississippi Valley Gas. “(The campaign) basically educated audiences on commonsense safety steps to take,” Ragland said. “The campaign won several national awards, but more importantly, customers wrote the company telling them it prevented injuries and saved lives.” Ragland also is proud of the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s “I’m Not Your Mama” campaign, which he headed. The work focused on preventing littering and featured former Mississippi first lady Pat Fordice. “It also won several awards, but what was most gratifying is that we think it helped change behavior,” he said. Ragland has had a long, successful career since he left newspapers. Watkins said he would not have predicted Ragland’s transition out of journalism, but it makes sense. “Honestly, I always thought he would be a reporter and maybe become an editor,” Watkins said. “But then again I’m not surprised he went the agency route. It was another way to work with people, and he always seemed interested in the business world. If he wasn’t going to stay in newspapers, this was a logical fit for him. He’s smart and creative and will go the extra mile for a customer. And I’m not just saying that because he’s a friend. That’s the way he’s always been from the first time I met him.” Hayley Ramagos is a 2016 integrated marketing communications graduate from Winona, Mississippi. Sydney Patterson is a junior, integrated marketing communications major from Alpharetta, Georgia.


Steve Riley By Molly Brosier

Photo by Ethan Hyman


teve Riley (’80), senior editor for investigations at The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, has worked in journalism for more than 35 years. He described his decision to be a journalist as a combination of enjoying sports and watching the Watergate story unfold. “I was in high school during the Watergate scandal, and it gave me ideas that journalism could have impact,” Riley said. “I thought that is what I wanted to do.” Thinking of the time he spent at the university, Riley recounted his memories of being a student in the classroom. “I spent more time than I probably should have at ‘The (Daily) Mississippian’ and a little less time than I should have in the library. I worked almost exclusively at sports during that period. I was the sports editor as a senior. “My most vivid memories are of Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism) embarrassing me on his overhead projector in class,” Riley said. “I still remember in my advanced reporting class, he put a story of mine on the overhead projector and said ‘Geez, Riley, what is this…?’ Will had very high standards and, while embarrassing me, he explained to me that I could be better." Norton described Riley as conscientious. “He spent most of his awake hours at ‘The Daily Mississippian,’ and he did some great stories,” Norton said. “He is really an outstanding journalist. He is one of many who were here in the ’70s and ’80s who have made a difference in their communities, and that is what makes Ole Miss such a great place to be.” After graduation Riley did not hesitate to start his career. He was, and very much still is, immersed in his work. “I landed at the Sun Herald in Gulfport (Mississippi) for my first news job covering City Hall and doing other general assignments,” Riley said. “My first and closest editor there was Mike


Tonos, who is teaching (at Ole Miss) now. Mike really helped me understand some of the critical parts of putting together stories. They didn’t have a big staff, so I got to do a lot of different things covering a pretty active and chaotic city hall in Biloxi. I remember my first assignment was going to an exhibit that was assembled by a guy who used to be in Elvis Presley’s band. He had some of the property from Elvis’ wife there, and we had fun with that story.” “Steve was the kind of reporter who editors dreamed of having,” Tonos said. “He was a self-starter, took a lot of initiative, and he came to us as a good writer and had a lot of things we were looking for: curiosity and a presence in the newsroom, even as one of the newer reporters.” Riley covered a variety of stories, from the Legislature and politics to aliens and UFO abductions. “I interviewed Charlie Hickson down in Pascagoula, who claimed he had been abducted by UFOs,” Riley said. “They sent me down there to see Charlie on the anniversary of the abduction, and he claimed then that he had further abductions and had all sorts of other contact with the aliens. It turned into quite a story, and we had a lot of fun with it.” Riley’s next position was with the state’s largest paper, The Clarion-Ledger. “Charles Overby hired me to open ‘The Clarion-Ledger’s’ first Gulf Coast bureau,” Riley said. “So I stayed on the coast and that was a really active time for political corruption and nefarious behavior. I was a one-man band, so whatever was happening was my story, which unfortunately ranged from a jail down in Biloxi that killed 29 inmates, to a television preacher who was arrested for drug

I was in high school during the Watergate scandal, and it gave me ideas that journalism could have impact.” smuggling, to a sheriff who was arrested for drug smuggling in a FBI sting. I was bouncing from one good story to the next, and it was a really lively time down there.” As a journalist, moving from place to place became second nature to Riley. He started in Tupelo, then moved to the Mississippi coast, then to the capital city of Jackson and, finally, to North Carolina. “I lived in Gulfport and then Ocean Springs. So I was all over the coast having fun,” Riley said. “Then Charles asked me in ’84 to come up to Jackson to cover state government politics. I was 25 at the time in the capital bureau covering the Legislature and state government. ‘The Clarion-Ledger’ had a very big and talented staff at the time, and it was a great time to be there. It was shortly after they had won a Pulitzer on the education series.” He continued, “I got married while on the coast, and Liz and I moved to Jackson and stayed two-and-a-half more years, then the moving stopped once we came to Raleigh in ’86. I went to work for 'The News & Observer' and have been here ever since. I have had a lot of different jobs, but I have been with the same paper. It will be 30 years in July.” Orage Quarles, president and publisher of The News & Observer, called Riley, “one of the best editors I’ve ever worked with. Patient, persistent and professional. His reporters enjoy working with him.” Although many say that newspapers are dwindling, Riley is proud to say that The News & Observer is thriving. “‘The News & Observer,’ through all the difficulty and the chaos over the last few years, has actually added to its investigative staff,” Riley said. “It speaks really well of the paper’s commitment to shining a light in places where otherwise nobody would. That has evolved in my 35 years of being in the business, and ‘The News & Observer’ has helped differentiate us from other people in the news business around here.” Riley further explained the work he and other staff members of The News & Observer are doing. “We have taken on politicians and bureaucrats of all political stripes and have taken on community institutions such as nonprofit hospitals. One of the guys that I supervise on our investigative team has broken every story of note on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scandal. “They (the university) were basically running a system of bogus classes that athletes didn’t have to show up for in order to help keep them eligible for basketball and football in particular, but also women’s basketball and women’s soccer were taking advantage of it. That’s my long way of telling you, if it hadn’t been for ‘The News & Observer,’ that story would have never been told. If you are wondering what gets me up in the morning

Graduate Profiles

and what makes me want to go fight the battles every day, it’s that kind of story.” John Drescher, Riley’s current boss, said Riley “is the best at handling the biggest, most difficult, most sensitive stories and has great news judgment. Steve is one of the best, if not the best, investigative editor in the country.” When asked what has changed in the journalism field, Riley laughed and said, “What has not changed in the journalism field since I’ve been here? I started typing on an IBM Selectric, and now I wouldn’t know how to think properly to use a typewriter. We have all this potential, and people can read us from anywhere now. They use to only be able to read us from a section the size of a third of North Carolina. Now they can pick up our work from anywhere, literally, in the world. That is what has changed, and the pressure and the demand to communicate what we know far more quickly and far more regularly.” The advice Riley gives to students who are entering the journalism world is: “You’ve got to know what makes a really good news story, how to construct a really good news story, where to find the records and documents that can help you to construct a really good news story, where to find the people who can help explain that news story. And it’s got to be delivered in ways that I am not competent in and in some ways I suppose that none of us have conceived yet. But, people are going to need to know what is happening in their communities, and in their state, in their region and in their country. I am somewhat pessimistic on the short-term prospects, but the long term, I’m pretty optimistic that there is going to be a market for properly delivered news and analysis.” Work that Riley has led and edited has won several awards, including the National Headliner and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel when he was a reporter; the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers; the Barlett and Steele Award for Business Investigative Reporting (bronze); the Michael Kelly Award; the Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting; the American News Editors prize for local reporting; and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards Grand Prize when he was an editor. Also, two stories he supervised have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Riley and his wife Liz, a Raleigh attorney, have two daughters, Sara and Kate, and a “spoiled” black Labrador named Archie. The author graduated in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing communications.


By Blake Alsup


hen Wilson Stribling (’94), a news anchor/ reporter for WLBT in Jackson, enrolled at Ole Miss in 1992, he had no idea he would discover his passion. He was a summer school student, working toward a degree in marketing at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “My parents lived in Oxford, so it made sense to spend part of my summer in class to keep up and knock out some credits toward my degree at SMU,” Stribling said. “One day I picked up a copy of ‘The Daily Mississippian’ that someone had left on a desk. Inside, there was an ad for anchor tryouts at ‘Newscene 12,’ as the campus newscast was then called. I had always been interested in TV news, and the ad said you didn’t have to be a journalism student, so I went to try out.” During that time, Stribling got handson experience and discovered his love for broadcasting. “The student who was running the station that summer, Jennifer Green, ‘hired’ me to come and anchor the 15-minute newscast twice a week,” Stribling said. “My first newscast was with Sharyn Alfonsi, who already had a lot of practice by then. She and Jennifer helped me along, and I got hooked. I eventually learned just about everything from them and the other students who made that newscast happen every day.” Sharyn Alfonsi, a CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent and Ole Miss alumna, remembers working with Stribling on the campus newscast. “He was a transfer student and walked in, and started anchoring as if he had been doing it his entire life,” Alfonsi said. “I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ He was so good it was maddening. I soon realized his talent was God-given, but also the result of the fact that he is a true student of journalism.” After the summer of 1992, he attended SMU for one more semester before transferring to Ole Miss as a full-time student. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Stribling said that Ole Miss really helped to prepare him for his career. “When I was at Ole Miss, it was one of only a handful of schools with a daily, live, student-produced newscast,” Stribling said. “That was invaluable in


Stribling reports from the Square in 1993 for "Newscene 12." Fellow journalism student Bob Waters is behind the camera. preparing me for what a real job would require. At most other schools, an internship was the closest students could get.” Alfonsi said Stribling may have recorded network broadcasts on a VCR. “I believe he had a library of tapes," she said. “We always tried to emulate the networks. Generally, horribly. We pulled cables out the window of Farley Hall to do ‘live shots’ .... we were so happy with it. It was basically put together with Scotch tape. “Wilson also held wonderful dinner parties at his parents’ house in Oxford,” Alfonsi

said. “Beautiful, seated dinners. We were used to hanging out at the Exxon eating chicken fingers, so we thought he was super-sophisticated. They were wonderful, memorable nights. Some of the best. He’s always been a class act.” Before his current position, Stribling worked for news stations in Texas and Ohio. Finally, he decided that he wanted to move back to Mississippi. “I took my résumé tape to all three stations in Jackson,” Stribling said. “The news director at WJTV sent me a rejection letter, and the one at WAPT did not respond. Dennis

Stribling poses with "Newscene 12" co-anchor Sharyn Alfonsi.


Photo courtesy of WLBT


Wilson Stribling Smith, then the longtime news director at WLBT, called and hired me almost immediately. That was in January 1998, and I’ve been here ever since.” Stribling began as a morning news anchor at WLBT. Ten years later, he transitioned into management as an assistant news director and then as news director, overseeing the news department’s expansion to the Fox affiliate in Jackson. In 2014, he returned to the morning anchor desk. He currently anchors two hours of news on WLBT, then two more hours on WDBD-Fox 40 along with the noon newscast on WLBT. “Wilson Stribling did what very few other Ole Miss graduates do — he moved home after graduation and began work,” said Ralph Braseth, clinical professor and student media manager at Loyola University Chicago. “Stribling’s career is remarkable and, perhaps most important, he’s had the unusual and high privilege of serving Mississippi as an exceptional reporter and anchor. I couldn’t be prouder of an Ole Miss Rebel.” Since being hired in 1998, Stribling has covered many big news stories, but

the biggest perhaps, was his coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “The most significant story I’ve covered was Hurricane Katrina,” Stribling said. “At first, no one really knew how bad it was in Mississippi, except for those who were down on the coast. Even the reporters in the midst of it had a hard time showing the magnitude of the destruction. “One the day after the storm, we at WLBT sent our helicopter to fly the coast and shoot as much video as they could get. As soon as they were within transmitting range of Jackson, the news director put me on the air to break into regular programming to show everyone what the chopper crew had found. We were all dumbfounded as pilot Coyt Bailey calmly described the horror we were witnessing on live TV. The folks up at NBC in New York were also watching, and they ended up using much of that video on that evening’s edition of ‘NBC Nightly News.’” Ole Miss had a huge impact on Stribling’s life by allowing him to gain experience in the field of broadcasting even before graduating. “I have been interested in TV news for

as long as I can remember, but not until I actually sat in front of a camera at Ole Miss did I believe I could pursue it professionally,” Stribling said. “The experience at the campus station and the reaction I got from my peers encouraged me to give it a shot.” Stribling has a few words of advice for current Ole Miss journalism students. “Write, write, write. The best writers tell the best stories, even if they never get a chance to write them down,” Stribling said. “Journalists have to think on their feet, and you can’t compose your thoughts well enough to tell a good story if you don’t have a strong foundation in writing. Words can be powerful agents for change, and it’s a journalist’s responsibility to use them wisely. The best reporters have a strong foundation in good writing.” The author is a senior, integrated marketing communications major from Ripley, Mississippi.


RobWaters At home in Zimbabwe, Waters nurtures beneficial relations between wildlife and people.

By Lana Ferguson Photos by Lana Ferguson and Charlie Mitchell


ob Waters (’84) loves cherry pie. He said he ate plenty during his year at Ole Miss and hasn’t had any to match since. He says the cherries in his native Zimbabwe just aren’t the same. Waters is a slender man with thin-rimmed glasses, a baseball cap, and a love for his homeland. He remains even-tempered at all times, barely speaking above the volume of a whisper, but when he does speak he draws people in. He grew up surrounded by nature, and although he likes to leave every so often, he always returns home. Waters, 54, graduated from the University of Zimbabwe in 1983 with an English degree. During his final year as an undergrad, he began looking toward the future. He knew he didn’t want to be a teacher, and so he pondered other options. “What do you do with an English degree if you’re not going to teach? I obviously thought about journalism,” Waters said. “It uses my love of English and I would be able to write creatively.” He took pen to paper and wrote letters to universities across the

world, including England, Canada and a “heap” in the United States. “America in that stage was way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of formal academic training in journalism,” Waters explained. Ole Miss was the first to respond to Waters’s letter with a financial offer. He said that was the key to his travel to the U.S. As an English major, Waters had read all of William Faulkner’s novels. Before arriving in Oxford, home of the Nobel Prizewinning author, he already had a complete picture painted in his head. And when he arrived, every detail came to life. Waters said he loved Southern culture — the food, the land, the literary tradition and the architecture. The typical culture shock that strikes anyone visiting Oxford who didn’t grow up in Mississippi, especially involving race relations, never hit Waters. He said he chose to take on the role of an observer during his 1983-84 academic year in Mississippi. “I didn’t really judge it at all. I didn’t think, ‘Is it good? Is it bad?

Have they moved forward from 100 years ago? Are they moving backwards?’” To him, Zimbabwe and Mississippi aren’t that different. The African nation, formerly Rhodesia, bore the name of British empire-builder Cecil Rhodes until 1979 and the indigenous blacks were regarded as a servant class, much as AfricanAmericans were in the United States until changes began with the civil rights movement. “If I had come from Britain, I might have found it a bit heavy,” Waters said. “But coming from Africa, I was already well-versed in all of the racial interaction issues and how we deal with each other as races. Some good, some bad.” As it has emerged, Zimbabwe has had periods of great progress as well as great turmoil. The combination of growing up in a country with racial tensions and reading heavily in Faulkner made everything click in Waters’s mind. “In some ways, and I can’t be specific here, but the gut feel

is that the Deep South was ahead of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe; Zimbabwe/Rhodesia was in those days and in some ways actually behind,” Waters reflected. “There’s always this (situation of ) how the races are dealing with each other and dealing with the challenges they give each other, and the opportunities they deny each other just by their numbers.” Waters added that if he had enrolled in a college in New York or Los Angeles it might’ve made him crazy, but to be in America, Mississippi was the right fit. After a few introductory journalism courses to gain basic skills and hours upon hours dedicated to graduate classes, Waters graduated from Ole Miss with a master’s degree in journalism. And he faced the same issue he had faced just a couple of years before: He had a new degree, yet not the faintest idea of what to do with it. Journalism as a career path would have been denied to Waters in Zimbabwe for multiple reasons, including the difference between the free-press American journalism he had studied at

Ole Miss and the closely watched, government-owned media in Zimbabwe. Even though he was uncertain about everything else, he knew one thing for sure. He knew he wanted to go home. “I already knew nearly 100 percent that I wanted to spend my life (in Zimbabwe),” Waters said. “It was my home and it’s still my home. I still completely feel the same way. This is a place where I hope to spread my ashes or bury my bones, whatever the case may be.” After touring through Britain and passing through Australia as pit stops, Waters returned to Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in the southeast portion of Africa. He applied for jobs and was even short-listed for one in commerce. It was a good job, but it wasn’t what he wanted to do the rest of his life. Fate lent a hand and Waters stumbled across an advertisement in a local newspaper. A young safari guide was needed, and no experience was necessary. Waters fit the bill perfectly. “I applied and was given a job, so my first salary-paid job was actually as a safari guide. Hallelujah,” Waters said. “What a privilege it was to be a guide and to be out in the bush, as we call it. I was outdoors and enjoying my life.” The job was in Hwange National Park, where he still spends a lot of time. He learned mostly from on-the-job training and interacting with the other guides, especially his boss. He went to work wanting to learn more and absorbed everything he could. Waters has always been fascinated with wildlife; it’s a huge part of who he is.

Born in Bulawayo but raised and educated in Salisbury, the capital of Rhodesia — now known as Harare, capital of Zimbabwe — Waters’s home was in a rural, scenic area. He was coming of age at the end of an era in his country, but is conscious that he had a privileged childhood and upbringing. Waters lights up when he talks about his childhood, especially in school. School was where the teachers cared about him and were heavily involved with the students, “filling their lives up with opportunities indoors and outdoors.” Indoors, Waters was a writer with a talent in English, but outdoors he was a wildlife guide in training. As soon as he was old enough, he read all sorts of wildlife magazines and shared a pastime of reading books about birds or trees or flowers with his mother. “It’s something that’s in your system,” Waters said. “I think growing up in that outdoorsy, rural environment sparked something in me.” The spark is still burning after more than a decade in nonhunting safari operations, although he is careful to point out that ethical hunting camps are important to wildlife management and preservation, too. Waters has also had work experience in hotel management, as an inbound tour operator, and in venues of public relations and journalism. Now he is the operations and projects manager for Imvelo Safari Lodges. Imvelo’s slogan is “connecting people with nature” and aims to boost tourism in Zimbabwe through photographic safaris. Several of its small, luxury lodges are in Hwange, where animals roam free and hunting is forbidden. Waters believes the development of tourism is critical to the survival of wild areas. He said the tourism industry in Zimbabwe hit a major peak in the late 1990s after Nelson Mandela came to power in next-door South Africa, attracting international visitors. He hopes Zimbabwe tourism will grow and expand once more. “It’s a hard sale to sell Zimbabwe in America right now, but it’s not as bad as it used to be,” Waters said. “Attitudes are changing and we really are in an interesting situation right now where the future could be very, very bright very, very soon.” The author is a junior, print journalism major from Mechanicsville, Virginia.

Waters, right, talks with Assistant Professor Mikki Harris as the moon rises behind a termite mound in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Harris led students on a photo expedition to explore the relationships between the people of the region and the abundant wildlife.

Waters joins Ole Miss students on a photo safari in Hwange National Park, where he was once a guide.

Photos by Charlie Mitchell

Waters introduces Ole Miss students to Johnson Ncube, center, head man of the village, and his wife, Dorothy. They explained local culture as well as the relationship of the 1,000 subsistence farmers and their families with the wild animals in an adjacent national park in central Zimbabwe.

Waters, left, relaxes with the manager of Camelthorn, one of several Imvelo Safari Lodges. Waters is an executive for the company that promotes tourism as as tool to protect wildlife and help the people in his homeland, Zimbabwe. The resort is named for the giant camelthorn tree in the photo.

Days at Imvelo Safari Lodges begin and end at the fire pit, with tea and conversation.



Cobbert Meek School Junior

Dora Nickey, a well-known dressmaker, sews outside of the Choctaw cultural center in Choctaw, Mississippi, on March 15, 2016. Nickey is in her 80s and speaks only her native Choctaw language, but she knows the word “dress� in English.

Katrin McMillan, an 11th-grader at Choctaw Central High School in Choctaw, Mississippi, practices her flag routine March 17, 2016.

student photography

Roger Stolle, owner of Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and also the creator of the Juke Joint Festival, checks the register before attending the festival with friends and family.


Robinson Meek School senior

Amanda Maner and Mallory Robinson enjoy the waves during a Spring Break trip to Panama City, Florida.


faculty highlights

By Elizabeth Blackstock Photo by Alex Edwards



he humble product of a red brick house on a big yard in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Charlie Mitchell stood out early in life. “My father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, a brother-in-law, a stepbrother, two uncles, and probably a bunch of others are all medical doctors,” Mitchell said. “And I’m a lawyer.” Although he said he was not always the most popular person at Thanksgiving dinner, Mitchell’s family never pressured him or his siblings to follow in any footsteps. “Our parents never wanted anything for us but happiness,” he said. For Mitchell, the search for happiness led him to a bachelor’s degree in communication from Mississippi State University in 1975. Similarly, Mitchell cares about the happiness of his children. “My wife and daughters have supported me in everything I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve tried to support them in everything they’ve wanted to do,” he said. “You get great satisfaction at my age from seeing that your children are happy in their lives. That’s the greatest happiness you can have as a parent, to have happy children.” He finds comparable happiness in watching his students at the University of Mississippi. “I like the students,” he said. “I like being around people who are energized about life.” This feeling is amplified on graduation day. “I love graduation day more than anything. You get to see people who are very pleased with themselves and see some manifestation of the work they’ve put in over the last four years or so.” Some people argue that graduation day is just about receiving a piece of paper. Mitchell sees it as so much more. “People who want to diminish its importance would say that it’s just a piece of paper. But it is really a culmination and the beginning of the next really important part of students’ lives.” Leading students to that point is something Mitchell got a taste for many years ago. After working as a reporter and photographer for the Vicksburg Post from 1975 to 1983, he enrolled in law school at the


Charlie University of Mississippi, where he was given an opportunity to teach. “I had a dose of teaching early on,” Mitchell says. “I taught here as an instructor for a couple of years before I went back into the industry. I liked it and I always felt that eventually I would come back.” In 1986, Mitchell earned his juris doctor degree. He returned to the Vicksburg Post for several years, working as managing editor and as executive editor. In August 2010, he transitioned back into the University of Mississippi faculty as assistant dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Layne Bruce, executive director of the Mississippi Press Association, said that seeing Mitchell leave the Vicksburg Post was bittersweet. However, Bruce was encouraged by the fact that Mitchell was moving on to a position at the university. “I was very happy that when he left Vicksburg, it was to join the new Meek School,” Bruce said. “I knew print journalism would have a strong advocate there in Charlie.” Mitchell was promoted to associate dean in July 2016. Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School, has been with the university during Mitchell’s multiple roles. “I completely trust Associate Dean Mitchell, no matter how big the project or how minute the detail,” Norton said. In addition to serving as associate dean, Mitchell teaches classes and writes an award-winning newspaper column. “Conversation,” featured in newspapers around the state, discusses issues of public policy ranging from education to Medicare reform. While writing this column, Mitchell has learned lessons about being aware of priorities. “We may live in the moment, but while we are living in the moment, we are creating ripples that will last,” he said. “I think that is especially true as a columnist, as a media practitioner, as a news reporter.” According to Mitchell, it is important to know what effect you may have on others, or to at least know that you will have some effect, even if the specifics are a mystery at the time. “I have no idea once I put it out there what effect it’s going have or when it’s going to have it,” he said. “But every once in a

while, I’ll hear from somebody who says, ‘I read what you wrote about such-and-so and it caused me to think about this.’ That’s what you want to have in life — a conversation. An ongoing conversation where people are thinking about the challenges they face, where people are thinking about the public issues. As that happens, you hope society improves.” In all of Mitchell’s endeavors — as an associate dean, a professor, a parent, a writer and more — it is clear that he cares about his work and those it touches. Although his success can be attributed to that trait, he is much more humble about his accomplishments. “Not to overuse the word, but I think that I’ve been blessed in so many ways that I’ll never be able to think about even starting

to count,” Mitchell said. “I’ve had good colleagues everywhere I’ve been and good bosses everywhere I’ve been. I’ve had good friends everywhere I’ve been. I’ve always had work that I’ve enjoyed.” He turned and looked out his office window, down Sorority Row. “Nobody can say that there aren’t mornings when you wake up and say ‘I just don’t want to do it today,’” he said wistfully, “but overall I can’t imagine a different path that would have been more fun, more fulfilling, or more challenging.” The author is a sophomore, integrated marketing communications major from Marietta, Georgia.


faculty highlights

Kristen Alley Swain Photo by Mark K. Dolan


hen Kristen Alley Swain first enrolled at the University of Mississippi, her field of study was biochemistry. She had loved doing science fair projects in high school and wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father, State Chemist Earl Alley, at Mississippi State University. After a couple years in pre-med, however, she was pretty sure she didn’t want to be a doctor. Then a new program in the journalism department, Samir Husni’s magazine program, piqued her curiosity. Even though she had already taken intensive science


courses, she was excited to start communicating about the things she had learned about science. Husni helped her land an editorial internship in the building and remodeling department at Better Homes and Gardens magazine in Des Moines, Iowa, and she later interned as a writer for Southern Living magazine’s travel department in Birmingham, Alabama. She also served as a reporter for The Daily Mississippian and The Oxford Eagle while at Ole Miss. After graduating from UM, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo hired her as a reporter; then, after two years, she was named senior reporter at the Tuscaloosa News. One of

her trusted sources, neighborhood association representative and journalism professor DeeDee Riffe, lured her into teaching writing courses at the University of Alabama journalism school. She went on to receive a master’s in journalism there, then a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Florida. Swain fondly recalls serving as a managing editor and instructor for the world’s first online campus newspaper, SUN.One, in Gainesville, Florida. “The readers had to use floppy disks to log on, and dial-up was painfully slow,” she said. “But it was the first time those residents got to read local news on their computers. Then a couple years later, along came the internet like a tidal wave.” Her dissertation identified innovative ways to promote AIDS prevention through black churches. She plans to apply for a grant for a follow-up project in the Mississippi Delta, to find out what has changed during the last two decades. She then wants to draw on both studies to write a book about overcoming barriers to HIV prevention in high-risk African-American communities. After leaving UF, she went on to teach in science journalism programs at Texas A&M University and the University of Kansas. She also taught health communication at the University of Arkansas Medical School and directed a science journalism center at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg. While at USF, she was an investigator on a multi-university NIH grant that prepared different kinds of communities for bioterrorism threats. She then led a second NIH grant about how the news media framed the anthrax attacks. Today, Swain is an associate professor in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. She teaches news reporting, integrated marketing communication writing courses, media ethics, health communication, and communication theory and research methods. Swain also is passionate about sustainability issues, and lives in an experimental, passive solar house her architect husband Brent designed for them and their two children, Madeline and Gabriel. She received the university’s first Sustainability Leadership Award in 2010. Over the last six years, she has coordinated student production of more than 300 sustainability videos for and serves as the UM coordinator for the international Planet Forward University Consortium. At Ole Miss, Swain won a teaching grant to develop a local social media sustainability campaign and a second teaching grant to develop a new health communication course and a set of explanatory writing assignments for three core journalism writing courses in the Meek School. “No matter what environmental, science or health topics they choose to write about, journalism students should be able to effectively explain ideas, concepts and numbers about things they are unfamiliar with — and people in the sciences should be able to explain their work in language the public can understand,” Swain said. “Both sides have a responsibility to help bring their two worlds together, because many Americans don’t understand how science is ultimately a life-and-death story that permeates every aspect of our society,” she said. Swain said health communication is her favorite course because she helps students apply their journalism and IMC skills to

in-depth, community health campaign design and explanatory multimedia stories about complex medical and science issues. “It also gives me the chance to introduce students to our sister field of public health and the numerous exciting career opportunities it offers,” she said. In her other writing classes, Swain enjoys using social media for sharing and service learning activities. For instance, her IMC students develop creative campaigns for local businesses and organizations. She said that she is seeing more IMC students who are entrepreneurial or want to be, and who are using her class to build their own businesses. Risk communication, especially risk framing in the news, is the central focus of Swain’s research. Her grant projects have examined health communication campaigns, crisis communication about bioterrorism and transportation toxic spills, and environmental justice. During the last three years, she has served as the sole investigator on research grants totaling $133,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The first project explored how transportation companies respond to serious toxic spills through social media and the news media. “I was shocked to discover that only 3 percent of the 5,555 most serious spills in a decade received any news coverage, and none of the transportation companies involved communicated anything directly through social media,” she said. “The ‘invisible’ accidents included fatalities, explosions, poison gas, radioactive waste, and other localized threats the public never heard about.” She is completing a second grant, a national survey of journalists and transportation officials, to identify reasons for this extreme dearth of coverage. “She is making a difference in her scholarship on media and science and in her work with Planet Forward,” said Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “It is encouraging to have a professor who is intrepid in pursuing grants. She has been a bridge for the Meek School with the research efforts of the sciences.” Norton also was a professor of Swain’s, and he recalled her being a hardworking student with life ambitions that she worked diligently to achieve. Swain also serves as assessment coordinator for the Meek School. Swain facilitates evaluations by university and international accreditors by gathering and distilling data on what students are learning in Meek School classes. Assistant Dean Charlie Mitchell works closely with Swain on outcome assessments. “The most important aspect of this essential work is that it allows faculty to ‘assess’ strengths and weaknesses in the instructional program and make needed adjustments,” Mitchell said. In reflecting on all her efforts, Swain said, “Years from now, I want to be able to look back and see that my work has made a real impact – not just on the public’s understanding of science, but also an enduring impact on the lives of my family, students and colleagues.” Marlen Polito contributed to this story. Polito is an integrated marketing communications graduate student from Green River, Utah.


faculty highlights



By Hayley Ramagos Photo by Ji Hoon Heo


ssociate Professor Debora Wenger faces the dynamic environment of journalism with an enthusiastic energy. She not only embraces this new world, she spearheads it with her design of curriculum and educational writing. “My husband calls me a change junkie,” Wenger said. “He says that if there isn’t change going on, I manufacture it.” Part of her excitement for change comes from her love of learning. Wenger said the best thing about being in higher education is that she constantly learns new things. “I worked in television, and now I get to think about television,” Wenger said. “When you’re working, you’re getting the job done — you rely on instinct and reflex. Now I get to think about ‘what made this story powerful?’” While getting an English degree with a minor in mass communications at Minnesota State University, Wenger was involved in newswriting and broadcast reporting. She planned to go to law school after she graduated, but instead she got her first job in broadcast television. Wenger later went on to obtain a Master of Arts in English language and literature/letters from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in 1995. She continued her career as an executive producer for WSOC-TV in Charlotte, and her last job in the industry was assistant news director for WFLA-TV in the Tampa, Florida, area. Now Wenger is a broadcast and multimedia educator and the head of the undergraduate journalism department at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. She began teaching as an assistant professor of new media at Virginia Commonwealth University, and then made her way to Mississippi after her husband was hired in the School of Accountancy.

At the University of Mississippi, she teaches a broad range of classes from freshman Journalism 101 to the capstone course. Wenger said she enjoys having a range of courses and that it keeps her grounded in understanding what the students of her department need. Wenger, a veteran of the media industry, brings first-hand knowledge into her classrooms. Kelly Savage, a senior student of the Meek School who took Wenger’s Media Management course and sees Wenger for advising, said she is thankful to have a mentor and professor who is helpful and patient. “She is extremely knowledgeable about new approaches within media and has demonstrated her ability to possess years of experience and knowledge that is still relevant to broadcast and print media today,” Savage said. The Media Management course is technology-based, with many of the assignments being mock Facebook posts and things pertaining to social media, as well as required interviews with media managers who are directly involved in today’s market challenges. She appreciates that Wenger structures her course that way because it prepares students for a career in the field. Not only does Wenger educate those students who take her classes, she has input into classrooms throughout the nation. To help her in teaching, Wenger co-authored a textbook, Advancing the Story: Broadcast Journalism in a Multimedia World. It is now in its third edition and has been adopted in about 150 universities. “‘Advancing the Story’ is a direct result of the teaching that I was doing,” Wenger said. “At least on the broadcast side, there wasn’t a book at the time that truly looked at the multi-platform role that broadcast was playing.” As head of the journalism department,

Wenger encourages faculty members to infuse the latest practices of the media industry into their classes. Today, almost all of the courses offered at the Meek School incorporate social media, she said, and faculty now include mobile devices in the curriculum. Most recently, Wenger has added audience analytics to her curriculum. This new way of knowing the audience, powered by data gathered from systems such as Google Analytics, is the framework for her newest coauthored publication, Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First. “The amount of instant feedback that we get from our audience has never been greater,” Wenger said. “You get into kind of a controversy in the world of journalism when you say that you are going to let audience data drive your decisions. My view is I think we can use what we learn about our audience to tell important stories better.” Even though this approach may be controversial, it is just another way Wenger stays on top of current practices in media. Scott Fiene, head of the Meek School’s integrated marketing communications program, said that Wenger is not afraid to share her opinions. He described her as resilient. “She always pushes forward and makes things happen even if they hit snags,” Fiene said. Wenger, who expects to have her Ph.D. in journalism completed in the next year, continues the conversation on mass media’s new approaches and techniques on her blog, She hopes that above all, her students maintain an enthusiasm for learning what’s next and new, and that they use their knowledge and understanding as a tool to tell better stories. The author is an IMC graduate (’16) of the Meek School. She is from Winona, Mississippi.


faculty highlights

By Anna McCollum Photo by Ji Hoon Heo


urtis Wilkie (’63) wouldn’t trade his career in journalism for anything. The past 50 years are more valuable to him than any amount of money in the bank. He always knew it was what he wanted to do. When he was in the third grade in the late 1940s, Wilkie lived on the campus of Southwest Mississippi Community College with his mother, who was an instructor there. With her constant encouragement to pursue his interest in writing, Wilkie created his own newspaper, which he named The Southwest Times. “I enjoyed writing,” Wilkie said. “But it was also reporting, finding out information. And as I later learned in journalism, it enables you to become a ringside spectator in very interesting events, whether they’re in your hometown and you’re writing for a small paper, or, if you get on a bigger scale, you are able to see history develop before your very eyes.” There was no doubt, then, what Wilkie would do in college nearly a decade later. He came to Ole Miss in 1958, where he stayed for four-and-a-half years getting his journalism degree. Ironically, he failed a feature writing class — one he now teaches 50 years later. His extra semester meant that Wilkie was on campus for the 1962 Ole Miss riot, the first of many groundbreaking moments in history that he would witness. Soon after graduation, Wilkie got a job with the Clarksdale Press Register. Coincidentally, the civil rights movement was picking up steam in the Mississippi Delta at the time, and fresh out of college, Wilkie found himself plunged into major drama and nationally newsworthy stories. “That became, and still is, a frame of


Curtis Wilkie

reference for my life and my work,” Wilkie said. “I think, in many ways, it was the most important period in the 20th century in America. It completely changed the landscape, certainly in the South. I consider myself very, very fortunate that I was there, albeit I was working for a very small, insignificant paper, but I was covering very significant events.” Wilkie worked in Clarksdale for six years before moving to Washington, D.C., for a congressional fellowship given to him by the American Political Science Association. Then, after two years in the capital city, Wilkie got a job with The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, where he served as both a reporter and an editor. “It was an independent paper with a lot of money,” Wilkie said. “And in ’72 they turned me loose to cover the presidential campaign. I think we were the smallest paper covering it.” But only three years later, after Wilkie and several other staff quit the Journal, he was hired by one of the largest papers in the United States: The Boston Globe. Within a year, they had assigned the Southern journalist to cover the presidential campaign of a certain Southern candidate: Jimmy Carter. For Wilkie, the timing couldn’t have been better. “I was in the process of getting a divorce, and I literally did not have a home,” Wilkie said. “So it was very fortuitous that I lived in hotels for about a year, compliments of the ‘Globe.’” At one point, a hotel room in Americus, Georgia, (about 10 miles from Carter’s hometown of Plains), became Wilkie’s mailing address. Living with and around Carter and his family throughout the campaign, Wilkie got to know them well. A photograph hangs in

Wilkie’s office of him and the soon-to-be president playing softball together. “That’s one of the great things about journalism,” Wilkie said. “You get to meet — and in some instances, know — some very interesting people. When Carter was elected, I said, ‘Jesus, I can’t believe that not only am I going to know the president of the United States, but he’s going to know me.’ It’s kind of a crazy thing to think about, but as a result, I got to know and had a good, professional relationship with every president from that time, with the exception of [Ronald] Reagan.” After Carter’s election, Wilkie became a member of the Globe’s Washington bureau. He served as White House correspondent from 1977-1982, covering all four years of Carter’s presidency and two of Reagan’s. Then, a growing unrest in the Middle East made the Globe rethink their plans for Wilkie. “They basically had decided, without telling me, that they were going to turn me into a foreign correspondent,” he said. “I was going overseas a lot on presidential trips, but the idea of becoming someone who lived overseas had never really occurred to me.” An unexpected and abrupt assignment in Jerusalem marked the beginning of Wilkie’s time in the Middle East. After war broke out in Lebanon and he was sent on many more weeks-long assignments overseas, it became clearer to Wilkie that the Globe intended for him to be there, and he had no reservations. “I’d always wanted to cover a war,” he said. “I didn’t cover Vietnam, and I felt that I had missed something.” In 1984, the Globe had Wilkie establish a Middle East bureau in Jerusalem, and the native Mississippian wound up living in Jerusalem for four years. While there, Wilkie

enjoyed submersion into a new culture and invited his three children to spend their summers with him in Jerusalem, an experience he thinks benefited them all. “You have to make adjustments, which is a challenge as a journalist, but one that I enjoyed.” That time in the Middle East, as well as covering eight presidential campaigns, are highlights, according to Wilkie. “I treasure my years in the Middle East.” But in 1993, Wilkie was ready to settle down a bit. “That’s when I convinced them to let me go to New Orleans,” he said. That year, he established the Globe’s Southern bureau and worked until 2000, when he retired. He began spending time in Oxford, reconnecting with old friends and attending football games. It wasn’t long before he was offered a teaching position on the Ole Miss journalism faculty.

“I thought, ‘Why not?’” Wilkie said. “I don’t play golf, so what else would I do in retirement?” Wilkie was still teaching five years later, when Charles Overby was developing what is now the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics and invited Wilkie to be a fellow. “It was clear that the main focus would be journalism and politics with a Southern slant,” Overby said. “And Curtis is the embodiment of that. It’s like, you look up ‘Southern politics and journalism’ in the dictionary, and there’s a picture of Curtis. And he was right here on campus; we didn’t even have to go find him.” According to Overby, Wilkie is one of the best ambassadors Mississippi has ever had because of his vast network of friends all over the world. In addition, Overby believes that Wilkie contributes a special expertise because of his illustrious career.

“There are two people in my life who have had extraordinary insight into politics and journalism,” Overby said. “One of them was John Seigenthaler, who worked for the Kennedys and was the longtime editor and publisher of The Tennessean, and the other is Curtis. He is extraordinary in every way.” Former Chancellor Robert Khayat, a longtime friend of Wilkie’s, is also proud to have him working for the university. “I think that he learned a lot and developed a lot of sophistication in his work,” Khayat said. “And he’s real smart — real smart — and lots of fun, and fun to be with. Ole Miss is very fortunate to have Curtis Wilkie working on our campus.” When he’s not teaching, Wilkie is working on adding yet another book to a list that includes Dixie and his bestseller, The Fall of the House of Zeus. He and one of his best friends, Tom Oliphant, a fellow journalist, are in the process of writing a book about the years leading up to John Kennedy’s presidential election. “To this day — and I’m 75 — I still enjoy writing very much,” Wilkie said. And although he’s still at work, he reflects on his career thus far with a love for journalism he’s had as long as he can remember. “You get to go to important events, you get to know important people, and if you keep going, you get to travel the world and go places that you never would as a normal citizen,” Wilkie said. “It’s a great, great job that I would not have traded for running a Wall Street hedge fund and being a multimillionaire. I’d much rather have done what I did.” The author is a journalism graduate (’16) of the Meek School from Corinth, Mississippi.


faculty updates

Bill Rose’s spring 2016 class has produced an in-depth magazine on the struggles and accomplishments of Mississippi’s Indians. They are looking primarily at the Choctaws, who have a reservation just outside Philadelphia, and the Chickasaws, who are now in Oklahoma, but are building a cultural center/museum in Tupelo, which they consider the tribe’s homeland. The class spent Spring Break reporting at the Choctaw reservation. Dr. Kathleen Wickham spent Spring Break lecturing at Rennes University and the Nouvelle Sorbonne in France on the murder of Paul Guihard during the 1962 Ole Miss integration riot. While in France, she visited Brittany to do additional research about Guihard in his home province. Wickham also presented research related to civil rights and the press at the National Civil Rights Conference, where she was named to the planning committee for the 2016 conference. She co-produced, with Dr. Brad Schultz, the student documentary “Atomic, Mississippi,” which attracted national attention. In addition, Wickham served as a judge for the National Headliner Journalism Awards.

Dr. Kristen Alley Swain completed two research studies funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation that examined communications about toxic transportation spills. The studies were funded for a total of $133,000. She accompanied three students to Washington, D.C., to represent Ole Miss at a Planet Forward summit and to present grant ideas at the National Science Foundation. She led the school’s assessment efforts, created a health communication course and published work in Health Security, Journal of Risk Analysis and Crisis Response, Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, and Handbook of Climate Change Adaptation. Swain also presented at the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media and at a University Transportation Center conference.

Dr. Brad Schultz published three books last year: a new edition of his textbook on sports broadcasting, an edited volume on sports and religion and a sports history book. His classes produced two television documentaries, one of which aired on statewide public television and received an Associated Press award. Another was received at several film festivals. Schultz also made two presentations at the national convention of journalism educators.

Dr. Robert Magee delivered five lectures at the Universidad San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca in Sucre, Bolivia, in October 2015. The Spanish-language lectures were part of the inaugural Kjell Einar Barreth Memorial Lecture Series organized by the university’s Department of Social Communication and sponsored by Norway’s Stromme Foundation and NLA University College in Bergen. Also presenting were Dr. Franklin Cornejo, director of the School of Journalism at Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, in Lima, Peru, and Dr. Geir Magnus Nyborg of NLA University College. The Universidad San Francisco Xavier is one of the oldest in the Americas.

In late 2015, Meek School instructor R.J. Morgan earned his Certified Journalism Educator (CJE) status from the Journalism Education Association (JEA). Morgan is the director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, housed at Ole Miss. To earn his CJE, Morgan passed a written exam at the JEA national convention in Orlando last November. He and the other new CJEs were honored at a luncheon last spring in Los Angeles. The CJE program recognizes educators who have demonstrated an advanced body of experience and skills in working with high school journalists. Before joining the Ole Miss faculty, Morgan was an award-winning high school journalism teacher for six years.

Joe Atkins is editor of and contributing writer to The Strangers Among Us: Tales from a Global Migrant Worker Movement, slated for publication in June 2016 by London-based LabourStart. The book is a collection of essays from 10 writers around the world on the migrant worker issue. The writers include former University of Mississippi journalism graduate students Nancy Yan Xu, now chief editor/ general manager of the U.S. edition of Global Times, one of China’s top daily newspapers, and Takehiko Kambayashi, who is a Tokyo-based correspondent for the German Press Agency (DPA). For Atkins’ three essays in the book, he used original reportage he did during recent trips to Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Buenos Aires. The book was highlighted at the May 6-8 LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Toronto, during which Atkins and publisher Eric Lee held a workshop discussing the migrant worker issue. Atkins’ novel, Casey’s Last Chance, was published by Sartoris Literary Group in February 2015, with readings and signings at major bookstores in Mississippi and good reviews in publications such as the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Mud & Magnolia magazine, and Southern Literary Review. Set in the South in 1960, the novel deals with a racially suspect small-time hustler caught in the vortex of a rising civil rights movement and fierce resistance to it.



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