Journalism Professor Releases Book Detailing 1962 Integration

Kathleen Wickham examines the work of 12 different journalists in 'We Believed We Were Immortal'

UM journalism professor Kathleen Wickham has penned a new book, ‘We Believed We Were Immortal,’ focusing on the work of journalists who covered the university’s 1962 integration. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi journalism professor explores the careers of American journalists in her new nonfiction book “We Believed We Were Immortal: Twelve Reporters Who Covered the 1962 Integration Crisis at Ole Miss.”

Kathleen Wickham’s book, published by Yoknapatawpha Press, details how each journalist covered a different part of the integration crisis, from Gov. Ross Barnett’s opposition to James Meredith’s enrollment to the reaction of African-Americans in Oxford. Wickham details the challenges these journalists faced, including beatings, snipers and opposition from the governor.

She also examines the unsolved murder of French reporter Paul Guihard, the only journalist killed during the civil rights movement. The story of Guihard, who was shot in the back during the campus  riots in 1962, struck Wickham as personal.

“I had worked as a reporter for 10 years in my native New Jersey,” Wickham said. “I wrote stories that sent some crooked politicians to jail. I wrote stories about organized crime. I wrote a lot of stories that public officials did not like. But I never felt like my personal safety was compromised.

“If Guihard had been killed in Birmingham or in Selma, I’m not sure it would have been so personal to me, but it happened on a path that I walked almost daily to go to class, and so it became personal.”

The longer Wickham lived in Mississippi, the more interested she became in the stories of these reporters and their commitment, especially Guihard.

For the last five years, Wickham has researched the press’s role in major events, such as integration.

“These reporters were driven to seek the truth and inform the public about what was going on in Oxford in 1962,” she said.

The preface was written by Bob Schieffer of CBS News, who covered the campus riots as a reporter for Texas radio station KXOL.

Wickham will be available to sign copies of the book at 5 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 12) at Off Square Books in Oxford. Shewill also will sign books at Novel bookstore in Memphis at 6 p.m. Sept. 15 and at Lemuria Books in Jackson at 5 p.m. Sept. 21.

Journalism Dean Tapped for Press Association Hall of Fame

Will Norton joins Carolyn Wilson for this year's class of inductees

Carolyn Wilson, former executive director of the Mississippi Press Association, and Will Norton Jr., UM journalism dean, show off their plaques after being inducted into the trade group’s Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy Mississippi Press Association

OXFORD, Miss. – Will Norton Jr., professor and dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, has been inducted into the Mississippi Press Association Hall of Fame.

Joining Norton on the list of those who have made lasting contributions to journalism is Carolyn Wilson, longtime chief executive of the state newspaper trade group.

Both were inducted Saturday (July 8) at the MPA convention in Biloxi.

Norton, who previously served on the faculty and as chair of the Department of Journalism at Ole Miss, returned to Mississippi in 2009 as inaugural dean of the Meek School. He holds a doctorate in mass communications from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.

A partner in The South Reporter in Holly Springs, Norton was serving as dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln when the innovative school was launched at Ole Miss.

Under his leadership, the school has experienced tremendous growth in enrollment and in scholarship dollars earned by its students.

He has been an active member of both MPA and the Nebraska Press Association, where he was inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame in 2009.

Norton has been crucial in establishing newspaper “reporting expeditions” to member papers. Funded by the MPA Education Foundation, the trips allow teams of journalism majors to work over the course of several days on assignment for member newspapers.

“Will is a tremendous advocate for excellence in both the curriculum and practice of journalism,” said Layne Bruce, MPA executive director. “He also has been invaluable in strengthening the relationship between Ole Miss and our member newspapers.”

Wilson, who lives in Sandy Hook, served as MPA executive director for 22 years and was one of only two employees when she joined the staff in 1982. She was promoted to executive director in 1985.

Under her leadership, the organization grew to a peak of a dozen employees and handled more than $5 million in advertising placements for its member papers through its business subsidiary, Mississippi Press Services.

An Arkansas native, Wilson worked on behalf of newspaper members on such cornerstone issues as open records and sunshine laws, as well as internships for journalism students and continuing education for member employees. She was also a key player in the purchase of two headquarters locations for MPA in 1987 and 2002.

She retired in 2007 but continued to consult with MPA on contract through 2009.

“Those years of Carolyn’s hard work, along with the leadership of board members through the decades, has ensured MPA continues to be in a strong position to serve its members during an age of rapid change in our industry,” Bruce said. “She certainly deserves this honor, and we couldn’t be happier for her.”

The Hall of Fame was created in 1986. Inductees are chosen by a committee of previous honorees and past presidents of the association.

Journalism Students Win Awards in Three Separate Contests

The Daily Mississippian and NewsWatch Ole Miss take first place in regional competition

Multiple Ole Miss students received journalism awards at three separate conferences this spring. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi journalism students working in newspaper, television and radio won more than 50 awards in three separate regional contests this spring.

The Daily Mississippian, led by Editor-in-Chief Clara Turnage and advised by Patricia Thompson, assistant dean for student media in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, was named best daily newspaper in the Society of Professional Journalists Region 12, competing against college newspapers at the largest universities in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana.

NewsWatch Ole Miss, under the leadership of station manager Payton Green advised by journalism professor Nancy DuPont, won first place for best newscast.

“What a spectacular year for our student journalists,” Thompson said. “Our students have been honored so often in the past few weeks, it has been hard to keep track. Students work many hours each week to provide information for the campus and community, and they are getting great experience that has helped them land jobs and internships.”

The Daily Mississippian and NewsWatch will compete against winners in the other 11 regions for national titles. National winners will be announced later this month.

Patricia Thompson (left), assistant dean for student media in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and students (top row) Bill Rainey, Jake Thrasher and Clara Turnage, and (front, from left) Lauren Layton, Madison Heil and Abbie McIntosh accept awards at the Mississippi-Louisiana Associated Press Awards ceremony in Jackson. Submitted photo

The Daily Mississippian won first place for public service in the “Best of the South” awards at the Southeast Journalism Conference for its “Red Zone” special section focused on sexual assault issues, published Oct. 27, 2016. The SEJC includes competitors from more than 40 universities in seven Southeastern states and was hosted on the Ole Miss campus this year.

The DM won numerous first-place awards at the Mississippi-Louisiana Associated Press contest as well, including general excellence, breaking/spot news and for its website. NewsWatch also won a first-place award in this contest for best sportscast.

Several students, including Turnage, took home individual awards. The senior from New Hebron was honored with eight awards in three contests, including first-place honors for feature writing, general news reporting and enterprise-investigative reporting. She won a newspaper “Best of Show” award from the Associated Press and finished second in SEJC’s prestigious College Journalist of the Year competition.

Turnage said she is thankful for her time at the DM.

“This has been an incredible year,” she said. “I’ve dreamed of being editor-in-chief since I came to Ole Miss and it was everything I wanted it to be.

“I think we got the opportunity to work on difficult, important subjects for the community, and that’s what we wanted to do. The awards the DM staff won are an important marker of the hard work we put into our publication. They’re not the reason we work hard, but I love seeing the editors and reporters get recognition for their efforts.”

Turnage has accepted a summer internship with the Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington, D.C. She is among only three interns hired, along with a student from UC-Berkeley and another from Columbia University.

Other students who won first-place awards in the Associated Press, SEJC and Society of Professional Journalists contests are:

Italiana Anderson, a senior from Ridgeland, for radio documentary in the AP competition

Cameron Brooks, sophomore from Houston, Texas, sports photos, AP

Ariel Cobbert, junior from Hattiesburg, breaking news photos, SPJ

Lana Ferguson, junior from Mechanicsville, Virginia, magazine writing, SEJC

Payton Green, December graduate from Pascagoula, TV breaking news, SPJ

Lauren Layton, junior from Huntsville, Alabama, TV breaking news, SPJ

Sara McAlister, sophomore from Potomac, Maryland, radio sports, AP

Zoe McDonald, senior from Brandon, feature writing, SEJC

Billy Rainey, senior from Jackson, radio news and radio Best of Show, AP

Brian Scott Rippee, senior from Jackson, sports enterprise/feature, AP

Jake Thrasher, junior from Birmingham, Alabama, personal column writing, AP

The UM journalism school’s advanced reporting and television documentary classes also were honored with a first-place award from the AP for Best Student Documentary. Led by journalism professors Brad Schultz and Kathleen Wickam, the classes produced a half-hour documentary titled “Mississippi Votes: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” focused on Mississippi’s role in the 2016 general election, specifically in regards to voter identification, immigration and young voters.

“Having now won this award three years in a row, it’s a reflection of the hard work our documentary and reporting students have put in,” Schultz said. “To start a documentary project in late August and have an award-winning product finished by early December shows the quality of our students.”

The documentary can be seen here.

“Mississippi Miracle,” a depth report about the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, was named a finalist in the SPJ contest. The report was produced by student journalists in a class led by instructor Bill Rose, assistant professor Mikki Harris and instructor Emily Bowen-Moore.

Second- and third-place winners and finalists representing Ole Miss are:

Hayden Benge, a sophomore from Tulsa, Oklahoma, for page layout and design

Chandler Morgan, senior from Kennesaw, Georgia, TV news

Marisa Morrissette, junior from Oxford, graphic design

Riley Mueller, junior from College Station, Texas, radio sports

Daniella Oropeza, senior from Clinton, TV hard news

Megan Peoples, freshman from Columbus, radio sports

DeAndria Turner, freshman from Gautier, radio feature

Meek School of Journalism to Host Diversity Conference

Fox chief news anchor Shepard Smith among speakers for five-day series

UM public relations students, led by senior lecturer Robin Street (center), have planned It Starts with (Me)ek, five days of campus events celebrating inclusion and rejecting stereotypes. The committee includes (kneeling, from left) Emma Arnold and Brittanee Wallace, and (standing) Kendrick Pittman, Dylan Lewis, Street, Zacchaeus McEwen and Faith Fogarty. Photo by Stan O’Dell

OXFORD, Miss. – Just pause. Just pause before you assume you know me. Just pause before you stereotype me.

That’s the message of an upcoming series of events April 19-25 called It Starts with (Me)ek, hosted by the University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Shepard Smith, a UM alumnus and chief news anchor and managing editor for Fox News Network’s Breaking News Division, is among the keynote speakers.

The five-day conference open to all students, faculty, staff and community members is designed to encourage inclusion and respect while rejecting stereotypes. It will feature panelists and guest speakers discussing race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and religion. A diversity fashion show and a festival also are included.

“This campaign is particularly important to our Meek School students because as professional journalists, public relations specialists or integrated marketing communications specialists, students will be dealing with and working with many different kinds of people,” said Robin Street, senior lecturer in public relations.

“We all need to learn the value of waiting before we make assumptions about other people. However, we also hope that everyone on campus and in Oxford will consider joining us for the programs.”

The program, designed to remind participants that one single factor does not define a person’s identity, was created by a 31-member student committee under Street’s direction. Through each panel and lecture, Street hopes all attendees will learn to approach individuals with understanding, dignity, respect and inclusion.

Both alumni and students will participate in panels about their personal experiences on race, sexual orientation, mental health, religion and disabilities. Smith will moderate an alumni panel, as well as provide remarks on April 21.

Other guest speakers include Michele Alexandre, UM professor of law; Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement; Mary Beth Duty, owner of Soulshine Counseling and Wellness; Jesse Holland, an Associated Press reporter covering race and ethnicity; Shawnboda Mead, director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement; Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion; Otis Sanford, political commentator and Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis; Jennifer Stollman, academic director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation; and Ryan Whittington, UM assistant director of public relations for social media strategy.

Duty, Holland, Sanford and Whittington are all Ole Miss journalism alumni.

Student committee members enrolled in a course specifically to design the campaign. The group met weekly to plan events, promotional videos, communications, pre-campaign competitions and social media posts surrounding the five-day conference.

Rachel Anderson, a senior double major in broadcast journalism and Spanish from Chesapeake, Virginia, is co-chair of events and will moderate one of the panels.

“These events give students the opportunity to understand the experiences of people both similar and different from them,” Anderson said. “Understanding the experiences of others can help you learn more about yourself and the world around you.

“I hope attendees understand that we all have our differences, but at the same time, we also share so much in common. There is much more to people than outside appearances. One trait does not limit someone’s entire identity.”

Dylan Lewis, a senior broadcast journalism major from Mooreville, will serve on the LGBTQ student panel.

“The things we say or think about people affect everyone around us,” Lewis said. “Stereotypes hurt specific people or groups being stereotyped, but in reality it hurts all of us because our friends are part of those marginalized groups. When they hurt, we all hurt.

“While this campaign may not end stereotypes completely, it is a way to start the conversation, hence our campaign name ‘It Starts With (Me)ek.’ I hope students come to just see the perspectives of these individuals and realize that just pausing, our key message, can make a difference when trying to understand someone.”

The conference concludes with a festival April 25 on the front lawn of Farley Hall. Students are encouraged to wear purple to show their support, while faculty and staff will wear 1960s-inspired outfits to celebrate the many activist movements of the decade.

Students wearing purple will get a free treat from Chick-fil-A. If students have attended at least two events throughout the week and have their program stamped, they will receive a free T-shirt.

All events take place in Overby auditorium or in the front lawn of Farley Hall. For more information, visit or follow the campaign on social media at or

The full schedule for the series features:

Wednesday, April 19

10 a.m. – Opening ceremony

11 a.m. – Lecture: “Other Moments: A Class Photography Exercise in Honoring Difference at Ole Miss,” Mark Dolan, associate professor of journalism

1 p.m. – Lecture: “Making a Difference by Engaging with Difference,” Jennifer Stollman, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

2 p.m. – Lecture: “Tell Me a Story: Using Personal Narratives to Navigate Cultural Difference,” Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement

Thursday, April 20

9:30 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “From James Meredith to Millennials: Race Relations at Ole Miss,” moderated by Shawnboda Mead, director of CICCE

11 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “Red, Blue and Rainbow: An Inside Look at Being LGBT at UM,” moderated by journalism major Rachel Anderson

1 p.m. – Lecture: “Building Trust Within Professional and Personal Communities: A Workshop,” Jennifer Stollman

2:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Sometimes I Feel Invisible: Living with a Disability,” moderated by Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism

5:30 p.m. – Spoken Word Performance

Friday, April 21

10 a.m. – Lecture: “Race in America: A Journalist’s Perspective,” Jesse Holland, AP reporter

11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – Panel Discussions: “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” black UM journalism alumni discuss their experiences, moderated by Jesse Holland

2 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Red, Blue and Rainbow Alumni,” LGBT alumni discuss their experiences, moderated by Shepard Smith

3 p.m. – Lecture: “My Journey from Farley Hall to Major News Events Around the World,” Shepard Smith, Fox News chief news anchor

4 p.m. – Reception for speakers and students

Monday, April 24

9 a.m. – Lecture: “Normal Does Not Exist, Mental Illness Does,” Mary Beth Duty, professional counselor

10 a.m. – Lecture: “From the Bible Belt to Baghdad: What Today’s IMC and Journalism Professionals Need to Know About the World’s Major Religions,” Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion

11 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “Keeping the Faith,” members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths discuss challenges they face, moderated by Dean Will Norton

1 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Mental Health and Me,” panelists discuss their experiences with mental health, moderated by Debbie Hall, instructor of integrated marketing communications

2 p.m. – Lecture: “Role of Individual and Institutional Accountability in Doing Diversity and Equity,” Michele Alexandre, professor of law

3 p.m. – Lecture: “Keeping it Real on Social Media: Guidelines for Handling Diversity Issues,” Ryan Whittington, assistant director of public relations for social media strategy

4 p.m. – Fashion Show: “Unity in Diversity,” entertainment on Farley Hall lawn

6 p.m. – Lecture: “Racial Politics in Memphis,” Otis Sanford, University of Memphis

Tuesday, April 25

10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. – Farley Festival Day

Dennis Moore Named as Silver Em Honoree

Annual award is most prestigious journalism honor given by UM

Dennis Moore

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

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

“Dennis’ career is an expression of the quality of his performance as an undergraduate at Ole Miss,” said Will Norton, dean of the university’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “He has performed at an exceptional level of excellence.”

Moore began his reporting career after graduation at The Clarion-Ledger, but his experience started earlier at The Germantown News in Germantown, Tennessee.

“I made a blind call to the editor and asked if I could work there,” Moore said. “She said I was welcome to drop in on production nights, but they could not pay.”

He went, worked and learned. More experience was gained through an internship with Southern Living magazine.

In Jackson, Moore, a movie fan, was allowed an extra assignment to write one review per week. When the city landed the International Ballet Competition, he was assigned to provide coverage, gaining more exposure and experience to writing about the arts and entertainment.

His success took him to The Orlando Sentinel to direct its arts coverage and edit the newspaper’s award-winning Sunday magazine, Florida.

USA Today was next, and Moore advanced to managing editor of the Life section. In that role, he traveled and routinely met with celebrities, including forming a real admiration for Steven Spielberg and being nervous before talking with Mick Jagger. He was also pleased when John Grisham reported that his mother had appreciated a story Moore had written about the author.

Moore lists his interview with Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her work in “The Help” as his favorite actor interview.

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

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

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

The Silver Em presentation will take place during the Best of Meek dinner April 5 in the ballroom of the Inn at Ole Miss. For more information, contact the Meek School at

Overstreet-Miller Joins DeSoto Campus as IMC Instructor

New full-time faculty member brings extensive experience in public relations, marketing

Patricia Overstreet-Miller

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – The University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven has hired a full-time faculty member to strengthen its integrated marketing communications program.

Patricia Overstreet-Miller, who began working at the regional campus this spring as an IMC instructor, has an expansive career in communications, including public relations, marketing, advertising and lobbying. At the corporate level, Overstreet-Miller has worked for companies such as Allstate, Options Clearing Corp, Zurich Insurance and the McCormick Foundation.

IMC is one of the fastest-growing programs at Ole Miss. The program, housed under the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, includes the study of advertising, public relations, brand management and research into consumer insights, enabling students to build a customized toolbox of professional skills.

An IMC degree offers a myriad of benefits, Overstreet-Miller said.

“IMC opens doors to a world that can take you to so many diverse experiences that can be rewarding both financially and in terms of personal growth,” she said. “It’s never boring and the growth potential is amazing.

“Most executives value communication skills, and the unique communicator who has the integrated approach to and understanding of communication is particularly valuable. While we all have to start at the beginning and work our way up, IMC can be a real leg up in a competitive world.”

Overstreet-Miller plans to share her experience in community relations, government relations, investor relations, employee communications and media relations with her students. She also hopes to connect IMC students at UM-DeSoto with their peers at the university’s Oxford and Tupelo campuses to share learning and experiences.

With undergraduate and graduate degrees in English, Overstreet-Miller leveraged her interest in language and in people to become a communications professional. After earning a graduate degree in marketing and finance, she became a nontraditional student pursuing a Master of Business Administration.

The latter experience gave her a special understanding of many at the Southaven campus, she said.

“Many of our DeSoto students are older, already working and bring with them unique life experiences,” she said. “That can make their learning opportunity particularly rewarding.

“Since I went back to school for an MBA in the middle of my own career, when I had young children, I know that it’s a challenge to balance school with other life responsibilities. But it’s also a chance to create new opportunities in a career that’s already started, or to make a shift to a new career direction.”

Rick Gregory, executive director of UM-DeSoto, sees great potential for the program with Overstreet-Miller’s guidance.

“We are incredibly excited about Patricia joining our team and also about growing the integrated marketing communications program on our campus,” Gregory said. “With so many large corporations, businesses and nonprofits in close proximity to Southaven, our IMC students have unique advantages in terms of internship opportunities.”

Overstreet-Miller agrees that there are numerous opportunities ahead.

“The University of Mississippi is one of a handful of great schools offering an IMC program,” Overstreet-Miller said. “Our students are fortunate to have this opportunity, and I feel lucky to be a part of what our school is building.”

For more information about the IMC program and UM-DeSoto, visit

Overby Center to Salute Mississippi’s 200th Anniversary

Programs examine state's history and look to the future

State Rep. Jay Hughes will discuss Mississippi’s commitment to education Friday at the Overby Center.

OXFORD, Miss. – In recognition of the 200th anniversary of Mississippi’s statehood, the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi will put special emphasis on Mississippi programs during the spring semester.

“The people and events in Mississippi’s past provide an interesting glimpse into our state’s future,” explained Charles Overby, chairman of the center, in announcing the lineup.

The first of six events – “How Deep is Mississippi’s Commitment to Education?” – will concentrate on one of the most controversial issues in the state. Rep. Jay Hughes, an Oxford Democrat who has been outspoken in his criticism of the administration and the Legislature’s approach to education, will be joined by Bracey Harris, an education reporter for the Clarion-Ledger, for a conversation at 6 p.m. Friday (Feb. 10).

Using the slogan “It ALL starts with education” for his frequent emails to constituents and other interested parties, the first-term legislator has closely tracked bills involving educational issues and sharply faulted a new formula devised by a New Jersey firm hired by the Republican leadership to determine levels of state aid for various school districts in the state.

“Jay Hughes has become one of the most urgent voices in the Legislature,” Overby fellow Curtis Wilkie said. “Our program is designed to give him an opportunity to expand on his thoughts, while offering members of our community a chance to question him during a Q&A session.”

The program, like all Overby Center events, is free and open to the public. Arrangements are being made to provide parking in a lot adjacent to the Overby Center.

Following most of this spring’s programs, a reception also will provide opportunities for members of the audience to mingle with special guests.

Other events on the Overby agenda this spring:

– Feb. 17, 1:30 p.m. – “Assault on the Media.” Four prominent Mississippi journalists  discuss a growing hostility toward the press. Overby fellow Bill Rose will moderate a panel discussion that includes Jerry Mitchell, prize-winning investigative reporter at the Clarion-Ledger; the newspaper’s popular cartoonist Marshall Ramsey; Ronnie Agnew, executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting; and Kate Royals, another award-winning education reporter for Mississippi Today.

– March 8, 6 p.m. – “Revisiting Jefferson Davis and J.Z. George: U.S. Capitol Relics?” William “Brother” Rodgers, director of programs at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Marvin King, an Ole Miss political science professor; and Charles Overby will consider whether the subjects of Mississippi’s two statues in a capitol hall for all 50 states are appropriate today.

– March 27, 6 p.m. – “Mississippians Say the Strangest Things.” David Crews of Oxford has compiled a collection, “The Mississippi Book of Quotations,” and will talk with Overby about the new publication, his choices in it and his longtime interest in memorable lines by people from the state.

– April (date to be determined) – “The Free State of Jones.” Retired federal judge Charles Pickering, a native of historic and colorful Jones County, will join Overby and others in a discussion about the breakaway movement during the Civil War, a fascinating piece of Mississippi history that was recently celebrated in books and a movie.

– April 24, 6 p.m. – “Racial Politics in Memphis.” Otis Sanford, an Ole Miss journalism graduate who writes a column for the Commercial Appeal and teaches at the University of Memphis, will talk about his new book, “From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics.”

UM Professor Honored Among Nation’s 10 Best Journalism Educators

Debora Rae Wenger selected by magazine's readers, other professionals for recognition

Debora Wenger (center) gives advice to journalism students Taylor Shelley (left) and Jason Bailey. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The day Debora Rae Wenger received her doctorate from Kingston University, Tuesday (Jan. 17), was already meaningful, but it became even more memorable when the University of Mississippi professor learned that she is among 10 journalism educators being recognized by NewsPro magazine.

“Frankly, I was humbled when I got the news,” said Wenger, associate professor and head of journalism undergraduate studies in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. “There are some truly outstanding educators on the NewsPro list, and I’m honored to have my name printed on the same page with them.”

Each honoree is profiled in the publication’s January issue. To view the list, visit

To recognize some of the nation’s best journalism educators, NewsPro asked readers and other media professionals to nominate an outstanding academician. The list of honorees includes professors, department chairs and directors of media centers from such universities as Fordham, Purdue, Missouri, Boston, Ball State, Columbia, Syracuse, Rhode Island and Florida.

Wenger’s achievement bodes well for both the university and its journalism school, UM administrators said.

“What an incredible honor and recognition for Dr. Wenger and her work here at the University of Mississippi,” Chancellor Jeffery S. Vitter said. “Her expertise and teaching excellence greatly contributes to the university’s academic success as well as the prominence of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. We are so proud to have someone of her talent and caliber guiding our students to new heights.”

Journalism Dean Will Norton shared Vitter’s sentiment.

“The Meek School is fortunate to have her in its leadership team,” he said. “Dr. Wenger was a traditional journalist who keeps up with developments in new media and has a network of outstanding educators and journalism educators with whom she works closely.”

A 17-year broadcast news veteran, Wenger was cited for bringing her “well-rounded, real world experience working in large market, network-affiliated newsrooms” to the classroom. Her passion for strong writing and creative storytelling was lauded as a newsworthy asset that “sets her apart from most college professors.”

“My goal is to have all students leave every class a little better informed than they were before they walked in the door,” Wenger said. “Whether it’s learning a new app, a new video editing technique, a new way of thinking about storytelling or simply discovering that there are other perspectives out there to consider, I want students to feel that time in my classes is well-spent.”

The NewsPro honor is not the first for Wenger. In 2000, she led a team of journalists at WFLA-TV in Tampa, Florida, in winning the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism. Throughout the presidential, state and local election seasons, the station had committed to providing its audience with coverage that was as thorough and informative as possible.

Debora Wenger and her journalism students. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

“Receiving national recognition for the work we did made me proud of my station, my colleagues and my profession,” Wenger said. “The NewsPro Award is one that has my name on it, but like the Cronkite Award, it was a team effort.

“So many people have helped me grow as a teacher over the years: colleagues who shared strategies, mentors who helped keep me on track and, most of all, those students who did well and whose successes made me want to keep on getting better at teaching.”

Before joining the UM faculty in 2009, Wenger was assistant news director at WFLA-TV. She is co-author of the broadcast, online and multimedia journalism curricula for the Society of Professional Journalists’ Newsroom Training Program, and conducts multimedia training in newsrooms nationwide.

Wenger is also co-author of the journalism textbook, “Advancing the Story: Broadcast Journalism in a Multimedia World” (Sage, 2014), “Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First” (Sage, 2015) and produces a multimedia blog:

A native of North Dakota who moved around quite a bit over the years, Wenger considers herself a Midwesterner who very much enjoys the South. She graduated from Moorhead State University and earned her master’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Wenger’s family includes husband, Mitch, a professor in UM’s Patterson School of Accountancy; son, Jay, a ninth-grader at Oxford High School; and the family dog, Nina. Her favorite leisure activities are to travel, read and go for long walks with friends.

Her committee memberships at Ole Miss have included the Undergraduate Council, Meek School Curriculum Committee, Faculty Senate, Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Council of Academic Administrators, Course Scheduling, Dual- and Second-Degree Policy, Task Force for Engagement, Academic Conduct, School Graduation, and Tenure and Promotion.

“Teaching is most fulfilling when I see how much a student has improved from the start of the semester to the end, or when I get a call from a former student who has embarked on a career and still considers me a resource years after he or she has left my classroom,” she said. “It’s wonderful when you feel like you have helped someone achieve a goal or fulfill a dream.”

For more about UM’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit


Husni Named to Folio’s ‘100 Most Important People in Magazine Media’

'Mr. Magazine' lauded as an Industry Influencer

Samir Husni has been named to Folio's 2016 list of the top 100 "Most Important People in Magazine Media." Photo by Robert Jordan UM Imaging Services.

Samir Husni has been named to Folio’s 2016 list of the 100 ‘Most Important People in Magazine Media.’ Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Samir Husni, professor and Hederman lecturer in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, has been named to Folio’s 2016 list of the 100 “Most Important People in Magazine Media.”

Known as “Mr. Magazine, Husni said it’s a great honor that the industry he loves and serves through teaching and consulting recognizes him as the lone person on the list from outside the industry.

“What adds to this honor is the category in which I was recognized, which is Industry Influencers,” Husni said. “Although it feels great to be the only educator on the entire list, it even feels greater to be in such great company as David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, and Bob Sauerberg, CEO of Condé Nast.”

Husni, who calls magazines “the best reflectors of American society,” has more than 30,000 first editions of magazines and uncounted numbers of specials and test issues. They’re housed in five storage units, waiting to be donated to someone to help open a magazine museum, he said.

He says earning a place on the list is a reflection of his students’ work. The magazine notes that each year, Husni attracts industry leaders to Ole Miss for the ACT Experience conference. This provides students with opportunities to brainstorm ideas and forge connections with industry professionals they would not meet without Husni.

Folio, a well-known magazine industry-focused publication, observes that although Husni’s students are “digital natives,” he is a powerful voice in the industry and a major proponent of print magazines.

“Mr. Magazine – the name itself is synonymous with magazine industry positivity,” Folio writes. “Husni is the printed magazine’s most avid collector. He has preached the gospel of print globally, and consulted on more magazine startups and advised more legacy titles than possibly anyone in the world.”

When Husni was hired at Ole Miss in the early 1980s, he knew more about magazines than most magazine publishers and editors, said Will Norton, UM journalism dean.

“For more than 30 years, he has demonstrated that expertise and, by naming him to Folio’s 100 list, the industry acknowledges his influence during these decades,” Norton said. 

“As a senior member of the Meek School faculty, he has elevated Ole Miss to a place of prominence in graduating students who become leaders in the magazine industry.”

UM Journalism Professor Presents Katrina Archive Work at UCLA

Cynthia Joyce will discuss efforts to recover and republish online writings from era after the storm

Cynthia Joyce, University of Mississippi assistant professor of journalism, will present her research on recovering lost Hurricane Katrina online blogs and articles Friday at the University of California Los Angeles.

Cynthia Joyce, UM assistant professor of journalism, will present her research on recovering lost Hurricane Katrina blogs and online articles Friday at the University of California Los Angeles. Submitted photo.

OXFORD, Miss. – A professor in the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media will present her work to discover and republish an archive of lost blogs, emails and other online writing from the years after Hurricane Katrina on Friday (Oct. 14) at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Cynthia Joyce is editor of “Please Forward: How blogging reconnected New Orleans after Katrina,” an anthology released Aug. 29, 2015, the 10th anniversary of the storm. The anthology mined blog posts and widely circulated emails from more than 75 blogs and online websites, many of which are no longer live. It weaves an intimate narrative of the first two years after the storm and the lives of the people who lived through it.

“The contributors to this anthology were so generous in allowing us to resurface their reflections from such a difficult part of their lives,” Joyce said. “We pulled those up and put them into print.

“Those posts – and the original blogs they were excerpted from – also deserve to be discoverable in an online context. Working with Archive-It made that possible.”

Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005 near the Mississippi-Louisiana state line, killed 1,833 people in five states, including 231 in Mississippi. It’s often referred to as the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history.

Joyce is participating in the “Dodging the Memory Hole: Saving Online News” forum at UCLA’s Young Research Library, hosted by Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. She is part of the lightning round of participants, in which each panelist has three minutes to deliver their message.

Will Norton, dean of the Meek School, said Joyce’s colleagues are proud of her work.

“Cynthia Joyce is a first-rate journalist who brings years of work at the cutting edge of new media to her presentation at UCLA,” Norton said. “It says a lot about the Meek School that our faculty members are making presentations at prestigious institutions with other pioneering innovators.”

Joyce and the others involved in the anthology project used Archive-It, a web archiving service of Internet Archive used by more than 450 libraries, archives, universities, governments and researchers to collect, preserve and provide ongoing access to cultural heritage materials published on the web.

The anthology, which was published by University of New Orleans Press, will also be accessible and searchable online via the Internet Archive’s Archive-It database later this year. Jefferson Bailey, director of web archiving at Internet Archive/Archive-It, is also presenting at the conference.

“The web is the most significant publishing platform of our era, democratizing the ability to document our lives and communities for a global audience,” Bailey said. “Yet content on the web is highly ephemeral, often eluding the traditional process of historical preservation.

“We are excited to be able to collaborate with researchers like Cynthia Joyce, who bring local expertise and community knowledge, and work together to identify, archive and provide access to these historically valuable resources so that they remain available long into the future.”