Scholastic Director Wins Award

OXFORD, Miss – A University of Mississippi instructor has been selected to receive the James Federick Paschal Award for outstanding service to a state scholastic press association.

Beth Fitts, director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association and instructor in the university’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, will receive the award March 16 at the 88th annual convention of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association at Columbia University in New York.

Beth Fitts

Beth Fitts

The Mississippi Scholastic Press Association supports and promotes journalism at high schools across the state. MSPA encourages high school students to participate in several fall workshops, a spring convention, summer camp and three different competitions. These activities provide students will training and experience as they seek to make their work and their publications better.

The announcement of the award comes as no surprise, said Will Norton, dean of the journalism school.

“There may be a dozen folks who have done this much for high school journalism,” Norton said. “She is considered a leader in the country and has made a difference in journalism in Mississippi and around the U.S.”

Fitts taught journalism for 27 years, including 22 years at Oxford High School, before joining the journalism school faculty in 2005.

“Our (MSPA) motto is to raise the bar in scholastic journalism,” Fitts said. “If we provide more opportunities for students and advisers to network, to gain new skills in journalism and to become excited about the world of media, we will see our publications continue to get better and better.”

The James F. Paschal Award is given by the Columbia Scholastic Press Advisors Association and honors a state or regional press association leader that exemplifies several different exceptional qualities. The Columbia Scholastic Press Advisors Association look specifically for leaders who have served their respective press association for several years, have implemented innovative ideas and inspired students to continue improving their journalistic skills.

Fitts pushes students to make these improvements by hosting several competitions throughout the year. These competitions encourage students to constantly produce good journalistic work, she said. The competition areas range from the simple news story to awards in newspaper layout and photography.

Fitts gives credit to God for any progress she has made in helping scholastic journalism, adding that “to be really good at anything, you do you have to be surrounded by great people, and without the people in the Ole Miss journalism department I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Click here for more information on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.