News and Events: Fall 2022 - Summer 2023


U of M students make their mark at international public relations conference in Texas

(Dec. 1, 2023) Four students from the University of Memphis PRSSA along with PR Professor Kim Marks attended the ICON 2022 conference in Texas Nov. 13-15 for three days of social events, workshops, and panels.

Students from the U of M PRSSA chapter attend the ICON 2022 conference in
Grapevine, Texas. They are (from left) Oakley Weddle, Ilaria Pisoni, Brianna Moore,
Taylor Carpenter and former student Destiny Hinton. PHOTO/Oakley Weddle

Every year, the Public Relations Society of America along with its student chapters host an International Conference that brings professionals and students together from around the world for three days.

This year, the ICON conference was at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. The ICON conference featured guest speakers such as Katty Kay, a BBC journalist with more than 20 years of experience who appears weekly on NBC News’ Morning Joe. 

The PRSSA International Conference gives one the opportunity to adapt and develop one’s professional abilities and connections with students from different parts of the United States. Marks Malone said attending the conference was a great opportunity for students to learn how to approach professionals and grow their connections.    

“It was great to be back in person after three years at ICON,” Marks Malone said. “It’s an opportunity for students to network with each other, learn best practices for managing and leading their local PRSSA chapters and, more importantly, hear about best practices and network with PR professionals from around the world.”

Students who attended were Oakley Weddle, Ilaria Pisoni, Brianna Moore, and Taylor Carpenter.

“Being in proximity with thousands of students and professionals that understand and are passionate about public relations made me feel incredibly seen,” Weddle said. “As PR pros, we’re constantly explaining our worth and fighting for a seat at the table.”

- Ilaria Pisoni

Memphis PRSA chapter names JRSM’s Kim Marks Malone as member of the year

(Nov. 22, 2023) Each year, the Memphis Public Relations Society of America names a chapter member of the year, and this year Kim Marks Malone of the U of M Department of Journalism and Strategic Media won the top honor.

Vox Awards
Prof. Kim Marks Malone (second from right) poses
with Prof. Taylor Ackerman (third from right) and a group
of U of M PR students at the annual Vox awards on Nov. 3
at the Old Dominick Distillery in Memphis.
PHOTO/Ilaria Pisoni

The Memphis VOX Awards ceremony recognizes outstanding public relations and communication activities in the Memphis community and the Mid-South.  After two years of being held virtually due to the pandemic, the VOX Awards were conducted at the Old Dominick Distillery in Memphis on Nov. 3. More than 200 professionals and students attended. 

"Being recognized for my efforts locally in the chapter while also representing the Memphis chapter as the Southeast District Chair this year is amazing," Marks Malone said. "I feel so appreciated and supported by my friends and colleagues on the board and in the chapter." 

The Public Relations Student Society of America, a UofM student organization, brought 16 students to the event for a networking opportunity with professionals and to support Marks Malone on her award.

Marks Malone is the University of Memphis faculty advisor for the PRSSA chapter. She plays a key role in the chapter's development and assists students in further their studies and beginning jobs in communications.

The VOX Awards are a great way for students to connect with PR professionals, create more impactful connections and increase their visibility, Marks Malone said.

Also recognized at the ceremony was JRSM faculty member Sheri Neely, who won an award in the special event category for the Memphis 13 Springdale Elementary Mural Kickoff event. 

-Ilaria Pisoni




Journalism student organizations reborn, and sponsoring events in fall semester

(Nov. 21, 2023) The JRSM department’s two professional journalism student organizations were re-launched in the fall semester with successful events on Nov. 9 and 10 after a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 panic that prevented in-person meetings.

NABJ Broadcast Panel
Panelists April Thompson, Sydney Neely, Avery Braxton, and Jeremy
Pierre discuss their journalism careers on Nov. 9 in Meeman 100.
PHOTO/Tom Hrach

The U of M chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists are now active and accepting new members.

NABJ president Deja Davis and her members hosted a Journalism Panel Discussion on Nov. 9 in Meeman 100. It featured four prominent Memphis broadcast journalists who discussed their careers

SPJ Civil Wrongs
Laura Faith Kebede of the Memphis Institute for Public Service
Reporting discusses her multimedia reporting series “Civil Wrongs”
on Nov. 10 in Meeman 100. PHOTO/Tom Hrach

Participating were April Thompson, anchor and reporter for News Channel 3; Sydney Neely, JRSM alumna, and lifestyles host and producer for Local ABC 24 and CW30; Avery Braxton, sports anchor and reporter for Local ABC 24; and Jeremy Pierre, reporter for Fox 13. About 60 students and faculty attended.

SPJ President Kameron Scott and his members hosted the annual Freedom of Information Congress event on Nov. 10 in Meeman 100. It featured Laura Faith Kebede of the Memphis Institute for Public Service Reporting.

Kebede conducted a listening event about the first part of her multimedia reporting project called “Civil Wrongs.” The first part of the series focused on the lynching death of Ell Persons in Memphis in 1917 and how that event still reverberates today across Memphis. About 45 students and faculty attended.

Both groups are seeking new members and planning events for the spring 2023 semester.

- Tom Hrach


Social media lab opens thanks to Obsidian Public Relations of Memphis

(Nov. 16, 2022) Obsidian Public Relations founder Courtney Ellett unveiled the new Obsidian Public Relations social media lab as she cut the ribbon in the Meeman Journalism Building on Nov. 3.

Obsidian Social Media Lab opening
Department of Journalism and Strategic Media faculty and Obsidian Public
Relations staff members participate in the opening of the Obsidian Public
Relations social media lab on Nov. 3. From left to right: Matt Haught,
Kim Marks Malone, David Arant, Courtney Ellett, Whitney Nolan and
Lauren Hannaford.  PHOTO/Jeremy Jackson

A graduate of the University of Memphis Department of Journalism and Strategic Media, Ellett said she was looking to give back. When presented with the possibility of funding a new social media lab, Ellett loved the vision and thought it was a good fit for her support.

“I’m just happy that maybe this contributes to another student’s experience here and really prepares them for post-graduation life,” Ellett said. “If there’s anything I believe in, it’s about preparing students to have a really successful transition into the profession.”

Ellett said that the lab will help give students real-world knowledge of social media listening and how it relates to strategy.

The Obsidian lab gives the department’s faculty and students access to sophisticated social media listening tools for use in their research. Students using the lab’s social media listening tools in their class projects will be better prepared for their strategic media careers.

“Our students now are going to be able to get hands-on, real-world experience using industry-standard tools,” said Kim Marks Malone, JRSM assistant professor of practice.

“So when they go out and they apply for internships, or they apply for jobs, they can with confidence say that they know how to do social media listening, that they’ve used analytical tools, that they know how to do research to help inform decisions in an agency environment,” Marks said. “I think it’s going to give them a leg up compared to some of their peers from other schools.”

Social Media Listening Lab
The Obsidian Public Relations social media lab contains equipment for
students and faculty. PHOTO/Jeremy Jackson

In addition to teaching students to social media listening skills in class projects, faculty can use the lab in doing their own academic research.

The Obsidian Lab classroom will also be the official home of Meeman 901 Strategies, the department’s student-run strategic communications firm.

Department leadership plans to open the lab to faculty and students in other university programs with the hope of stimulating more interdisciplinary collaboration.

Social media labs like this have been launched at many universities in the last three to five years. In developing the Obsidian Lab, Professor Marks and JRSM assistant chair Matt Haught visited social media labs at Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, and FedEx.

Marks added, “I think having this lab is going to help us put ourselves on the map and become a resource region-wide—not just for schools and universities and programs, but for media and other agencies and nonprofits and all those kinds of people who need this kind of information to do their jobs.”

- Haley Hale

Department welcomes experienced journalist as new assistant professor of practice

Prof. Casey Hilder
Prof. Casey Hilder

(Oct. 27, 2022) Casey Hilder, a former magazine and newspaper journalist, this fall joined the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media as an Assistant Professor of Practice.

Hilder received both his B.A. and M.A. from the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media and while a student here served as The Daily Helmsman’s editor-in-chief. After graduation, he worked as the editor-in-chief of Click magazine, a local lifestyle publication. 

Before joining the department full-time, Hilder had served the department as an adjunct, teaching writing, reporting, editing, web publishing, and print publication design courses. In 2019, he joined the university full time as media coordinator for the College of Communication and Fine Arts, a position he held until becoming assistant professor of practice in August.

Hilder’s interests include photojournalism, newspaper and magazine writing, and publication design. He has also written more than one magazine feature about kudzu jelly.

- Ilaria Pisoni

JRSM students tour Memphis advertising agency; meet ad professionals

American Advertising Federation mixer
U of M advertising students listen to executives at Loaded for Bear in
Memphis on their tour of the advertising agency on Sept. 29.
(PHOTO/Joel Nichols)

(Oct. 27, 2022) The American Advertising Federation in Memphis hosted a mixer on Sept. 29 at the Memphis advertising firm Loaded for Bear for students to meet local advertising professionals.

About 20 University of Memphis Department of Journalism and Strategic Media and Department of Art students as well as students from the University of Mississippi and Christian Brothers University participated in the mixer. Students also had the opportunity to share their resumes and portfolios for review and critique.

“This was more of a speed dating type of scenario,” said Assistant Professor Joel Nichols, who teaches classes in advertising, marketing, branding, and creative strategy.

Nichols said that AAF Memphis is hoping to host another event focusing more on sit-down discussion and break out groups for students to meet and talk to professionals about portfolios and resume and receive some interview coaching.

Networking is vital, he added, and the AAF Memphis mixer gave students the chance to get their names out there in the professional world.

“Students don’t always like to do it or even have the opportunity to do it, particularly with professionals,” Nichols said. “The overall goal was, again, to expose students to the advertising industry.”  

Nichols said the event location was perfect for students. The mixer took place at Loaded for Bear offices at 673 Cooper St. Students were able to tour the space and see the actual environment of an agency while networking and discussing their career goals with professionals.

-  Haley Hale

New skills, insights offered to high school students as part of statewide press event

High School Workshop
Micaela Watts, Denisha Thomas, Andrea Morales and Laura Faith Kebede
participate in a panel discussion on Sept. 26 as part of the Tennessee High
School Press Association workshop at the U. of Memphis Meeman Journalism
Building. (PHOTO/Robby Byrd)

(Oct. 19, 2022)  The University of Memphis hosted the Tennessee High School Press Association’s West Tennessee journalism workshop at its FedEx Institute of Technology on Sept. 26.


The approximately 50 students attending White Station High School, Bartlett High School, and St. Mary's High School are staff members of their high school newspapers and yearbooks.

Workshop sessions taught by UofM Journalism faculty members include media writing by Chalise Maclin, photojournalism by Casey Hilder, media design by Michael Robinson, and social media and podcasting by Robby Byrd. 

The workshop ended with a panel on the challenges of being a journalist, moderated by Laura Faith Kebede, coordinator of the Civil Wrongs Project for the Institute for Public Service Reporting. Panelists included Denisha Thomas, news director at ABC24; Micaela Watts, the equity beat reporter for the Commercial Appeal; and Andrea Morales, the visuals director at MLK50. 

- Ilaria Pisoni






Outstanding Journalism Alumni Awards event returns on Nov. 17; tickets now available

(Oct. 17, 2022) The Department of Journalism and Strategic Media Alumni Association has announced the return of its Outstanding Journalism Alumni Awards banquet, set for Nov. 17 at the Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame on the University of Memphis

Alumni Awards Banquet
Florence McAtee Howard (center) is presented with the Charles E. Thornton Award at
the 2019 Outstanding Journalism Awards banquet by emcee Toni Boland-Evans and
former alumni association president Dan Hope.


The event had been cancelled the past two years due to the COVID -19 pandemic, so the club will recognize 11 outstanding alumni chosen this year and last year.

Those being honored from the 2022 class include Jacinthia (Jones) Christopher, Phillip Tutor, Linda Simon, Chelsea Boozer, Preston McClellan, and Catherine Grusin. The 2021 honorees include Tom Graves, Dorchelle Spence, Glenn Carver, Ryan Poe, and Melissa Hass Gray. WMC Action News 5 anchor Joe Birch will emcee the event.

Five awards will be given out at this year’s event: the Charles E. Thornton Outstanding Alumni Award, the Herbert Lee Williams Award, and the Outstanding Young Journalism Alumni Award. One receipt will also be recognized as the University’s Emerging Media Professional.

The Charles E. Thornton Award is named to honor a Memphis journalist who was killed on an assignment in 1985 in Afghanistan. The Herbert Lee Williams award honors the University of Memphis Department of Journalism’s founding chairperson.

The reception is at 6 p.m., and the dinner is at 7 p.m.

The public can purchase tickets for $75, and students can purchase them for $50. Additionally, tables of eight can be purchased for $600. Reservations should be made by Nov. 11. For more information on purchasing tickets or table, call or email Ryan McPhail at (901) 678-2461 or rmcphail@memphis.edu.

- Haley Hale


PR students tour KQ Communications as part of semester agency tours

(Oct. 17, 2022) Members of the U of M Public Relations Student Society of America attended their first agency tour of the fall 2022 semester on Sept. 28 at KQ Communication, an award-winning boutique public relations firm in Memphis.

PRSSA agency tour
Members of the U of M Chapter of PRSSA meet with professionals at KQ Communications in Memphis on
Sept. 28 in the first agency tour of the fall 2022 semester.  (Photo/Oakley Weddle)

About 10 members were in attendance. Oakley Weddle, U of M PRSSA president, said that agency tours are a great way for members to see what agencies do daily. Agencies such as KQ cater to a wide variety of clients.

“So many of the clients they have are businesses that everyone knows,” Weddle said.

Weddle said it was one of the best tours he has been on. From the initial meeting to passing out KQ swag to getting to tour the office and talk to employees, Weddle said, “It felt like a ride.”

KQ also works with many nonprofits and churches, which was a perfect match for this month’s PRSSA theme of nonprofits. This agency tour came on the heels of a PRSSA all-member meeting with professionals in the strategic communication field at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Kinnawa Kaitibi, the PRSSA professional advisor, works at KQ alongside other U of M alumni. Chapter members talked to public relations practitioners, social media teams, the digital marketing department, graphic designers, and account executives. The digital marketing director joined them from KQ’s other office based in Atlanta, Georgia.

In addition to talking about the field, Denzel Alexander, a current JRSM graduate student, and Destini Johnson had an open conversation with PRSSA members about struggles in college and what comes after.

PRSSA is planning more agency tours throughout the 2022-23 academic year. If you are interested in joining PRSSA, email orweddle@memphis.edu.

- Haley Hale

Next research colloquium to focus on the need for diverse media messages

Dr. Chalise Macklin
Dr. Chalise Macklin

(Oct. 10, 2022) The next JRSM grad student Research Colloquium is set for 4 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 12, and features research from faculty member Dr. Chalise Macklin’s dissertation project.

Macklin will present “The Need for More Diverse and Inclusive Media Messages to Reduce Public Risks” in Meeman 202 and also on Zoom. Macklin is completing her doctorate at the University of Alabama.

This is the second research colloquium for the fall semester. The session will also be available on Zoom at this link. It will be recorded. Grad students who want to view the recording should contact Dr. Tom Hrach at thrach@memphis.edu.

Open House returns Wednesday, featuring student media and professional organizations

(Oct. 3, 2022) All students are invited to the Meeman Journalism Lobby from noon to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 5, for the Journalism and Strategic Media Open House showcasing the department’s media programs, student media outlets, and professional organizations. Refreshments will be served.

The UofM student media include The Roar Radio, the online streaming radio service; DH.com, the student online newspaper news site; Tiger News, the student broadcast news outlet; and Meeman 901, the student lead strategic media agency.

Representatives from the department’s four student professional clubs will be present to recruit advertising students for AdFed, public relations students for Public Relations Student Society of America and journalism students for both the National Association of Black Journalists as well as the Society of Professional Journalists.

The open house is also a chance for students new to the department to learn about the journalism and strategic media programs. The undergraduate majors are advertising, public relations, creative mass media and journalism. The department’s graduate programs include an M.A. in Journalism and Strategic Media and three graduate certificates – entrepreneurial media, news and storytelling and social media analysis and strategy.


Journalism department renews exchange program with German university for May 2023

(Sept. 20, 2022) The Department of Journalism and Strategic Media exchange program is set for its annual return to Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, in May of 2023.

Mainz ZDF TV tour
Students from the U of M Department of Journalism and Strategic Media tour the ZDF television studios in Mainz, Germany, as part of the 2022 student exchange program. (photo/Audrey Firrone)

Next summer’s course will focus on science journalism. Mainz is home to the headquarters of BioNTech, so this trip will allow students to learn about science writing in the city where the first COVID-19 vaccine was created. In addition to BioNTech, Mainz is also located on the Rhine River, which is currently experiencing unprecedented low water levels. This trip will allow students the opportunity to discuss both science journalism and writing about climate change.

During the three-week program, students will take day trips throughout Germany. There will also be a long-weekend trip as part of the program. Amsterdam is being considered for this trip, but the faculty want to talk to the students to get their input on where they would like to go.

Professor Matthew Haught will lead the group from May 5 to 26, 2023. There are six spots available for this trip. The cost is $3,600, and scholarships are available.

The University of Memphis has partnered with Johannes Gutenberg University for over 20 years. Haught said that this study abroad opportunity is the “only experience in the country like this for a journalism program.”

Audrey Firrone, a current UofM graduate student who went to Mainz this past summer, said she had always wanted to study abroad. She said that the department’s faculty and UofM student support was a big reason she chose this trip.

“This was one of the highlights of my college career,” Firrone said.

Firrone said the trip was one of the best experiences she has ever had. She was able to make lifelong friends and have great travel, cultural and educational experiences.

For more information, students can email Haught at mjhaught@memphis.edu or the study abroad office at tigersabroad@memphis.edu.

- Haley Hale

Voter registration drive gets help from JRSM’s Professor Sanford

(Sept. 20, 2022) The University of Memphis is promoting National Voter Registration Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday outside of the McWherter Library with help from the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media’s Professor Otis Sanford.

Prof. Otis Sanford
Prof. Otis Sanford

Volunteers will be stationed outside to help people through the process of registering to vote.

This drive will also feature a panel discussion on the “Power of the Youth Vote” from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., with Sanford as part of the panel.

Sanford said he grew up in a family where the right to vote was cherished. As a 19-year-old young man, he registered to vote when the 26th amendment was passed, and the voting age was lowered to 18. Sanford hopes to stress the importance of young people being active voters in this week’s panel discussion.

“Everything that happens with government and elected officials affects young people too,” Sanford said. “Who is elected mayor affects you. Who is elected governor affects you… Young people need to have their voices heard.”

Sanford said it is not his job to tell people for whom to vote, but he stresses to everyone—including the students in his classes—that they must in order to have their voices heard. Other panelists are Ebony Dawkins-Meeks from the Department of Political Science department and Cookie Woolner from the Department of History.

- Haley Hale

JRSM grad students invited to Live Trivia on Friday at High Cotton Brewing

Oakley Weddle
Oakley Weddle

(Sept. 13, 2022) Journalism and Strategic Media graduate students and faculty are invited to attend a Live Trivia event at 7 p.m. Friday at the High Cotton Brewing Company, 598 Monroe Ave., in Memphis to kick off the fall 2022 semester.

This event is being arranged by JRSM grad student Oakley Weddle, who represents the department on the university’s Graduate Student Association. The event is a great way to get to know fellow graduate students and faculty. It also will serve as the replacement for the student social event that was postponed from last week due to the shooting rampage.

The department has agreed to cover some snacks while drinks are on your own. For more information, contact Weddle at orweddle@memphis.edu.


Professional student media chapters for public relations, journalism conducting launch events

NABJ logo PRSSA logo SPJ logo

(Sept. 9, 2022) Three of the UofM student chapters of professional media organizations are holding launch events during the next two weeks and encourage public relations and journalism students to get involved in these career-building clubs.

The Public Relations Student Society of America chapter will launch its fall meetings at 4:15 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 15, in Meeman 100 with a coffee and donut social. Contact chapter president Oakley Weddle at orweddle@memphis.edu for more information. The faculty adviser this year is Kim Marks Malone at ksmarks@memphis.edu.

The National Association of Black Journalists student chapter, inactive since 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will meet at 1 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 15, in Meeman 108. For more information, contact faculty adviser Otis Sanford, at lsnford2@memphis.edu.

The U of M chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which has also been inactive since 2020, will meet at 4:15 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21. For more information, contact chapter president Kameron Scott, kpscott1@memphis.edu. The faculty adviser is Tom Hrach, thrach@memphis.edu.



DH.com online news site seeking staff for fall semester

(Sept. 7, 2022) The University of Memphis student-run online news site, The DH.com, is seeking students interested in photography, reporting, writing, designing, and copy editing to join its staff.

The DH.com

If you are a UofM student interested in working with The DH.com, please contact editor-in-chief Lawrencia Grose at lcgrose@memphis.edu.

The DH.com, formerly The Daily Helmsman, has a history that dates to 1931 when it was created as The Tiger Rag. The paper rebranded to The Helmsman in 1972 before officially becoming The Daily Helmsman in 1981. It is currently being published online at dailyhelmsman.com.

In 2017, The Daily Helmsman was recognized as one of the top campus news organizations in the South by the Society of Professional Journalists. That same year, the paper finished second place in the Mark of Excellence Awards for Region 12. Previous staff members of The DH have gone on to work at careers in digital news sites, television stations, and other media.

This award-winning paper is editorially independent, which means that the students make the final editorial decisions for the paper without censorship from faculty, staff, or administration.

- Haley Hale

First colloquium of semester features research on the Black advertising agency experience

(Sept. 7, 2022) Professor Joel Nichols and graduate student Haley Hale kick off the JRSM research colloquium series with a presentation on Black advertising agencies. Students and faculty can attend in person at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 14, in Meeman 206 or view it online at this Zoom link.

Hale Hale Joel Nichols
Haley Hale
Prof. Joel Nichols

In August Nichols and Hale presented this research in their paper “The Black Creative Agency Experience: Do Black Employees in Advertising, Branding, and Marketing Feel Valued?” at AEJMC national conference in Detroit. They are now preparing the research paper for publication.
If graduate students wish to access a recording of the presentation, they should contact Tom Hrach at thrach@memphis.edu.


- Tom Hrach

Experienced PR professional joins faculty as visiting professor

(Sept. 1, 2022) The Department of Journalism and Strategic Media has welcomed Sheri Neely, a public relations professional who has operated her own agency since 2013, as a visiting professor teaching public relations for fall and spring semesters.

Prof. Sheri Neely
Prof. Sheri Neely

Neely is an alumna of the University of Memphis, earning a B.A, degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations and an MBA. 

In 2018 Neely received a Small Business Administration Emerging Leaders Award and received the Memphis Hip Hop Female Industry MVP Award for public relations in 2020. Neely was one of only a few people from Memphis who were invited and attended the Entrepreneurship Summit and reception at the White House with the president and first lady of the United States in honor of Black History Month when she was acknowledged by the White House in 2020 as a “gamechanger in entrepreneurship.”

Her agency, “The Neely Agency,” manages campaigns from conception through implementation, assisting clients that include small business, entertainment, corporate, public sector, nonprofit and faith-based organizations. 

Neely enjoys networking, professional development, and giving back to the community through her support of multiple organizations. In 2018, she launched an initiative through her firm, and she and her team raised money and awareness for almost 20 different nonprofit organizations through “Neely Agency Mixers” also known as “NAMs” where attendees “network for a cause.” Due to the success of the initiative and the even greater needs of nonprofits, she and her partners launched the nonprofit Brinson Neely Foundation.

Neely grew up on a farm in Arkansas and is married to Victor Neely, her husband of 22 years. They have a daughter and two grandchildren. She and her husband enjoy family time, traveling, and experiencing island adventures worldwide. Her favorite quote is found in Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”         

- Ilaria Pisoni

Broadcast news veteran Chalise Macklin joins JRSM faculty

(Aug. 30, 2022) The Department of Journalism and Strategic Media welcomes Chalise Macklin this fall as a new assistant professor of broadcast journalism. On the walls of her office in 306 Meeman Journalism, she surrounds herself with photographs of women who have inspired her throughout her life.

Prof. Chalise Macklin
Prof. Chalise Macklin

Macklin is no stranger to the department and Memphis. Earning her B.A. in broadcast journalism here, she began her journalism career working at WREG News Channel 3 during her senior year. After graduation, she became a staff writer at the Evening Times in Marion, Arkansas, but returned to Memphis to work in production at WHBQ Fox 13. Her career took her next to KAIT 8 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and finally back to Memphis to WATN Local 24.

While in Jonesboro, Macklin earned her M.A. in communication studies from Arkansas State University, where she also taught journalism and public relations classes. There she discovered a passion for mentoring students, which she hopes to continue at the University of Memphis.

Macklin has also worked as a freelance writer for Memphis Magazine and Southern Soul. One of her favorite experiences was freelancing for The Grio, an African American News Outlet based in New York City.

This fall Macklin plans to complete her Ph.D. when she defends her dissertation, which addresses the need for more diversity, equity, and inclusion in media messages and the risk those messages pose to the public if they lack diversity. On a broader scale, her research interests can be defined as diversity and inclusivity in newsrooms and news coverage with an emphasis on cultural influence and potential risks to the public.

Outside of academia, Macklin loves to travel, read and spend time with her friends and family.

- Haley Hale

Exchange program with Mainz, Germany, brings three students to the UofM 

(Aug. 29, 2022) Three students from Germany have joined the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media for the fall 2022 semester as part of its exchange program with Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz.

Fall 2022 Mainz students
Leander Xynogalas, Marlene Lutz and Stefan Schüür are spending the semester at the UofM.

Exchange programs enable students to study abroad at one of their university’s partner institutions, and every semester the department hosts students from Germany. For the fall semester, the department has been joined by Marlene Lutz, 25; Leander Xynogalas, 25; and Stefan Schüür, 23. 

“It was a big dream of me to study at a U.S. college since I started university in Germany,” Xynogalas said. “So, this program was the perfect opportunity to get this experience.”

Studying in the United States is a desire that a lot of students share in Europe as it is such a different reality from what they are used to. 

A big difference is campus life. College in the United States has a robust campus culture that revolves around residence halls, sports, fraternities, sororities, and clubs. Whereas in Europe, activities are rarely centered around the university itself and more just around the city in general. 

“One of the first big differences we talked about after our arrival in Memphis is the food,” Lutz said. “On our campus in Germany, it is nearly impossible to get any kind of fast food.”

Studying abroad is overall a great opportunity for young adults as it allows them to develop highly valued skills such as intercultural communication, foreign languages, and problem-solving.

Studying abroad can also be beneficial for the future. It has been linked to increased ability to be hired and higher starting salaries. 

The department is again planning to send UofM students to Mainz in May 2023 as part of the exchange program.

Located in west-central Germany, Mainz is the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the movable-type printing press. It is also home to the Gutenberg Museum as well as five universities. One of Mainz’s most defining features is its 1000-year-old Romanesque cathedral.

- Ilaria Pisoni

Grad student social event set for Sept. 8 at RP Tracks

RP Tracks
RP Tracks is located at 3547 Walker Ave.

(Aug. 29, 2022) The Department of Journalism and Strategic Media is inviting all graduate students to join the staff and faculty at the annual Grad Student Social at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 8 at RP Tracks to kick off the fall 2022 semester.

The event, which had to be canceled the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is back on the calendar, thanks to Department Chair David Arant. A goal for the department for the fall 2022 semester is for students, staff, and faculty to re-engage in person after more than two years of remote learning and Zoom events. The Grad Student Social is a good way for that to happen.

The department is offering to spring for snacks, while drinks will be on your own. RP Tracks is located at 3547 Walker Ave. near the U of M campus.

- Tom Hrach


Nominations needed by Aug. 29 for top faculty award

(Aug. 23, 2022) Students, alumni and staff of the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media are asked to consider nominating their favorite faculty member for the D. Mike Pennington Award by the Monday, Aug. 29, deadline.

Jin Yang Pennington Award
Patsy Pennington (left) and David Arant (right) award the 2019 D. Mike Pennington Award to Jin Yang in 2019.

The award recognizes a current department faculty member who has been exemplary in guiding and mentoring students. To be eligible for the award, the nominee must be a current full-time faculty member who has served the department full-time for at least three years, and has not won the award within the previous four years.  

A committee appointed by department chair Dr. David Arant will review nominations and select the winner, which will be announced at the department’s alumni awards banquet on Oct. 6.

Previous award winners are Sandy Utt, Matthew Haught, Tori Cliff, Pam Denney, Robby Byrd, Kim Marks Malone, Melissa Janoske McLean, Jin Yang, Ruoxu Wang, Otis Sanford, Michael Robinson and Teri Del Rosso. 

The award is named in honor of Mike Pennington, class of 1972, who had a distinguished career serving as corporate communicator and business magazine journalist, editor and photographer, primarily in the trucking and its affiliated industries.

To nominate, please fill out this short survey.

JRSM faculty well represented at national journalism educators conference

Taylor Ackerman speaks at 2022 AEJMC

Professor Taylor Ackerman discusses her research at the 2022 AEJMC national conference in Detroit on Aug. 3.

(Aug. 23, 2022) Faculty members at the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media presented four research papers, each of which related to critical communication issues, at the 2022 AEJMC National Conference in Detroit on Aug. 3 to 5.

The Association of Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication is the premier professional organization for journalism and strategic media research. The Detroit conference was the first time the organization had met in person since 2019.

Ruoxu Wang presented “The impact of exemplars on perception gap of risk and behavioral intentions” along with co-author Chun Yang of Louisiana State University. Taylor Ackerman and Jin Yang presented “Parasocial Relationships in Social Media: A Comparative Study of Instagram Posts by Celebrities and Influencers.”

Also presenting research was Joel Nichols, who presented “The Black Creative-Agency Experience: Do Black Employees in Advertising, Branding and Marketing feel valued?” which was co-authored with graduate student Haley Hale. Kim Marks Malone presented “Who’s Teaching Future PR Professionals? Exploring Professional Credentials of Full-Time PR Faculty in Accredited Programs,” which also won second place for the top teaching research paper.

Others faculty members who attended and participate as panelists, discussants and moderators were David Arant, Matt Haught, Tom Hrach, Otis Sanford and professor emeritus Sandra Utt.

- Tom Hrach

Local TV news veteran joins team at UofM public service reporting institute

(Aug. 23, 2022) The University of Memphis’ Institute for Public Service Reporting has hired Scott Pickey, a second-year JRSM grad student with almost 30 years of experience in local broadcast news, as its student intern for the 2022-23 school year.

Scott Pickey
Scott Pickey

Institute Director Marc Perrusquia made the announcement on Aug. 19. The institute, which is based in the U of M journalism department, has entered its third year of its internship program. And this time, Perrusquia said he will be learning as much from the intern as the other way around, thanks to Pickey’s vast experience.

A native Memphian, Pickey graduated from Harding Academy and Christian Brothers University where he received a B.A. in Communication Arts/Journalism. While at CBU, he also worked at WKNO-FM as a news and classical music announcer.

As part of the internship, Pickey will return to WKNO where he will anchor newscasts and report from the field. He also will contribute to news coverage for the institute’s digital print partner, the Daily Memphian.

Pickey previously worked at local TV stations in Kirkersville, Mo.; Syracase, N.Y.; Wilmington, N.C.; and Odessa-Midland, Texas.

“I'm looking forward to stepping out of the news director's office for a while and getting back to my reporting roots,” Pickey said.“This internship will allow The Institute and myself the opportunity to cover local stories you won't see anywhere else in town. It’s an honor to be accepted into the internship and I greatly appreciate the opportunity.”

-Tom Hrach

Meeman Matters: The Department Newsletter  

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2020 AEJMC Southeast Colloquium  

The 45th annual AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, March 19 -21, 2020, is to be hosted virtually by the University of Memphis. Six AEJMC divisions will participate in the annual event: Electronic News, History, Law and Policy, Magazine Media, Newspaper and Online News, and Visual Communication. And there is an Open division as well, so everyone is welcome to participate.

Register here

The colloquium will be hosted in a virtual format because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pennington Abroad Awards help JRSM majors study abroad

The Department of Journalism and Strategic Media is now offering awards to study abroad through the Pennington Abroad Awards. Each recipient receives $1,000 toward a study abroad experience offered at the UofM (summer, semester or full academic year). These awards are reserved to Journalism and Strategic Media majors who have at least a 2.5 GPA. For more information, please contact Dr. David Arant

Graduate Student and Faculty Research Colloquiums and Twitter Chats

The Department plans Research Colloquiums for the 2020 Spring Semester in order to engage graduate students and faculty in research efforts. And this semester the department has two planned: Feb. 21, April 17. 

The Department also planned one twitter chats for graduate students in the 2020 Spring Semester. It is 7:30 p.m. March 5 (Thursday) using the hashtag #meemangrad. 

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