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A panel of South Mississippi journalists visited the workshop and who gave the participants tips on the field of journalism and advice on what they can do now to get ready for that career. At left is a broadcast story of the panel, by Jonathan McGowan. Below is a slide show of photographs from the event that were taken by Peter Chen.
Journalists should be prepared for anything, stay confident and have the courage to tell the truth, according to five South Mississippi journalists who spoke earlier this week at Southern Miss.
“Journalism is a double-edged sword,” said Kelly Price, staff photographer at the Hattiesburg American. “You are your worst critic and your own cheerleader.”
Price was one of five journalists who spoke to the Remembering “Freedom Summer” Multimedia High School Journalism Workshop, hosted by the School of Mass Communication and Journalism. Also on the panel were Lici Beveridge, digital and social media editor at the Hattiesburg American; Mary Margaret Halford, staff report for the Sun Herald; Erin Lowrey, social media manager for WDAM; and David McRaney, visual content manager at WDAM.
Here are their stories:
Beveridge gave the advice that to be a journalist, one must be bold.
“It’s like being in a nest of baby birds; whoever is the loudest gets fed,” she said.
In addition to being bold, Beveridge said one must be well versed in many areas and, when in doubt, stick to the basics. Because news stories are never in short supply, down time and, most importantly, sleep become a luxury of the past.
Starting out as a musician, Beveridge switched to journalism after going to school for biology. Although she only signed up for the courses to better her writing skills, she soon signed on wholeheartedly. After 17 years in the field she has covered many social platforms and created a name for herself.
-- Christian Miller and Lauryn Smith
Mary Margaret Halford
Halford, a graduate of Southern Mississippi, spoke with future journalists about being emotional, understanding, and maintaining self-assurance.
“Figure out how to talk to the victims,” Halford stated. “Get to know the victim, rather than the incident.”
Halford was referring to talking to the parents of a child who passed away. She said talking to a parent of a child who died is highly emotional.
Halford said building trust with your subjects is important. This allows the parent to feel more comfortable with you.
When Halford attended Southern Miss she was the editor of The Student Printz and she also interned at The Vicksburg Post.
-- Markel McBride, Kaylee Warren, and Destiny Farmer
Lowrey stressed the importance of experience before entering the world of journalism.
She told the participants of the workshop that their work ethic is what will set them apart in the journalism world. While Lowrey was at USM, she had a total of six internships.
Dedication to journalism is in her blood. Her grandfather was a writer who died at a desk trying to get a Christmas paper published. She also stressed the value of networking.
She challenged the participants to have commitment, passion, and good writing skills for a career in journalism.
“You can’t be a lazy journalist,” Lowrey said.
She also warned that this profession can be hectic sometimes. Lowrey stated that healthy competition helps a journalist build skills as well as stay humble.
Lowrey left the workshop participants with great tips on how to excel and survive in the field of journalism.
As her parting statement, she said, “Don’t be afraid to fail; no one is perfect.”
-- Zaria Bonds and Deja Harris
Inspired by an advertisement for the Student Printz at USM, a very opinionated McRaney unintentionally dove into his future career. Fast-forwarding into earlier this week, the 2007 graduate of USM shared his career experiences and tools of the trade with 16 aspiring journalists.
McRaney shared that to be successful in the world of journalism one must “give a voice to the voiceless, and be a watchdog for corruption.” Other tips given by the journalism expert were, “Don’t let your notes sit, put them into a document.”
On an average day, McRaney writes close to three or four stories. He said as a journalist, one needs to communicate the work of experts to non-experts in your writing. He urged the workshop participants to constantly say, “I don’t understand,” in order to fully educate the readers about the topic.
In addition to his extensive work at WDAM, McRaney is a best-selling author with two books, You are Not so Smart and You are Now Less Dumb.
-- Bria Paige and Jessica Swanson
Price gave encouraging words to the journalism students. She said constantly bettering yourself is a good way to keep ahead of the demanding life of a journalist. Many journalists have a habit of talking to themselves, and Price insisted on keeping it positive. “In journalism, you’re at a higher liability to critique yourself because you try to make your writing and content output better,” Price said.
Price also advised on the subject of handling your own emotions in the face of disasters. “It makes you numb,” she said, “But you are still human.”
-- William Lowery and Emalie Cormier