October 20, 2017  

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Journalism Students Get Opportunity to Have Work Published

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USM students enrolled in a 2017 summer semester reporting class had the opportunity to get their work published in the Hattiesburg Post.

An ongoing relationship with a Pine Belt media company has allowed journalism students at The University of Southern Mississippi to apply the skills they’ve learned in the classroom online and in print for one of its weekly newspapers.

USM seniors Lindsey Garrity of Hattiesburg and Sarah Morgan of Mobile, Ala. were among students who produced articles for the Hattiesburg Post while enrolled in Dr. Christopher Campbell’s reporting class (MCJ 203) during the summer 2017 semester.

The Post is published by Hub City SPOKES, along with the Petal News and the Lamar County News. David Gustafson is editor and publisher for the company.

Garrity and Morgan wrote articles about Hattiesburg’s District at MidTown economic development project; the success of USM alumna and local chef Katie Dixon who was a finalist on Season 7 of the Fox television series “MasterChef”; efforts to provide job opportunities in Mississippi for its college graduates; and how one of those recent graduates, Jeffrey George, is making a difference in local government as a newly elected member of the Hattiesburg City Council. 

Morgan said her work on the article about Mississippi’s ‘brain drain’ enlightened her and Hattiesburg Post readers about how a high percentage of young professionals are choosing to stay in Mississippi, which helps local economies in the state. She also found inspiration interviewing George and Dixon, which she said brought a sense of “Eagle pride” when seeing her work in print.

“Dr. Campbell’s reporting class is by far my favorite class so far at USM. He was very encouraging throughout the writing process, and I think that is what helped the project come together so smoothly,” Morgan said.

“I’m also appreciative of the opportunity David Gustafson gave our reporting class,” she said. “He gave us great advice on how to approach different businesses and locals that we wanted to interview. We obviously would not have been able to accomplish this without his help.”

Garrity praised Todd Jackson, vice president of economic development with the Area Development Partnership (ADP), who she said served as an invaluable source for her research on the story about the District at MidTown project. “He (Jackson) provided economic statistics and well as his professional opinion about the MidTown development,” Garrity said. “He truly wanted to help me and treated me like a professional, which made me want to work even harder on the project. And I’m grateful to Dr. Campbell and David Gustafson for making this opportunity a reality and their desire to see students succeed.”

This is the second summer that students in his reporting class have produced work for the Hattiesburg Post, Dr. Campbell said.  

“When students are doing "real world" projects like this, it's very different from doing assignments for a class,” Dr. Campbell said. “They really rose to the occasion and did some excellent reporting. Having their work published helps them to build the portfolios they need so they can get jobs when they graduate.”

Gustafson is also impressed with the students’ work. “Their writing was top-notch, and they showed a real passion for the things they wrote about,” he said. “I hope some of them decide to pursue careers as professional journalists, because community newspapers like ours can benefit from the energy and passion they bring to the table.”

Gustafson concurred with Dr. Campbell that such experiences like the ones the USM students participated in give them an edge in the job market. “As an employer, it’s always something I look for while searching for people to join my team,” he said.

For information about the USM School of Mass Communication and Journalism, visit www.usm.edu/mcj. To learn about Hub City SPOKES, visit http://www.hubcityspokes.com/.