All posts by Pat Thompson

University of Mississippi Director of Student Media, Faculty Adviser for The Daily Mississippian, Assistant Professor of Journalism

Category #14: Current events

Category #14: Current events
Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Time Allotted: 12:15-1:15 p.m. Farley 124

Materials Provided: Question sheet, pen
Materials Not Provided but Allowed: None
Suggested resources: Print, broadcast and online news sources from Nov. 1, 2016, through Feb. 13, 2017; familiarization with the names and titles of major national and world leaders.
Prohibited Materials: Laptops, phones, any outside material; anyone seen reading from something brought from outside will be disqualified.
Exercise/Assignment: Contestants will take a multiple-choice quiz on major events from Nov. 1, 2016, through Feb. 14, 2017.
When completed, the category proctor will collect your question/answer sheets. Put your assigned number on the test, not your name or university. Rankings will be assigned strictly by score.

Category #13: Public Relations

Category: Public Relations (teams of two or three allowed)
Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Time Allotted:
 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Farley 126.
Materials Provided: Scenario only.
Materials Needed: Laptop computers
Prohibited Materials: None. You are free to bring any materials and/or to use the internet.

Exercise: When you arrive at the competition room, you will be given a hypothetical situation. The situation will NOT be a crisis, but will be a situation that a fictional organization is facing or a challenge that it wants to take on.

For the hypothetical situation given you, address how you would approach the situation in a complete eight-step PR campaign/program/plan.

Type up your report with clearly labeled sections of your plan. For example, label “Situation,” “Research,” “Survey questions,” “Action tactics,” etc.

Note that grammar, spelling, punctuation and AP style errors will count against you.

Submission of final report: Email your report no later than 2 p.m. to

At the top of the report, put ONLY your contestant number (no names/universities). Entries with a time stamp later than 2 p.m. will be disqualified.


Your report must include the following:
I. Description of problem/situation/Research
State the situation
b. Research:
a. Secondary RS. Describe the secondary RS you would do. If you have time, actually do some SR on the topic of the campaign and provide the results.
b. Primary Research. Explain here what primary research you would conduct. Explain what you would research, how and what information you would hope to get. Write at least three sample survey questions you would administer.
c. Target publics. 
State who the TP will be.
d. Objectives
Write at least one objective.

II. Strategy
Explain your strategy and key messages.
Slogan: create one to call your plan.
c. Spokesperson. Will you have a spokesperson? If so, tell us why you chose him/her. If not, say why not.

 III. Tactics
Actions & Events: State what actions you would use and why. Explain when, where, and how the actions would occur and what would take place. Write up a schedule or program for one of the events. For example, might you have a walk or run? A rally? A seminar?
b. Communications
What is your communications plan? First, give your overall communications plan. List the communication methods you would use and explain why you chose them. Explain what mass media, social media or controlled communications you would use and how/why.

Briefly describe/list/explain what would be on the website for this plan and what it would be called.

Write a short news release announcing one of your tactics or your campaign and include a quote from yourself as the organization’s communications professional. Use AP style and format the news release the way it would look if you sent it out.

Write/illustrate three social media posts from two separate social media you would use. In other words, that will be six total posts. ** Schedule when and where you would post which item. Use your campaign slogan as a hashtag. For example:

Date Social media post
Oct. 3, Facebook post Are you ready? If you’re going out for a run, get ready by finding at least one buddy to run with you. This message is from the Ole Miss campaign about personal safety. #StaySafeRebels (Illustration of two female students jogging together.)

 IV. Budget/cost

List the items you would need to buy/rent/pay for and give a rough total cost. Don’t worry; all you have to do is estimate it. You will NOT be graded on how exact your amount is.

V. Timeline

State when you would begin planning, when your campaign would take

place, and dates of your events. This does not need to be very thorough.

VI. Evaluation

State how you plan to evaluate the campaign. Of course, you cannot really evaluate it; just state what methods you would use.





Category # 12: TV News reporting

Category # 12: TV News reporting (two-person teams allowed)
Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Time Allotted: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Materials Not Provided but Required: Camera, tripod and microphone. Laptop with appropriate software for editing. (If you are unable to provide your own laptop for editing, email and we can discuss options. The Meek School of Journalism & New Media at Ole Miss uses Adobe Premiere.)
Students will be provided with sufficient space for video editing in Farley Hall.
Prohibited Materials: None
Assignment: Participants will be given four hours to develop a :60-:90 television news package based on a news conference in the Overby Center attached to Farley Hall on the Ole Miss campus. Katie Kaiser from Visit Oxford will speak to media about a number of events taking place in Oxford the weekend of Feb. 17-19. She will share details on the impact of that weekend and other spring events on local businesses and residents.
The news conference begins promptly at 10 a.m. and will be held in Overby Rm 249.
Students are asked to post their packages to YouTube. The video should be titled without using the contestant name or institution, and that information should NOT be included in the package itself. USE ONLY THE CONTESTANT’S ASSIGNED NUMBER. Contestants should sign off as: “This is Contestant #(whatever your number is), reporting for SEJC.”

Links to scripts and edited packages must be emailed to no later than 2 p.m. Be sure to make the video “public.” URLs that are not accessible may be disqualified. The subject line of the email should include ONLY the contestant number and the title of the contest (TV News Reporting).

Judging criteria: Stories will be judged for accuracy, creativity and clarity. The quality of the visuals, use of compelling sound bites and natural sound, and the strength of the writing in the script submitted will be evaluated by the judges, along with the reporter’s delivery on camera and in the narration.

Category #11: TV Anchoring

Category #11: TV Anchoring
Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Time Allotted: 15 minutes per student (depending on technological adjustments) from noon-3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19, at the Student Media Center, 201 Bishop Hall.

Exercise/Assignment: Contestants must sign up for a time slot at the SEJC registration desk at Farley Hall. Each contestant will be given a number for identification. At the appointed time, students will meet a proctor at the registration desk at Farley Hall to be taken to the Student Media Center at Bishop Hall (either by walking or by golf cart, with small groups escorted each half hour). If you show up late for your appointment, you must get to Bishop Hall on your own.

At the Student Media Center, each contestant will be given a script to practice for 10 minutes. At the end of the 10 minutes, the student will read the script at the anchor desk, which will be recorded for judging. Students will sign off by saying, “This is Contestant # (contestant’s number) for SEJC.” Students should not mention their names or universities. Students can leave when their recording is finished.

Judging criteria: Personal demeanor/appearance, diction, accuracy, energy,  copy interpretation, quality of delivery and minimum vocal fillers.

Category #10: Radio News Reporting

Category #10: Radio News Reporting

Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Time Allotted:
1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Materials Needed But NOT Provided: Contestants must supply their own laptop and recording device.
Prohibited Materials: Students are disqualified if they incorporate any external audio into the piece, meaning audio not collected from the event or by the contestant at the event.
Assignment: Contestants will cover the “Assault on the Media” panel at the SEJC conference. A description of the panel and bios of the panelists will be in the conference program. The panel is 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. in the Overby Center auditorium.

Students’ radio reports should not exceed a minute and a half in length, and must be based on the panel and the conference.

At 3 p.m., contestants will meet a proctor outside the auditorium. They will walk to the Student Media Center at Bishop Hall.
At Bishop Hall, students will be given 15 minutes to write a script for their report.  At the end of those 15 minutes, scripts will be printed out – BE SURE TO WRITE YOUR NUMBER ON YOUR SCRIPT – and given to the proctor to ensure that no contestant has extra time to write the script. The finished audio report must be from the submitted script.

Contestants will be assigned an order in which to record their reports, and they will be given a maximum of 10 minutes to record their report in the radio production bay at the Student Media Center. The submitted report must be in an mp3 audio file.

Contestants are not to identify themselves or their school in any fashion in their completed report or on their entry submission. Contestants should sign off their report with, “This is Contestant # (contestant’s number), reporting for SEJC.”

Contestants should title their file “Radio News Contestant # (contestant’s number)” and save it to a flash drive that will be in the production computer.

The proctor will be available for questions about the editing software and production equipment but will not provide any editing advice or other editorial/technical assistance.

Category #9: Photo/Sports

Category #9: Photo/Sports
Materials Provided:
Materials Not Provided but Needed: Personal laptop, personal camera with zoom lens, personal laptop, USB cord/flash card/wireless software allowing for transfer of photos to laptop.
Prohibited Materials: None
Exercise: Contestants will cover the women’s basketball game between Ole Miss and Auburn on Feb. 16 at The Pavilion.
Contestants will leave from the Farley Hall SEJC registration desk at 7 p.m., OR meet the group at The Pavilion no later than 7:30 p.m. We will  have press credentials for all the photographers.
Assignment: Contestants have until 11 p.m. to capture, edit, tone, caption and submit no more and no fewer than three photographs from the game. The caption should be 1-2 sentences describing the who, what, when, where of the image. Captions are to be written in AP style.

They will title the three pictures with the number they were assigned, followed by a hyphen and the number 1, 2 or 3 (for example, a contestant assigned “8” will title their photos 8-1, 8-2 and 8-3).
They will email their pictures to
by 11 p.m. Thursday night. These files will be sent to the designated judges.
Websites:  Contestants are not required but are strongly encouraged to visit the following link prior to attending SEJC, and to read the information at the bottom of this post about covering Ole Miss games:

Judging criteria: Quality of the capture of action, reaction, focus on the subject(s) and/or facial expression, use of light, composition of image, relevance of image(s) related to the news involved.

2016-17 Ole Miss Women’s Basketball Media Information
Parking passes are not required for Ole Miss Women’s Basketball games. Members of the media are encouraged to park in the parking garage.
Photographers will be given floor passes and are expected to honor all sideline and baseline access areas. The respective bench areas, behind the bench areas and courtside in front of the scorer’s table are OFF LIMITS to all photographers. Strobe or flash photography is permitted only with permission from the Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations Office. Strobes must be mounted away from the court area.
Per NCAA rules, media are not permitted to have contact with a prospect or family members of a prospect during their visit (official or unofficial), including prospects in attendance at practice or games. In addition, media are forbidden from videoing or photographing prospects during their visit. Media are also asked to make every effort to keep distance from prospects on campus, including at practice, during pre-game activities on the sidelines and in the stands.
Complete pregame notes with team and individual statistics will be distributed to the media when entering The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Following the game, final and halftime box scores, play-by-play and postgame quotes will be provided. Pregame food service will be available approximately 60 minutes prior to tipoff.
The media workroom offers media a place to gather materials provided by the Athletics Media and Public Relations staff, write and submit stories, transmit photographs and participate in post-game press conferences. The workroom at The Pavilion at Ole Miss will be located in the southwest corner of the floor level through the visiting team tunnel.

Category #8: Photo/News-Features

Category #8: Photo/News-Features
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017
Materials Provided:  None
Materials Not Provided but Needed: Personal laptop, personal camera with zoom lens, personal laptop, USB cord/flash card/wireless software allowing for transfer of photos to laptop. Students are not required to bring laptop to photo sites; this is only needed for the purposes of submitting the photos.
 Prohibited Materials: None
Exercise: Contestants will cover an event on Thursday, Feb. 16. They will cover the Thacker Mountain Radio Show and the beginning of the Oxford Film Festival at The Lyric.
Contestants are required to meet at the Farley Hall SEJC registration desk at 5 p.m. on Feb. 16, OR to meet the group at The Lyric no later than 5:30 p.m. We will have credentials and tickets for contestants covering the event.
Assignment: Contestants have until 10 p.m. Thursday night to capture, edit, tone, caption and submit no more and no fewer than three photographs to
The caption should be 1-2 sentences describing the who, what, when, where of the image. Captions are to be written in AP style.

They will title the three pictures with the number they were assigned, followed by a hyphen and the number 1, 2 or 3 (for example, a contestant assigned “8” will title their photos 8-1, 8-2 and 8-3). They will email their pictures to the designated email address. The proctor will send the files to the designated judges.
Judging criteria: Focus on the subject(s), newsworthiness of photographs comparative to competition, ability to capture expressions and/or action, use of light, composition of images.

Category #6: Copy Editing

Category #6: Copy Editing
Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Classroom Time Allotted:
12:15-1:15 p.m. Farley 121
Materials Provided:
Materials Not Provided but Needed: Colored pen/marker; AP stylebook; dictionary
Prohibited Materials: Contestants will not be allowed to access the internet during the test.
Assignment: Once in the classroom, contestants will be given a poorly written news or feature story of about 900-1,000 words. The story will feature anywhere from 30-60 mistakes. These may include:
– spelling, punctuation, grammar, number agreement, AP style errors
– factual errors (including misspelled proper names and/or titles)
– poorly placed or missing attribution
– typographical errors that a spell-check would not detect.

The contestants’ job is to correct as many mistakes as they notice, marking them in colored pen or marker, and then write a headline for the story of no more than 6 words.
Judging criteria: Number of mistakes corrected based on judge’s answer key and suitability of headline in terms of reflecting the news in the story and the facts included.

Category #7: Design/Page Layout

Category #7: Design/Page Layout
Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Classroom Time Allotted:
 12:15 p.m.-1:45 p.m. Farley 138
Materials Provided: Mac computer with InDesign CS6 software
Prohibited Materials: None
Exercise/Assignment: Contestants will be provided with a file that includes pre-written stories and images. All contestants will receive the same stories and photos on flash drives in the computer lab.

Contestants will have 90 minutes to lay out two complete pages (a front page and jump) of a newspaper. The pages should include some or all of the following: a flag, headlines, photos, cutlines, rules, date, refers, mugshot(s), bylines, etc.

Save the  InDesign document and title it with the number you were assigned. Do not put your name anywhere on the assignment nor in the file name.

After you title the document and save it, leave the flash drive in your computer. 

Judging criteria: Adherence to deadline and overall eye appeal; effective use of art/graphic elements; artistic ability and creativity; story/photo arrangements; accuracy and quality of headlines; quality of cutlines; adherence to spelling, punctuation, grammar and AP style.