High schoolers visit USM for MSPA


On Sept. 29, The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Mass Communication and Journalism hosted its 2016 Mississippi Scholastic Press Association (MSPA) Journalism Day.

MSPA is a statewide organization intended to promote high school journalism and student media throughout grade-level education.

The one-day event is designed to help students explore multiple storytelling mediums. The workshop provides several lecture sessions on written word, video, photography, broadcast, graphic design and more.

Southern Miss graduate and House Committee on Energy and Commerce staffer Andrew Buckalew served as keynote speaker for this year’s event.

Buckalew opened the event by discussing the importance of storytelling and using these skills to further one’s career.

The South Mississippi Fall Workshop included sessions such as inDesign and Photoshop basics, managing a student-led publication, news writing, literary magazines, multimedia journalism, interviewing, photography, social media and other programs.

Director of the School of Mass Communications and Journalism David Davies lectured about social media as a storytelling device.

“Social media is a topic that students obviously seem to be interested in, and I’ve been fortunate to have groups of enthusiastic students willing to learn,” Davies said. “I tell students to try and harness social media to either advance their own careers or to promote their student media.”

Meridian High School senior Kai Horne said she wishes to learn new skills to improve her school’s news publication.

“I came out to kind of see what other people are doing and just learn from different ideas,” Horne said. “I like to learn new information, so it was really nice to attend all of these sessions and find how we can make use of new ideas.”

USM graduate assistant Will Tubbs hosted three sessions of the workshop on interviewing and writing like a reporter.

“When I was in high school, we didn’t really learn anything about journalism,” Tubbs said. “It was kind of like what you saw on television or read in the newspapers created misconceptions of what it is like to be a reporter or on the news.”

Tubbs said he believes high school journalism programs are beneficial for preparing students for their careers in a growing industry.

“As a university, we have a lot of great instructors, engaging speakers and [a] diverse curriculum,” Tubbs said. “With the Mass Comm Department, even hosting an event like this says enough and that we are putting our best foot forward. In high school, there is only one hour a day in each class and only so much you can cover. I believe this event is opening their eyes to new ideas or reinforcing things that they are already learning.”

The MSPA statewide convention was held at the University of Mississippi, where 522 high school journalism students gathered.

Southern Miss partners annually with MSPA to create these workshops to sharpen the skills of high school students across southern Mississippi.