Journalism 377 Final Story

For my final project, I will be doing a more recent update/study on Chronic Wasting Disease in Mississippi.

The first case of this disease was found in January, and the second was found in October.

To do this story, I will be in contact with the MDWFP, local hunters, and game wardens in the area. I will also be doing research on the disease and providing links to previous stories about the spreading of these deer.

I think this story is important because of the timeliness and the place we live in. People in the South love to hunt, and I know for a fact many hunters are concerned.

I plan to include photographs and potentially a timeline for this disease.


Lack of Transportation Could Affect Voter Turnout

In the city of Oxford, concerned citizens are advocating for an increase in bus routes for polling stations. A lack of transportation has often been cited as a major reason why voter turnout is low, according to a report by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.  

Bus routes are pre-approved in January and February for the upcoming fiscal year beginning in October, so the potential bus routes to the polls cannot be met until 2019-2020.

“It’s not happening this year,” Kate Kellum, vice chair of the Pathways Commission, said. “I’ve accepted that.”

Oxford Conference Center is one of the biggest polling stations in Oxford, and Oxford-University Transit currently does not offer a bus route to that location.

“We used to have a route that serviced the Conference Center,” Carol Pringle, Operations Manager for Oxford Transit, said. “It lasted for about a year, but the ridership wasn’t what it needed to be.” 

Kellum and Don Feitel, who is the chair for the Pathways Commission, both stated their concerns with the lack of sidewalks on Sisk Avenue and how Pathways has been trying to improve the access for bikers on that road.

“This issue just highlights the need for increased accessibility for alternative forms of transportation,” Feitel said. “We don’t want to limit access to only people who can afford to drive themselves.”

“I’m hoping to try to get the Transit Commission to include special routes starting the fiscal year ‘19-20,” Kellum said.

 Margaret Sysyn is a member of the Voter Empowerment Project and created a detailed map of bus routes that are in correspondence with the polling stations located around the Oxford community. In addition, she included the polling stations that do not have bus routes to highlight the need for routes in those areas.

“Sure, there’s a handful of polls along the OUT bus routes, but not nearly enough accommodations for those who lack transportation,” Sysyn said.

Sysyn is also concerned with the gap in transportation provisions for those who live in rural areas, as well as those who are elders.

“I wish we could take people to the polls,”  Pringle said. “That would be great.”

Due to regulations, the OUT bus system is not able to directly take voters to the polls. 

“We just want to help the community in any way we can,” Pringle said. “That’s why we open our meetings to the public. We want people to be able to express their concerns so we can do whatever we can.”

The Transit Committee meets on the second Wednesday of each month. Those who have concerns are able to attend the meeting and voice their proposals for new routes.

“When people come into our meetings, we will have the opportunity to look at [the proposal] and see if it’s something we can do,” Pringle said.

Amy Fisher is an Associate Professor for Social Work and has created a community-engagement project called The Voter Empowerment Project, which aims to inform students about the importance of community engagement in all aspects.

“We want our students to learn the skills around community engagement and actions to a better society so that they will understand how important it is to exercise the right to vote,” Fisher said.

Midterm elections are set for Tuesday, November 6. Even with the lack of transportation for those who are unable to drive, other organizations such as Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to the polls.

Map created by Margaret Sysyn, member of the Voter Empowerment Project.


‘What Works’ Week 11

Headline: A Black Senate Candidate Stumps in Mississippi, but His Party Holds Him Back


On October 25, an article was published on The New York Times out of Indianola, Mississippi, about the struggles an African American male has faced during his life.

Thirty years prior to this article, the young man, Mike Epsy, was a young lawyer and was working towards becoming a member of Congress. Due to his race, many whites didn’t shake his hand. Fast-forward 30 years, and some of that racial tension has dissipated. Epsy is a former member of the House and also served as Bill Clinton’s agriculture secretary.

Epsy was the first African American Senator since the Reconstruction, which is a huge barrier to cross. In the article, it states a major issue that is at stake with the midterm elections coming up on Tuesday, November 6: “convincing voters in an overwhelmingly Republican state to break partisan ranks and support a party that has gone all but extinct in major offices in this part of the South.”

In this year’s midterm election, Epsy is doing all he can to win the votes of the people, by doing what President Obama did in elections past, as well as things Obama failed to do, which is win the votes of the white voters in Mississippi who are farm owners, landowners, liberals and the young.

After reading this entire article, I think it does a great job of reporting. It doesn’t show just “one” side of the political spectrum. It shows both Democratic and Republican views, while highlighting the life of Epsy. It shows the changes that have been made since the height of racial tensions many years ago, but it also shows that the tension is still prevalent in areas today. We are supplied with a host of well-acclaimed sources as well, which also bring credibility to the passage.

All in all, I thought this was an extremely well-written article. I never knew all of this information about Mr. Epsy, or even who he was, before reading this. I feel more informed and prepared for the election coming up, and I’m sure this article aided in the decision-making process this coming Tuesday.

‘What Works’ Week 10

Headline: Why Spain is Set to Become the Country With the Longest Life Expectancy


Teen Vogue published an article under their food category about why Spain is the country with the longest life expectancy. I was first drawn to this article by the title — because who doesn’t want to live longer? Personally speaking, if there’s anything the Spaniards are doing to live longer, I want to get in on that!


I thought this article worked for more reasons than one. First off, it was informational. In magazines, most of the time you reach for the magazine because of the cover. In this online edition, you get to choose what you want to read. I loved that in a magazine that is about fashion, we get information about other cultures and information about life in general.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation ran a report and published it in The Guardian and found that Spain would be the country to have the highest life expectancy by the year 2040, and the United States ranked 64th. The reason for this is the widespread opioid crisis here in the U.S.


The article goes on to discuss that the reason the Spaniards will live so long is due to their diet. Being near the Mediterranean Sea, they eat what is known as “The Mediterranean Diet,”  which is a diet that consists of local fruits, vegetables, olive oil, grains and fish. I think that by adding links to this information made it easier to understand and an easy way to follow this diet and promote a healthier heart.


All in all, this article was informative, including links to statistics which builds the credibility of the article. I had honestly always been curious about the Mediterranean diet, and after reading, know I will try to add more of that to my diet, even though I already eat mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Week 10: Oxford Residents Reflect on Racial Changes

By Kennedy Pope and Abby Vance

Joester Brassell, or better known as “Mama Jo,” still remembers what it is like being looked at differently on the Square. Not only was this normalized in the 1960s, but it is also still prevalent today.

“I do feel like we still have stores on the square that do not welcome black people in their stores,” Mama Jo said. “I guess they think that black people do not have money when my dollar is the same as their dollar.”

Growing up in the 1950s, Mama Jo shares how the stores on the Square were interpreted to her by her parents growing up.

“Neilson’s was there when I was a little girl, but I never went until I was grown,” Mama Jo said. “When your parents tell you not to be on the square, you just do not go.”

Mama Jo said that her mom even gave her a “whoopin’” one day when she went into a store she knew she wasn’t supposed to go in.

”When the older people who owned the stores died, their children went to school with me and inherited the store, things got to where it did not matter if you were black or white,” Mama Jo said.

Mama Jo said that it has been over 20 years since she has been able to go to the Square freely. “However, when I go in a certain boutique on the Square, they look at me real funny and ask if I am paying cash. I respond, ‘No ma’am, I am paying in credit card, thank you.’”

Mama Jo grew up going to Taylor Wing’s Elementary School, which was the segregated school at the time. When she was 12, Mama Jo began attending the integrated school in Lafayette.

“It was hard at first, getting used to new friends,” Mama Jo said.  “Even though some of my friends came with me, it was hard getting used to going to school with new people.”

While she was at Lafayette, Mama Jo remembers when blacks and whites started to date each other and the controversy that followed.

“I remember her momma and daddy tried to kill that black boy because they did not buy that,” Mama Jo said. “They told her she was not allowed to date boys like that.”  

While she was attending school, Mama Jo said that she did receive some opposition from a few students; however, she did have one best friend, Donna, who was white.

“We were two peas in a pod and it did not matter the skin color,” Mama Jo said. “As time went on everyone blended in as one and growing and learning to be friends with each other.”

Mama Jo and her now husband, Bo, have been together off-and-on since preschool. They remember going on dates to “The Cream Cup,” which was located on University Ave. near present-day Walgreens.

“I worked hard to take her out,” Brassell said.

The couple split during Mama Jo’s college years but re-kindled their relationship when she returned and got married in 1980. They have three children and are proud grandparents.

“When my children were growing up, it was if they were normal kids,” Mama Jo said. “My daughter did not care if her classmates were white or black.”

Because she grew up living with her aunt, Mama Jo learned a lot about cooking from her.

“My auntie was a cook at Lafayette Schools, and let me tell you she was a great cook,” Mama Jo said. “She formed me basically into what I am today.”

Mama Jo served as a cook for the Kappa Alpha and the Alpha Omicron Phi from 1985 until 1999. In 2000, Mama Jo started working as a cook in Sky Mart on College Hill until 2008, when the couple opened their own restaurant.

In 2008, Mama Jo and her husband opened Mama Jo’s Country Cookin in Oxford and have had great success.

“Mama Jo’s is the hidden gem of Oxford comfort food,” Matt Lee, accounting major at Ole Miss said. “The lunch platter is the greatest ever.”

Mama Jo’s Country Cookin is a restaurant that serves both black and whites happily, which is still not something that is very often on the Square today.

“God is so good, and He deserves all the praise,” Mama Jo said.

Another Oxford resident, Taylor McGlawn, was born and raised in Oxford and describes his experiences throughout the years.

McGlawn never experienced the integration process at schools since he graduated high school in 1966, which was a different childhood than Joester Brassell.

McGlawn was in high school during the arrival of James Meredith to Ole Miss and remembers this event clearly.

“I remember watching on the television Federal Marshalls escorting James Meredith and Meredith standing on those same steps where Ross Barnett said that no blacks would step on the University as long as he was alive,” McGlawn said.“It was pure chaos from people outside of the Oxford community.”

After James Meredith was admitted to Ole Miss in 1962, it became normalized for African American students to attend Ole Miss. In 1968, McGlawn started attending Ole Miss and graduated in 1971.

“There were only a handful of blacks on campus when I was there, but we were not treated any different,” McGlawn said. “The problem we had at the University was the outsiders.”

McGlawn said that by the time he graduated Ole Miss, the amount of African Americans attending Ole Miss started to grow.

“I don’t remember any bad experiences. Everything was just kinda given,” McGlawn said.

In 1979, just 12 years after interracial marriages became legal, McGlawn married his wife, Sheila, who is white. They had two children.

“Our kids had struggles growing up,” McGlawn said. “But it got better as time went on. Our parents weren’t very accepting of it at first, but over time, they have grown to accept it.”

Even though Oxford has dealt with racism in a different manner than other surrounding towns, the issue was, and still is, prevalent today.

“It’s just as alive today as we speak,” McGlawn said. “If you look around the city, it seems to say, ‘We love everybody,’ but if you go into the banks, government buildings and clothing stores, see how many minorities are there.”

Even though many decades have passed and laws have changed, Oxford has seen a tremendous growth in efforts to alleviate the tension of racism; however, there is still room to grow.

“After almost 40 years, the climate has changed,” McGlawn said.



Week 10: Pop-Up Project Aims to Reduce Speed

Oxford Pathways Commission discussed recent updates to their “pop-up project” to reduce speed on Gertrude Ford Boulevard, including the installation of bollards and potential crosswalks.

“When Pathways was looking for a location for a pop-up project, we thought Gertrude Ford was perfect since it had a high incidence of pedestrian and motorist interaction,” Don Feitel, Chair of the Pathways Commission, said during the commission’s monthly meeting on Monday.

In April, bollards, which are frequently used to temporarily change traffic patterns, were installed along a 2,063-foot segment of the road. These bollards were placed on what would be the white line for bike lanes to perceptually narrow driving lanes, thus reducing speed.

Before the pop-up project, the 85th percentile showed that the average speed for driving down Gertrude Ford was 43 miles per hour, which is 13 miles over the speed limit. Another study was conducted in August and showed that the 85th percentile decreased to 38 miles per hour.

“This is a huge improvement,” Kate Kellum, vice chair for Pathways Commission, said.

With the addition of this project, Pathways has been able to reduce the average speed by 5 miles per hour without having to make any changes to the road width.

Feitel said that these temporary treatments allow them to test traffic patterns before the city decides to change things, which is usually more permanent and harder to change later.

“What our data shows is that we can affect the speed on the road using simple changes, but that there might be a limit to how much we can calm traffic with those methods alone,” Feitel said.

Because the University is continuing to expand, having these limited-time demonstrations are great ways to ensure safety in bikers, drivers and runners.

“We continue to work with public works to figure out what other changes could be made that would be in the interests of all users,” Feitel said.

Feitel and the rest of the board are currently developing more ways in which Pathways and the city can continue to reduce the speed to its intended speed limit.

“If we want to work on how people get to the crosswalks then we’ll need help from the University,” Feitel said. “If we want to change the road design any more then we’ll need permission from the City.”

Whatever further actions take place, Pathways wants to ensure safety among all of the road’s users.

In addition to the bollards, Feitel said that another issue along Gertrude Ford is the crosswalks.

“For the most part, there are only a few areas along that road that people are encouraged to walk,” Feitel said.

“As a runner, that’s just a really bad intersection. People have learned to avoid that crosswalk,” Meghin Burke, board member, said.

Because Gertrude Ford connects to Jackson Avenue, Pathways doesn’t want to impose on the overflow traffic coming from there.

Another idea Pathways is considering is the addition of a fence or some type of barrier along the road, similar to the one at Nutt Auditorium; however, that would have to be done by the university.

“We are going to explore other ideas that might require help from the University but that we feel will increase the safety for students and others who regularly cross Gertrude Ford,” Feitel said. “It really will take everyone working together to form something that is functional for everyone.”

Pathways Commission will have its next meeting on Monday, November 26 at 5 pm.

‘What Works’ Week 9

Headline: Can You Get Sick From the Flu Shot?

With the colder weather quickly approaching, many people are eager to get their flu shot.

In this article published by Teen Vogue on October 17, writer Bartie Scott addressed why some people are apprehensive about getting the flu shot.

Even though many people die yearly from the flu, some people refuse to get the flu shot. Why? The article suggests that many parents don’t allow their children to get the vaccine because they believe it will actually give them the flu.

A survey was held that showed over half of the parents believed this.

After speaking with doctors from Orlando, the article stated that the doctors said that the vaccine does not, in fact, give people the flu. The vaccine is made by giving off the flu virus that has been inactivated or using a single gene from the virus that will not cause infection.

I believe this article works for many reasons. It is very informative about the flu vaccine. In my opinion, I personally have always thought that the reason I got the flu was because of the fact that I got the flu vaccine. Every year I have gotten the vaccine, I have gotten the flu. And even though that isn’t proven to be true, I always thought that was the reason; therefore, I never got the vaccine. However, in this article, doctors also stated that “if you come into contact with the virus before the vaccine becomes effective, you may get sick and perceive it to be because of the shot.”

This is a very ‘newsworthy’ article and informative. I think that people who read Vogue will be interested in this information. It’s a great way to provide the audience with informative data. Also, they provided us with statistics and numbers, which help us know that this is true.

All in all, I really enjoyed this article and thought it was great. And who knows, maybe I will actually get the flu shot this year?!