September 14, 2014  

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Symposium to Address Women and Media, Honor Four Prominent Alumnae

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Former Southern Miss President Martha Saunders will be among four prominent alumni inducted in the university's School of Mass Communication and Journalism Hall of Fame Nov. 15.

The 2012 inductees into The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Mass Communication and Journalism Hall of Fame include four of the institution’s most prominent alumnae, including an interactive journalism pioneer, an Emmy-winning television executive, a popular New Orleans television news anchor and a former Southern Miss president.       

The inductions will take place at a luncheon during the School of Mass Communication and Journalism’s annual symposium Thursday, Nov. 15. “Southern Miss Women and the Media: #usmsteelmagnolias” will be held in the Thad Cochran Center on the Hattiesburg Campus.

The Southern Mississippi Mass Communication and Journalism Hall of Fame was created in 2006 to give the School of Mass Communication and Journalism a way to honor alumni and other Mississippians who have had distinguished careers in the media.  The keynote address at the luncheon will be delivered by Southern Miss alum Tena Clark, Grammy-winning music producer and CEO of DMI Music and Media Solutions.  Clark was inducted into the MCJ Hall of Fame in 2011.

“This year’s symposium will be particularly interesting because we will be examining the role that women play as leaders in the media industry,” said Chris Campbell, director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism.  “The alumnae we are honoring have had an extraordinary impact in a variety of ways, and they are outstanding role models for Southern Miss students.”

This year’s inductees include:

*Rebecca Brown Baldwin, vice president and general manager of zap2it.com, a television and movie information web site owned by Tribune Media Services.  She oversees site operations, strategic planning and product development for zap2it, one of the most popular Internet venues about the entertainment industry in the United States. She was previously the director of product development at Tribune Interactive.  She started her career as an editor at the Orlando Sentinel before moving to the Chicago Tribune, where she edited the Arts & Entertainment and Style sections.  Baldwin holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi.

* Margaret Loesch, founding president and CEO of The Hub TV Network, where she oversees all business and creative areas for the television network that targets kids and their families.  She previously held a number of executive positions, serving as the co-founder and CEO of the family media company The Hatchery; the founding president and CEO of Crown Media United States, and in that capacity was responsible for building and launching the Hallmark Channel; president and CEO of Fox Kids Network Worldwide; president and CEO of Marvel Comics’ film production arm, Marvel Productions; executive vice president of Hanna-Barbera Productions; and director of children’s programming for the NBC television network.  Among Loesch's industry awards are four Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, a Vision Award and the prestigious Chair Award from the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers, and Directors. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern Miss.

*Sally-Ann Roberts, co-anchor of the WWL-TV morning news program, the highest rated in Louisiana.  Roberts began her tenure at WWL-TV in 1977. Her work as a city hall reporter earned her first place awards in journalistic excellence from the Press Club of New Orleans, the Louisiana Associated Press, the Radio and Television News Directors Association and the New Orleans chapter of Women in Communications. In 1998 Roberts was part of the reporting team that earned WWL-TV the coveted Edward R. Murrow Award for late-breaking news.  She has been widely recognized for her work in the New Orleans community and received awards from the Young Leadership Council, YWCA, Junior League, Toastmasters International, Kiwanis International, The Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge, New Orleans Black Social Workers, The Children's Defense Fund and The New Orleans Conference for Community and Justice.  A graduate of Biloxi High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s degree in communication from the University of Southern Mississippi.

*Martha D. Saunders, president of Southern Miss from 2007 to 2012, is currently a distinguished professor of public relations in the School of Mass Communication and Journalism. She has published numerous articles on crisis communication and public relations and her speeches have been widely anthologized. Shetwice led university communication campaigns that earned the Public Relations Society of America's highest national award, the Silver Anvil.  Before joining Southern Miss, she served as the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and vice president for academic affairs at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga.  A native of Mississippi, Dr. Saunders earned her bachelor’s degree in French from Southern Miss, her master’s in journalism from the University of Georgia and her Ph.D. in communication theory and research from Florida State University.

The four will appear on a panel at 9:30 a.m. to talk about their careers and the state of the entertainment industry. That session will be in Room 218 of the Thad Cochran Center and is free and open to the public. 

At 11:30 a.m., the four honorees will be inducted into the MCJ Hall of Fame at a luncheon in Cochran Center Ballroom III. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased through the School of Mass Communication and Journalism. Proceeds from the luncheon will support scholarships for deserving students in the School of Mass Communication and Journalism.

Clark, the luncheon speaker, is a music producer who has written award-winning country hits, contributed to multi-platinum movie soundtracks, written songs for television shows and was the creator of the instantly recognizable national campaign theme, “Have You Had Your Break Today,” for McDonald's.  She produced Natalie Cole’s “Still Unforgettable,” which won two Grammy awards, and is the founder and CEO of DMI Music & Media Solutions.

Baldwin, Loesch and Roberts will conduct master classes for students in the School of Mass Communication and Journalism while on campus. Saunders will be offering a seminar on women and leadership on the Gulf Coast campus during the spring semester.

“The symposium should be really exciting and a great opportunity for our students,” said Campbell.  “This is our first with a hash tag in the title – #usmsteelmagnolias – and we are looking to create a social media buzz about the important role that women play in leading the media.”

For more information or luncheon tickets, contact Mandy Nace at Amanda.Tilley@usm.edu or call 601.266.4258.