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Ole Miss Student Advances Career Through Carnegie-Knight News 21 Fellowship

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

Brittany Brown found a career in journalism through her passions of reading and writing. Photo courtesy of Brittany Brown.

Quitman, Mississippi native Brittany Brown possessed a love for reading and writing during her childhood. When that love led her to the University of Mississippi, it opened new doors and adventures to pursue an opportunity of a lifetime.

Brown, assistant news editor at the Daily Mississippian, participated in the Lott Leadership Institute for Rising High School Seniors—a partnership between the University of Mississippi’s Lott Leadership Institute and the Division of Outreach’s Summer College for High School Students—in 2014, which ultimately influenced her decision to attend Ole Miss, she said.

She decided to pursue journalism after researching how she could use her passions to further a career. Journalism became the obvious choice for Brown because it was something different, and she said it would provide her the opportunity to meet new people.

“It’s challenging sometimes, but I don’t see myself pursuing any other career,” she said.

The opportunity of a lifetime presented itself to Brown with the help of her mentor, Patricia Thompson, assistant dean for student media and assistant professor of journalism. She introduced Brown to the Carnegie-Knight News21 Fellowship application. The fellowship is “a national reporting initiative, headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication,” according to the fellowship’s website.

“She knew I wanted to pursue a career in investigative journalism,” Brown said. “News21 is one of the most prestigious summer programs for students to do investigative reporting.”

Brown submitted her application and was notified in December she was accepted into the prestigious fellowship.

Brown spent this past summer in the program where she learned a plethora of practical journalism skills including utilizing Adobe Premiere Pro, handling camera and multimedia equipment, and performing research and investigative reporting skills.

In addition to gaining a new skill set, Brown added learning how to work on a national project at-large to her repertoire, she said.

The project she worked on during her fellowship was “Hate in America”—a collective work of stories written and investigated by News21 investigators. The stories tell of “a growing climate of hate in the U.S. through analysis of national crime victimization date and on-the-ground reporting.” The group project consisted of 38 reporters investigating in 36 different states.

“I think, most importantly, I learned that journalism is something I want to do for the rest of my life,” Brown said.

The fellowship allowed Brown to work with and interview people all across the U.S. She plans to reflect on her experiences from the summer and implement her learnings at the university’s Student Media Center.

“[News21] has also motivated me to finish my senior year strong in order to better prepare myself for the next step after graduation,” she said.

As future Ole Miss students ponder the interest of journalism, Brown said to “just do it” by getting involved with the Student Media Center and networking with journalism professors.

“[Professors] have already had and still do have successful careers in journalism,” Brown said. “They can point you in the right direction with mentorships and other unique opportunities.”

Brown co-authored “Black Americans Still are Victims of Hate Crimes More Than Any Other Group,” which was originally published by News21.

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