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MPB Director Announced as Spring Keynote for High School Journalism Convention

The Mississippi Scholastic Press Association is proud to announce that Mississippi Public Broadcasting Director Ronnie Agnew will return to Ole Miss, his alma mater, April 1 to deliver the Pam Hamilton Keynote Address at the spring statewide high school journalism convention.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting Director Ronnie Agnew will be the keynote speaker for the spring statewide high school journalism convention held at the University of Mississippi. Photo via the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association’s website.

Agnew spent nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and served most prominently as the executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson before leaving the newspaper industry in 2011 to join MPB. Under Agnew’s leadership, the Ledger won several awards for investigative reporting and was one of Gannett Co. Inc’s most decorated newspapers nationally for its coverage of civil rights issues.

Agnew is the recipient of four Garnett Co., Inc. President’s Rings, the University of Mississippi’s Silver Em Award, and is also a member of the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame.

“Ronnie Agnew has been a groundbreaking leader in Mississippi media for decades,” MSPA director R.J. Morgan said. “His wealth of experience in both print and digital media, as well as his dedication to education and serving others, made him a natural choice to deliver this address to our statewide audience, we couldn’t be more excited.”

Agnew will headline a roster of more than 30 speakers scheduled to share their skills with student journalists from around the Magnolia State. Session leaders will include media professionals and educators from across the state and region, as well as two national-level featured speakers, Pablo Correa and Lori Oglesbee-Petter.

Pablo Correa, a Florida native currently teaching at Willamette University in Oregon, is part of a team of documentary filmmakers and scholars from across the country who are working on a major new feature-length documentary about Mississippi’s own Fannie Lou Hamer. Hamer was born a sharecropper in Ruleville, Miss., and went to become a national civil rights icon and crusader for voting rights in the 1960s. The new film, “Fannie Lou Hamer’s America” is set for release this summer. As part of the project, Correa and his team have also developed a K-12 curriculum set and conducted filmmaking workshops for high schoolers in the Mississippi Delta.

Lori Oglesbee-Petter, a nationally recognized newspaper and yearbook adviser from Texas, enjoyed a storied career in the classroom before she was non-renewed by the administration at Prosper High School last spring after a clash over the principal’s censorship of the student newspaper and their publication. The dispute generated media coverage and support from across the country, and Oglesbee-Petter now speaks frequently with student and adviser groups as a First Amendment advocate. She was the 2005 Max R. Haddick Teacher of the Year and 2009 JEA National Yearbook Adviser of the Year.

“It’s exciting to give students access to so many well-rounded and prominent speakers,” Morgan said. “In today’s multimedia environment, we want students to understand the full breadth of options and emphases in front of them. We want them to learn dynamic skills that they can take back to their respective schools and publications, but we also want them to start considering their own futures and the future of this state as well.”

The April convention is one of two statewide conventions MSPA organizes for students each school year, the other hosted in the fall at the University of Southern Mississippi. Each convention averages more than 500 students attendees, and both close with a comprehensive Best of Mississippi awards ceremony honoring current student work.

Now in its 72nd year, MSPA remains passionate in its mission to equip high school students to research, write and share stories through their school newspapers, yearbooks, broadcasts and literary magazines.

Interested schools can register for the spring convention here and completing a short online form. The deadline to register is Monday, March 25.

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