Paul Quinn’s Weblog

News from Ole Miss and Oxford

Archive for May, 2008

UPDATE: Shep Smith speech- Updated

Posted by paulquinn on May 10, 2008

Former Ole Miss student and Fox News anchor Shepard Smith gave his first ever commencement speech this morning. I felt like sleeping in a little (finally!) and missed it. Luckily some buddies saw the speech, and a email from the UM PR department have told me what Smith discussed.

I recently posted maybe Smith wasn’t the best choice simply because he didn’t graduate. Apparently he wore a doctors robe for his graduation day garb, “but he made a big deal about being a dropout,” Ole Miss student in attendance Lindsey Phillips told me. Phillips also said “he just talked about how he wished he hadn’t and how it was strange that a dropout was talking at graduation, as The Dm pointed out.”

The press release focused on different aspects of the speech, which I’ll call “10 seconds.” There was a brief mention of Smith not graduating.

“In a speech punctuated with rah-rah enthusiasm for Ole Miss and his home state, Smith acknowledged that he left the university a few credit hours short of graduation, but credited the “push this amazing place gave me” for his success.”

I (like the DM) hope none of the graduates felt their degree was being undermined by the university because they picked a dropout to honor them

Another friend of mine and her family said they loved the speech, they couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. From what I can gather it was about how life can change quickly and people should be ready for whatever happens.

“There will be moments for which you cannot prepare, but moments for which you must be ready,” said Smith, speaking at the university’s 155th commencement. “When they come, you’ll have a choice: you can be beaten back, you can be frightened or you can rise to meet those moments.”

The press release also quoted Smith saying:

“On a normal day, 10 seconds later, a loved one can drop to a knee and say those words you so wanted to hear, but now you can’t believe it’s happening,” he said. “On a normal day, 10 seconds later, the phone can ring and that job is there halfway across the country. … Ten seconds later, Tyree can can catch a pass between his hand and his helmet – the great escape can happen, and our guy can be the Super Bowl MVP.
“On a normal day, with a perfect blue sky on a beautiful September morning, 10 seconds later, you look up and the biggest building you’ve ever been in is on fire. And there’s about to be a new normal.”

Probably a pretty good speech from what I can tell, but I’ll never know I wasn’t there.


Here is a hilarious NYtimes story from 2004 that discusses Smith’s style.

This is just one sentences that made me laugh out loud.

Jay Wallace, Mr. Smith’s producer, said he wants the program to seem perpetually as if it might veer out of control. “I want it to be like a train that’s about to come off the tracks,” he likes to say.


Posted in Journalism, Ole Miss | 2 Comments »

Oxford has strange housing

Posted by paulquinn on May 8, 2008

Tomorrow a family from Virginia is paying $800 to stay in my house for the weekend, a price less than other places (not as nice or close to the square as mine). There weren’t any hotels in Oxford and they have an 85-year-old Grandma coming to watch her granddaughter walk across the stage.

Much of the money is going into general house repairs.  A massive clean-up has ensued since the guest made their reservation, an all around good situation.

But is Oxford housing all it’s cracked up to be?

Anywhere you look there is a new townhouse or Condo going up. Causing problems as Willow Nero’s DM story tells.

“More than 50 percent of the nurses at Baptist Memorial Hospital live outside of Lafayette County, some because it’s their preference and others because nothing in their price range was available in Oxford.”

Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth wishes city workers could afford to live here because their services would be better. 

“We need to have our teachers and our policemen living in our neighborhoods, knowing their neighbors and having their neighbors know them because a community simply functions better when the people who work in it live together,” Howorth said.

Willow’s story was a three part series. The second tells causes why city workers can’t afford Oxford.

Her last piece is about possible solutions.

She quotes Howorth saying:

“Government can’t always provide the solutions to the source of problems,” he said. “People will often think government is the know-all, end-all, be-all, omniscient, omnipotent power that can fix all problems, and I believe government is limited in the sorts of things it can do. Certainly, local governments are.”

Solutions are easy enough through gov’t action. The town could raise muny workers salaries, encourage less building, or annex more of the county.  

I hope something happens to quell the problem, Any other suggestions?


Posted in real estate, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

UPDATE: The DM and OPD come to understanding

Posted by paulquinn on May 7, 2008

Yesterday I posted about Oxford Police asking for a statement or a copy of DM reporter Victoria Howell’s notes regarding a story she wrote.

Since my post the OPD lieutenant trying to get information has been informed of our attorney’s advice. He was not surprised and even expected to be told Howell would have to be subpoenaed before any information could be handed over.

He mentioned the idea of an “off the record” conversation with Howell, however the information OPD wants Howell does not have. When I asked him what kind of “off-the-record” information OPD wanted he said, “Just who we might need to go talk to.”

Howell could not get a hold of anybody else who knew anything so he let the “off-the-record” idea rest.

“Depends on what we can put together without her,” was the lieutenant’s response when I inquired if they still planned to subpoena Howell, “tell Victoria she doesn’t need to worry at this point.” (emphasis mine)

Then we talked about how The DM picked up the story. I explained rumors around campus of Ole Miss basketball player Brandi Tipton getting injured in a late night car crash was what tipped us off. He said that made sense and that was that.

It seems for now OPD will continue their investigation into O’ Conner but, will back off Howell. O’ Conner just said he hit Tipton late one night on his way home, then was arrested after he and Tipton got into it at the hospital.

Hopefully OPD’s investigation doesn’t require Howell’s testimony but, we won’t know anything for a while now.

Posted in Crime, Journalism, Ole Miss | 3 Comments »

Ole Miss prof on NewsHour

Posted by paulquinn on May 7, 2008

Ole Miss Sociology and African American professor Kirk A. Johnson will be part of a discussion about race and the presidential campaigns tonight (May 7) at 6 p.m. on the public broadcast news show NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

“The ‘NewsHour’ invited me to participate in a discussion on race and the presidential campaign,” Johnson said. “While I have diverse experiences on race, mass media and minority health, I am deeply honored to participate in this dialogue.”

NewsHour is one of the most respected news publications in the country.

“NewsHour with Jim Lehrer airs five nights a week on more than 315 Public Broadcasting Service stations across the country and is also available online, via public radio in select markets and podcast. The program is produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions in association with WETA in Washington, D.C., and Thirteen/WNET New York.”

On September 26 Ole Miss will host the first presidential debate sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Over 3,000 journalist are expected to be at The Ford Center the night of the debate.

As the university gears up for the event the The Daily Mississippian reports the Presidential Debate Student Steering Committee is looking over student ideas for the upcoming event.

“The student events range from hosting a ball, to welcoming journalists and dignitaries to town, to sponsoring a summer book club featuring the candidates’ autobiographies,” McGraw said. “We’re also working to bring ‘The Daily Show’ or ‘The Colbert Report’ to campus before the debate, host a televised town hall forum for college students across the country and hold a festival in the Grove that would feature a series of speakers and musical acts. The students are enthusiastic.”

Hopefully the steering committee is able to pull of some of the ideas mentioned, especially the town hall forum and Daily Show. Either way all eyes will be on Oxford come September and we’d better be ready.

Posted in Journalism, Ole Miss, Presidential debate | Leave a Comment »

Shep Smith in a cap and gown?

Posted by paulquinn on May 7, 2008

In Friday’s Daily Mississippian I reported that Shepard Smith was to give the commencement speech at this years graduation.

I have always heard Mr. Smith did not actually graduate from Ole Miss, rather he left before earning an undergraduate degree. And whoever wrote his wikipedia page seems to think so as well.

Clearly from his success at Fox News he did not need to get his last credits. I do, however, wonder if he was the best choice for this years ceremony. What will his message be to those who have not yet graduated, or those still in high school? You can go to college but you don’t need to finish?

As I have heard he failed to obtain the proper number of foreign language credits to graduate, a common downfall for students. While he has had tremendous success since leaving Ole Miss should the university be honoring him? Students should not get the idea they can do all degree requirements except a few and be OK.

In today’s world a BA is nearly equivalent to a high school diploma. Obtaining some type of graduate degree is necessary for the type of success Mr. Smith has acquired.

Some people like Mr. Smith are lucky and were able to rise high, but in reality not getting a degree means many hardships. I for one feel the university should have hired a speaker who rose the ranks the hard way, lots of schooling then years of hard work in the real world.

Mr. Smith could give graduates a sense of false hope that they too will get lucky and land their dream job, but as most people know this just doesn’t happen.

I do not know if Mr. Smith will wear a cap and gown, it seems likely he will. I always thought wearing graduation garb was a privilege for those with actual degrees. I guess he could wear his high school cap and gown. Does anybody know the standard for non graduates putting on the garb?

Posted in Journalism, Ole Miss | Leave a Comment »

The Daily Mississippian stands up

Posted by paulquinn on May 6, 2008

Here is the story

This story was printed in The Daily Mississippian (DM) last week.

The day our story ran a lieutenant sent me a text message asking if he could interview reporter Victoria Howell or get her notes. He said they would be issuing a grand jury subpoena if she did not cooperate. I referred him to the Student Media Center’s director Traci Mitchell.

On Monday Ms. Mitchell contacted the Mississippi Press Association legal helpline.

The association’s law firm Butler Snow advised Ms. Mitchell law enforcement can subpoena journalist for their notes if it contains relevant-material information that can not be obtained otherwise. And added that journalist should not hand over notes without a subpoena. In this case OPD can contact the two driver’s or the paramedics who responded to the scene, meaning the information can be obtained without Ms. Howell’s notes.

Ms. Mitchell was planning to let the lieutenant know of our lawyers advise, and hoped that would be the end of this mess. So far no word on how OPD reacted.

The lieutenant said Logan O’ Conner had incriminated himself in statements made to The DM. I speculate they want to charge him with DUI on top of Public Drunk. He admitted to driving the car that hit Ole Miss basketball player Brandi Tipton, however my understating is O’ Conner said he had one beer.

Here is the statement OPD is looking at:

“It was really late, and I was coming from a birthday party to go home,” O’Connor said. “I was traveling on University Avenue, where there is construction going on. The two inside lanes were closed off with construction barrels, but the workers left an opening so that people on my street can turn in.”

O’Connor said he looked both ways before turning onto the street.

“I did not see anyone. I turned, and we collided,” he said.

Journalist sometimes spend months in jail trying to protect their sources, and for a good reason. If newspapers could not protect its sources then folks would fear what employers, family and friends might do if potentially damning information is revealed.

Posted in Crime, Journalism | 3 Comments »