Department of Journalism College of Communication and Fine Arts
Dr. David Arant
Professor and Chair
B.A., psychology, Davidson College; M.Div., theology, Emory University; M.A., journalism, University of South Carolina; Ph.D., mass communication research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Arant teaches mass media ethics and law. His professional experiences include daily newspaper reporting and editing/reporting for the religious press. He has been president of the SPJ's Mid-South Pro Chapter and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists national ethics committee. His research includes publications in Journal of Mass Media Ethics , Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly , Communication Law and Policy , Newspaper Research Journal and Nieman Reports .

David Arant

Tori Cliff
B.A., journalism, Middle Tennessee State University; M.A., journalism, University of Memphis. Cliff has worked as a writer, editor, designer, media buyer, strategic planner, social media task force leader, competitive analysis researcher and event planner in her previous roles as director of marketing and public relations for Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and director of communication at Jackson State Community College in Jackson, Tennessee. She also served as journalism faculty at Stillman College and Lane College teaching core journalism classes and core and upper division classes in public relations. Prior to these appointments, Cliff worked as national and major accounts manager and preprint coordinator for The Jackson Sun, owned by Gannett Corp. Currently, she serves as journalism faculty at the University of Memphis and as media relations representative at the Lambuth campus.

Tori Cliff
Pamela Denney

B.A., journalism and art history, Syracuse University; M.A. journalism, University of Memphis. Denney has worked as a writer, editor, and development officer for newspapers, magazines and academic institutions, most recently with Contemporary Media in Memphis, where she still works as the food editor for Memphis magazine and writes the magazine's popular food blog called Memphis Stew. Before joining Contemporary Media, Denney was a grant writer and adjunct journalism professor for the University of Memphis. Previously, she worked in Los Angeles for Copley Los Angeles Newspaper as a news editor, wire editor, copy editor and city editor. While working as the city editor at The Outlook in Santa Monica, the daily won the top award for general excellence from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. In addition to teaching and coordinating the department's media writing curriculum, Denney also writes for national publications and websites, primarily on food, restaurants, and Southern food culture​.

Pamela Denney
Darrin M. Devault
B.A., M.A., journalism, The University of Memphis. Devault serves as instructor and coordinator of the department’s online program in public relations. He has professional experience as a newspaper reporter/photographer, public relations and marketing director, and digital and social media content developer. Devault has taught college courses in journalism since 1999. He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and PRSA Educator's Academy. He also serves as faculty adviser of the U of M chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

Dr. Ashley Furrow
Assistant Professor
B.S., journalism, University of Florida; M.S., journalism, Ohio University; Ph.D., journalism/mass communication, Ohio University. Furrow worked as a Web and copy editor for the sports department at The Gainesville Sun and as a copy editor for, the fourth largest sports site. Her teaching areas are visual communication and broadcast journalism. Her research interests focus on sports media, journalism history, and gender and diversity in the media. She has been published in Journalism History and has a chapter in the upcoming book Why Discourse Matters: Negotiating Identity in the Mediatized World.

Ashley Furrow 

Dr. Matthew Haught
Assistant Professor
B.A., M.A.J., Marshall University; Ph.D. mass communication, University of South Carolina. Six years experience in newspaper and magazine design, editing, reporting, and Web development covering news, sports, and entertainment. Teaching area centered in visual communication, including print and digital design, photography, social media, and technology. His research explores the connection between visual communications and culture through the mass media. He is the newsletter editor and second vice head of the Visual Communication Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Matthew Haught
Dr. Joseph Hayden
Associate Professor
B.A., English, Centre College; M.A., journalism, University of Missouri; M.A., history, Vanderbilt University; Ph.D., history, Indiana University. Hayden has professional experience in television news as a writer, reporter and producer. He is the author of two books on presidential-press relations (Covering Clinton and A Dubya in the Headlights) and a third on American journalists at the end of World War I (Negotiating in the Press). His interests include writing and foreign languages. He recently published The Little Grammar Book (Marion Street Press, 2012) and is currently working on a companion volume dedicated to writing style. In 2008, he received the Thomas W. Briggs Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Joseph Hayden
Dr. Thomas Hrach
Associate Professor
B.A., history, University of Michigan; M.A., journalism, Kent State University; Ph.D., mass communications-journalism, Ohio University. Hrach is a former reporter and news editor at The Marietta Times in Marietta, Ohio, and he has other related experience in the newspaper business.  He has numerous awards for his newspaper work as a writer. His areas of teaching expertise center on journalism history, newswriting, editing, online journalism and legal issues for journalists. His research interests focus on journalism history and online journalism.
Tom Hrach

Dr. Melissa Janoske
Assistant Professor
B.S., organizational communication, Radford University; M.S., corporate and professional communication, Radford University; Ph.D., communication (public relations and crisis communication), University of Maryland. Janoske earned her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 2014, writing her dissertation on how online communities formed and aided individuals and organizations with crisis response and recovery. Her dissertation was funded by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. Janoske has also published research on both crisis and social media more generally, including expert recommendations for best practices in crisis communication, social media activism, and online communities and social networking. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Janoske was a full-time instructor at Lynchburg College in Virginia. There, she taught a variety of public relations and crisis communication courses, founded and advised the PRSSA chapter, and was the Public Relations Chair for the Blue Ridge Chapter of PRSA.

Melissa Janoski 
Candace Justice
Assistant Professor
B.A., journalism, University of Mississippi; M.A., journalism, Memphis State University. Justice worked as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Memphis Press-Scimitar, wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column about television and has done freelance feature articles for various magazines. She is the general manager of The Daily Helmsman, the student newspaper on campus. In 2001, she won the Thomas W. Briggs Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award. And In 2010, she won the Herbert Lee Williams Award for teaching and mentoring students at the University of Memphis. She writes book reviews and guest commentaries for The Commercial Appeal.

Candace Justice

Otis Sanford
Hardin Chair of Excellence in Journalism
B.A., journalism, University of Mississippi. Sanford began his professional newspaper career in 1975 at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., as an entertainment and feature writer and later covered police and local government. He joined The Commercial Appeal in 1977 as a general assignment reporter and was part of the reporting team that covered the death of Elvis Presley in August 1977. He also covered the federal court beat for seven years before being promoted to assistant metro editor. Sanford joined The Pittsburgh Press in 1987 as assistant city editor; moved to the Detroit Free Press in 1992 as deputy city editor; returned to The Commercial Appeal in 1994 as deputy managing editor. He was promoted to managing editor in 2002 and was named editor for opinion and editorials in 2007. At The Commercial Appeal, Sanford launched The DeSoto Appeal edition in 2000 and spearheaded the creation of The Teen Appeal student newspaper. He also launched the citizen editorial board in 2007. He joined the U of M faculty in January, 2011. Sanford is past president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, and past chairman of the Mid-America Press Institute. He currently writes a weekly Viewpoint column for The Commercial Appeal and also serves as political commentator for WREG-TV Channel 3 where he provides daily commentary and appears on Informed Sources, a weekly public affairs TV show.

Ronald E. Spielberger
Associate Professor
B.S., journalism, Memphis State University; M.A., journalism, Ohio State University. Spielberger is on the Board of Directors of the Memphis Advertising Federation and is an active consultant and judge for organizations including E. I. DuPont deNemours Co., Inc., Vision Educational Foundation and Richards Medical Company. 

Ronald Spielberger

Dr. Sandra H. Utt
Associate Professor
B.S.J.Ed, journalism/English, West Virginia University; M.S., journalism, West Virginia University; Ph.D., journalism/mass communication, Ohio University. Utt has been a public relations and advertising research and graphics consultant. Her teaching interests are theories, design and advertising. She and Dr. Elinor Kelley Grusin are currently co-editors of Newspaper Research Journal. She is an active participant in journalism and mass communication academic and professional organizations and has published numerous scholarly articles.

Sandra Utt

Dr. Erin Willis
Assistant Professor
B.A., marketing, University of Missouri; M.A., strategic communication, University of Missouri; Ph.D., journalism, University of Missouri. Willis started her career in public relations in Chicago, working at an agency first and then transitioning to corporate communications, and later non–profit communications. She also founded a regional magazine for a timeshare industry that promoted travel and tourism. Willis is the head of the public relations concentration and manages the department’s internship program. Willis maintains an active research agenda, having papers published in Health Communication, Health Informatics, Journal of Health Psychology, Newspaper Research Journal, and others. Her research focuses on health communication, new media, and computer-mediated communication.

Erin Willis

Robert L. Willis
B.A., journalism, University of Oklahoma; M.A., public relations, Ball State University. Willis has experience in newspaper reporting, editing and advertising sales, planning and coordinating, executing and managing public relations and advertising programs and activities for several companies in the private sector. He is the business and advertising coordinator of The Daily Helmsman, the student newspaper on campus.


Robert Willis

Dr. Jin Yang
Associate Professor
B.A., English, Shanxi University; M.A., communication, Pittsburg State University; Ph.D., journalism, Southern Illinois University. Yang has been a reporter, a bilingual broadcaster, a public relations officer, and a web developer. Her teaching areas are visual communication, web site management and Internet journalism. Her research interests are international communication, journalism education, media dependency, and media ethics. She has published in Mass Communication and Society, International Communication Gazette, Newspaper Research Journal and Journal of Interactive Advertising. You may learn more about Dr. Yang at

Jin Yang
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Last Updated: 9/17/14