Successful story pitch examples

Jour 271
Education Reform in Mississippi
Mississippi has several factors as to why the reformation throughout schools continues to move at a snail pace. Governor Phil Bryant signed the “Education Works” legislation into law this past April, which is not only creating charter schools in Mississippi, but it is offering benefits to those who pledge to teach in-state. While certain programs like Teach For America are the only reason schools in Mississippi have any hope whatsoever, we are in desperate need of help.
A large part of this slow-moving process lies in the rural and dangerous areas where these schools are located. In fact, in the town of Friar’s Point, Miss., of a mere 1,200 people, Mrs. Gloria Partee is the only teacher who still lives in town. Most teachers recruited by the school transfer after their two-year contract, leaving this part of the Delta in an ongoing chase for new teachers led by the Superintendent of Coahoma County School District, Pauline Rhodes.
While teachers and poverty are main factors among the reformation, Racism is of course, another issue. Mississippi lawmaker Kenneth Wayne Jones was the only African-American state senator to support the bill expanding charter schools last winter. “White people cannot tell us what’s best for educating our children,” said State Sen. David Jordan, a 78-year-old African American from the Mississippi Delta town of Greenwood. “Heck, we did it for decades without even the money for books. Through the help of God we made it.”
This will indeed be a steady but sure process for our students, parents, teachers, and the rest of the communities within our state. Once the smaller issues are taken care of, we can find hope in Phi Bryant’s new agenda, and remember that education reform, especially here in Mississippi, is not a sprint.

Principal of Madison Central High School, Mr. Brown
Mrs. Kami Bumgarner, board of education in MS
School districts
Lynn J. House, Ph. D., Interim State Superintendent


Ms. Joyce

JOUR 271:  2nd Beat Story

Who:  Oxford Film Festival- 11th annual


Where:  Malco Oxford Studio Cinema, Proud Larry’s, The Lyric Oxford


When:  February 6-9



Created in 2003, the Oxford Film Festival sought to highlight the art of independent cinema in Northern Mississippi. 

In recent years, the four-day festival, now a non-profit organization, continues to highlight the talents of young filmmakers, as well as screen short and feature-length films in both showcase and competition settings.  Providing entertainment to its participants, the film fest allows residents and visitors to watch independent films, meet the filmmakers, and learn from industry professionals.

Film categories include:

  • Animated Short
  • Documentary Feature
  • Documentary Short
  • Experimental Short
  • Mississippi Documentary
  • Mississippi Music Video
  • Mississippi Narrative
  • Narrative Feature
  • Narrative Short

Story and “Main Character”:

Molly Fergusson, the current Executive Director, organized the first annual Oxford Film Festival in 2003.  Joining the festival as Co-Director in 2004, she earned her title as the Executive Director in 2010, and remains the most experienced staff member to date. In addition to the annual festival, Fergusson teaches legal writing and contract drafter at the University of Mississippi Law School.

While searching online outlets and social media handles for information regarding the film fest, headlines were scarce and extremely outdated.  Evidently, the Oxford Film Festival does not appear to gain as much attention as other entertainment events around Oxford.  As a result of this fact, I would like to focus my story around the festival, and highlight Molly Ferguson by bringing to light certain aspects about production preparations, as well as how the event has evolved over the years.

Throughout the story, I would like to insert tidbits of information and commentary through the viewpoint of a filmmaker attending/competing in the festival.  To accomplish this, I will talk to Felicity Flesher, winner of the Oxford Film Festival’s first screenplay competition.  Undoubtedly, talking to a Flesher, a cinema studies major at Carleton College, will help me understand the process of signing up for the festival, submitting work for the competition, and surviving the panel of judges.  Additionally, her script for the winning screenplay, Killer Kudzu, will be made into a short narrative to be premiered at the annual festival this February.

Overall, by combining unfamiliar information, such as how Molly Ferguson organizes the production and how the festival compares to others, with a personal account from an actual filmmaker, I will be able to add depth to my story, and reach two unique perspectives.

Possible Questions for Molly Fergusson:

  1. What’s different about this film festival in comparison to other festivals?
  2. What does the festival bring to the community of Oxford?
  3. How has the festival changed over the years?
  4. Why did the film festival partner with the Oxford Music Festival?  How did this come about?
  5. If you could impart one thing to filmmakers about submitting to the festival, what would it be?
  6. Does being an attorney correlate at all to the film festival?
  7. Tell me about working with an independent film producer on documentary and commercial projects in Wilmington, North Carolina.  How long did you do it?  How did you get started with that?

Possible Questions For Felicity Flesher:

  1. How did you first get into screenplay?
  2. What was your inspiration of Killer Kudzu?
  3. What was the Oxford Film Festival experience like for you?
  4. What are your plans for the future?

Other Sources:

Organized the first annual Oxford Film Festival in 2003; joined the festival as Co-Director in 2004; was named Executive Director in 2010; she teaches legal writing and contract drafter at the University of Mississippi Law School.

Associated professor in the University of Mississippi Libraries where he is the selector and cataloger for media; member of the affiliate faculty of the UM Cinema program

Has worked with the Oxford Film Festival for the last five years; first joined as a screening committee member; then volunteer coordinator in 2007; and the Media Coordinator in 2008; became an assistant director of the festival and in 2010 co-director of the festival; she works full-time as a staff writer for the Oxford Eagle and writes about film and other arts in a column for the Oxford Town; she cowrote and produced the award-winning feature Where I Begin, and recently produced the short film Bunker.

She oversees the parties for the entire weekend, and strives to make sure that all guests have a great time while in Oxford. She works full-time as a staff attorney for the Mississippi Department of Human Services

  • Production assistance is provided by the Center for Media and Documentary Projects at the University of Mississippi, directed by Andy Harper


Other Aspects For The Story:

Mississippi Arts Commission:

  • State agency established in 1968
  • Provides grants that support programs to enhance communities
  • Assists artists and art organizes
  • Promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage
  • Funded by Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts of the Community Foundation of Jackson, and other private sources

Executive Directive:  Dr. Tom Pearson

Outside News Articles:


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