BUSINESS

Jackson native with three degrees climbs the media market in Houston

Addison reporting live on Fox. Submitted photo
Addison reporting live on Fox. Submitted photo

Justice Rose
Oxford Stories
jcrose1@go.olemiss.edu

Reporter Joy Addison has come a long way from competing in pageants to reporting for a Houston, Texas television station.

At just 24, the Jackson native has an impressive resume. With three degrees (two of which were conferred simultaneously) and extensive preparation by the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, Addison had multiple advantages over other graduates. She credits the NewsWatch course along with other university programs with preparing her for the chaos that comes with working in a newsroom.

Addison graduated from UM in 2018 with degrees in journalism and psychology. She graduated from the University of Houston – Clear Lake in 2021 with a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology, where she received specialized training in performance management, job analysis, talent management, change management, cross cultural integration and data analysis, according to her LinkedIn bio.

After her last semester of NewsWatch, Addison, a Northwest Rankin High School graduate, created a highlight reel of her reporting skills showcased in the course. She was surprised when she got a job opportunity in Beaumont, Texas to be a reporter. 

Addison had been recently accepted into the University of Houston for their master’s degree program. She then faced a tough decision: education now vs. dream job. 

Addison took the road less traveled. She picked both. She would spend mornings commuting while also studying for courses, and altered her work schedule to dedicate days to learning. 

Joy Addison reporting on location in front of a camera. Submitted photo.
Joy Addison reporting on location. Submitted photo.

A balanced life is a good one, and Addison knows this all too well. She understands that she’s in the prime of her career, and encourages others to increase the workload now while they still can afford the time to do it. 

“There are eight hours in a (work) day, and I feel like I should be utilizing every hour,” she said. “I don’t want to be scrambling to make my mark and make ends meet down the road when I have the opportunity to do it now. By that time, I want to be sitting on the sidelines watching my future kid play soccer.”

Addison advises younger readers to make the most of their free time to try to maximize their output, while making time for themselves. 

In pageants, Addison consistently placed at the top. She was even one of the youngest contestants for Miss Mississippi. Judges admired Addison’s eloquence and articulation during the interview portion of competitions. She accredits this skill to watching the news.

“I was so into it, and what was going on,” she said. “That’s when I realized I had a love for news, and judges always said I’d be great for television.” 

Addison ended up at the University of Mississippi after careful consideration between state schools. Proximity to her family and the quality of the school were two of the biggest draws. However, things weren’t always good. 

After her freshman year, Addison left the university to attend Georgia State. She had convinced herself that Oxford wasn’t for her and there were greater things out there.

The grass isn’t always greener.

 “After leaving, within six weeks, I was like this isn’t for me,” she said. “I had to get back to Oxford. Once I got back, I never wanted to leave again.”

Addison’s time on campus was marked by progress and change. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, she said being a member of a historically black organization on a predominantly white campus helped her navigate and matriculate through the years. 

Addison was part of the coalition on campus to change the Mississippi state flag. She said it took leaving the university to realize how many opportunities and resources were available to minority students. She is the first in her family to attend the University of Mississippi and wants to start her own legacy. Much of the work she did here was to make a more inclusive future for her own children and everybody else. 

Addison reporting with Fox News holding a FOX News microphone. Submitted photo.
Addison reporting with Fox News. Submitted photo.

Working closely with Assistant Dean Jennifer Simmons, Addison spent summers and winters grinding to earn two degrees at once. Anybody who’s completed even one summer school program can tell you how grueling and demanding the work can be in the time frame given. Addison thanked Assistant Dean Simmons for her assistance. 

“She really cares about students individually and their growth…,” Addison said. “I remember when I first met her. She said she would keep up with me and check in on me, and she really did. Anytime I tell people I did the two degrees in four years, they’re shocked. I have Dean Simmons and her work to thank for that.” 

Simmons commended Addison’s accomplishments.

“I credit Joy with getting her two bachelor’s degrees at once,” she said. “It wasn’t me. She did all the work…”

Simmons said students like Addison are not outliers, and she is there to help guide them. 

“We make a plan,” she said. “When students do a dual degree, I like to sit down and map out what they need to do in the time frame they want to do it.

“If we know in advance, it’s easier to plan out. If we don’t know in advance, we have to make a pretty clear plan to ensure the students get what they want in the allotted time.

“We also have a very real conversation about expectations. Sometimes, we just need to adjust it. I ask them whether the goal is to finish in four, or to finish?” 

Simmons said she is proactive, and whenever she has the opportunity to look at students’ progress, she’ll let them know how close they are to hitting the criteria for another minor. 

“Graduation,” Simmons said. “That is what I enjoy the most. One, I want students to graduate in something that they want to do. I love to see students take that next step towards their goals.”

After her first contract with KFDM Beaumont, Addison experienced a period of unemployment. The reality of the news business is that there are waves – ups and downs. Addison was at a point in her life of growth and success, and she didn’t want to pack everything up and go pursue a new reporting job in another small market. 

She prayed, fasted, researched, and waited patiently. She remained jobless for two months and lived off her savings. Addison received a call from a marketing firm looking to fill a position for an employee on maternity leave. Due to her background and technological proficiency, Addison became a lead candidate for the gig. 

After five months of working with the agency, FOX began interviewing Addison. A week after the other employee returned from maternity leave, Addison learned she had been selected for the new reporting job. 

“Being unemployed is so unbelievably hard,” she said. “Sometimes our careers ebb and flow. A lot of times, you have to do what’s best for you. I always think back to what if I packed up my life to Birmingham or Little Rock. A lot of people told me I’m crazy for going back home with no job, but it worked out.” 

Addison quickly jumped from a small market reporting job to the eighth largest television market in the country in Houston. With FOX, Addison is an MMJ, or multimedia journalist. 

“We do everything out in the field,” she said. “I’m in Dallas right now for a story, and it’s just me. I drove here with my camera, tripod, laptop, and did some interviews today. After this, I’m gonna do a little editing. When I go live, it’s just me. No teleprompter. No notes. Just me and whatever I can remember. The good news is that when you write the story, you know the story.” 

Addison credited NewsWatch for her proficiency and readiness for her national reporting job.

“Kudos to Ole Miss for designing that program, because it is structured just like your average day in journalism,” she said. “I was so prepared for my job at KFDM. We would come in with three-story ideas, and the editorial team will pick and choose what they like, what they don’t like, and what to save for later. In local news, you have a single day to come up with a story, just like NewsWatch.” 

Addison said you have more freedom reporting national news.

 “You have a week to come up with your story, basically,” she said. “It’s up to me to edit this package to make sure I’m on track for my story.”

Addison lives up to her market eight title by staying proactive when looking for stories. She uses reliable sources and social media to find out what people are talking about. Working for a network, Addison wants to be the first to report on a new story. Her stories air nationally at many different FOX stations. 

Addison’s advice: Go to Ole Miss. First, because it’s (relatively) small. It’s the second smallest university in the SEC after Vanderbilt. After four years, she said she knew everyone on campus and was able to utilize her connections. That sense of community is important.

Addison said there’s nothing wrong with working in a small television market, and it can be hard to break into a major market. Don’t settle if you know you can do better. 

Addison has come a long way, but her journey has just begun because of her determination, faith and excellence.

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