Reporter. Photographer. Designer. Editor. Marketer.
Communicator. Idea Generator. Teacher. Encourager.
LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and support journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and she spent a decade of her career as a reporter at The Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, personality profiles, art, culture, lifestyles and entertainment for the print and web editions. While there, she was also a USA TODAY contributor.
As a reporter during the newspaper's digital transition, Rucker was the first reporter at The Clarion-Ledger to create a blog and promote her work using social media. She was also asked to be part of the newspaper's Technology Committee. Members shared innovative tech ideas.
Always a student of evolving technology, media trends and educational creativity, Rucker has taught multimedia journalism, features writing, and introduction to mass communication classes since 2014.
She created the Oxford Stories classes at UM and the website OxfordStories.net that serves as a student news wire service, sending student stories to cooperative local news organizations for publication.
Rucker spent part of last summer writing for WONDERLUST, a national travel website created by the founder of SPIN magazine. And she designed a project website called MISS. UNDERSTOOD about Mississippi perceptions, featuring the work of her students.
She continues to freelance and contribute to USA TODAY, The Clarion-Ledger, The ‘Sip – a statewide lifestyles magazine, and other publications.
Rucker defended her thesis and earned her master's of arts degree in journalism in August of 2016 from The Meek School of Journalism and New Media, where she completed both the academic and professional tracks. As a graduate student, she was the winner of the Graduate Achievement Award in Journalism.
The Graduate School awards up to a total of 18 Graduate Achievement Awards each year for recognition on Honors Day. They were awarded during the Honors Convocation at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on the UM campus.
The Graduate Achievement Awards include a maximum of two each from accountancy, applied sciences, business, education, engineering and pharmacy, and six from the College of Liberal Arts. In liberal arts, the two awards are given in each of the following three areas:
*Area A, which includes biology, chemistry, mathematics, philosophy and religions, and physics and astronomy. *Area B, which includes art, classics, English, journalism, modern languages, music, and theatre arts. *Area C, which includes history, political science, psychology, and sociology and anthropology.
As a graduate student, Rucker was also nominated by Meek School of Journalism faculty members for the Graduate Instructor Excellence in Teaching Award given annually since 2008. This award is intended to demonstrate the university’s appreciation of the efforts of all graduate instructors and teaching assistants whose work contributes to quality teaching and learning on campus. A nomination is evidence of the positive impact one has had in the lives of students at the University of Mississippi.
She recently completed a program through The Poynter Institute and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, earning certification for adjunct faculty and others who teach journalism and mass communication classes at universities and colleges across the country.
While studying and teaching at UM, she worked as a part-time reporter for The Oxford Eagle, a daily newspaper in Mississippi's best small town, and wrote for The 'Sip magazine, a statewide publication that celebrates Mississippi's people and culture.
She continues to freelance for other websites and publications and maintains a features blog called Hip in the 'Sip: A Modern Look at Mississippi.
Throughout her career, Rucker's responsibilities have included editing, photography, page design, web design, graphic design, blogging, social media, videography, digital editing and web writing and producing.
She has organized photo shoots, served as a community representative at public events, led seminars about new media, taught classes, and created a features blog called “Mississippi Style” that became the most read blog on The Clarion-Ledger's website.
That year, Rucker was also recognized with an honorable mention in the Mississippi Press Association's "Freedom of Information Award" category that includes all newspapers in the state for her work covering corruption issues in the Canton Police Department.
While taking three graduate-level English courses in semantics, Southern literature and contemporary literature at the University of Mississippi, Rucker worked for The New Albany Gazette as a general assignment reporter, photographer, page designer and features editor from 1998-2003. She edited a features section called “Local Color” that was named "Best Weekly Lifestyles Page or Section" in the state by the Mississippi Press Association in 2001 and 2002.
She also wrote an in-depth story, reconstructing a historic lynching that occurred in the county in 1925. The Lynching of L.Q. Ivy won first place out of all Landmark Community Newspapers Inc. in The Gazette's division.
Rucker interned at WCBI Television's Tupelo bureau during the summer of 1996, and joined the staff of The Lee County Courier as a reporter, photographer and page designer in 1997. She wrote about native son Elvis Presley's annual birthday celebration that attracts visitors worldwide, interviewed a former Ku Klux Klan leader, and covered a gang-related murder trial, to name a few assignments.
Earlier that year, she graduated from the University of Mississippi with a triple major in print journalism, broadcast journalism and English, creating her own “new media” track with foresight that the mediums would eventually merge.
In college, Rucker was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio and Television Newscasters Association. She worked as a reporter for The Daily Mississippian and wrote for the Ole Miss yearbook. She was a radio reporter and anchor for WUMS 92.1, the campus radio station. And she worked as a videographer, alternate anchor, weather person and reporter for Channel 12 Newswatch, the campus television station.
She was also afforded trips to New Orleans and Los Angeles with RTNDA, where she met notable journalists Peter Jennings, Carol Simpson, Sam Donaldson, Dee Dee Meyers and Bernard Shaw.
Rucker has interviewed celebrities, such as Oscar winners Whoopi Goldberg and writer/director Alan Ball of “American Beauty” and “True Blood,” comedian Ray Romano, actress Sela Ward, world famous makeup artist Billy Brasfield; Christian artists “Selah,” “Switchfoot” and Brandon Heath; country artists “The Band Perry” and Ty Herndon; singer Charlie Mars; religious leader Joel Osteen; FOX News anchor Shepard Smith; former-teen-heartthrob-turned-evangelist Kirk Cameron; and even Mississippi native Kermit the Frog.
In 1999, Rucker spent a month photographing sites in Europe. To date, she has won more than 40 journalism awards, primarily from the Mississippi Press Association, for writing, photography and design.
Her work has been distributed by The Associated Press and Gannett News Service to papers across the country, including USA TODAY. Other publications include New Jersey’s Daily Record, The Daily Journal and The Courier-Post; South Dakota’s Argus Leader; New York’s Poughkeepsie Journal; The Delaware News Journal; Louisiana’s The Town Talk and The News-Star; Tennessee's The Commercial Appeal and The Tennessean; North Carolina's The News & Observer; California's The Fresno Bee, The Tribune and the Merced Sun-Star; South Carolina's The State and The Island Packet; Georgia's The Ledger Inquirer; Florida's The Miami Herald and Bradenton Herald; Washington's Tri-City Herald and The Bellingham Herald; Kentucky's The Lexington Herald Leader; Missouri's The Kansas City Star; The UK's The Telegraph; Mississippi's The Sun Herald, The Mobile Press-Register, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, The Hattiesburg American, Mississippi Magazine, and numerous blogs and industry publications.