Columbus and the surrounding areas are filled with former MUW graduates. They can be identified by their commitment to excellence and their hard-working attitude. No former graduate exemplifies that more than WCBI news anchor, Joey Barnes.
Barnes was born in Columbus but moved to Millport, Ala., when he was 14.
“I consider myself from Columbus and Millport. I like having two hometowns,” he said.
Before he came to MUW, he graduated from South Lamar High School in 2001 where he wanted to major in sports medicine. He changed his mind and decided to work in media. The rest is history.
He enrolled at MUW the following fall where he pursued a degree in communication with a minor in psychology. He graduated in 2005.
To hone his skills during college, he worked in the sports department at the Columbus Dispatch. He also wrote several articles for MUW’s campus newspaper, The Spectator.
By September of 2005, while working at WCBI, he had worked his way up to becoming a reporter and a fill-in weekend anchor. He left the station the same time Hurricane Katrina was causing havoc in the South.
“I left the television station to become a student recruiter at MUW. My territory was south Mississippi and north Alabama. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. You become very humbled when you talk with young people who are uncertain about their future because their world has been turned upside down,” Barnes said.
In 2006 he took a job in Davenport, Iowa, at an independent television network. Later that year, he came home to take an opening at WCBI as the weekend news anchor.
“For the next six years I would have numerous roles, including weekend anchor, senior reporter, producer, fill-in assignment editor, etc. This is where I really learned the nuts and bolts of the business,” he said.
In early 2012, WLBT, Mississippi’s “flagship” station came calling.
“Talk about learning a lot! I found new challenges and new ways to cover news. There was also more stories to cover in the capital city,” Barnes said.
In 2013 WCBI contacted him about becoming the weeknight news anchor.
“It's an incredible opportunity I couldn't pass up. I feel at home at north Mississippi's news leader. Not to mention, this is a job I dreamed of having since watching Jeffrey Rupp, Dennis Hudson, Gene Edwards and Bill Gamel when I was growing up,” he said.
While at the station, he will not only be anchoring, he will also be the managing editor. He will be helping producers and reporters write stories that are appealing to viewers.
Barnes doesn’t like to see where the future will take him. He likes to do his best in the present where he can help and improve not only himself, but the people around him.
“A television reporter can always to depend on each day being different. You also have a front row seat to all the events people want to know about. It's our job to paint a picture for the audience, ask the tough questions and give people the information they want or need to make their community a better place,” he notes.
He gives advice to those aspiring to have a career in the media, paying particular attention to the value of hard work.
“My most basic advice is to work hard. In today's employment field, it's important to know how to do as many jobs as possible. Those roles will make you more valuable to an employer,” Barnes said.
He also notes on how important an education is.
“There are many challenges that will interrupt your college education, whether you're a traditional or non-traditional student, but I encourage every student to get their diploma. Without your degree, that dream job will be more difficult to obtain. I always go back to saying my grandfather used to tell me, ‘they can take everything away from you but your education.’ Words to remember, in my opinion,” he said.