The Coolest Summer Project Ever: Covering The 2012 Olympics.

London will serve as the stage for the 2012 Olympic Games. And I’ll be right there to cover the action

It’s not a joke. This summer I will be traveling to London with a team of 40 Advertising, Journalism, Telecommunications, and Public Relations majors at Ball State to cover the 2012 Olympic Games.

I still can’t believe this is happening. A sports media dream come true.

Since the project’s inception at the end of the 2011 school year, we’ve all been hard at work talking to athletes and building connections.

Last month I attended the US Olympic Committee’s Team USA Media Summit in Dallas, Texas. It was a 3 day event at the Hilton Anatole Hotel where media outlets had the opportunity to talk with Olympic athletes and London hopefuls.

Some of our team in Dallas

The experience was phenomenal. Here I am, a 20 year old student journalist, working shoulder to shoulder with the big boys in media as a credentialed reporter. As you can imagine, the connections I made were stellar. The guest list: ESPN, NBC, Washington Post, ABC, NPR, USA Today…just to name a few.

During the Summit, media members were split up into print/online and broadcast groups, as was our class. I worked primarily with print. At first I was a little apprehensive. I’ve always been a video guy. But I knew that working on my writing would strengthen my skills as a multimedia journalist. And I grew into it.

The format was well structured, but it required a lot of pre-planning. I had come in to Dallas with a list of athletes I would be looking to talk to most. My focus for coverage has been USA Basketball, Fencing, and Volleyball. But with only 3 people in the print/online area, I needed to talk with every athlete I could. Gymnasts, swimmers, divers, sprinters, archers; the whole gamut.

The 3 days consisted of Press Conferences for the most popular events: Basketball, Swimming, and Track and Field. Michael Phelps did one with his coach. Even FLOTUS Michelle Obama made an appearance to promote her campaign to combat child obesity.  In between those pressers were roundtables where media could interview athletes and get some soundbites.

I worked in our broadcast room for a little bit as well. As opposed to bringing all of the writers to the athlete, the USOC had to bring the athlete to the broadcasters.  This meant we had a time limit—six minutes—from when they walked in to when they walked out. This provided an incredible challenge. It usually took about a minute to get the athlete all wired up and get the cameras focused. All of a sudden we were down to five minutes.We shared the room with the Armed Forces Network and WebMD. AFN had each athlete do a few messages to the troops, leaving WebMD and us less than 3 minutes to interview. So time was VERY limited.

This meant our questions had to be absolutely GREAT. They had to be the cream of the crop, whether it was with a hopeful for the final spot on the gymnastics team or U.S. Soccer star Alex Morgan. This also meant we had to be prepared.  We couldn’t simply ask questions to gather information about an athlete’s background. We had to know the background or else we would run out of time before we even had a chance for a quality question.

Our Broadcast Set-Up

That was our ‘Welcome’ to the world of Sports Media. It’s never easy. But you’ve got to adapt and react. We met the challenge. And it was quite rewarding.

I had great interviews with so many Olympians and Paralympians competing in many different events. I’ll be posting about my experiences on this site. You can check out my stories at BSUattheGames.com.

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