Posts tagged "Journalists"

In praise of good editors

My husband’s the director of BSU at the Games. It was his brainchild and has been his obsession these past two years.

I’m the faculty advisor to the features team. I was a newspaper features writer for years, and Ryan and I used to work at papers together. So these long nights, long meetings, long periods of simultaneous exhaustion and exhilaration we’re experiencing here with our 40 students at the Olympic Games seem sort of warmly familiar to me. It reminds me of my early newsrooms, of being 20-something with other 20-somethings who just wanted to do good work and see their names in black-and-white print somewhere.

What has surprised me is how it feels to be 39 and watching it happen from the outside—how it feels to help nudge the process forward, to initiate young people into what has to be one of the most demanding, difficult and wonderful jobs anyone can have.

Working through the night of the Opening Ceremony, with dawn starting to soak through the curtains of my London flat, I looked around at all the students staring down into laptops, complaining, laughing, passing a bag of chips, arguing about ledes, and I found myself thinking of Marilyn Young. She was my best and favorite editor in that period of my life. (She’s at the Jacksonville Times-Union now.) A word from her, positive or negative, could make or destroy my day.

Suddenly I saw myself as she must have seen me then, with my lazy streak, my stubbornness, my flashes of anger and occasional petulance, my imagination, my passionate energy, my bursts of insight and raw talent. I must have annoyed the crap out of her sometimes. I must have delighted her when I did something right.

Marilyn made me a better writer, and she trained me in a job that is also a calling. She overlooked my periodic 20-something dumbassery because she believed in my potential.

Now my little team of features writers is wandering around London getting cussed out in multiple languages, struck down with food poisoning and lost on the Tube, and I’m trying to channel Marilyn. I’m petting, cajoling and threatening them as the situation seems to require.

And when they do something right—for example, when a once-shy girl brought home the perfect interview, and another saw her work published in the Huffington Post—I am proud. I am as proud as if I saw my own name there.

I am hopeful I have given a little of what I received.

Colleen Steffen  |  Features Editor

Daily Video: Steele Johnson | USA Diving

BSU at the Games daily video series featuring Team USA athletes.

Steele Johnson – USA Diving

Former tumbler in awe of Olympic gymnasts

As a former gymnast myself, I was most excited about having the opportunity to talk to some of the U.S.’s top gymnasts at the Media Summit in Dallas. Even though we had been waking up early the past few days, I felt full of energy because the atmosphere was so exciting.

Having the chance to talk to Olympians Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and Jonathan Horton was a dream come true. In 2008 I watched them compete in Beijing and saw them win their medals, so it was an honor to be in the same room with them. At first talking to them was extremely intimidating because they are such a big deal to me, but after a few minutes they just felt like regular people.

When I was watching the 2008 Olympic Games, I was 16 years old, the age of many of the contenders for a spot on the 2012 team. They are only in high school, and yet they have the chance to represent the United States in the biggest athletic event in the world. That blows my mind.

Jordyn Wieber, 16, said the pressure doesn’t really get to her because she competes all the time and she is ready for the trials. This was the case with several of the athletes; they handle their nerves like veterans, yet they are only teenagers.

Dallas has been such an amazing experience for me and I am even more excited about getting to London in July.

Emily Barker  |  Sports Reporter


Why be a journalist? Hint: not the salary

Alright. Time to ‘fess up. I had an ulterior motive in starting this Olympic program—getting back to Ball State’s awesome Worcester Centre in Worcester, U.K., where I spent summer 2010 with my family and about 35 BSU students.

But that’s only partially true.

The other reason that I wanted to go to the Games was to show my journalism students just how cool it can be to be a working journalist.

It can be hard sometimes to show that back at Ball State. Oh, most of us try in our own way, but all too often it’s tempered with news of newspaper layoffs and starting your careers in some backwater market that pays under 20K a year. And that’s not cool.

But there’s something magical about this job. Colleen actually calls it “journalism magic.” And it’s true. It works. It’s this cool Zen moment when all of your training and all of your instincts come together in this perfect combination. And you are on it. You are living in the moment and you can’t be stopped. You can’t wait to get back to your computer to input photos (like I’m doing now at 2 a.m.) or bang out a story or edit that package.

Coming to Dallas reminded me of it. I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had picking up a camera again and shooting sports—shooting people for that matter.

It’s brought the coolness back to me.

And I’m hoping it does for my students too. I hope that when they go home from London they reflect back and think, “That’s what I want to do everyday for the rest of my life.” And I hope that they bring that kind of passion back with them to the DN or to Ball Bearings or to Sports Link, because lord knows journalism needs passion right now.

We need to be cool again.

Ryan Sparrow  |  Adviser



Pressure + time = diamonds

Sat down with Alexander Massialas of USA Fencing. We talked about what it’s like to be a young Olympian. He walked me through his daily routine, which consists of fencing two to three hours a day, every day. And it shows. Since he only uses one arm for fencing, his right arm is bigger than his left.  It’s also longer.  Noticeably longer. Don’t believe me?  Check out the picture.

Alexander is a guy I could really connect with. We both share a favorite band in hip-hop duo Zion I and  love basketball, and his favorite videogame is NBA 2k12.

Another thing the men’s foil champion said that stuck with me was that “pressure separates the good from the great.”

I couldn’t agree more. As the days roll by and the Olympic Games get closer, the pressure rises. How we as a team handle that pressure will show in the quality and quantity of our work.


 Brandon Pope  |  Sports Reporter


What do I have in common with Olympians? A dream

I have to admit that I’m pretty star-struck. I’m halfway through Day 1 of the 2012 Team USA Media Summit in Dallas, and I’ve been able to interview several gold-medal contenders. Not only am I surrounded by competitors in the single largest international sporting event, but I’m also working alongside media professionals from all over the country.

During the first event of the day, I interviewed shot-put champion Jillian Camarena-Williams. One of the aspects that stood out most during my interview with Camarena-Williams was her nails—all are painted hot pink with the exception of her right index finger, which is painted gold.  Camarena-Williams explained that the gold on her “No.1” finger is a reminder of what she’s working toward.

Although I certainly won’t be competing in the Olympic Games anytime soon, I can relate to Camarena-Williams in terms of working toward a specific (and sometimes seemingly unachievable) goal. Working alongside media professionals from the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Twitter and more is completely and utterly nerve-racking.

But in the same way that Camarena-Williams is constantly reminding herself of her Olympic goal with her nails, this opportunity to network with both athletes and media professionals is a reminder that my goals to succeed in the field of journalism are within reach.

With all the opportunities with which I have already been presented in the past 24 hours, my goal is getting that much closer to becoming a reality.

Emily Thompson  |  Features Reporter



This big project has me sleepless in Dallas

It’s 5 a.m. in Dallas, and I can’t sleep.

Can’t sleep because I’m tired and thrilled and terrified all at the same time, a deadly concoction for trying to get some shut-eye.

A small group of us made our way to the Olympic Media Summit to make some contacts and inroads for our summer adventure. I think the idea was to come down and start making a name for ourselves so that we weren’t starting from zero in July.

But guess what? We’re already known. As the incredible Vanessa Virbitsky—remind me when this is all over that we need to send her a BIG thank you note—introduced us to press agents and athletes, many of them said they’d heard the name or heard of our project already.

And that, my friends—that is cool.

That means reaching out to athletes and coaches and parents and sponsors will be that much easier. That means that getting followers and posting stories will be seen by that many more people. And that means that we’ve succeeded in a first step.

It also means something else. It means that we have the potential to do something new here. In the beginning of this project, I really wanted to get our stories into big media – the Tribune, TV, on websites. And don’t get me wrong, I still do. One of my plans tomorrow night at a barbecue will be to start collecting media sources and contacts for that exact purpose.

But it also means that we have the potential to just do it on our own and build a brand in this new media world. It means that in today’s day and age, getting stories seen by a large audience doesn’t necessarily mean utilizing a mouthpiece of old.

As I’ve been telling people here, we’re trying to fill a hole. As more and more media companies struggle with the financial problem of sending people to London, we’re ready to jump in, find stories, shoot hours and stacks of photos and video. It will be great if our stories are seen in newspapers and on newscasts and websites, but it will be even greater if we can build something to last and be proud of that others will come to and respect.

And that’s thrilling. And that’s terrifying. And that’s why I can’ sleep in Dallas this morning.

Ryan Sparrow  |  Adviser


Students and advisers take part in Team USA Olympic Media Summit

By Kait Buck | BSU at the Games

Students and advisers from BSU at the Games will join national media, First Lady Michelle Obama and some of the most well known Olympians when they travel to Dallas May 12 through 15 for a unique opportunity to attend the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) 2012 Team USA Media Summit.

Athletes answer questions at a past Team USA Media Summit. Photo courtesy: USOC

USOC has hosted the Media Summit each Olympic year since 1988 as an opportunity for journalists to conduct interviews and photo sessions with Team USA’s top Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls. The three-day event includes press conferences, roundtables and special television and radio interview sessions. The USOC expects approximately 120 athletes to participate in this year’s summit.

Among the participants are former Olympic gold medalists such as 16-time swimming medalist Michael Phelps. Several athletes whom BSU at the Games team members are in contact with for stories will also be in attendance, including David Boudia (Diving), Mary Killman (Synchronized Swimming), Kayla Harrison (Judo), Alexander Massialas (Fencing), medalist Tim Morehouse (Fencing), Eric Shanteau (Swimming) and Errol Spence (Boxing).

First Lady Michelle Obama also will attend to launch her Let’s Move! initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity. She is collaborating with the USOC to use the inspiration of the Games as a call to action for a healthy, active lifestyle for American children.

BSU at the Games advisers Ryan Sparrow and Chris Taylor will travel to Dallas with a group of five students—sophomore Emily Barker, telecommunications; junior Josh Blessing, journalism and telecommunications; junior Pat Boylan, telecommunications; sophomore Brandon Pope, journalism and telecommunications; and senior Emily Thompson, magazine journalism. Taylor, Blessing and Barker have already arrived in Dallas for advance production work on stories prior to the summit.

“I’m hoping to boost my interviewing skills and do some networking at this conference,” Pope said. “I’m also looking forward to taking in the atmosphere of a big-time sports-media event. We’ll be shoulder to shoulder with the big names in journalism.”

Pope is covering Team USA Fencing athletes Massialas and Morehouse and hopes to speak with them at the event.

“This is a relationship business, and we will have a tremendous opportunity to cultivate existing relationships and build new ones while in Dallas,” said Taylor, BSU at the Games sports team adviser. “I am excited to represent Ball State, our program and our students at a national media event like this.”

Follow the event through the eyes of our staff on Twitter @bsuatthegames and Visit our website for stories, blogs and photos from the summit.

For an event schedule and full list of participating athletes, visit the USOC website.


Kait Buck is a senior public relations and history major at Ball State University. Follow Kait and the BSU team at @keightbuck@bsuatthegames and

10 features to scope out on

I’ve been spending long days working on the BSU at the Games website (and sometimes punching my computer screen). Here’s some of the features you can look forward to.

1. Behind the Scenes: Weekly Blogs

Good job! One down because you’re reading this post. Each week on Monday/Wednesday, we’ll have a member of our team write a post to tell you what we’re up to. During our trip to London July 23-August 15, we’ll kick it up a notch and blog daily!

2. Stories

The reason we do what we do. Check out our stories section to see our inside perspective of the people, places and events of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Don’t like to read? It’s OK, we have graphics and photos too.

3. Multimedia Section

Again, our unique coverage. Only this time you can watch it, hear it, see it.

4. Social Media Links

Get all of our updates in real-time via @bsuatthegames, #BSUOlympics, and Follow us on Instagram (bsuatthegames) and YouTube.

5. British Dictionary

Think you know what a hole-in-the-wall is? What about a lorry or a uni? Rubbish! Check out our British Dictionary to find out. It’s spot on!

6. Photo of the Week

Our best photo featured weekly on the homepage. Tell us what you think.

7. Interactive Map

Confused about all of the event venues for London 2012? This will help.

8. Official Video

Hear from our outstanding advisers about the trip, the class and immersive learning at Ball State.

9. Our Team

Meet our FABULOUS team of journalists, designers, photographers, advisers and public-relations students.

10. London 2012 Countdown

We’re counting down the minutes until London 2012 is here! Follow it on our homepage.

Kait Buck  |  Public Relations Team