A reflection on things learned

July 23, 2010


Covering the athletes, recording myself

The first thing you’re taught as young journalist is to leave your biases at home. In this case, I took them with me.

For the last two weeks the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications has been documenting the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games. This unique class allowed students to cover the USA National Games like a journalist or broadcaster.

After we collected sound-bites, video and interviews, the information was edited and published on the Internet for the world to see. We even sported official press credentials.

Beginning on July 12, students got a crash course in the world of journalism and mass media. We were taught how to use the latest professional non-linear editing software, learned how to operate three different types of high definition video cameras and were reminded that active voice is always preferred to passive voice.

Most of us may have assumed Special Olympics athletes are less capable of doing the things we might do ourselves

So how does an unbiased journalist block out the sentiment of joy when these athletes do more when they are perceived to be able to do less? We don’t. We feed this emotion on the inside by capturing it on the outside.

Scott Rohrer, 21, broke the Special Olympics international golf record this week with his 71 score for 18 holes of golf. Michigan’s Kolan McConiughey has bowled seven perfect games in his life. Team Florida’s basketball squad was so dominant in Special Olympics Games play this week that it was invited to play an exhibition game against former star high school basketball players. Team Florida won that game, too.

These performances and many more were amazing to see – and not solely as sport. The personalities were the real show.

The athletes’ enthusiasm was contagious. The high-fives never got old. The smiles were unrehearsed and could brighten the cloudiest of days. The sportsmanship was in full force. NBA commissioner David Stern should use it as a “101 good sportsmanship video” to show professional basketball players.

Bob Els, who directed the golf venue in Lincoln, said, “When you get out and watch the players play and cheer for each other, and for themselves when they make a good shot, it is something special.”

The last two weeks I have learned a lot. I am now comfortable approaching others for interviews. You do not pan just to pan while videotaping. Having a backup memory card is a must.

But what I will take most out of Special Olympics Journalism 498 is that the media have the power to shine a light on issues the public sometimes overlooks.

Journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault once said, “If people are informed, they will do the right thing. It’s when they are not informed that they become hostages to prejudice.”

Mass communications can change others’ outlooks – as well as my own.

Story by Aaron Krienert, Picture by Josh Kellams

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sarah Van Dalsem, UNL CoJMC. UNL CoJMC said: RT @vandalsem: Fantastic piece from the #2010SONG documentation team: http://cojmc.unl.edu/specialolympics/?p=4935 […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention A reflection on things learned « Special Olympics 2010 USA National Games | UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications -- Topsy.com — July 26, 2010 @ 6:51 am

  2. Fellows you did a professional job, thanks for your efforts and passion for the 2010 Games!

    Comment by Sam Sharpe-golf — July 27, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

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