A reflection on things learned

Covering the athletes, recording myself

Story by Aaron Krienert

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.

Journalism students put media skills to work on Special Olympics


A multimedia website, a nightly television broadcast and two new courses have been created by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications for students to cover and promote the Special Olympics 2010 USA National Games in Lincoln.

Fifty students in two Journalism and Mass Communications classes have joined forces with the games' media professionals to produce a website that will tell the stories of the athletes and of competitions in text, photos and videos.

About 3,000 people with intellectual disabilities are competing in 13 sports venues across Lincoln. The games, which are the largest multi-sport event in the state's history, have attracted 15,000 family members and friends, 1,000 coaches, 8,000 volunteers and 30,000 fans. A

s many as 300 local and national media personnel are using the college's Andersen Hall newsroom as a work space during the weeklong event, July 17-23. Read More...