Best Olympic Moments
Lessons learned by 14 BU journalism students who reported from the London Olympics, summer 2012. The assignment: cover New England athletes and stories through articles, video, audio, blogs, tweets and photographs for local news outlets as well as this Web site. The experience: priceless.
Mitt Romney made an Olympics visit part of his presidential campaign and made high-profile, “photo op” visits to British leaders. Lesson: Report the reaction, don’t just repeat the photo-op. WBZ student reporters Matt Reed and Victoria Price were asked by London bystanders to identify this American candidate and produced this report “Who’s Mitt?”
U.S. = UConn in Women’s Basketball: The U.S. women’s team, the perennial favorite, cruised to a sixth Olympic consecutive gold medal win. Lesson: Yani Carter found the New England tie to a national powerhouse; six of the team players competed for the University of Connecticut as well as the Olympic team’s coach.
Harvard Graduate in Open Water Swim: Former Harvard swimmer Alex Meyer placed 10th in the grueling 10K competition, after training for years at Walden Pond. Lesson: BU student reporters needed to be resourceful as they didn’t have press passes to get into many of the Olympic venues. Emily Zendt took advantage of the access available at one of the rare, free, public Olympic events as the Open Water Swim required athletes to lap around the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park, cheered on by teams of spectators.
Aly Raisman’s Parents React: Needham gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents were interviewed about hometown support while waiting for their daughter to appear on NBC’s Today Show broadcast from the Olympic Park in London. Lesson: The importance of the popular slug, or story title, which will attract search engine hits; This story was posted (and titled) at the same time as a viral video of Raisman’s parents reacting to her Olympic gymnastics performance.
Judo Champion and Survivor: Matt Reed introduced us to the first American gold medalist in judo- Marblehead’s Kayla Harrison who survived abuse from a previous coach. Lesson: Get the “evergreen,” undated interview with the athlete in Massachusetts, before the London Games; the home gym setting means an interview with more time and candor, particularly about a sensitive subject.
Aly’s Gold, At Last: Alexandra Orr reported the second week gold medal win and delayed triumph of Needham gymnast Aly Raisman, overshadowed at the start of the Olympics by teammate Gabby Douglas. Lesson #1- Providing context to the story- Aly Raisman missed her first chance at individual gold, later winning, but losing national attention and endorsements given to Douglas.
Bells rang in the London Olympics from sites all over the city to mark the beginning Opening Day at the Olympics and ending a seven year period of preparation. Lesson: Pool your coverage; our students videotaped bells ringing at several different locations, contributing to this montage of sights and sounds. Learn from mistakes; BU’s Olympics web site featured a countdown clock which ended Opening Day by automatically re-directing all BU’s Web viewers to the London Olympics web site. Lesson: Don’t trust all Web plug-ins; clock feature deleted and problem solved.
Gabby is a Pats Fan!: Gabby Douglas is one of the acknowledged cover gals (look at Kelloggs’ Corn Flakes) of the London Olympics; she is the first African American to win the gymnastics Olympic all-around title. No access as Gabby appeared on NBC’s Today Show, but her older brother revealed that she is a Patriots’ fan. Lesson: You can always find the local angle with the right question posed, if not to the athlete, then to her family members, coach and/or supporters. Work the outer circle.