This may be the most fun I’ve had as a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It’s exhausting, mostly fun and a fascinating experiment that combines journalism and advertising students, faculty and staff.
This class of 55 journalism and advertising students have been training 10 hours a day this week to document the Special Olympics 2010 USA National Games. Planning and coordination for the class began last year. Now, we’re off and running, sometimes even flying by the seat of our pants, as we do our darnedest to cover this amazing event.
About 3,000 Special Olympics athletes will compete in 13 different sports across the city of Lincoln. The games, which will be the largest multi-sport event in the state’s history, is expected to attract 15,000 family members and friends, 1,000 coaches, 8,000 volunteers and 30,000 fans.
When the USA National Games begin on Sunday our students will shift into high gear.
- Journalism students will cover the USA National Games for the national news media.
- Advertising students will provide sponsor documentation and exposure during the week long event.
- Students will support the USA National Games Media Center which is operating 20 hours a day from Andersen Hall in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
- Students will write, photograph and videotape the Special Olympics athletes competing in the 2010 USA National Games July 18-23rd in Lincoln, Neb.
- Their content is being published on a 2010 USA National Games website for the news media and public to use.
- Students will also produce and front reporting content for a nightly 5 CITY TV program about the 2010 USA National Games.
Today, students covered a press conference with Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games CEO Charles Cooper and other dignitaries talking about the upcoming event.
Besides the Special Olympic athletes, our students will be covering each one of the 13 competition venues; basketball, aquatics, tennis, power lifting, flag football, bocce, soccer, bowling, golf, track and field, rhythmic gymnastics, volleyball and softball.
Lincoln will play host to the athletes, their coaches, families and an estimated 30,000 spectators next week.
The athletes begin arriving Saturday in a massive airlift that will turn Lincoln Airport into one of the world’s busiest airports, according to Special Olympics officials. Our students will be there to document the event.
The economic impact of the 2010 USA National Games on Nebraska is estimated at $5-million. This is also part of the back story to the Games that our students are following.
This has been fun for me because it’s clearly fun for the students. They’re training and applying what they have learned as they cover this national event. They have enjoyed the challenge and are taking the initiative as they plan stories, work with each other and produce content.
The Special Olympics 2010 USA National Games is also an event involving some of America’s most inspiring athletes. They’re all coming to Lincoln later this week. Each has a story to tell. Our students will have the privilege of sharing many of those athlete’s stories with you. They will involve perseverance, character and an unrelenting can-do attitude.
So: Let the the Games begin.
*Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide.