Tempe, Ariz. — Journalists from across the world are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Olympic Games. Among them are 25 young men and women from the Valley getting real life journalistic experience on a global stage.
“The Cronkite School is built around the notion of hands-on learning,” Chris Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, said. “This is a fantastic experience for 25 of our students to be spending time covering the Olympics in Rio, with a real focus on Arizona.”
One of those students is bringing a little extra to the Rio coverage: Her own personal experience as a two-time Olympian.
Ao Gao competed in 2008 and 2012 as a member of China’s women’s water polo team. She is now earning her master’s degree in sports journalism at ASU.
“I’m always very into story telling. When I was with the team, I always would carry a camera and shoot around,” she said. “I think I’m holding a unique perspective being an athlete, versus a general journalist.”
Reporting from the Rio Games will also give the 25-year-old a chance to prove she has the skills to make it as a video journalist. She remembers a professor once doubted her abilities because of her language barrier.
“I think that pushed me even more,” she said, adding that she feels ready to cover the event after studying the past four years at ASU.
Safety concerns in Rio are not lost with Callahan and the Cronkite team in Brazil.
“We have taken a lot of precautions,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot to the students. We think they’re going to be very well-prepared.”
Callahan said the school is taking its cues from the U.S. State Department and will alter programs on an as-needed basis.
During the three-week trip, students will not only be providing content for the student-led Cronkite News newscast, but also multiple Valley media organizations, including both Arizona Sports and KTAR News.
“The experiences that they’ll take from (the Rio Games) will not only be great stories for their portfolios in the short-term, but in the long-term, I think it’s going to help in forming their journalism in the years to come,” Callahan said.
The student journalists are fulfilling course credits during the trip, which is led by Cronkite Assistant Dean Mark Lodato and other faculty. This is the second time the school will cover the Olympic Games. They also reported on the 2012 London Summer Games.
This is part four of a five-part KTAR series highlighting how Phoenix-area athletes, coaches and residents are representing in Rio de Janeiro. Stay tuned for the fifth story on Friday as Martha Maurer introduces you to a Valley resident volunteering during the Rio Games.