LatinaLista — July 27 marks the opening ceremonies, and official launch, of the 2012 Olympic games in London, which runs until August 12.
On hand to witness the festivities, soak up the international cultures, and watch the athletes in action are two young Latinas from Phoenix, Arizona for whom this trip of a lifetime is much more than just pleasure — it’s school work.
Maritsa Granillo and Lisa Blanco graduated in May from Arizona State University’s (ASU) broadcast journalism track in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Their accomplishments qualified them to be part of the university’s first-ever student journalists delegation covering the three-week international sporting event.
“We’re always looking for great real-life experiences to not only help our students but help them produce great journalism content for Arizona and the region,” Dean Christopher Callahan, founding dean of the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication department, said about the reason for sending students to the Olympics.
It was also an increase interest in sports journalism by his students and having Greg Boeck, a former sports writer for USA Today, who covered nine Olympics, on his faculty that Dean Callahan said made the decision easy that it was a worthwhile pursuit by the university on behalf of its students.
Yet, just like the athletes who had to qualify to compete in the Olympics, Granillo, Blanco and the other student delegates had to face tough competition in their quest for an Olympic press pass.
“The application process was very similar to applying for a job in the media business,” Blanco wrote Latina Lista in an email. “We had to send over our resume reel or clips, as well as, a resume in order to apply. From there, they broke it down to interviews and 18 were chosen.”
In fact, according to Cronkite Assistant Dean and News Director Mark Lodato, who is one of two faculty leading the London group, about 65 applications were received for 18 slots. In the end, 19 students were selected — 15 undergraduate and four graduate students.
Granillo and Blanco are the only bilingual Latinas on the team. Though excited about the opportunity, both women still looked to their families for advice and support.
“I am the first in my family to ever venture across the world,” Blanco wrote. “So, it was a bit overwhelming for them. I come from a very close Latino family where leaving home is typically not the norm. However, my family is very supportive of this trip, though they miss me tremendously.”
“My mother told me she was very proud of me,” Granillo replied in an email. “And that these opportunities are not common and so we must seize them when they come our way.”
All of the students will call the University College of London residence hall home during their stay and receive academic credit for the experience. The young journalists will have their work cut out for them. Armed with that coveted press pass from the London Media Centre, the student journalists will have access to a variety of Olympic sites in and around the city — looking for stories they hope convey the full Olympic experience to readers back home.
For Granillo, the trip has already validated her choice of a career.
“In my time here, I’ve discovered that you can do a lot with journalism,” Granillo wrote. “I’ve fallen in love with journalism all over again.”
Starting Friday, all the students will begin to be tested in their dedication to the profession when they embark on a schedule of creating multimedia stories for print, broadcast and online. The stories will appear on the school’s news site, as well as, on several Arizona news outlets.
Since Granillo and Blanco have the distinction of being the only Spanish-speakers on the team, they already have assignments to create stories for their local Telemundo affiliate back home in Phoenix.
“They want viewers to know what’s going on in London during all the chaos of the games,” Blanco said. “There also are many stories that involve Latino athletes that we will be able to produce, as well as, non-athlete stories. For example, there are two ballet folklorico groups from Arizona that will be performing at Warwick Castle in London for the Olympic games. We are hoping to give Telemundo a good mixture of coverage.”
Once their work is done and the Olympics are over, both women say they have one more assignment before heading home. Both will take a short vacation on the European mainland where they will put away their notepads and microphones and just be tourists — until the next story comes along.