Once In A Lifetime

Once In A Lifetime
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By Brittany Barber

Fifteen Sports Journalism students were invited to attend the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio for two weeks, with the goal of creating opportunity and perfecting transferable skills.

Twenty-six people in total worked to cover the games, eleven of which chose to stay in Toronto  producing content from their hub at the Story Arts Centre campus. Being provided with this opportunity gave students the confidence and ability to be successful sports journalists with ample amounts of practice in the field before graduation this winter.

Quinton Amundson, one of the fifteen students who covered the Paralympics believed it was a great overall success for himself and his classmates as they were able to take on journalistic responsibility in the field while still educating themselves in skills such as interviewing, broadcasting, writing and editing. With the help of their professors, students like Amundson confidently interviewed Paralympic athletes for major media coverage back in Canada.

“We will be able to translate these skills [into our field] and succeed in a pressure-packed environment,” Amundson said about his experiences in Rio. “I feel like I’m a better writer because I was able to be in an environment like [Rio].”

Callum Ferguson (Right), another student who covered the games in Brazil, appreciated the fact he was able to work so closely with athletes in Rio.

“I feel like I’ve always been a hands-on learner and it taught me what I had to do as a journalist, stepping out of my comfort zone to get the story,” says Ferguson. “As a journalist, I’ve learned to make mistakes, take chances and get messy.”

While some students soaked in the sunshine of Rio, the students that stayed to help broadcast and edit had their work cut out for them. Working on a tight 10am-6pm daily schedule in the studio provided great experience for those interested in technical skills.

Wade Stevenson, a student who stayed in Toronto, explained the difference between those who travelled to Brazil and those who stayed. While the students who went to Rio had specific assignments, those who stayed worked on combining field correspondents’ daily reports, “we were scouring all the games collecting everything and [students in Rio] rotated events daily.”

At the end of the Paralympic Games, Stevenson found the experience fulfilling; “Finding the adversity and the experience of exploring skills within myself was really rewarding.”

Those who stayed to cover the Paralympics in Toronto found the exploration of the studio enticing as they were able to practice skills that will help them directly for their chosen field.

“It really felt like a newsroom setting,” said student Brendan Ferreira about his time spent in the studio at Centennial. “When we were filming the shows we really had to come together and work closely. We went through [editing] together and learned a lot, and a lot about each other.”

With the Paralympic Games having ended in mid-September, the Sports Journalism students are now able to focus on graduation and job placement. Having worked with an internationally covered Olympic game, each student is able to walk away with more confidence in themselves and their journalistic abilities.

Visit http://torontoobserver.ca/category/sports/parabrazil16/ for more coverage of the 2016 Paralympics.

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