Ohio Journalist

International Dispath

By Mark Kors

(December 1, 2015) — The growth in popularity of sports worldwide has not been lost on students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

In the past four years students have seen an uptick in the opportunity to cover events on the global stage. From the Olympics in London to the last World Cup, students have been able to provide content for some of the biggest events in sports while interviewing high profile athletes and coaches.

The Institute for International Journalism, part of the journalism school at Ohio University, spearheaded this recent trend beginning in 2012, when the program selected students to cover the London Summer Olympics. Next, students were offered the opportunity to participate in coverage of soccer on its biggest stage with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Robert Stewart, director of the school, said the Olympics trip helped get the ball rolling on planning for other international opportunities in the future.

“What we really want to do is give our student these exceptional opportunities, and obviously it’s really good for the school on many different levels,” Stewart said. “If we can make that happen, it’s good for our students and it’s also good for our brand.”

Last summer, there were two opportunities tied to the 2014 World Cup. OU alumnus Dean Linke, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1991, offered ten students a chance to cover the World Cup in partnership with the National Soccer Coaches Association. They were responsible for broadcasting a live soccer show on the association’s website while visiting four European countries.

“I know I can’t go wrong [with OU students] because I also want a great product,” Linke said. “If we’ve got great journalism students, then we,re going to have a great product. So yes, I want to give back, but I also want the best students. I think OU is a great place to find them.”

Linke is a former press officer for the United States Soccer Federation as well as the first director of communications for Major League Soccer. He also is a play-by-play soccer announcer for the Big Ten Network.

The students were charged with seeking compelling stories as they mingled with fans and various soccer coaches throughout the world. The trip also included a visit to European soccer clubs, AFC Ajax and Paris Saint-Germain.

In February 2014, Scripps secured a partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation and offered students the opportunity to travel to Brazil and cover the U.S. Men’s National Team. The announcement was groundbreaking for the school, marking the first time the U.S. Soccer Federation had partnered with any university in the U.S. Students worked as interns for the federation, helping with the U.S. Men’s National Team’s communications efforts during the World Cup. Students tweeted, wrote stories, shot video and took photos for U.S. Soccer, while also posting on the team’s Facebook page. The interns were granted access to U.S. Soccer players, coaches and executives to produce quality content for the university and soccer fans seeking an insider’s perspective.

Stewart said his goal is that the school’s international programs can grow. These two opportunities are good benchmarks for continued success. “We hope that this is just the beginning of a long and happy relationship that’s all centered around soccer,” Stewart said.

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