Campus News

Nine journalism students to cover Paralympics for news organization

Paralympic Casey Sykes-h
Grady College Visual Journalism student Casey Sykes and Penn State student Antonella Crescimbeni take photos during the Paralympic Team Trials

By Christina Kirchner

In addition to the four athletes from UGA taking part in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, nine students from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will cover the 2016 Paralympics, which open Sept. 7, for the Associated Press.

The students—David Barnes, Jenn Finch, Josh Jones and Casey Sykes from visual journalism and Jamie Han, Emily Giambalvo, Emily Greenwood, Kendra Hansey and Kennington Smith from Grady College’s Sports Media Certificate program—will be fully credentialed press, producing multimedia content for global distribution by the AP.

“It will be a great experience for the students,” said Michael Giarrusso, the AP’s global sports editor, “and a great service to newspapers, broadcasters and digital operations in the U.S. and around the world.”

Two Grady College professors, Vicki Michaelis, director of Grady Sports, and Mark Johnson, head of the visual journalism program, will supervise and edit the students’ work in Rio. Michaelis was the lead Olympics reporter for USA Today from 2000-2012. She has covered nine Olympic Games.

Michaelis also accompanied two sports media certificate students, Nicole Chrzanowski and Jaylon Thompson, to the recent Olympic Games in Rio. The students wrote stories about U.S. medalists for, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s website.

For the student coverage of the Paralympic Games, Grady College is collaborating with Penn State’s John Curley Center for Sports Journalism program, directed by John Affleck. Now a professor, Affleck worked at the AP for 22 years, covering two Olympic Games and managing AP’s coverage of major sport events, including the Final Four and college football national title games.

“The bureau will contribute to the students’ social and global awareness and give them a deadline-driven, real-world experience that will improve their readiness to navigate the ever-evolving media landscape,” said Michaelis. “The students also will be providing a public service to the Paralympic audience.”

The students will be helping to meet an underserved audience demand for coverage of Paralympic sports.

The Grady College students will cover the first half of the Sept. 7-18 Rio Paralympic Games, and Penn State’s students will cover the second half. To prepare, several of the students covered the Paralympic Team Trials in early July in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Coca-Cola is funding a portion of the students’ travel expenses, and ThinkTank Photo donated and Canon USA loaned equipment for the visual journalism students.