American J-students become reporting interns for Rio 2016 Olympics


Things had to get done before the Games began. The American students had to unpack in their Olympic Media Village apartments and train with editors and writers before beginning their internship.

Plus, they also had to get their uniforms.

This week, the college-aged group ended up in a plaza where Brazilians practice for the annual Carnival festivities. As they waited for their uniforms, they noticed a group of local kids practicing some dance moves.

So, naturally, they joined them.

“The American students were dancing with the Brazilian kids who were trying to teach them some dance moves. It was a great moment,” said Dr. Roxane Coche, assistant professor in the University of Memphis’ Department of Journalism and Strategic Media. Coche spoke to J-Internships over the phone from Rio de Janeiro.

It was the most memorable moment of their experience in Rio so far. But they get down to business as intern reporters on Friday, August 5.

There are only two U.S. universities that entered an agreement for college journalists to cover the 2016 Olympics in Rio: the University of Memphis and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They all traveled to Brazil within the past week.

Photos courtesy from Twitter account: @Mem2Rio or #UNCinRio hashtag

Coche led the initiative. She originally reached out to Rio’s Olympic Organizing Committee in January 2015. She sent almost two dozen emails until she finally received the response she wanted in April 2015.

She then emailed her former dissertation advisor Charlie Tuggle, the University of North Carolina MJ-school’s senior associate dean of undergraduate studies.

Email Subject Title: Do you want to go to Rio?

Email Body: We’re in. (insert confirmation email here from Rio press operations)

Coche ensured the students would receive a learning experience by pitching the opportunity to the committee based on their need for English-speakers.

“Even though it’s Rio, most of the athletes are going to communicate in English,” she said. “That’s kind of the go-to language.”

There are 14 Memphis students and 25 North Carolina students who will report for the for the Olympic News Service (ONS) – the Games news wire service. Their reporting will be published in the service and only accredited media, officials and committees have access to it.

Four North Carolina students will be reporting for their state media partners.

“Everyone at ONS – every editor, every sports writer, the head of press operations – they’ve all been super welcoming. They took the students in and they made them part of the team,” Coche said. “They keep repeating how lucky they are to have this opportunity so early and so young in their career. The students seem ready to make the most of it.”

You can follow the students as they report in Rio by following the @MEM2Rio Twitter page or the hashtag #UNCinRio.


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