Skip to main content

Reporting from Paris: Sports journalism students get once-in-lifetime chance to cover Olympics

Jun 28, 2024

Sports Capital Journalism Program Director Malcolm Moran and graduate student Hanna Barton stand next to to a replica of the Eiffel Tower... Sports Capital Journalism Program Director Malcolm Moran and graduate student Hanna Barton stand next to to a replica of the Eiffel Tower in downtown Indianapolis. Barton will cover the 2024 Summer Olympics from Paris, France. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

As Team USA finalizes the roster of athletes for the 2024 Olympics, two Indiana University Indianapolis students will also punch their ticket to Paris. Hanna Barton and Madie Chandler, graduate students with the Sports Capital Journalism Program in the School of Liberal Arts, will be right alongside the global press covering the Summer Games.

“The students have the same media credentials as the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, IndyStar and anybody else,” said Malcolm Moran, director of the Sports Capital Journalism Program.

“It really is a life-changing experience, and that’s not an exaggeration. Every day when you wake up at the Olympics, there’s a chance you’re going to witness history with a world record or an inspiring comeback that you’re never going to forget.”

Olympic dreams come true

Barton and Chandler will report from Paris, writing athlete features and event coverage stories for the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s digital newsletter called USA Daily. Their stories can also be published by various other media organizations, like The Indianapolis Star. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something that truly is a dream come true for Barton.

“Growing up, I came from an Olympics household,” she said. “We didn’t really watch the NFL every Sunday, but our big thing was that when the Olympics were on, it was on the TV from the time the opening ceremonies commenced to when the closing ceremonies were over.

“The Olympics are what got me into gymnastics as a kid and what brought me back to the sport of swimming when I was in high school, so covering the Olympics as I start a career in journalism has been a dream of mine for a very long time.”

An NCAA Division I swimmer during her undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina, Barton was looking for the real-world experience in journalism that would take her career to the next level and make her competitive in graduate school. When she found the Sports Capital Journalism Program, she knew it was the right fit.

The Olympic Games are adding to an already impressive portfolio of sporting event coverage. Barton and Chandler received credentials for the 2024 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Cleveland, where they witnessed Dawn Staley’s South Carolina Gamecocks overtake Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes. They also got an early taste of the Olympic excitement while covering the Olympic swimming trials, hosted in IU Indy’s backyard at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Now they are gearing up for a trip across the Atlantic — a first for both students — and it all starts with the opening ceremonies July 26.

Madison Chandler, a graduate student in the sports journalism program, will cover the 2024 Summer Olympics with Barton. Photo b... Madison Chandler, a graduate student in the sports journalism program, will cover the 2024 Summer Olympics with Barton. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University “The ceremony itself is going to be an ‘oh my gosh’ moment,” Chandler said. “It reminds me of how small I am, but regardless I think it’s really cool the humanity that comes out. There’s a giant event going on with all these sports, all of these competitions and all these athletes, and people watch it out of pride for their country. They want to see the emotional side of it, and I think it will be cool to be there and to feel the emotion and translate for people who aren’t there to grasp it.”

Chandler grew up playing soccer and running track. After completing a bachelor’s degree in biology, she decided to change gears and pursue her passion for sports through sports journalism instead.

“I’ve always liked writing, and I think it goes back to the emotion part,” said Chandler, who also covers the Indiana Fever. “My high school AP teacher told me that she hopes I have writing in my future, so when I emailed her and told her what I was doing, she was really excited. The sports aspect of it came naturally, so putting that together with my writing works.”

Paving the path to Paris

Barton and Chandler are just two of the nine students who have covered major sporting events abroad through the Sports Capital Journalism Program. The first opportunity was the 2016 Olympic games in Rio where then students Becky Harris and Frank Gogola also wrote for the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

It was a partnership 40 years in the making for Moran. He met many people in the organization when he covered the 1984 LA Olympics and later the Pan American games when they were held in Indianapolis.

“I asked if they’d be interested in having students cover events that they don’t have personnel to get to,” Moran said. “Long story short, they said yes.

“Frank and Becky were able to go to Rio, and they did a great job. It’s like a lot of the event coverage we do: Each time a student does well, represents us well and is very professional, that helps us to set up the next opportunity.”

Becky Harris and Frank Gogola covered the 2016 Summer Games in Rio when they were students in the Sports Capital Journalism Program. Becky Harris and Frank Gogola covered the 2016 Summer Games in Rio when they were students in the Sports Capital Journalism Program. Photo provided by Malcolm Moran

Covering the Olympics is an opportunity that puts even the most experienced journalists to the test. With 17 straight days of the highest-level competition, multiple stories, tight deadlines and an overwhelming atmosphere, it’s a lot to take in, but Harris said it was the best education.

“Going to the Rio Olympics as a journalist was an experience that gave me once-in-a-lifetime memories and helped me hone my skills in an irreproducible environment,” she said. “I learned to write on tighter deadlines than I had ever faced before, and I got a speed education.

“I could go back to the Olympics a dozen more times and still take in more; that’s how incredible of a learning environment it is.”

This Olympics, it’s Barton and Chandler’s turn.

“The hands-on experience has given me such a sense of confidence and a sense of being prepared going into the journalism industry,” said Barton, who recently started a new job as a sports reporter for WGEM in Quincy, Illinois. “Being able to cover these events that some of your co-workers or your bosses haven’t even had the chance to cover yet makes me feel like I belong and I’ve earned my way to be here.

“I’m just so thankful to Malcolm, the Sports Capital Journalism Program and everyone I’ve had the chance to interact with at IU Indianapolis because there have been so many bucket-list items that I’ve been able to check off this year alone.”

The 2024 Paris Olympics will take place July 26 to Aug. 11. Barton’s and Chandler’s stories and reflections from the Games will be posted on the Sports Capital Journalism Program’s blog and social media pages.

“What’s so special about the Olympics is that it doesn’t really matter what event you’re watching or covering,” Barton said. “There’s just so many special moments and storylines that come from every sport, so I can’t wait to soak it all in.”

Author

University Communications and Marketing

Elizabeth Cotter

More stories

Arts and Humanities,Health and Wellness,Law and Policy

IU alumna who founded Overdose Lifeline was guest at State of the Union

News at IU  
K9 officer Indy at IU Bloomington on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Photo by Chris Meyer/Indiana University)
News at IU