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Group of 25 LSU journalism students set to cover the Olympics this summer

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BATON ROUGE — The Olympics are something many will only experience through their television screens. A group of 25 LSU journalism, public relations and political communication students, however, will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cover the event as they join thousands of people descending on Paris, France, this summer.

Students participating in the study abroad program, selected from hundreds of applicants, will earn three college credits in sports reporting and will each develop a story, research paper or other project about a subject related to the Olympics and their Parisian venue.

Some students are eying the political implications of the Olympics amid the Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine conflicts, while others are eying stories about Louisiana and LSU-based athletes participating in the various events. Journalism junior Colin Falcon hopes to use his time in France to report on the cultural impact of the Olympics on Parisian society.

"The biggest thing about the Olympics coming into a country is it sort of uproots daily life in that city for months on end and so much money and people flow into the city," Falcon said. "How much does that throw things off?"

Falcon compared this year's Olympics to when the World Cup was held in Brazil, noting how it highlighted the inequities in Rio de Janeiro. He wants to report on whether or not this phenomenon will happen in Paris as well.

The goal of the program is to have the students' work published by both LSU and local Baton Rouge media outlets, setting them up for success after the program as they eye media careers.

Seeing the massive event for themselves is something journalism and history junior Maddie Scott and Falcon, who both work at LSU's student newspaper The Reveille, are still coming to terms with.

"It's always had that sort of untouchable illusion," Scott said. "Thinking of the fact that I will be able to attend that this summer, I still haven't processed that." 

Falcon added that when they arrive in France in July, they will be "involved in something huge," calling the trip a part of history.

The idea to bring a group of students halfway across the world to cover the Olympics came from new Manship School of Mass Communication Dean Kim Bissell wanting to "do something big" for the first summer study abroad program during her tenure as dean.

The benefits of the program go beyond just the bylines the students will collect. The students will also be able to immerse themselves in European culture by visiting the Palace of Versailles and The Olympic Museum in Switzerland.

Students will also attend multiple Olympic events: men's soccer in Marseille, women's soccer in Lyon, beach volleyball, and the quarter-finals for women's tennis.

Bissell said she was inspired by her past experience leading 12 study abroad programs as the associate dean of the University of Alabama's mass communication school. She described the experience as "transformative" for students, especially ones like Scott who have never flown overseas.

"My belief about study abroad is that you get an opportunity to be immersed, however so briefly, in another place, another culture," Bissell said. "The cool thing about the Olympics, about sports, is we may be very different when we come into the arena, but at the end of the day, it brings us all together. And I think that's one of the most powerful things about sports in general."


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