Future of journalism is in safe hands
A radio journalist from Dominica had barely travelled outside the Caribbean before winning the Young Reporters award as the flagship IOC programme proves its worth.
Sharome Burton is exactly why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) started its Young Reporters Programme at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010. Less than a year ago Burton, 22, was working all hours at Dominica’s national radio station reporting on the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Maria and was unsure what his future held. Fast-forward to 17 October and Burton is the proud recipient of the Steve Parry Award, given to the outstanding young reporter among 35 that the IOC hand-picked from all over the world to receive input, advice and encouragement from some of the media’s most respected operators.
“It is the first time I ever travelled alone, the furthest I have ever gone from home, it is a foreign language, then there’s the temperature,” said Burton who does not even own a laptop. “I mean Buenos Aires is bigger than my entire country by many factors. It was a bit intimidating. So it was all about looking at myself and seeing what I could improve each day.”
Improve he did as he and his 34 new colleagues were given a high-octane introduction to top-level sports reporting. A team of mentors, including ABC sports reporter Tracey Holmes, former Associated Press Olympic specialist Steve Wilson and the distinguished sports photographer Nick Didlick, guided the group through photographing, broadcasting and reporting - via social media and print - on a global sports event. “We feel like we are actively involved in creating the journalists of the future,” Holmes said. “It’s been phenomenal to watch them develop.”
Holmes and her fellow professionals have marvelled at the breadth and creativity of their charges’ work. Dutch reporter Jeroen Adriaanse’s novel approach to beach volleyball was one of many highlights. “He did it from the perspective of the ball,” Holmes said. “It was really fantastic, you got this really great story.”
Adriaanse, Burton and the rest have quite a template to follow. Singapore 2010 graduate Sonali Prasad, who works as an investigative reporter based at Columbia University, New York, opened up the Olympism in Action forum in Buenos Aires by interviewing former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon on the main stage.
“It’s such a sense of pride,” Holmes said. “I am still in touch with all of them, from 2010 and from 2014. You start feeling like Old Mother Hubbard with children all around the world. If I could live in a shoe and have all of them living with me, I most definitely would.”
We feel like we are actively involved in creating the journalists of the future, It’s been phenomenal to watch them develop.Tracey Holmes ABC sports reporter
Even among the international talent on show, Burton stood out, with Holmes praising his ability to see sport in a “much wider context”. He also was sending daily audio clips back to his radio station.
It was more than enough to see Burton pocket the Steve Parry Award, named after the former global sports editor of Reuters, whose death on the eve of the Beijing 2008 Games left the Olympic world bereft. Burton and 14 additional top performers are being invited to report professionally on the Lausanne 2020 Winter YOG, while all 35 reporters have been offered accreditation for Tokyo 2020.
“I guess this changes everything,” said Burton, who is off to Midwestern University in Texas on a scholarship. “This experience will stay with me for ever.”