Behind The ScenesJournalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – June 24, 2016

Paris. Brussels. Orlando. The locations change but the tragedy and soul-searching in the aftermath are all too familiar. Now, two weeks after the Pulse nightclub shootings, Outside the Lines will share the story of one of the survivors of the March Brussels attacks, former U.S. college basketball player, Sebastien “Seb” Bellin.

[Seb Bellin’s] intense and clear recollection of what he saw, heard and even smelled as he fought for his life that day is unforgettable, uncomfortable and ultimately inspiring.
– Producer David Lubbers

In an emotional feature from senior writer Andy Katz and producer David Lubbers, Bellin and his wife, Sara, provide full access to a day in Seb’s recovery process. Bellin has been previously interviewed on OTL.

On June 15, Katz, Lubbers and an OTL crew spent a day with the Bellins – who have two young daughters – in Ann Arbor, Mich., where his rehab is continuing.

“I hosted the first show we did on [the Brussels bombings] and we had the video of [ABC News’] David Muir’s interview with him at his Belgian hospital bedside,” said Katz, who in addition to reporting for OTL, regularly fills in for host Bob Ley. “But I couldn’t leave it there. I wanted to see how he was doing and stay in contact and we did.

“He arrived back in the States on June 9 for the next phase of his rehab. He spent three months in a Belgian hospital after enduring six surgeries,” he said. “As you will see in the piece, he has to get stronger to walk again. He has an incredible work ethic. His determination is contagious. . . How mobile he will become is still unknown. He’s convinced he can live a normal life again.”

Bellin, who was among the group injured at the airport, held nothing back in his sit-down with Katz.

“His intense and clear recollection of what he saw, heard and even smelled as he fought for his life that day is unforgettable, uncomfortable and ultimately inspiring,” Lubbers said.

“Seb’s ability to crystallize what he had to do in the seconds after the blast were critical to his survival,” Katz said. “He knew he had to be mobile to get out, even though he couldn’t walk. You’ll see what he did to get himself in a position to be one of the first to be rescued.”

If the video below does not play on your device, click here.

Michael Phelps’ Final Turn

phelps showcase sidebar senior writer Wayne Drehs’ feature, “Michael Phelps’ Final Turn,” examines how the most decorated Olympic champion of all time has battled personal demons out of the pool to prepare for his anticipated fifth Olympic appearance.

In the feature, which appeared online internationally in four different languages on June 23, Phelps talks about how he needs to continue to put his past behind him and embrace life on dry land. He was so distraught two years ago, struggling to figure out who he was outside the pool, that he drank heavily and wondered whether his life was worth living. “I thought the world would just be better off without me,” he said. “I figured that was the best thing to do – just end my life.”

“We spent a great deal of time with Phelps,” Drehs said. “We reported this story in a way that no one else has and have had more time with Michael than any other reporter. Lunch, dinner, interviews in five different states. These were in-depth, in-person interviews with Michael, his mother, Nicole, three such interviews with [coach Bob] Bowman.”

This feature will appear in ESPN The Magazine’s upcoming Body Issue, which hits newsstands on Friday, July 8. Phelps also will be the focus of an upcoming SC Featured.

– Carrie Kreiswirth

Journalism on Display 6/24/2016

  • With LSU’s Ben Simmons having been chosen No. 1 by Philadelphia in the NBA Draft, ESPN the Magazine, and ESPN Doubletruck featured Simmons in several pieces including “Ben Simmons’ Master Plan” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, in which Simmons says he has a handle on his future, but the writer wonders what happens when he realizes it’s not all under his control? Also, in the video “Ben Simmons’ journey from Australia to the NBA draft,” Chris Broussard catches up with Simmons to talk about his unique path to the NBA and how his father, who was a professional basketball player in Australia, influenced him.
  • On Sunday’s SC Featured on SportsCenter, Jeremy Schaap will have the story of how New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz became surrogate father to Kai Zhang, one of the top-ranked junior table tennis players in the U.S. “The Puzzlemaster and the Ping-Pong Prodigy” will debut in the 10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter on Sunday, June 26, and will re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.
  • ESPN Senior Vice President, SportsCenter and News, Rob King, was a guest this week on the Wesleyan University podcast “Careers by Design: The Interviews.”
  • It was announced earlier this week that ESPN had received four top honors in the 2016 National Edward R. Murrow Awards presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Celebrating its 45th anniversary, the awards annually recognize outstanding work produced by radio, television and online news organizations around the world.
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., ESPN2; 10:30 a.m. ESPNEWS) will be John Saunders (host), Mitch Albom, Mike Lupica and Bob Ryan.
  • – Andy Hall

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