Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – July 14, 2017

Reporters Bonnie Ford and Wayne Drehs collaborated on “The Agents of Change,” a longform piece focused on the two cities remaining in contention for the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics.

Ford and Drehs gave Front Row an inside look at how the story came together in this week’s Journalism Showcase.

How did the two of you collaborate on this story?
Bonnie Ford: Wayne had been reporting a longform piece on the Los Angeles bid for quite a while. When it became clear LA and Paris were the front-runners, I came up with the idea of traveling to Paris last November on the anniversary of the 2015 terrorist attacks, to ask why the city was still so intent on a Games bid. Wayne and I started coordinating with our Olympic editor Joy Russo earlier this year. I have to add that Wayne and I have covered two US Olympic swim trials and three Olympic Games together, which sort of makes us honorary blood siblings. We have a great relationship and we were on the same page about what was important in this story. The writing process went incredibly smoothly because of that.

Wayne Drehs:  We originally had planned two separate stories but pitched the idea of working together for one piece. It couldn’t have gone any better. Bonnie is a masterful colleague – she wrote the sections about Paris. I wrote about LA. Then we went back and forth with edits/ideas to help strengthen the final product before publication.

What has the reaction been and will you update the story with the recent news?

WD: I think the reaction has certainly been positive. I haven’t seen any other stories that took this approach and I know Bonnie and I are both quite proud of that – especially considering the way the news developed in Lausanne that this win-win-win dual bid was only possible because of the relationship between the two mayors. Now they will be the key figures negotiating with IOC President Thomas Bach to finalize an agreement. And certainly Bonnie and I will be continuing to cover the news up to and after the expected formal announcement in Lima in September.

BF: It was quite a moment to see the two mayors celebrating what looks like an inevitable 2024/28 Summer Games dual award in Lausanne. They were the center of attention. Things could move quickly in terms of a three-way deal with the IOC. The Olympic bid model, even with recent reforms, clearly still needs tweaking. Who knows if this is an historical one-off or a template for the future? We’ll be following all of it.

Ford and Drehs share their experiences with the mayors


What type of access did you have with the mayors, Anne Hidalgo of Paris and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles? 
Bonnie Ford: We had a tentative commitment for an interview with Mayor Hidalgo last November, but she just got too busy with the Nov. 13 commemoration events. Her office followed through and gave me a generous amount of sit-down and casual conversation time in June. I did video and written research on her personal story and interviewed others about her role in the bid, and also had a chance to watch her from closer proximity in Paris when I was covering the French Open.

Wayne Drehs: Mayor Garcetti was great. He and his people bought into the story from the beginning. We met for about a half hour at the library in Getty House in LA in April and then, as news developed, we sat down for an on-camera interview at City Hall in June. I was also able to observe him a bit, watching him give speeches at LA’s Climate Day, as well as a celebration of the film “LaLaLand” on the steps of City Hall and a breakfast he hosted on the 25th anniversary of the Rodney King riots.

Why was speaking to them so important to the story?
BF: Frankly, when Wayne and I started collaborating, we were simply trying to put a face on the bid process. It’s hard to interest a general audience in something that’s not happening for seven, or in this case, 11 years. I think Wayne would agree that at the outset, we didn’t know the mayors were going to form a stronger relationship through the bid campaign and become the linchpins they are. I spent my high school years in Paris so I interviewed Mayor Hidalgo in French, which was an enjoyable challenge.

WD: These are the political faces of both bids. At this time where the shine is perhaps dulling on the Olympic brand, with more and more cities deciding that hosting the Olympic Games is simply not a smart decision, we wanted to understand these two characters, why they saw value in their cities hosting the Olympics and how they felt they could do so minimizing the risk to their cities as much as possible.

Journalism on Display

    • ABC’s “20/20” will present a special report on O.J. Simpson’s upcoming parole hearing (Thursday, July 20) featuring new interviews with his close friends discussing the robbery that landed him in jail. Correspondent Deborah Roberts reports from the Las Vegas hotel where the crime happened tonight (10 p.m. ET, ABC). ESPN will have complete coverage of the Simpson parole hearing, including an extended, 90-minute edition of Outside the Lines on Thursday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN).
    • There’s an annual sporting event that is unlike anything most Americans have ever seen. Imagine an event that combines football and MMA into one – where no one gets paid. On ESPN.com, writer Paolo Bandini introduces “Calcio Storico,” Florence, Italy’s annual tournament, where those who participate don’t consider it a sport but a historical tradition.

  • At 37, Venus Williams is already making history at Wimbledon as the oldest woman since 1994 to compete in a Wimbledon final, and she is arguably in the best physical shape of her life. But ESPN The Magazine’s Alyssa Roenigk writes about another type of shape, the emotional shape that Williams has displayed throughout Wimbledon. Roenigk takes readers on the journey of ups and downs Williams has experienced and shares how emotions will help her as she continues to compete on tennis’ biggest stage.
  • At TheUndefeated.com Stephen Knox writes on the the death Sandra Bland from an interesting perspective, as her friend. Knox recalls when he found out that Bland had died and what it was liken the aftermath. Knox discusses the violence America has experienced and expresses his concern for the future generations.
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