Inside Media: The Quest for Olympic Gold

July 27, 2008

Guest: Christine Brennan

As a teenager, USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan cried as she watched the televised closing ceremonies of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

During preparations for her trip to Beijing to cover the 2008 Summer Olympics, Brennan, who is also a commentator for ESPN, NPR and ABC News, tearfully listened to the same ceremonial music — a ritual she has engaged in for the last 13 Olympics. The music, she said, helps her remembers her childhood as "an absolute Olympic nut" with her own Olympic dream.

"I would have loved to have gone to one Olympics maybe for two days — buy some tickets and go someday," she said. "And to think now that I have this wonderful gift — and I take it so seriously — it's just a dream come true."

Brennan, who said she considers herself "a journalist first and a sportswriter second," said that sports reporting has evolved into more than game scores.

"Sports has become a mirror of our society, good and bad," she said. "With that in mind, these Olympics are just maybe the ultimate mirror."

Brennan expects to face reporting challenges in China, where press freedom is restricted.

"I promise you as a journalist who's been doing this for 27 years, the Chinese are not going to stop us from telling you the truth," she said.

"You can't control the free press," she said. "You just can't."

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