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Behind the Scenes at the Tokyo Olympics

Two recent graduates are parlaying their Newhouse training into dream jobs at NBC Olympics.

Side-by-side-headshots of Amanda Albert and Sean Dorcellus. Click to read the story.
Amanda Albert and Sean Dorcellus are part of NBC Olympics’ coverage of the Summer Games in Tokyo. Both graduated from Syracuse University in May with bachelor’s degrees in broadcast and digital journalism.

Amanda Albert ’21 is living the gold medal dream. “I’ve always wanted to work for the Olympics,” declares the Syracuse University alumna, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism. “I’m such a huge sports fan, and this is a wonderful way to start my career.”

NBC Olympics has hired Albert as a digital production assistant for Newsdesk , a new daily pre-recorded show. Newsdesk is the linchpin in NBCUniversal’s plan to mount the biggest media event ever—some 7,000 hours of programming surrounding the Tokyo Olympics. “ Newsdesk is one of our most distributed pieces of content,” says the New Jersey native. “You can see it on TV screens at gas pumps, in taxi cabs and on treadmills.” To say the show “has game” is an understatement. It utilizes two broadcast networks, six cable networks and an array of digital platforms, all designed to attract English- and Spanish-language viewers.

Portrait of Amanda Albert.
Amanda Albert works as a digital production assistant for Newsdesk at NBC Sports’ headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.

Albert’s job is to help producers cut different pieces of video together to tell a story. The more painstaking the work, the more seamless the results. “It involves a lot of creativity and organization,” says Albert, who pulls 12-hour shifts (midnight to noon) at NBC Sports’ headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. “Although I work overnight because of the time change, I love every minute of it.”

No stranger to mega sports events, Albert previously attended the 2016 Summer Games in Rio and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. These formative experiences, followed by studies in Syracuse’s top-ranked Newhouse School of Public Communications , strengthened her resolve to join NBC Olympics. “This job grew out of an internship that I was supposed to do last summer in Stamford, until the Games were postponed,” she explains. “In a way, the pandemic has prepared me for what I’m doing now.”

I’m excited to put my Newhouse training into action. Working for the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

—Amanda Albert ’21

Albert is referring to recent internships at Syracuse University Athletics and Newhouse’s eponymous NCC News, where COVID-19 pivoted her away from traditional broadcasting. Immersed in live streams, social media and remote broadcasts, she quickly realized the importance of content quality. “I had to rethink the virtual fan experience,” says Albert, who minored in sport management in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics .

Regardless of where Albert’s dreams take her, she revels in being on the world stage. “I’m excited to put my Newhouse training into action,” she says, beaming with pride. “Working for the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” One she hopes to have again soon.

Paying It Forward

Portrait of Sean Dorcellus at the Tokyo Olympics
Sean Dorcellus is in Tokyo serving as a production runner for NBC Olympics’ coverage of gymnastics.

Like Albert, Sean Dorcellus ’21 is a New Jersey-born broadcast and digital journalism major. Prior to graduation, he was invited to travel to Tokyo to serve as a production runner for NBC Olympics’ coverage of gymnastics. Dorcellus is considered the hands and feet of the operation, going wherever needed.

“I make sure everything runs smoothly before and during production,” says Dorcellus, who is enjoying his first trip abroad. “I do everything possible to support the people creating the product that you see onscreen.” Among his responsibilities are loading and unloading equipment, preparing the production team’s workspace, distributing paperwork, transcribing video and conducting research.

Getting to Tokyo has been a hard-fought win for the aspiring commentator. Twice he was selected for NBCUniversal’s prestigious internship program—last summer and this past spring—and twice he had to stay home because of the pandemic. “I’m persistent,” Dorcellus says. “I contacted everyone I knew at NBC Sports, mostly friends and alumni, to find out what jobs were available. I was going to get hired by hook or by crook.”

That gymnastics is one of NBC Olympics’ most-watched events adds a sense of urgency to Dorcellus’ role. He is particularly excited to rub shoulders with the U.S. women’s gymnastics squad, favored to win the team event for a third consecutive time. “Women’s gymnastics, along with Simone Biles, is one of this summer’s biggest storylines,” says Dorcellus, who is also rooting for U.S. hurdler Sydney McLaughlin and Canadian runner Justyn Knight ’18 , friends of his from high school and college.

I make sure everything runs smoothly before and during production. I do everything possible to support the people creating the product that you see onscreen.

—Sean Dorcellus ’21

Dorcellus discovered a passion for sportscasting in high school after a medical issue halted his participation in soccer and basketball. A knack for broadcasting led him to Syracuse, where he made a big noise interning for News Services, Athletics and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. Dorcellus also served on the University’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion and co-chaired this year’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

Sean Dorcellus and Mike Tirico pose for a photograph at Syracuse University
Sean Dorcellus with Mike Tirico ’88, NBC’s primetime host of the Olympics.

Fast forward to Tokyo, where Dorcellus is eager to connect with another hero of his—Mike Tirico ’88, NBC’s primetime host of the Olympics . The University Trustee is something of a role model for Dorcellus, who has followed Tirico’s career since high school. “Mike has represented Syracuse so well for so many years, and he’s obviously doing that now at NBC,” Dorcellus says. “I want to do a little bit of the same and make sure Syracuse gets a good return on its investment in me.”

Rob Enslin

This story was published on .

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