Texas State professor, students, work Olympics with Today Show

Jeong Lee
Jeong Lee

By Jack McClellan
Office of Media Relations
February 19, 2018

SAN MARCOS – Texas State University faculty member Michael Burns and students John Lee and Eun Jeong Lee are working with NBC’s Today Show in Pyeongchang, South Korea, at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Burns, who has worked with the Today Show at four previous Olympics, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies and the Honors College. Lee is a sophomore marketing major with an honors minor. Jeong Lee, an international student from South Korea, will graduate in the spring with a master’s degree in mass communication. The three are in South Korea until February 28.

John Lee
John Lee

"The majority of people never attend an Olympics, let alone work at one," Burns said. "With this opportunity, not only are the students at the top news show in the country with the Today Show, but they are at the biggest sporting event in the world."

The scope, said Burns, is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of working at the Olympics.

"We all know the Olympics are big, but you don’t know how big until you are there working behind the scenes," Burns said.

Lee, who is a Howard and Nancy Terry Foundation scholar, said the experience is unique.

"The opportunity to experience a world event, especially the Olympics, is an opportunity few can say they have had," Lee said. "Through this experience, I have the chance to learn so much about broadcasting, marketing, production and countless other topics I will be able to apply in school, and my future career."

The Olympics began on February 9, but Burns and the students arrived early to assist in production set up. Burns supervises a team of about 15 "runners," or production interns, including the two Texas State students.

The students are responsible for tasks ranging from transportation to research to getting coffee.

Both Lee and Jeong Lee speak Korean, which combined with their other academic achievements made them ideal candidates for the positions.

“[NBC and the Today Show] were so impressed with [John’s] abilities, what he was talking about and the way he carried himself,” Burns said. “When I went to my colleagues in Mass Comm and asked if they knew any students who’d be interested, every single person sent back the same name.”

Jeong Lee, who worked as a photojournalist before attending graduate school, said she hopes to use her experience in the various roles she’ll be required to play.

"The internship will refresh my professional work experiences in a current news environment and sharpen my communication, management and problem-solving skills," Jeong Lee said. "These real-world experiences will also help me better understand today’s U.S. news media, which is part of the thesis I am writing in my last semester at Texas State."

While Lee and Jeong Lee will be working with students from some of the top universities in the United States, Britain and Korea, Burns is confident that the Texas State students will excel among the competition.

"I feel very privileged to be in the less than one percent of the world population that gets to actually work on this world-class event," Jeong Lee said. "Most of all, I am very excited about representing Texas State University at the Olympics."

The Texas State students may be followed online during the Olympics at stories.txstate.edu/features/olympics-2018.

About Texas State University

Founded in 1899, Texas State University is among the largest universities in Texas with an enrollment of 38,694 students on campuses in San Marcos and Round Rock. Texas State’s 181,000-plus alumni are a powerful force in serving the economic workforce needs of Texas and throughout the world. Designated an Emerging Research University by the State of Texas, Texas State is classified under “Doctoral Universities: Higher Research Activity,” the second-highest designation for research institutions under the Carnegie classification system.