Beyond Chicago

Tokyo can still reap benefits of hosting Olympics by modeling successes of London Games

By Sally Ehrmann
Medill Reports

With COVID-19 continuing to spread across the world, the legacy of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics could be the first canceled games due to a pandemic rather than war. If that happens, many wonder whether the estimated $29 billion price tag will have been worth it.

But looking at past successful games shows that economics may not be the only way to measure the success of hosting the Olympics. Eight years after London’s 2012 Summer Olympic Games, for example, the city still reaps benefits from a complete transformation of a formerly blighted neighborhood.

“You can look to a qualitative or quantitative legacy. Quantitative, you can capture all that. Job creation, money generated,” said Charles Runcie, a former sports journalist with the BBC. “Then, you must count the qualitative stuff, the feel-good factor. Are more events coming here? Has the city benefited overall?”

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Buenos Aires’ Carnival rocks through a month-long festival

By Yun Hao
Medill Reports

Ten hours after I arrived in Buenos Aires with my friends, I jumped onto the carnival bus not knowing where it was taking us.

It might be the happiest bus ride I’ve ever experienced. Men and women were singing and laughing aloud, drinking from the same pail of wine, clapping and flapping the bus ceiling for drumbeats.

Musicians took out their harmonicas and saxophones to accompany the chorus. And then everybody started to wave, dance and whistle to greet the little kids on streets who were greeting them back in the same way.

Photoessay by Yun Hao/Medill

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Reflections from Puerto Rico: Rebuilding, Resilience and Resistance

By the Medill Explores Puerto Rico Team 
Medill Reports

In February 2020, Medill MSJ students reported across Puerto Rico about the impacts of the island’s colonial status and debt crisis; recent earthquakes and 2017 hurricanes Maria and Irma; environmental injustice; and the island’s imperiled infrastructure and electrical grid. Throughout the reporting, the resilience and resourcefulness of Puerto Rican people shone through. Here are some reflections from their reporting.


The view from El Fortín Conde de Mirasol in Vieques. (Maddie Burakoff/MEDILL)

La Isla Nena

By Maddie Burakoff 

La Isla de Vieques — a short ferry ride away from mainland Puerto Rico — is a tiny slice of an island, only 21 miles long by five wide, with a population just shy of 10,000. In Isabel Segunda, its relatively bustling capital, low-lying pastel buildings sprawl out around a small plaza; people on horseback trot alongside the trickle of cars winding through the narrow roads. Tourists seek out the island for its stunning natural scenery: secluded beaches, dramatic limestone cliffs, a bioluminescent bay whose tiny organisms light up the night with a magical blue glow.

Another of the island’s attractions is El Fortín Conde de Mirasol, the stout Spanish fort that has overlooked Vieques since 1845. Its hilltop location, which once offered a strategic advantage for colonial military forces, now provides panoramic views for visitors to the historic site. On this clear February day, the sun illuminates a landscape of lush greenery and vibrant houses, bordered on all sides by brilliant sapphire sea. 

But however idyllic the scene might appear, there’s a great deal of conflict pulling at the seams of the seeming island paradise. 

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Q’s on the Quad: Clemson University

By Samone Blair and Emine Yücel
Medill Reports

When asked if they could name five presidential candidates, the majority of Clemson University students surveyed before the South Carolina primary could only name former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

All the students Medill School’s Q’s on the Quad talked to had questions they wanted to ask President Donald Trump or the Democratic candidates, but most were unable to name five current or former 2020 presidential election candidates.

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Snapshots from Tiger Woods’ not-so-lovely Valentine’s Day round at the Genesis Invitational

By Nate Schwartz
Medill Reports

Early Valentine’s Day morning, at a time when many happy partners around the world were giddily preparing breakfast in bed for their loved ones, Tiger Woods was on the 10th-hole tee at the Riviera Country Club with his playing partners, Justin Thomas and Steve Stricker, gearing up for the second round of the Genesis Invitational.

The morning seemed promising for Woods when he birdied his first hole of the day, but things began to spiral when he logged a double bogey on hole 15 and then a string of bogeys to close out the round. The late-game collapse left Woods with a final score of two-over-par and dropped his place on the leaderboard from 17th to 45th. Woods, whose TGR Foundation hosted the tournament, did not equivocate as he broke down his underwhelming performance in a post-round interview. Continue reading

Buttigieg’s plan for addressing racial equality draws mixed reactions

By Areeba Shah
Medill Reports

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Before Antoine Brown performed at his first political event — a black art and culture celebration for the presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg — he had only performed at local coffee shops and hookah lounges.

But now, he stood before a crowd of about 20 Buttigieg supporters at a black-owned business, surrounded by “African Americans for Pete” signs, after the group had just finished watching a video of the former South Bend mayor’s pitch to black voters, the Douglass Plan.

“We’re in a time right now that’s about making our dreams come true,” Brown said. “Y’all ready to get excited? So when I say I got dreams, I want y’all to say ‘Aye!’” The crowd joined in enthusiastically.

Antoine Brown laughs with the crowd right before his performance. (Areeba Shah/MEDILL)

The Douglass Plan, named for abolitionist former slave Frederick Douglass, is designed to “dismantle racist structures and systems” that have kept African Americans from succeeding in this country by investing in what the plan calls “black America.”

The question for the small gathering at Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast remained whether Buttigieg, a 38-year-old politician who has never won state or national office, can win the votes he needs in the black community to make him a viable candidate for the Democratic nomination.

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Over a month after deadly quakes, a Puerto Rican town is still reeling

By Joel Jacobs
Medill Reports

The town of Guánica in southern Puerto Rico is still reeling from a series of earthquakes that began in late December.

The largest — a devastating 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck around 4:24 a.m. on Jan. 7 — was followed by a 5.6-magnitude aftershock a few hours after, and a 5.9 temblor later in the week.

The quake knocked out power across the island. At least one person was killed and thousands slept outside their homes in Guánica and the surrounding municipalities on Puerto Rico’s southern coast.

Guánica is one of the hardest hit areas. Over a month after the Jan. 7 quake, the streets of the town remained nearly empty, and damaged homes could be seen on almost every block.

“You can tell on the faces of the municipal employees [in Guánica] that they are not well,” said Helga Maldonado, regional director of the nonprofit ESCAPE.

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Climate change has hit Beaufort, South Carolina, but only some vote on the issue

By Anne Snabes and Maura Turcotte
Medill Reports

BEAUFORT, S.C. — The sea along South Carolina’s coast line is growing ravenous.

In this sleepy coastal town at the bottom of the state, Tropical Storm Irma sent waves over the sea wall into a downtown park in 2017. Downtown businesses flooded with waist-high water. Nearly a year after the storm, the federal government reported spending nearly $64 million on South Carolina’s recovery efforts.

The damage from climate change is very likely to grow, scientists predict. The impact threatens areas of the state’s Lowcountry barely skimming above sea level — including Beaufort, South Carolina’s second-oldest city, home to longtime residents and retirees from the North.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that, if sea level rise is modest, the ocean will rise about 1.4 feet in an area south of Beaufort by the year 2100. In an extreme scenario, the ocean would rise by 10.5 feet, swamping much of eastern South Carolina.

South Carolina’s coast is struggling with the effects of climate change. (Maura Turcotte/MEDILL)

Residents recognize the rising sea and worsening storms. And yet there is no consensus among Beaufort residents — or in South Carolina more broadly — about whether action should be taken or even whether climate change should be a major issue in the Democratic primaries.

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Pete Buttigieg’s attempt to win over South Carolina’s African American Voters may not be enough

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

Coming off a hot streak of wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, Pete Buttigieg’s campaign attempted to push its momentum to South Carolina earlier this month by hosting The Douglass Plan Culture, Arts & Hip Hop Celebration, a crossover event of arts and politics.

The event was structured to be an open forum for sharing black art and culture, while also advocating for Buttigieg’s Douglass Plan, which the candidate defined as a comprehensive investment in the empowerment of black America.

“I think we as Americans have done a very poor job telling the story of black people in the United States,” said Tiffany James, Pete for America’s black engagement director.

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