CoJMC students write about stock car racing for the Norfolk Daily NewsSunday, April 15, 2018 - 5:45am
A half-dozen students from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln dashed into the world of stock car racing to help produce a special section of the Norfolk Daily News
The six – Sydney Brun-Ozuna, Ben Buchnat, Ainoa Chacon de Anzola, Grace Gorenflo, Seth Marshall and Denise Munoz – interviewed racers who compete at Norfolk’s Off Road Speedway and on other tracks around the country, as well as fans and track officials. The newspaper published their work in an April 13 special section available at the paper’s website, http://norfolkdailynews.com/, and at https://bit.ly/2HiIzZc.
“The most interesting part of the Norfolk trip, to me, was the ability to get an inside scoop on the subculture that is stock car racing,” said Grace Gorenflo, a freshman now finishing the basic reporting and writing course at CoJMC. “Before the trip, I knew nothing about racing and that intimidated me, but everything turned out great because our interviewees were so kind, patient and open.”
Gorenflo profiled Jerry Pospisil, the track’s loquacious seventysomething promoter. When she had questions, he – like the other folks students talked with -- had answers.
“If we asked, they would tell us,” said Gorenflo. “In the end, I feel like I was able to tell a story about Jerry as if he was telling it himself, and that's what I would call a success.”
Several of the stories focused on the many family connections in stock car racing. The sport is often a multi-generational affair, with as many as three generations of racers involved. Some fans, too, hail from longtime racing families, as do officials at the speedway.
Some of the students, who conducted interviews at the speedway, were treated to fast trips around the banked dirt track in Pospisil’s gleaming white pickup – with seatbelts firmly in place. They got a quick immersion into the ways of racing and racers.
Kent Warneke, the editor of the newspaper, and sports editor Jay Prauner hosted the students for two days. The editors treated the students to tours of the newsroom and the back shop facilities where the paper rolls off the press each day. For years, the paper has welcomed CoJMC students as summertime interns, giving them the chance to cover a broad variety of stories in Norfolk.
"It was a lot of fun having the students here – and they did a great job with the stories,” Warneke said. “They did a nice job of setting a tone in their stories, had good quotes, and the stories flowed well.”
The students were accompanied by Joseph Weber, an associate professor and the Jerry and Karla Huse Professor of News-Editorial at CoJMC. Members of the Huse family have published the Norfolk Daily News for five generations.
“We’ve got a wonderful partnership with the talented and welcoming folks in Norfolk,” Weber said. “They give our students a chance to see life inside a news organization that is a crucial part of its community and is intimately connected to its readers. It’s a joy to work with Kent and his colleagues, many of whom are University of Nebraska–Lincoln grads.”