Meet the man behind 2002 Olympic News Service


With the Olympics wrapping up (and haven’t they been incredible!), you need to meet Phil Mickey. He knows what it’s like to write for world’s spotlight, as he covered athlete bios for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. In fact, Phil’s had many once-in-a-lifetime career opportunities, and you’ll get a glimpse of his communication mastermind in the Q & A below, followed by his personal entry from the Olympics titled, “Bawling on the Bus and the Reporter Who Overslept.”

Q. You served as Olympic News Service Editor on the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games. Dying to know: What was the best part of writing/editing for the global event?

A. The best way to answer this question is to tell a story. After spending a day at the Ice Sheet in Ogden (curling), I bumped into a journalist from AFP (Agence France Presse) who had a login question about our Info2002 system (our news intranet). I ran him through it and I told him I was one of the editors and pretty much built the site and the team that ran it. He told me Info2002 and the ONS team were his lifesavers. He had backbreaking schedules issued by his editors and our system helped him cover multiple events in one day without travelling from venue to venue. He was able to piece everything together for a story based on our core coverage, and did it for multiple events — even simultaneously. That was proof our coverage was a success, which was very gratifying.

On top of that, just being able to cover the Olympics alongside the greatest journalists in the world – and have them rely on you – was a great experience. I’ll never forget it, way too many stories to tell!

Q. What an exciting ride you’ve had in your communication career – Community Relations Director for the Utah Grizzlies, Director of Publications at the Utah Jazz, news writing for the Olympics, leading communication efforts for Lifetime Products, and now Channel and Product Manager at MarketStar. What do you recommend to writers going after their dream job?

A. Always keep it in your mind and within your sites. I honestly believe if you dream out loud, you will consciously and subconsciously drift in that direction. But, be careful what you wish for — dream jobs can turn into nightmares very quickly. Prepare yourself for the reality version of your dream. You can always hold something in a dream state, but when things come true, the reality version is ALWAYS much different, so learn to adapt.

Q. I’ve heard you have strong feelings about the word “irregardless.” Why’s that?

A. Because even though irregardless is a word according to Merriam-Webster, it tells you not to use it! It says to use regardless instead. How cool is that? How many words (including the most depraved swear words) does the dictionary itself tell you not to use? Irregardless is the most rebel word in the world! If you think about the word long enough, it actually blows your mind. It makes sense, but it makes no sense! Because of the “ir” prefix, it should make the root word the opposite of what it is — think irrelevant or irresponsible. Not this word, it means the EXACT same thing as regardless, in fact, it becomes like triple-dog regardless. It makes it EVEN MORE regardless than it is. It’s completely unique, completely confusing, and IRREGARDLESS of what you think about it, it doesn’t care.

Q. You’re quite the wordsmith. Professional or personal – what writing are you most proud of and why?

A. My personal writing that not very many people see. My talent in writing is being able to take a complex idea and make it easy to digest. I have spent hours and hours trying to write my feelings about certain ideas or philosophies, and when I hit the perfect tone with one, I sit back and read it over and over. I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoy my own writing, and my personal observations on politics, faith and self-realization are my favorites. All of that will be a gift to my children. Hopefully through these random musings they will truly know who their father was and what he believed.

Q. I’m often wowed by your cleverly packaged phrases in conversation. How’ve built your extensive vocabulary?

A. You’re sweet…but I wish I could do better. What I do know comes naturally. I wasn’t a great student, but I always wanted to be well-spoken (and written). I am a voracious reader, and have been from the time I learned to read. I think a lot of it comes from reading the news. I may have been the only kid in Junior High who liked to read The New York Times.

Phil’s Entry: 2002 Olympic Update

20 February, 2002 | Bawling on the Bus and the Reporter Who Overslept

What a dreary morning. The rain is just coming down like crazy. This morning I finished reading my book. One thing that has given me a great escape is reading on the buses in between venues. I’ve been reading “Where the Red Fern Grows.” Today was the final two chapters…I don’t know if any of you have read this book, but I recommend you do. I bawled my eyes out on the bus-ride in. A Bulgarian journalist kept looking over at me; I can only imagine what he was thinking. Anyway, my thoughts are of Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann and their adventures, so I’m melancholy today.

At 11 a.m. today there was a press conference for the women’s bobsleigh team. Watching Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers win the gold was just awesome. Skeleton proved to be huge for the U.S. today. Jim Shea won the gold. The best moment about his win was afterwards when he took off his helmet and pulled out a picture of his Grandfather Jack Shea. If you’re not familiar with the story, Jack Shea, his son James and his son Jim are the first three-generation Olympians in U.S. history. Jack Shea was the oldest living American medalist before he was killed by a drunk driver in January. He was supposed to light the torch at the Opening Ceremony, but that’s life I guess. Perhaps the memory of his grandpa was what Jim Shea needed to win the gold. What a great moment. Tristan Gale and Leann Parsley won gold and silver as well. Tonight at the Medals Plaza we will see the National Anthem three times! It should be a great night for all!

All around the MMC people just look like zombies. There was a Chinese journalist asleep on the couch right outside our office for a long time. I saw him at 9:30 this morning, and no kidding, he was still there at 4 p.m. This is no joke. He just took his shoes off and away he went. We were betting that he was dead, but he did stir every now and then. So funny!

We also had an outrageous “caper” unfold, all at the expense of the IOC. Here at the MMC there is a large exhibit from the Olympic Museum. It’s basically a bunch of glass cases with a few artifacts in them and a really ornery Swiss girl making sure everything is perfectly stuffy. In addition to all of this, are four three-foot high Snowlets. The Snowlets are the mascots from Nagano, and the museum has four of the original costumes. Anyway, they have been sitting there around this display the entire time, but two days ago, an announcement was made that one of the Snowlets has turned up missing and it should be returned immediately…no questions asked. You thought the Swiss girl was ornery before, now she’s just plain nasty. It’s actually been quite funny because there have been sightings. It has been sighted on the set of Australia Channel 7; it has been sighted at the Dead Goat Saloon in downtown SLC; it has been sighted at the Phenix House (Norway House) in Park City; it has been sighted at the Austrian House, and someone said they saw it at the Salt Lake Ice Center, but I find that one hard to believe.

The IOC has been freaking out about this whole thing, but everyone else thinks it’s pretty funny. I would imagine that some broadcaster “borrowed” the Snowlet and took it on a tour of the Games. Kind of like the people who stole the ceramic gnome from their neighbors and sent it on a tour of America, only to send pictures of the gnome at places like Mt. Rushmore, the St.Louis Arch, Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge. The other theory is that it’s the Russian delegation trying to get back at the IOC for all the “foul play” that has been going on with the judges and referees. Our idea was that the IOC gets a nasty note saying “give us the medals we lost or the Snowlet gets it!” It been pretty funny to walk by the museum and see just three Snowlets…all lonesome and missing their buddy. Well, yesterday the Snowlet was returned. It just sort of reappeared in the same spot it was missing from. The girls at the museum were a little bit more cheery, but that’s not saying much. As I walked by this morning, the Snowlets were being packed away for the long trip home to Switzerland. I will miss them.

I was paid the ultimate compliment today though. A reporter from The New York Times called today looking for some press conference highlights from the Skeleton. He said he overslept and didn’t make it to the track. His editor called his cell phone and he lied and said he was on the bus back. He told me he absolutely NEEDED to have me fax the highlights to his hotel so he could have quotes for his story. I did it for him and he called back saying the ONS is probably the best thing ever at any Olympics — and he has covered 13 of them. Another great moment.

It’s off to the Medals Plaza — only a few nights left to enjoy the Olympics.


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