Living her Olympic dream
In August 2013, MA International Journalism alumna Julie Stewart-Binks joined Fox Sports 1 (US) as an update desk anchor, correspondent and host of football magazine programme Fox Soccer Daily.
Currently in Sochi, Russia, covering the 2014 Winter Olympics, Julie talks to us about her work for Fox Sports and how her time at City gave her the confidence to pursure a career in television.
Q1. The Sochi games are proving to be the most popular ever, what's it like being there?
It's really quite special. Magical almost. My first ever dream in life was to compete at the Olympics in figure skating, and watching the Olympic cauldron get lit came full circle for me. While not competing, I get the rare opportunity to cover the Olympics so early in my career. I actually covered the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, but from a more minimal stance. I was going to City at the time, and after watching Opening Ceremonies from Trafalgar Square, as a lone Canadian, I had the overwhelming feeling that I had to be there. I told my lecturers that I wanted to go to the Olympics and cover it for my website and they let me take the time off. I used a flip camera and blogged the event. It was my first taste of what I really wanted to do with my life.
Q2: Has it been a steep learning curve covering so many new sports?
Without a doubt. Not many mainstream networks cover Luge or Slopestyle Skiing on a regular basis, and there are so many disciplines within the sport to know as well. We are very closely following everything, did lots of research and had plenty of help to make sure we're completely informed.
Q3: You also present Fox Soccer Daily, do you think football has taken hold in the US yet?
"Soccer" is most definitely growing in America. Most soccer fans are meticulously watching their EPL teams, waking up at 4am on a Saturday morning, but more importantly its growing massively with Major League Soccer. The fact that the league is continuously expanding is a testament to how much of a demand there is for cities to have soccer teams. David Beckham certainly helps with that. Also having big name clubs travel to the US really helps. The ICC cup on Fox features teams from EPL, Serie A, La Liga, etc. all playing in the same country.
Q4: What brought you to City to study for you MA in International Journalism and how do you think it has helped your career?
As a Canadian, I wanted to do something that separated myself from my peers, and have a chance to challenge myself in a completely new country. I found City through another Canadian friend Heather Christie who is also a '10 grad from the International program. The fact that the masters was a one-year intensive course that allowed me to do so many different work experiences really drew me to it. But the fact that I had classmates from 39 different countries really made it stand out. I learned so much about different cultures and issues, and the differences in reporting techniques.
After living in London, experiencing the culture and interning at Sky Sports and Sky News, I had an advantage over so many of my Canadian and American counterparts in terms of covering the beautiful game. It undoubtedly helped me get to where I am with Fox Soccer today.
Q5: What would be your advice for our current students trying to break into broadcasting?
It's an extremely difficult industry to break into, but a very rewarding one. Don't give up. Keep hustling. Send out show reels to everyone. Network as much as possible. Work for free. Cover everything. Be hungry to work and be willing to give up your social life. Always go to the pub for drinks after work. People will tell you it can't be done, but there's always a way. Always.