My Media Day: Eilidh Barbour, freelance sports reporter and broadcaster

EILIDH Barbour is a freelance sports reporter and broadcaster. She works regularly for ESPN as a trackside reporter, covering live SPL, SFL and FA WSL matches, and is also the presenter on the RaboDirect PRO12 highlights programme, STV Rugby. She also contributes to BBC Final Score and BBC Radio 5 live. In addition, she reports from the BUPA Great Runs, for Channel 5, and is part of the BBC production team from the major snooker championships.

She submitted this on Friday, March 29.

What exactly is it that you do?

It really depends, day to day, on what job I have and what my role will consist of. The majority of my work is as a reporter, covering sporting events so I am there to interview managers, players, fans, club chairs, members of governing bodies or whoever the producer decides they need to hear from during the build-up, aftermath or while the event is taking place.

As there aren’t sports events televised on a daily basis, I do have other skills that I am able to utilise to obtain freelance work, such as sports news and presenting.

Sports news shifts can vary themselves, depending on the story, but generally would include attending a press conference, conducting interviews, collating footage including archive material, scripting and then editing a news package to be included in that evening’s national news output.

With what I do, knowledge is key, so a lot of my time is spent reading, researching and gathering information through all the usual sources but also a lot via social media such as twitter. It’s a great tool, particularly when you’re on the move a lot!

What did your working day today or yesterday comprise?

Yesterday, I was covering a sports news shift for STV and was sent to Hampden where the SFL chairmen were meeting to discuss league reconstruction. These tend to be very long days and this was no exception. The chairmen are filmed arriving then it’s a waiting game until they reappear; yesterday, around seven hours later!

Then it’s a case of trying to grab a few words from them before getting a response and clarification from a member of the SFL.

There’s obviously a very strict deadline with news output that isn’t a rolling sports channel so, with timing very tight, the only real option for my package that night was to record a piece to camera linking into and out of quotes.

This just minimises edit time as all material has to be ingested on return to the studios in real time before being edited, captioned and sent to the relevant studios (as STV is now regional this can include Edinburgh and Aberdeen).

How different or similar was it to your average working day?

I very rarely have two days the same which is why I love what I do so much, and being freelance certainly helps ensure that.

I’ve done stakeout shifts before but they’re not that common, particularly for me as I’m not full-time in a news environment. They’re certainly not the most exciting of days and probably my least favourite as I like to be busy, but they’re all part of the job and a few here and there are fine.

It’s good to experience all sides of the job as much as possible, particularly for me as I’m still learning all the time.

How different or similar is your average working day to when you started in post?

That’s a difficult one to answer as I’ve covered so many roles and been full-time in positions in the past. It’s completely different to when I first started in the industry five years ago, as I obviously started out as a junior so was more office-based, assisting reporters and producers with whatever they needed to produce output. It was also a lot more of an organisational position, making sure those heading out on a shoot had everything organised and then assisting on their return in the post-production phase.

Since turning freelance almost two years ago, it is also very different. Going freelance was a big risk and for the first six months I struggled to find much work; so a lot of my days were filled with emailing, calling and meeting potential employers, trying to market myself and trying to stay calm about the whole situation. Now, though, I’m busy and getting busier all the time, so it’s very different and I’m covering more and more in terms of different events and different roles.

How do you see the job evolving?

Again, difficult to answer, as the industry is changing all the time. There is uncertainty this summer as contracts come to an end and, of course, the introduction of BT Vision. It’s always difficult to know when a new broadcaster comes in if it will have a positive effect on you or not.

In terms of where I see myself going, ideally I would like to report on the biggest sporting occasions, whether it be Premiership/Champions League football, World Cups, British Lions Tours, Six Nations, golf and tennis majors, Olympic Games, European Championships, you name it!

I love sport and I love being part of it. At the big events, history is made and to be the first person who gets to speak to the athlete that has just made that moment of history can be pretty special.

What gives you most job satisfaction?

Simply the fact that my job is also my hobby. If I wasn’t working at an event, I would probably be at it. I’ve travelled to some amazing places, met some lovely people and learnt a lot about myself. It’s still relatively early in my career but I have a wall at home where I’ve hung all my accreditation that I’ve gathered over the years and, when I look at it, I feel a sense of satisfaction and it gives me the confidence boost I sometimes need.