Sarah Olle, journalist and digital producer at Fox Sports

Photo supplied by Sarah Olle.
“Do I think I’m treated differently? Definitely by some of the older people in the establishment - not by people in my generation. I think that’s slowly dying out.” Fox Sport’s journalist and digital producer Sarah Olle talks to Amanda Kirkovski.

How did you manage to get your first journalism job at Fox Sports?

I was doing a bit of writing about sport for The Raw – which is an opinion-based website. I’d been writing predominantly footy for about a year knowing I wanted to build up my portfolio. I then got a phone call one day from who was then the head of Fox Sports and they said there’s a job opening up in Melbourne, we’ve read some of your stuff on The Raw, do you want an interview? And I was like, ‘yeah, I do’. So, I went to the interview and got there and everyone else had worked in the industry before. They were like you’re a bit of a wild card for us – we don’t know anything about you, we just thought we’d see what you were like. The interview went really well. I prepared a folio of other stuff to give to them and the next day they gave me the job. It was a bit of right place, right time.

What’s the most memorable event you covered?

I had this one day at the MCG two years ago. The AFL did a partnership with Down Syndrome Victoria and they get down syndrome kids to help out for the game. They get to toss the coin, run out the waters to the umpires and it’s the highlight of their year basically. They get to keep the clothes and stuff and you hear stories about them going to bed in them for the next 10 months. I got to have a day at the MCG with Celia – the girl with down syndrome. I shadowed her and her parents for the day, watched Celia warm up with the umpires and say goodbye to her and sat with her parents, then afterwards went down to the rooms and everything. It was such a beautiful day because it really just transcended the footy match which was really beautiful. I think about that a lot actually as one of my special days.

Do you have a favourite interview?

I worked at last year’s Grand Final. I was in the Richmond change rooms and it was crazy – there was champagne flying, beer flying. I came out stinking of alcohol and sweat, but it was fantastic because you got to interview the players in the moment and it was just unbelievable and so raw and everyone was just over the moon.

What’s it like being a female reporting on sports?

It’s a bit mixed. Sometimes I feel like some people just comment things because of my gender, but then there’s some people who absolutely love you because of that. It’s still a very male dominated space. We’re a digital team of eight and two of us are girls which is actually more than most. But if you look at Fox Footy there are no female directors or producers. People in high up places are predominately male and they’re the ones making the calls. There’s still a way to go certainly in turning the tide there. Do I think I’m treated differently? Definitely by some of the older people in the establishment – not by people in my generation. I think that’s slowly dying out.

What change do you think we’ll see in the industry?

When the people from our generations are going to be in power that’s when I think things will change. I mean Fox has a plethora of female talent especially female hosts that do fantastic jobs. But when it comes to talent they’re all male footballers, there aren’t any females giving expert opinion. So that’s a space where hopefully in the next five to 10 years we do see women giving expert opinion because I know heaps of girls who are qualified to do that, but it’s still seen as a space that a woman can’t be in. Whereas if you look at America there’s heaps of women doing that – like on ESPN there’s so many women covering sport and they’re not just hosting but they’re actually doing analysis and opinion and doing a fantastic job. That’s where we need to get to I think. Of course, there’s a lot of people that broke down barriers for me, but I think there’s still barriers to break down.

Any tips for budding journos?

I guess it is to show just get your stuff out there. Write if you can, blog if you can because someone out there reading it. If you want to work somewhere just get your foot in the door even if it is a social media position or something that isn’t quite journalism-based or not quite the role you want, because I’m now getting opportunities on TV through Fox that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t working there already.