ABC News’ Brittany Carter has consistently gone the extra mile to promote all codes of Australian women’s sport on the national broadcaster as she believes that women sports stars deserve recognition on the biggest platforms.
As a sports journalist, Carter works across multiple platforms; covering live sport and championing women’s sport through the Ladies Who League podcast alongside fellow journalist, Mary Konstantopoulos.
Coverage of women’s sport has grown significantly over the years and Carter admits that she gets emotional whenever she sees the support that women athletes are receiving as compared to 10 years ago.
Breaking into the industry and building a formidable platform as a woman has been a challenge.
Carter reveals that one of the most difficult aspects that she learnt as an up and coming sports journalist was establishing connections with the right people to grow within the industry.
She was always keen on becoming a journalist, but her interests were not sports related. She wanted to work in fashion magazines or in current affairs, however sport grabbed her attention.
She has been fortunate to travel and work closely with the senior Australian Women’s cricket team and netball side at the Women’s Ashes tour and Netball World Cup, respectively, in Liverpool in 2019.
Her highlight though, was working on the final match of the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup where she says she shed a few tears!
Speaking with Selina Munsamy, Carter chats about overcoming challenges in her career and about the changes that have taken place for women in sports journalism.
Brittany, thank you for chatting to me! Did you always want to become a sports journalist?
No… I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, but I originally wanted to work in fashion magazines. That then moved to an interest in fitness magazines and then to sports journalism more specifically. I was also keen on working in news or current affairs.
I love that my job with the ABC allows me to work across multiple mediums and on live sport, which is always exciting.
How have things changed for women in sports journalism in Australia and around the world?
When I first started in the industry after university, there was barely any serious coverage of women in sport and there was very little analysis or live coverage on radio or TV. I tried to promote all codes of Australian women’s sport and had to do a lot of extra work to try and get their stories published.
This has been one of the most pleasing things I’ve seen in my five years working so far…The shift we’ve seen in society and in the media industry to want to showcase and hear more and more about women in sport has been really rewarding.
Female sports stars and teams work just as hard as their male counterparts, so they deserve to receive equal opportunity. We may not be quite there yet, but we are certainly on our way.
As part of that it’s also been amazing to see women start to receive better pay – enough to make full-time jobs out of the sport they love – and also better coverage in newspapers, on TV and on radio.
In terms of female sports, how much has it changed in Australia?
I often get a little emotional when I look back at the type of support women in sport received 5-10 years ago and where we are at now.
And… it is sad that we are so amazed by it, because it never should have been like that. However, there’s been a lot of hard work by women leading the charge in sport and demanding better pay, better coverage in the media and equal opportunity.
For example, when the Australian Women’s Cricket Team used to play at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) they would hear an echo around the stands anytime they hit the ball because there wasn’t really anyone there… and to think just this March, that 86,174 people turned up on International Women’s Day to break the record for the amount of people at a women’s sporting event in Australia is crazy!
Even five years ago when the Women’s Big Bash was taking off, I don’t think we would have ever envisaged that! For so long women have just been very grateful to get any attention and have smaller crowds at their games, so it was a real turning point for what we can expect for all women’s sport in the future.
The other big thing that has changed is the language we use when reporting on women in sport. We now know our national cricket team as the Australian Women’s Cricket Team, but they used to be called The Southern Stars… which is now thought of as a nickname rather than their official name. Language matters and by making small shifts like this it changes how seriously these women are taken.
Tell us about Ladies Who League / Ladies Who Legspin?
I actually produce the Ladies Who League, and I have an on-air role alongside Mary (Konstantopoulos) on Legspin. I am really proud that we have been able to set a precedence for what women’s sports coverage can look like and how closely it should be reported and analysed.
We have received some really lovely feedback over the years – especially for Ladies Who Legspin – about how much people appreciate a platform that dedicates itself to promoting and championing women in sport. We aren’t afraid to stick up for what’s right and really call out the inequality in sport when it comes to the way men and women are treated.
We pride ourselves on the fact we’ve been able to interview many female sports stars too and give them a safe place and a platform to showcase their personalities and opinions. So, I like to think we’ve played a small part in a collective push for better women’s sports coverage.
What has been your most memorable moment in sports journalism?
I’ve been really lucky in my career so far…
Last year I went to the UK and got to work on the Women’s Ashes coverage as well as the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, so that was an absolute dream. To follow the Australian teams and learn how to navigate the journalism space in a different country, completely outside of my comfort zone was something I won’t ever forget. That trip has helped me to demonstrate my passion and dedication to those sports.
But, if I had to pick a single moment, I can’t go past working as a sideline reporter on the Women’s World Cup Final at the MCG this year. As I mentioned earlier, it was such a big moment… accumulating over at least a five-year period, of advocates trying to push women’s cricket forward and for the players themselves who have worked extremely hard to be taken seriously.
I shed a few tears that day/night while working for the ABC/BBC and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it! Hearing that many people cheering for women’s cricket in the stands was amazing.
Please tell us more about working in the final.
It really was such an incredible day/night. I was out the front of the stadium recording interviews as the crowd started to stream in and it was almost unbelievable even then how many people were turning up.
But to then be able to sit in our ABC commentary box and hear the roar of the crowd as the players came out onto the field was when it really hit home. At the end of the match I was also down on the field to do post-match interviews and to be able to stand there and have a full 360 degree view of just how many people were there, cheering for women’s cricket was something I will always hold on to.
It was a really moving day and the atmosphere was incredible!
In terms of social media coverage for women sports, has this aided in a greater following and demand for more televised coverage of major women’s sports?
Social media has definitely given the public a greater voice when it comes to putting their opinions out there. It is so easy to get in contact with a presenter you saw on the news via Twitter, or to comment on a reporter’s posts on Instagram now. So, there is almost a direct line of communication between the public and the media.
This has helped us to get a better understanding of what the public wants from us and to gauge their opinion on different topics and events. It makes for a more engaged community.
But with that come the trolls and negative comments, too. So, while social media has definitely helped women’s sports grow and get more coverage, there’s also a balance to how much you can rely on it.
What challenges did you face you in your career and how did you manage to overcome them?
There is no denying that there is sexism in the sports media industry.
Really there are elements of it in any profession, but especially so in one that has been dominated by men for such a long period of time.
Sometimes men don’t even realise they are being sexist because it is that ingrained in the way we have been taught to think about sport. It’s the whole, “You play like a girl” mentality.
I find what helps is to always remember why it is you do what you do and to not let your passion be diminished by the way others doubt or treat you. You can’t let it stop you.
What has been refreshing is that there are many men in the industry that would count themselves as feminists these days and are all about building people up whether they be male or female.
In a very similar way that our female sports stars have had to prove their ability and argue the point of equal opportunity, there are still elements of that in our workspace, too. But as time goes on and society’s values continue to change it is all improving.
Who is your iconic sports personality and why?
Hmm… there are many current and former stars in sport that embody the Australian spirit.
Cathy Freeman (athletics) and Susie O’Neill (swimming) were two that I looked up to as a child because of their strength and determination. We were lucky in 2000 to host the Olympics in Sydney so there are many kids in Australia born in the ‘90s that have heroes from that Olympic Games.
Right now, though, the first person that comes to mind is Ash Barty. The current world number one tennis player has put Australian tennis on the map again and has become very popular in the past twelve months, especially for displaying the Australian “underdog” type of fight in tough pressure moments.
How has COVID-19 outbreak affected you?
I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been able to continue working full-time during isolation.
Obviously, there is no sport happening in Australia right now, so the ABC has had to be really creative with our shows and online content. I think we’ve done really well to keep it all going.
COVID-19 has also changed the way we travel to work and being able to spend time with family and friends, but it has been good to work from home, test ourselves with new ways of reporting and to get back to basics when it comes to days off.
I was very rundown after the T20 Women’s World Cup finished up, so it’s forced me to have a bit of a break instead of launching into winter sport.
What are your favourite things to do on your days off?
This is a little bit sad, ha-ha. But again, it revolves around sport.
If I’m not already working, majority of the time I’m watching sport on TV or attending a game.
I still play sport myself on the weekends and coach a teenage netball team too, so it really does run my life.
However, if I’m not doing something along those lines and I have a completely free day, I do enjoy taking my dog for a walk or doing a big hike. We also have beautiful beaches in Australia so during summer I like to spend a lot of time in the water.
Your favourite sports team and why?
This is a really hard one! My two favourites are probably the Aussie Diamonds (our national netball team) and the Australian Women’s Cricket Team. Of course, as a sports fan, I have many different club teams I follow in each individual sport but if I had to pick two favourites across the Australian sporting landscape it would be these two.
Both show a lot of heart and passion representing their country and have a real sense of how important their actions are when it comes to be a role model for the younger generation.
What advice would you give to other females out there wanting to follow a career as a sports journalist?
The journalism industry is all about how hard you are willing to work.
I did a talk at my old high school last year for their Year 12 Graduation Ceremony and I said the exact same thing about most careers.
I had to work for free many times and do multiple internships to establish connections with people working in the industry before I got a job.
Once you’re working in the industry it’s easier to move around, but the hardest thing I found as a female sports journalist was getting people to take you seriously and realise, I had lots to contribute.
Things have changed in those five years dramatically, but I still feel like women have to work twice as hard for every opportunity to prove their worth and ability.
If you’re happy to do that then you’ll be just fine!
It really is a lot of fun and worth the hard work.
What is the one quote that inspires you?
This is nothing profound, but my Dad always used to say to me:
“Just make sure you do the best you can do.”
I apply that to life all the time. If I do as much research as I can and prepare myself for each job opportunity I take and stick to doing the best I can do, then I don’t have the need for any regret.
If I don’t do those things and then I’m not happy with the outcome of something I’ve worked on, I can always look back at that and say, “Well that happened because I didn’t really do the best I could do in that scenario.”
That quote also helps me to get back to basics and simmer down any high-pressure situations I come under. It makes you more human than robot. You’re not going to ace everything you do but you can control how much effort you put in, so that’s what I live by.
Photo 1 Caption:
Photo 2 Caption: As a sports journalist, Carter works across multiple platforms; covering live sport and championing women’s sport through the Ladies Who League podcast alongside fellow journalist, Mary Konstantopoulos. Photo: Supplied
Photo 3 Caption: Coverage of women’s sport has grown significantly over the years and Carter admits that she gets emotional whenever she sees the support that female athletes are receiving as compared 10 years ago. Photo: Supplied
Photo 4 Caption: Carter reveals that one of the most difficult aspects that she learnt as an up and coming sports journalist was establishing connections with the right people to grow within the industry. Photo: Supplied
Photo 5 Caption: She was always keen on becoming a journalist, but her interests were not sports related. She ABC News’ Brittany Carter has continuously gone the extra mile to promote all codes of Australian women’s sport on the national broadcaster as she believes that female sports stars deserve recognition on the highest platforms. Photo: Supplied
With editing by gsport