28 June 2021
Shortly before the Euros began, we sat down to talk with Jess Creighton who is part of Sky Sports' tournament coverage this summer.
As an award-winning broadcaster and journalist who has worked in the industry for over a decade for organisations like BBC Sport, BT Sport and Sky Sports, Jessica Creighton is a name, face and voice that all within the game will recognise.
So how is she involved in UEFA EURO 2020?
“I'm reporting live from EURO 2020, following the England camp around until, hopefully, the final. And I'll be reporting live for Sky Sports News.”
And, as you’d expect, Jess is just a little excited!
“I have been obsessing over every single one of the players, their families, manager, the coaching staff, anyone involved with the England camp. I have been obsessing to the point where I could probably name you the childhood pets of each of the players and the coaching staff if they had them.”
“I'm getting paid to immerse myself in football. One of the biggest football stories in the world, I'm getting paid to do, I'm getting paid to interview players to tell the audience things they didn't know before. I get to speak live on TV. I get to speak to coaches. I get to watch live football in football stadiums. I mean...it's pretty amazing.”
And with such a wealth of experience under her belt, having done such an impressive array of broadcast and journalistic work, Jess is well and truly prepared.
“So day to day I report and present for Sky Sports News and Sky Sports. It’s hard to say what my job involves because every single day is different. If I'm reporting, I might be going out somewhere to do an interview. If I'm presenting, I'll be in the studio and anchoring Sky Sports news coverage. I also launched a women's football show from my house last year. The job is very varied. It's very busy. But it's also very exciting and very demanding.”
Despite her huge success, the journey hasn’t always been an easy one for Jess, having put in a whole lot of graft.
“It's been a long trajectory...It hasn't been linear.”
“In terms of starting out, I studied broadcast journalism at university and graduated. And after a few jobs, managed to be awarded a place on the BBC training scheme. And by that point, I'd already done loads of unpaid work experience within the media. So the fact that I'd done that experience helped me, I think, get onto this traineeship. And then from the traineeship, I worked my way up. I did everything I was a camera person, I was an editor, I was a video journalist.”
“I think I'm really able to sympathize when someone who isn't doing my job is having a tough time because I'm like- I've been there, I know how tough it is. It also helps me as a presenter because I know all the different jobs that people are doing and the pitfalls that come with those jobs and how I might be able to help them as a presenter.”
But things haven’t always been plain sailing for Jess.
“The media industry in the UK is 94% white. Someone like myself you could possibly suggest might be at a disadvantage because of the colour of my skin.”
As well as the barriers that Jess has faced as a black woman, another challenge Jess acknowledged is the competitiveness within the industry that can often breed nepotism.
“So, before we even talk about race and gender, we're battling with the competitiveness first and foremost, and then the extra layers for marginalised voices. And it's not just race and gender- there’s sexuality, physical ability, neurodiversity- it can be a bit of a minefield, and the racism I have suffered with has been both covert and subtle. But I'm still here, and I'm still fighting.”
With such obstacles, it was interesting to hear how Jess has chosen to combat the challenges at play.
“So my mindset about 18 months ago was - I need to be visible. I need to be heard. Everyone needs to see my face. Everyone needs to see the fact that I'm black- not just black- dark skin black, with braids rather than straight hair, because representation matters.”
“But I now have the mindset where perhaps I need to be in a decision-making position, perhaps I need to be the one who is able to hire people from marginalised communities.”
Through becoming a decision-maker, Jess hopes to make the industry more diverse and help other women and marginalised voices break that metaphorical glass ceiling.
And with Jess committed to being a leading force in the industry, things look bright for young women seeking to forge a career in the beautiful game.
So what’s her one piece of advice to women starting out?
“Knowledge is power.”
“Being a woman in football, you're going to get tested a lot more than perhaps if you're a man...We all know it's not an equal playing field, so just make sure your knowledge is on point.”
And with that great bit of advice, we tied up our chat with Jess! But don’t worry if you’re keen to hear more from Jess, keep an eye on our social media feeds and make sure to check out Women in Football's recent collaboration with her YouTube series B is for Black.
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