From the Classroom

Interview with journalist Meghann Scully

Sports and entertainment journalist talks about making her way in the industry.

[One-sentence description of what this media is: "A photo of a vaccine site on USC campus" or "Gif of dancing banana". Important for accessibility/people who use screen readers.]

Born and raised in Ireland, broadcaster and multimedia journalist Meghann Scully is based in Limerick, Ireland and currently works for Iconic Media Group. She covers sports and entertainment events. She studied Irish and media studies at the University of Limerick and is fluent in Gaelic.

From a young age, Scully knew she wanted to work in journalism and media. Joking that “it’s a very Irish story,” she said her interest in journalism sparked from her Catholicism and growing up going to church every weekend. She often read at Mass and became the priests’ go-to for readings. She says that, looking back, this experience helped her in the work she does now, such as standing in front of strangers, delivering a message, working on projecting her voice and confidence. She liked how it felt like a performance.

As soon as she wakes up, Scully opens Twitter and other social media platforms to see what’s trending. When in the office she spends a lot of time on research for her stories, which is something she made clear: “When you work in media, people only see what goes on Instagram or what goes on the website. They might see a three- or four-minute interview and think, ‘Oh, so that’s your day?’ And I’m like, no, no, there’s so much behind the scenes.” Scully practices mobile journalism and shoots everything on her iPhone. Something Scully said she particularly loves about her job is that “while media is really pressurized and time sensitive” her company ensures that journalists take time off and work reasonable hours. She stressed that it’s important to “give yourself a break from constant news and constant updates” that comes with journalism and always being online.

Scully draws inspiration from Holly Willoughby, the host and face of “This Morning,” a UK morning show. Scully loves that Willoughby isn’t afraid to show emotion when covering a story. Willoughby, who is a mother and a journalist, inspires Scully as “she seems to just be able to juggle it all.”

Scully’s interest in sports journalism stemmed from growing up horseback riding and playing camogie (an Irish sport like lacrosse), hockey and Gaelic football, in addition to attending sporting events. Seeing female hosts and presenters, she wondered if she could do it too. When she first started out, she loved how welcoming other journalists were, explaining to her how things worked and making sure she was able to ask the players her questions. She loved it even more when it sunk in that she was getting paid to go to matches and meet players.

Scully said that being a female in this industry brings a lot of opportunity and proves to be useful in sports journalism. Often seen as “just a girl who doesn’t know her stuff,” she uses being underestimated to her advantage. While covering a rugby match, she was the only female journalist, and it gave her an “upper hand in a male domination environment because it’s a unique selling point.” She likes to ask completely random questions to athletes, based on something she might have seen on Instagram because “suddenly their demeanor changes and they’re relaxed.”

She said she gets to know them as people, not just players. “Who I am as a person and when I’m in front of a camera is the same person I am with my friends. I get underestimated a lot but whether you’re male or female, being authentic is definitely the most important part.” After interviewing a rugby player and congratulating him on his recent engagement, which none of the other journalists knew about, her competitors said that she’s “the only one who’s been able to crack him and got a laugh and smile out of him.”

Having lost her 18-year-old brother when she was just 15 in a tragic car accident, Scully is extremely conscious of right and wrong: “I just think you have to know where to draw the line.” She remembers seeing his photos all over the front pages of newspapers across Ireland without her family’s consent, nor were they informed that photographers would be at the funeral. From this loss, she later wrote two books: “Broken Love” and “Little Pocket of Love.”

“You have to remember there is a family behind a story like that,” Scully said. “At the end of the day, there is a mother, a brother, a father, or a sister and a community of people. That’s where you have to be able to draw the line with journalism. Maybe take a split second and think if the family would like what you’re writing or doing. You just have to tread carefully and just see what’s morally right and what’s morally wrong.”

Although there were times she considered walking away from journalism, Scully embraced the motto, “What’s for you won’t pass you.” She said that, “Although it’s competitive, it’s worth it in the end. Journalism is universal. You can go anywhere.” Her advice for prospective journalists is to take advantage of social media and networking.

“The media industry changes a lot. Jobs come and go. You might not always be in full time work. It’s really important to keep up and keep active. I’m definitely getting to know people behind the scenes like the producers, the directors, the editors, and the photographers. Get to know them all,” Scully said.

More about these From the Classroom submissions:

Students in an intro to reporting and writing course interviewed working journalists and asked their career advice and how they got their start. It’s a rare assignment where they were allowed to have just one source in the story or Q&A. Read more work “From the Classroom” here.