Everyone has a different story as to how they got into the sport media industry. That’s the beauty of it, there isn’t a linear path. Especially with the way the industry is constantly changing, there isn’t a “niche” for everybody who works in it. This is one of the things that I discussed with Sportsnet host Danielle Michaud, who took the time to sit down with me and discuss how she got to where she is today, what her day to day life looks like, and some of the best advice she has to offer for people entering this industry.
Danielle’s journey to her current position at Sportsnet was unique. She didn’t originally know what she wanted to do with her life. After graduating from the University of Guelph with a degree in Sociology, Danielle took a year off and spent time volunteering. Her dad was the one who showed her the College of Sports Media (CSM), where she would eventually go for two years. She said that her sociology helped her develop skills needed in the industry (i.e. writing, studying, etc) but that also just studying people and learning their stories was helpful for the “bigger picture.”
After she finished school, Danielle elected to go for a job instead of an internship. She landed the role of a broadcast associate over at theScore, where she would watch games and clip them to be used for highlight packs. Scripting highlights for shows like “Court Surfing” was her entry-level job in the industry and required “the ability to adapt.” Although her entry-level job was in the industry, her trajectory to her role at Sportsnet today was “all over the place,” according to Michaud. While in her video clipping role, she had gotten a chance to try voicing the highlight packs. “There weren’t many female voices,” she recalled. By chance, the news director at Sportsnet overheard her voicing a script one day at work. “It just so happened that he was wandering around the newsroom floor, and he thought I had this unique voice and tone,” she said. This turned into an opportunity to do sports hits with City News.
Being a sports anchor for City TV was a new direction for Danielle. She described it as terrifying because it was new, but she quickly learned to love it, until she felt like she was ready for the next step. Danielle applied for an on-air full-time position at Sportsnet many times, but she got rejected a lot. It took her building experience at CityTV for Sportsnet to finally decide she was ready. Now at Sportsnet for almost a decade, Danielle wears many different hats. She has been part of the digital team, she does Sportsnet Central, Raptors broadcasts in different capacities, and anything else that pops up. “The more versatile you can be, the more successful you will be,” she said.
This goes for her day-to-day schedule too. Much like her different roles, Michaud’s day-to-day looks very different each week. This depends on the show she is working on and the current news and events within the sports world. She spoke about the sacrifices you need to make when it comes to time, leisure, and other aspects of life. “My husband and I give each other a high five on our way out the door,” she laughed. Long hours are definitely something that has been stressed for people that are entering the industry. This isn’t a 9-to-5 industry, and that is definitely one of the biggest challenges to face. Although there are many challenges, I also learned what is rewarding about her job. Making connections and building relationships that gain respect from your colleagues is one of the best feelings in the world, Danielle said. This was an extremely helpful insight that will only solidify the fact that building relationships are more important than anything else.
When asked what her advice for anyone entering the industry would be, she said that you have to ask yourself if you’re in this industry because you’re passionate about it or because you think there are cool elements to it. She said that if the idea of the job appeals to you more than actually doing the work then this industry probably isn’t for you. This really stuck out to me because at the end of the day, if you don’t like it, it will feel like a burden. Passion is something that goes highly under the radar when it comes to hard work and accolades.
When it comes to more women in the industry, Michaud thinks it’s getting better. She said that although there is still an uneven ratio between the men and the women, she is starting to see more women in roles both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. One of the biggest lessons to take away from this is that versatility is key, there is no longer a “niche” for everybody.