Samantha Johnson is a Sports Anchor for TRT World, a 24-hour international English-language news station based in Istanbul, Turkey that provides news, sport and current affairs.
Tell us a little about your current role
My role consists of anchoring the 26-minute live sports show Beyond The Game. During the day, I’ll prep for our live guests, which means researching the main stories and writing the questions. The most guests I’ve had on one show is 6!
There’s a chance I’ll also produce a small segment that rounds up the other sports news, which is at the end of the show. Throughout the day I’ll liaise with the Programme Editor to see how the rundown is forming.
My job also involves pitching stories, features or interviews for deployments. Our show doesn’t just focus on sports results. We delve deeper into subject matters, interview inspirational figures and host debates.
What were the key decision points that were important in deciding your career path?
Job satisfaction. I didn’t want to freelance at places or do the job just for the money. I need to be passionate about what I’m doing and have the freedom to be creative.
The chance to move to Istanbul was too good an opportunity to pass up. I get the chance to do what I love, further my career and have a brilliant life experience.
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
That I get to do my dream role as an anchor and have the freedom to work on stories that I’m passionate about.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work? What strategies have you developed for tackling that challenge?
My job can be physically and emotionally draining but that’s mainly down to the hours we do and the size of our team. I’m not just an anchor, I write and edit packages and organise guests for the show. We are more than just our individual titles, which is a great and an invaluable skill to have.
To tackle it, I meditate and work out in the mornings. It puts me in a positive frame of mind and sets me up for my day nicely.
What has been the most defining moment in your career to date?
I’ve had a few interviews that have been really popular online. For example, last year my Claudio Ranieri interview went viral and was picked up by CNN, Fox Sports, etc. I would say another highlight was working on a cricket documentary – The Ashes – with my Senior Producer Lachlan Guselli. I’m really blessed to work with such an intelligent and creative individual like him who pushes me and I was so proud of the end product. We got a great reception from it.
But overall I’d say that being ‘in this exact moment’ is career-defining for me. I get the freedom to pitch original content and travel for these stories. I don’t think I’d have that if I were still in the UK.
Who is the industry figure that you admire? Why is this?
It’s near impossible to choose only one right now because I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many influential and dynamic women.
I’m in a Whatsapp Group (Black Women in Sports Media) and I admire every single woman in that group. I see them – and black women across the board – doing amazing things and reaching new heights, whether it’s in sports broadcasting, fashion, beauty and business. So whenever I see them thriving, it inspires me to push myself. I’m so blessed to know these women, and it’s comforting to know that they have my back…. even if I’m in another time zone.
Best piece of career advice you have ever received? And who was it from?
I find that it changes depending on where I am in life, but the most recent career advice I got was from a friend and a woman I look up to, Michelle Moore. She is a consultant specialising in sport, equality, and education. She sends me links to seminars and she gives me advice about staying focused, finding my purpose and ‘Staying In Your Lane’.
Sometimes you get distracted by what others are doing, when in reality you should focus on yourself, what motivates you and ultimately what makes you happy.
Away from your work role what are your passions?
Working out – I like to challenge myself physically!
I love travelling. Living in Istanbul is a great hub and gives you brilliant access to other countries.
Good food and wine, I recently went to Modena in Italy and had lunch at Osteria Francescana with some girlfriends. It was the best gastronomic experience of my life! And I’m passionate about writing. I started off in print journalism and I’m getting back into it again. I concentrated so much on broadcasting, I totally forgot how much I enjoyed expressing myself through writing articles!
What are the three (professional or personal) books/websites/ or resources that you would recommend to others?
Winners by Alastair Campbell, The Art of Success Podcast by Ebony Rainford Brent. ESPN’s Be Honest podcast with Cari Champion. And to just sneak in one more … my cousin Francesca (who is a teacher in Milan) has got me into a routine of listening to more Ted Talks on Sundays.
What do you know now, that you wish you had known as you started your career?
Not to be so hard on myself, and to trust the journey.
Do you have any advice for women entering your industry?
Be persistent, be proactive and be prepared. Like so many other women in the sports industry, I’m instantly judged, so you have to work ‘that’ bit harder and ‘that’ bit smarter. In the end, the early starts and late nights paid off.
If you weren’t in this role what would be your alternative career?
I honestly don’t know because I never allowed myself to think of an alternative career. I’ve always wanted this role and career path, and I’m blessed to have it. Maybe I should start thinking about the next level!