From science grad to Seven sports presenter: Mel McLaughlin’s unusual career path

commonwealth games

Unusual career path for science graduate turned Seven sports presenter

Being on television as the sports reporter who got to cover some of the biggest tournaments in Australia wasn’t something Seven’s Mel McLaughlin ever thought she would do. However, she was always interested in sport. It was one of the two things that she enjoyed growing up – science was the other.

“I have no memory of not running around and playing or watching sport,” McLaughlin told Mediaweek. “I always knew I wanted to work in science or sport.”

“In year 12 I went to my careers advisor to get some advice on sport and working in it. She was like, ‘Oh! Well, you know I like teaching and I like sport. So what I do is I teach, but I play basketball on a Wednesday night. There aren’t jobs in sport.’

“It’s not often but I have thought back to that conversation, which wasn’t strictly true, if you ask me.” [Laughs]

For McLaughlin this realisation has come with experience. She pursued a Bachelor of Science degree at university, and also worked in the field for some time. Then she sought some work experience in media.

“I worked every day at stupid hours to try to get where I could in the job,” McLaughlin said. “It wasn’t a dream or anything. I never thought I’d be on TV or anything like that. But I definitely wanted to work in sport and media.”

And that is exactly what she is doing now. Prior to joining Seven in 2016, McLaughlin was the face of Ten Sport. She came to Ten from subscription TV channel Fox Sports when the free-to-air network acquired the rights for the Big Bash League for $100 million to broadcast the game over five years starting with the 2012-13 season.

McLaughlin has witnessed the growth of the T20 cricket series firsthand.

“What’s happened to it is unbelievable. It’s exceeded the expectations of everybody in terms of the success and how it would rate,” McLaughlin said. “They [Ten] just wanted to test it, but it exploded. It’s one of those bizarre things that instantly made people say that it was their sound of summer.”

McLaughlin is now one of the most recognisable sports reporters on free-to-air television. In her career, she has hosted sporting events including the 2014 Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games, the 2016 Summer Olympics, and Australian F1 Grand Prix. Most recently she fronted Seven’s coverage of the Australian Open, which saw the Williams sisters facing off against each other in the grand final round, as well as former world #1 and #2, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, competing. Both grand final matches had much hype around them before, during and after.

In her previous life at other networks that she’d worked for, McLaughlin would have been among the media crowd reporting from outside the stadium. However, with Seven being the broadcast rights holder of the Australian Open she was among the crew walking past the media crowd standing outside.

“The access that you get is very exciting when you are working on any sort of live sport,” McLaughlin said. “It is a nice feeling to have that kind of access.”

This is an excerpt of the full article, which appears in the latest issue of Mediaweek magazine. 

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