My Life In Media: Julie Etchingham

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The Independent Online

Julie Etchingham, 35, has been the anchor on 'Sky News Today' since September 2002. Before that she worked for 10 years at the BBC, presenting for 'BBC Breakfast News' and BBC News 24. She previously worked for BBC Midlands, presenting 'Midlands Today'. An English graduate from Newnham College, Cambridge, she worked on local radio at university before joining the BBC's graduate journalist trainee scheme.

What inspired you to start in media?

My mother. I'd always enjoyed watching Newsround and keeping nerdy diaries as a child - and when I was about 14 she asked me whether I'd thought about becoming a journalist. Both she and my father were teachers, as were most of the rest of my family, so it felt like quite a departure. But they helped me fix up some work experience at the local BBC radio station and the local paper and I was hooked.

What was the family newspaper at age 15 and did you read it?

We had the Leicester Mercury delivered every day. It was, and is, excellent. I still read it when we head home. At weekends, The Times and The Observer.

And what were your favourite television and radio shows?

It was the height of the Eighties so, unsurprisingly, it was Dallas and Dynasty - a perfect escape from O-levels. I was also a radio junkie. My brother Peter and I were (and still are) terrible insomniacs - so my parents bought us small radio sets with earpieces so we could listen at night. I used to listen to comedy on Radio 4 and then the World Service. During the day it was Radio 1.

What is the best thing about your job?

You meet amazing people and travel to extraordinary places - and get the chance to hear so many perspectives.

And the worst?

It's difficult to switch off, mentally.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings nowadays?

I listen to Five Live's Wake up to Money at about 5.30am before I wake up to our toddler at 6. Once I'm up I switch between Five Live and Today.

Will you consult any media sources in the course of the working day?

At work we have all the news channels, as well as all the newspapers. The broadsheets' online services are excellent for background preparation.

Your proudest work achievement?

Winning an Emmy at Newsround, for a show on the children of Bosnia.

And your most embarrassing?

Live news has plenty of toe-curlers. One which stands out was throwing to "Panty Trenner" for the weather. Her name is, of course, Penny Tranter.

At home, what will you tune in to?

Our son is nearly two, so we are fast becoming experts in Teletubbies. Once he's in bed - a mixture of news and some of the property programmes - Kevin McCloud's Grand Designs is great; I look at all those wonderful houses then laugh at ours. Predictably, The West Wing too.

What is your Sunday paper and do you have any favourite magazines?

We get most of the Sunday papers most of the time. I try to read a couple of the weekly news magazines - New Statesman in particular. For the girl's stuff, I like Eve and Marie Claire. I'd be lying if I said I didn't look at Hello! every now and then.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire.

Going to the US elections this year pretty much fulfils one of them.

If not media, what would you do?

Train to be a lawyer. Not sure I'd manage it though.

Who are your best media friends?

My husband Nick - whom I met at Newsround. The team I work with at Sky News - and two others: Sarah Eglin and Carla-Maria Lawson - senior producers at the Beeb.

Who in media do you most admire?

All of the above - plus Jon Snow and Kirsty Wark.

CV: THE TV PRESENTER

1984: Still at school, first taste of media at Radio Leicester.

1994: Joins BBC Newsround and wins an Emmy.

1997: A brief stint as a holiday presenter, on the BBC's Holidays Out and Holiday 97.

2002: Joins Sky News. Covers some of the Soham murder trial from the Old Bailey, interviews the former US First Lady Hillary Clinton and presents coverage of the Beslan school-siege massacre.

2004: Co-presents Sky News Today with Martin Stanford. She will next month be anchoring Sky's coverage of the US elections from Washington with Jeremy Thompson.

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