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Journalist Spotlight | Interview with Andrew Cornell, Associate Editor for Financial Services at Capital Brief

13 December, 2023

Medianet is joined this week by Andrew Cornell, Associate Editor for Financial Services at Capital Brief. Andrew graduated with a BA (Hons) in Medieval Literature and BSc in Genetics from the University of Melbourne which naturally progressed into a long and colourful career in Journalism. Screenshot 2023-12-14 100501


You’ve spent some time as the North Asia Correspondent for The Australian Financial Review. How do you think the relationship between Australia and Asia has evolved throughout your career?

It’s increasingly important and always in flux. I’ve covered an Asian financial crisis, the economic catastrophe in Japan, the rise and stall of China, the emergence of India and a steady drum beat of growth in the broader region. Whether it’s language learning, cultural exchange, political and economic links, Australia could do a lot more.

After almost 20 years with the AFR, you became the founding managing editor for ANZ bluenotes. Were there any conflicts of interest when reporting on the business and finance sectors when you moved to a financial institution?

The critical issue is there’s conflicts everywhere. At the AFR there was tension because Fairfax was heavily tied to the real estate industry, coverage of the media sector was fraught and there were commercial imperatives. At my time at the AFR, that was managed very well but it’s real. At ANZ there were different tensions - but no issues with advertisers or revenue tied to certain sectors. I think it’s important to be aware of commercial and political forces at any publisher. That’s one reason a startup like Capital Brief is so refreshing.

What are some of the misconceptions the public has on the finance industry in Australia?

A central one is that markets have purposes and ideologies. They don’t. They allocate capital according to risk. The issue with capitalism and finance is people blame the system for poor outcomes when it is public policy, vested interests, market power and rent seeking that distorts outcomes. Our well being depends on finance so it needs to be more transparent and better regulated. Kicking banks is just an easy political distraction.

How has the shift from print media to digital platforms impacted the way you cover stories and how they’re received by the public?

It’s a lot faster but it’s important to resist the temptation to just bang something out, look for clicks, beat stories up. There’s a lot more noise but our audiences still want insight, objectivity, credibility and information they can use.

What were some of the challenges you’ve faced when reporting on economics and governance across Australia and Asia?

Everywhere it is the difficulty in obtaining information and access. In some parts of Asia that may be due to the political situation or poor corporate regulation. In Australia, governments, notably but not exclusively the Coalition, are making it harder and harder to gain information, whether that be with FOI, the cost of accessing corporate records or simply refusing to answer legitimate questions. And corporations take a lead from that. 


As both a journalist and analyst, do you think it’s imperative for journalists to be able to provide insightful commentary to complement straight reportage?

Definitely. But it’s vital to be transparent about what is what. News is news - and we must make sources clear. But analysis is about context and meaning. Opinion, essentially, is whether a development is good or bad in achieving an end.

You were already an established journalist when you received the Walkley and Citigroup & Columbia University Excellence Awards. What impact did these have on your career?

Well, a miserly pay rise! I don’t think it is important day to day but credibility is what a journalist trades with and these awards definitely underpin that over time. Especially when someone doesn’t know you. 

And lastly, what do you look for in content pitching?

A clear understanding of what we’re doing. What am I covering? Have you read what Capital Brief is and what we’re doing? Do you understand our audience and what they would be interested in? And data and research, not just an opinion or a product flog.


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