Interview with Carrie LaFrenz, Senior Reporter at Australian Financial Review
Carrie LaFrenz has more than 10 years’ experience as a business journalist having previously covered healthcare, retail/consumer goods, industrials and agribusiness at Thomson Reuters and AAP. She is currently a companies and markets journalist at the Australian Financial Review (AFR). Her Twitter handle is @CarrieLafrenz.
You have over 10 years of experience in financial reporting. What drew you to this area of reporting?
I accidentally fell into business reporting. I don’t have a finance background, but I could see early on it was an interesting specialty area that fewer journalists wanted to go into, and therefore could provide better job prospects. I started with basic reporting about the stock market and economics and moved from there. It’s actually a very interesting area to write about.
Which finance stories are you following closely right now?
I cover areas like healthcare, retail and industrials so I’ll be following any company in those areas, like the possible takeover of Healius by China’s Jangho Group, Brookfield’s takeover of Healthscope, the rise of a2 Milk and how it’s navigating China, as well as rival baby formula maker Bellamy’s in its recovery.
What advice would you give to young journalists?
It’s a very tough industry and you have to be willing to do the hard yards to get a job. Nothing will fall into your lap. The media landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade, and while I happen to work for a major media organisation, there are many other ways to work as a journalist. So think outside the box. Think about what actually interests you. You are unlikely to start at a dream job, so be willing to work your way up to where you want to be.
What is the most valuable skill you have learnt from the media industry?
Network, network and network. You must get out and meet people. Nothing replaces a good chat face to face with a contact.
How do you use press releases as part of your newsgathering process?
We use press releases/notices to the ASX as part of news coverage, but that is only one avenue. A great journalist needs to be able to sniff out a story, get the information before it hits public markets and to look beyond a press release to where the story may be. Companies use spin in press releases to tell the world the angle they would like to be told. So it’s your job to read it, digest it and look beyond those few pages to get the best storyline.