Interview with Sophie Elsworth, national personal finance writer & columnist News Corp
Sophie Elsworth is an Australian journalist who is currently News Corp’s national personal finance writer and Money Saver HQ columnist based in Melbourne. She is also a regular commentator on the Sky News channel. Elsworth began her journalism career in 2001 while studying Arts and Law at the University of Melbourne, working as an editorial assistant and reporter at the Herald Sun and Weekly Times. She then completed a cadetship at The Advertiser newspaper in Adelaide, going on to work as a police reporter and entertainment writer before joining The Courier-Mail as a general news reporter. You can Tweet Sophie at @sophieelsworth.
How has the COVID-19 crisis had an impact on your typical workday?
It’s definitely been a huge shift to working from home but I must say it’s been a smooth transition. The biggest problem I have faced during lockdown is my NBN connection dropping out which can be incredibly frustrating. Working from home does make it harder to switch off, your work is always there but at the same time it gives you some flexibility. I’m grateful News Corp has allowed us to work from home so seamlessly and produce such critical content during such an important time but definitely miss the buzz of the newsroom.
What attracted you to a career in financial journalism?
As a youngster my parents said I was always inquisitive, obviously a very important trait to be a good journalist. I grew up reading the newspapers and watching the news every day and knew in secondary school that I wanted to pursue journalism as a career. I graduated from Arts/Law at university and got my first gig as a copy kid at the Herald Sun in Melbourne in 2001. I’ve never looked back. I did many different roles before landing the personal finance gig in 2012 when I was based at the Courier-Mail in Brisbane. I am frugal so it was the perfect match for me.
Describe your role as National Personal Finance Writer and what it involves.
My role is to be across anything relating to the hip pocket. This includes home loans, credit cards, superannuation, investing and all day-to-day expenses that Australians face. Each and every person’s financial situation is important whether we like it or not and so it’s critical to deliver stories that will engage readers and help them to make good financial choices.
When writing stories, who is your target audience?
This depends on the topic but can range from singles to couples to families or older Australians who are empty nesters. I always try and make sure I engage as many readers as possible without diluting the story. It’s important to know who the story is targeting and to keep that in mind when writing it.
Is it easy or difficult to find ideas for your area of journalism, and why?
A day has never passed where it’s hard to find ideas especially during the coronavirus pandemic where many Australians have had to pay closer attention to their financial situation than ever before. Ideas come from a range of places including tip offs, having good relationships with contacts and being generally interested in the topics I report on to dig up fresh ideas.
How useful are press releases in your line of work?
I would say 20 per cent of the time. I get bombarded with press releases that are often pitched to a series of journalists – something that is a complete waste of everybody’s time. On nearly every occasion I am only interested in press releases that are exclusive and in my round, otherwise I would prefer not to hear about it. I’m not interested in covering press releases that every other media outlet has.