Emily Stewart: on business journalism

By Seth Robinson

A desire to combine her interests in Business and Writing sparked Emily Stewart’s career in journalism. Now, she is the ABC’s Lead Reporter on personal finance.

Emily Stewart studied a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), alongside a Bachelor of Arts. She combined a love of writing and an interest in business, and positioned herself perfectly to become one of the country’s leading finance reporters.

‘I decided I wanted to pursue journalism after completing an internship in Singapore, at Proctor and Gamble, but it was a decision that was very much influenced by my studies. I had a real passion for business. I majored in strategy and marketing. I think in a large part it was those courses, and subjects like economics, that gave me an understanding of how the world works. When I became a journalist, it allowed me to move into the business reporting role much more quickly because I had that specialist knowledge. It gave me a really solid grounding, because we have to do things like read company reports and interview CEOs. Having that knowledge is really important.’

Emily Stewart
ABC Finance Journalist, Emily Stewart

For Emily, her role as a journalist has a very important function: to help people improve their financial literacy, and understand their money. She’s worked with the ABC’s National Business Reporting team, and on the Pineapple Project podcast. Now, she’s the lead reporter on the ABC’s personal finance project and edits the online newsletter ‘Your Money Explained’ under the tag of ‘Sensible Emily’.

‘I think that lifelong learning is important. I’ve just completed an MBA at Melbourne Business School so I can further specialise in telling business stories. Ultimately, I think the function of journalism is to hold the people in power to account, but at the ABC, we have an onus on us to inform and educate as well. Part of that, is to provide a kind of independent journalism around money and business, to help people improve their financial literacy and give them the information they need to make financial decisions.

With the onset of COVID-19, like many of us, Emily had to adapt her working practices, but it hasn’t slowed her down. In fact, the economic ramifications of the pandemic mean her work is more important than ever.

‘We’ve been working from home since March, which has been very different doing TV and radio crosses from home instead of the studio. I definitely think work practices for us, and the wider working world have changed, now that many people have adapted and we’ve seen the potential of remote work,’ she says.

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‘As for my reporting work itself, I think the way the economy has been going emphasises that understanding personal finance is more important than ever. Unfortunately, many people are facing reduced income and job losses, and the spill on effects of this are something we are going to see into the future. I think understanding these issues, whether it’s budgeting or how to recognise financial abuse, is going to be key for a lot of people. It’s going to be a hard recovery, but I’m going to keep working in this space, trying to help people and improve their situation.’