The Australian

By Nick Leys

Carson Scott, chief business correspondent for Sky News Business, has developed a reputation as a very solid reporter with a colourful on-camera style. He talks about the expectations of his job and his thoughts on Canberra catering.

As chief business correspondent for Sky News Business, how many hours a week are you on camera? And given the 24 hours news cycle, how constant is that feeling to be on air as much as possible?

You have to be soaked in what you're doing to add valuable insights. I'm on-air approximately 23 hours working across Trading Day (Monday to Friday), Law TV (Wednesdays), On the Record (Fridays at 2.30pm) and on demand breaking business news/analysis.

Take us through your daily media consumption. Who are the business journalists you never miss?

Andrew Marr's My Trade has a brilliant chapter ('How to Read a Newspaper') which I follow to a tee and lets me read any newspaper in 10 minutes. John Durie and Tony Boyd have enviable contacts, seeing them serve up exclusives and insightful analysis in equal measure. So too the FT's Martin Wolf, Gillian Tett and Edward Luce. Vanity Fair's business team often surprises. Richard Quest at our affiliate CNN remains the small screen master at entertaining and informing.

What report card would you give to Australian business and financial reporting - are readers and viewers well served?

Outbursts of immaturity with plenty of scope to improve. Quality costs - and taking the PR bait is no substitute for investing in excellence. The sooner proprietors acknowledge the cost-out model is not leading to more eye-balls, the better.

Tomorrow night you will be part of Sky News budget coverage. Given what we know about this budget, what are your expectations for how business leaders and the community will react?

Business will lament the fact it remains mired in red-tape, thwarting its quest to survive and thrive. The community will wonder why the goalposts keep shifting on its superannuation and other investments - until it realises Canberra inhabits a world of its own.

What's your view of the budget lock-up for media - is it necessary or out-dated? Why?

A boon for sushi roll caterers but otherwise an out-dated inconvenience, perpetuating the myth no one knows the state we're in.

How would you rate the Government's media strategy in the lead-up to the Budget?

As leaky as the Mary Rose: as its political power evaporates, so too its ability to control the agenda. A democratically unelected RBA is increasingly expected to determine our economic future. The irony is as stark as it is sobering.

And the oppositions?

They've taken Randolph Churchill to the extreme ("The duty of an Opposition is to oppose") knowing they can otherwise sleep-walk (or bike-ride) into the Lodge without crafting a credible path back to surplus. Shareholders would rightly baulk if their C-suitors lost the plot, yet Australian voters look set to celebrate it.

You have a reputation for going 'off-script' while on camera. Is this deliberate or a reflection of your own character?

A bit of both. Martin Bell impressed for his authenticity because his war reports were, first and foremost, pictures of what he saw. Seen in that light, constantly rewriting on the fly is a necessity if you want the story to shine.

You trained as a lawyer and were admitted to the Bar in New Zealand. What led you from the court room to the newsroom?

The law taught me the art of Socratic questioning and equipped me to spot the salient from the irrelevant. I wanted to be a journalist, though, from the age of 10 and decided at the right time to follow my heart, not my head.

As a recipient of the US Studies Studies Centre - World Press Institute Fellowship, what are you most interested in when you travel to the US?

It's rare one gets the chance to visit a country for the first time and visit as many as 15 cities back-to-back - something the Fellowship affords. To date - and by default - I've viewed America via the East/West coast intelligentsia.

This article originally appeared in The Australian