Matthew Carney (BEc 1988)

Matthew Carney

To date alumnus Matthew Carney (BEc 1988), has had a truly impressive 25 year career as a leading Australian reporter and producer. His stories have been both compelling and ground breaking, as he has covered an unbelievable number of international crisis situations in war torn countries. War zones such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, West Bank and Gaza through to Afghanistan, Libya and East Timor and more. Matthew’s stories have always had impact and have been recognised with a host of awards including the Walkey Awards, Logie Awards and the United Nations Media Peace Prize, twice!

Currently he is one of the youngest reporters in the Four Corners team and unsurprisingly he has continued to build a reputation for breaking stories both within Australia and Internationally. His stories and programs have lead government inquires and commissions that have produced real change. From proving BHP caused heavy metal contamination in the residents of the Illawarra, to the complete overhaul of the Ambulance service in Western Australia, to an expose of Australian Special Forces secret “assassination” program, to an inside horrific look at the crystal meth or ice epidemic.

Yet despite his impressive background Matthew is a humble individual who prefers to be shining the spotlight on injustice. Below he shares with us his exciting future plans as well as his fond memories of his time at the University, and how crucially they shaped his thrill for investigation and set him on his life course.

What are your happiest memories about your time here as a student?

My happiest memories as a student are; liberating, intoxicating and engaging conversations I had with new friends who to this day remain my closest; inspiring lecturers who fueled an everlasting intrigue, interest and investigation into the machinations of world politics; and walking the grand grounds and old buildings that spoke of tradition and learning.

Who was your favourite Professor while you were a student at the University of Sydney and why?

A hard one but my favourite Professor was Ted Wheelwright who taught me political economy in my first year. For me he lifted a curtain and revealed the world as it was. He demonstrated the power and the thrill of investigation and lines of inquiry. It really did set me on a course as an investigative and international journalist.

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement is to be in a position to be able to shine a light on injustice and in my own small way right some wrongs…and of course my wife and three beautiful children.

Who inspires you?

The people who inspire me are people in extreme and dangerous situations like war zones who despite the chaos unfolding around them continue to provide comfort and care, who look for what brings people together rather than what divides them. They are usually doing this unswervingly out of the limelight for good humane motives like a local counselor I filmed with in Sierra Leone trying to help child soldiers, or a priest in East Timor helping with the resistance in East Timor, or a social worker who devoted his life to finding missing Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka.

Tell us more about yourself and how you ultimately came to work as one of the youngest reporters on such a highly respected current affairs program, Four Corners.

I always had a sense that international reporting and making documentaries was ‘in my blood’ somehow. From an early age I knew this is what I wanted to do. So I have always been driven by this and in 2005 was lucky enough to be offered a position at Four Corners after returning from the Middle East where I was based for 6 years.

What is the mantra you live by and what drives you?

Try and see and understand the other side... if you succeed then you can have a clarity and calmness about your own position. Something to strive for and hard to achieve but worth the effort.

What has been the most memorable success you have had?

Surviving about 25 conflict zones in my career. I still find them exciting, not because of the adrenalin, but I believe extreme environments define us as human beings and to be near that edge as it plays out is absolutely fascinating.

What are your plans for the future?

I have just been appointed the ABC’s North Asia Correspondent so I am taking my family to live in Tokyo for the next 3 years which will be challenging and rewarding for my kids and myself!

What advice would you give to students graduating from the University of Sydney?

My advice is to follow your passions…they will keep you motivated and interested and also enable you to produce your best work.