Portrait of Economics journalist Ross Gittins

Celebrating Ross Gittins' 50-year milestone event

14 March 2024
Celebrating a half-century of economics journalism
The Sydney Morning Herald partners with the University of Sydney, to honor Ross Gittins’ esteemed career as one of Australia’s foremost economic writers.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences recently hosted a prestigious event and exclusive student masterclass to commemorate the remarkable 50 year career of esteemed economics editor, Ross Gittins.

Held at the Great Hall, the celebration welcomed guests including NSW Treasurer, The Hon. Daniel Mookhey, NSW Minister for Finance, The Hon. Courtney Houssos, Professor Mark Scott AO, distinguished business leaders and our alumni community. As part of this special occasion, current students studying Media and Communications, Economics and Political Economy were privileged to participate in an intimate Masterclass hosted by Gittins himself.

50 years at the Sydney Morning Herald

Gittins began his career at the SMH in 1974, quickly gaining acclaim for his talent in explaining economics in an understandable language. As the current economics editor at the SMH, Gittins celebrates his 50th anniversary and reflects on the evolution of the Australian economic landscape and broader public life. 

Having written three columns a week for over 40 years, Gittins has witnessed 11 prime ministers and 16 treasurers serve the nation. He holds the record for the longest serving columnist in the SMH’s history, offering a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to aspiring reporters.

Ross Gittins pictured at the masterclass

Economics editor from the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) Ross Gittins, pictured at the student masterclass

Exploring journalism through the lens of an industry expert

Co-designed by Associate Professors Mark Melatos and Fiona Martin, along with Professor Liz Hill, the masterclass provided a unique platform for current students to learn from one of Australia’s most respected economic writers, Gittins. 

Throughout the event, Gittins delved into the dynamic realm of economic reporting and writing, exploring the art of communication with politicians and readers, as well as the ever-evolving impact of applying economics to public policy. 

We recently spoke with current students Max Wyer, Siena Fagan, Aleina Konsam and Yashvardhan Saboo to discuss their experiences participating in the masterclass. 

The students found the experience a pivotal learning opportunity, providing ample chances to ask questions and engage in thought-provoking conversations with an industry expert.

“Entering the masterclass, I wasn’t aware of the impact Gittins had on the media and economics sphere over the last 50 years, which gave me hope to understand how he found success and enjoyment in his career,” Max said.

As a student of economics, it gave me great pleasure that I could ask a fundamental question about the nations’ economy to an individual who knows the Australian economy inside and out.
Yashvardhan Saboo

“When my question was selected, I was quite pleased because this was an opportunity I have never experienced before. Although a simple question, it opened the conversation on what economics journalism meant to Gittins and its evolution over the years,” Aleina said.

A notable learning that resonated with all students was Gittins’ emphasis on presenting media in an accessible way, providing greater context to the reader. 

“Gittins was able to impart wisdom on a specific niche of journalism which he called ‘explanatory journalism’ and spoke about the media’s responsibility to leave the reader with a very clear understanding of what is being said,” Siena affirmed. 

“When I asked Gittins ‘what’s the one piece of advice you wish you knew before entering the media industry?’ he answered, ‘focus on the reader’ serving as a reminder of the essence of journalism,” Max said. 

Student experience and development 

Beyond lectures and tutorials, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offers development opportunities such as the masterclass to support student experience and enhance graduate employability.  

Our students passionately believe that the Gittins’ masterclass provided an  invaluable opportunity to engage and learn from an industry leader.

“We are lucky enough to have endless events such as this masterclass, where students can engage in their discipline beyond the classroom,” Siena said. “Beyond organising the events, we are actively encouraged to get involved and make connections in the real world.” 

Max echoed his peer, “what sets the University of Sydney apart is its rich connections to industry professionals and its ongoing engagement with students to provide them opportunities,” he said.

“It made me feel like there’s no scarcity of opportunities here at the university,” Yashvardhan said. 

To witness the celebration of 50 years of Ross Gittins' brilliance, check out the event recording.