Michael was born and educated in Queensland, a product of Nudgee College, with a corresponding dedication to rugby union, and Queensland University majors in journalism and language in the media. He began his career as a cadet journalist with The Courier-Mail at a time when the only way into the pool was via the deep end. Within weeks of starting in 1973, he was doing next-of-kin “death knocks” after the Whiskey Au Go Go firebombing – as good a preparation as any for later dealing with politicians and captains of industry.
In 1976 he joined the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong – “the closest you could get to China in those days” – and part of a life-long interest and belief in China’s importance. As well as the SCMP, he edited a computer magazine and wrote a weekly satire column.
Returning to Australia in late 1979, Pascoe was hired by the Australian Financial Review in Sydney and subsequently pioneered specialist finance journalism in commercial broadcasting – first with the then Fairfax-owned Macquarie Radio network in 1982, then with Channel 9, Sky News and Channel 7.
Before being controversially “boned” in 2003, Pascoe was Channel 9’s finance editor for nearly 18 years, the face of business news on the Today Show and playing a leading role in revolutionising finance reporting. With the direct backing of Kerry Packer – and a half-a-shoe-string budget – he conceived, produced and presented Business Today, the first daily finance program on Australian television and possibly on mainstream free-to-air commercial television anywhere. In 1986 he became the founding finance editor for the respected Business Sunday program and its lead interviewer. Between the two programs, Pascoe conducted thousands of interviews ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to the Australian and international heavy weights – Jack Welsh, Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer, Robert Holmes a’ Court, the CEOs of just about every major Australian company and the key politicians in economic portfolios and shadow ministries. His in-depth reports for Business Sunday displayed his versatility – from the rationalisation of Australian agriculture and the financial aftermath of September 11 in New York to the Irish pub phenomenon and organic beef marketing.
Pascoe became one of the Channel 9 alumni at Channel 7, co-host with David Koch of the Sky Business Report for a time, finance columnist for Yahoo7, a regular writer for Crikey.com.au and the founding Sydney interviewer for Alan Kohler’s Eureka Report.
Since 2008, the Fairfax on-line titles have been the main focus of his journalism as Contributing Editor for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, a position that accommodates his public speaking and conference work load.
“The keynotes and conferences are a chance to tell the important stories at greater depth than possible in daily journalism,” Pascoe says. “Most importantly, there’s the time to put events and news into perspective, to demonstrate that much of the political and media noise is misleading.
“I have a fundamental outlook of optimistic scepticism. Speaking with people, there’s the chance to share that, to balance the usual preponderance of ‘bad’ news, as well as the pleasure and humour of good communication. I’ve had a particularly blessed career that enables me to do that. The only problem is, I still don’t know what I’ll do when I grow up.”