Barry started his journalistic career in London, as an economics correspondent for Investors Chronicle. In 1978 he joined the BBC as a reporter for The Money Programme, Newsnight, and then Panorama. In 1986 he moved to Australia and started work with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
From 1987 to 1994 he worked as an investigative reporter for the ABC's flagship current affairs program Four Corners specialising in economic matters, government departmental failures and corporate governance. A series of reports on disgraced businessman Alan Bond (and his company Bond Corporation) brought his work to national prominence in 1993. He also wrote the book The Rise and Fall of Alan Bond and a TV report on the Wittenoom industrial disaster, "Blue Death".
In 1995, Barry joined the Seven Network to present a short-lived news program The Times. He was later the presenter of the current affairs program Witness in 1997. He then returned to the ABC to host the Media Watch program in 2000. He was effectively sacked from this show by ABC head Jonathan Shier after a controversial interview with ABC Director Donald McDonald on the subject of government funding for the ABC. However, in August 2010, Barry acted as Media Watch's temporary host for three months while Jonathan Holmes took long-service leave.
In 2001 he published a book, "Going for Broke - How Alan Bond Got Away with It". For the next two years he wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald, winning an additional Walkley Award exposing a tax scam involving prominent barristers in Sydney. He has served as a Walkley Award judge and on a past Walkley advisory board. He also wrote a book Rich Kids, documenting the collapse of One.Tel. In 2004 he moved to Channel 9 to work as an investigative reporter for 60 Minutes . In February 2011, Alan Bond published a rebuttal of an article written by Barry in December 2010 about Bond's investment in Global Diamond Resources Plc.
In 2006, Barry released a biography on Australian cricketer Shane Warne, called Spun Out. Extracts of the book were published in The Age's Good Weekend magazine, and some of the content was controversial.
During October 2009, Barry was the subject of criticism from Australian business identities for his 2009 unauthorised biography of media and gambling mogul James Packer. The book details relations between the younger Packer and his father Kerry, citing anonymous sources as stating the pair had a difficult relationship, and that James was "relieved" by his father's death. Business leaders and friends of the Packers including former Nine Network CEO Eddie McGuire and mining tycoon Andrew Forrest defended James Packer. Upon launching the book, Barry dismissed the criticism, calling the book "fair" and "considered" 
In August 2011 Barry was appointed as a senior writer at Private Media's The Power Index, "a free website [which] offers daily news, views and features about power and influence in Australia."
- 1993 Logie Award for Best Public Affairs Report, ABC Four Corners "Other People's Money"
- 1993 Walkley Award for Best Business Report, ABC Four Corners "Rich man, poor man"
- 2001 Walkley Award for Best News Report, Sydney Morning Herald "Tax Cheats"
- 2011 Blake Dawson Business Literature Prize 
- 1991: The Rise And Fall Of Alan Bond, ISBN 1-86359-037-4
- 1994: The Rise And Rise Of Kerry Packer, ISBN 1-86359-338-1
- 2001: Going For Broke - How Alan Bond Got Away with It, ISBN 1-86325-197-9
- 2003: Rich Kids, ISBN 1-86325-339-4
- 2006: Spun Out, ISBN 0-593-05662-0
- 2009: Who Wants To Be A Billionaire?
- Four Corners – Blue Death (1988) at Australian Screen Online
- Mark Colvin ABC's Media Watch under the axe at ABC PM Archive, 30 November 2000
- Paul Barry to fill in as Media Watch host at ABC 21 June 2010
- Walkley Award Judges 2008 at Walkley Foundation
- Meet the Walkley Advisory Board at Walkley Foundation
- Alan Bond rebuts Paul Barry
- Bond backer demands his money at Daily Telegraph
- Damien Murphy, Daniel Lewis Warnie's ex in spin over 'bunch of lies' in biography at Sydney Morning Herald, 31 July 2006
- James Packer friends hit back at 'vicious' book
- Biographer's unsourced Packer talk 'worthless' at The Australian
- About The Power Index official site
- Paul Barry to return as Media Watch host | The Age 2 May 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013
- Paul Barry makes return to Media Watch look easy in first appearance | The Australian 9 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013
- Blake Dawson announcement
|Presenter of Media Watch
|Presenter of Media Watch