Day Three by Sam Roper

Thursday 26 March 2009

As my third day at the FT draws to a close, I am already eager for tomorrow to come.

However, walking across Southwark bridge on Monday morning, trying to stay upright in the gusty winds, I cannot say I felt quite as enthusiastic as I do now. With no real idea of what to expect, my mind was running wild with nerves and excitement; three days later though I can honestly say that my experience here so far has been fantastic.

Monday was a whirlwind of tours, meetings and training, but the highlight was, without doubt, the morning editorial conference. What a way to start the day! It was fascinating being able to observe the 'nucleus' of the FT team at work. The atmosphere was serious but jovial, with a minor 'discussion' ( by discussion I mean a few wry comments) over Jade Goody lightening the tone. That same day I was lucky enough to witness the afternoon meeting where the following day's editions are discussed. Needless to say I went home that night in awe of all that I had witnessed that day.

The subsequent two days have taught me a wealth of information about the daily workings of a world class newspaper. Everything I have observed so far will no doubt stand me in good stead for the future. From sitting in on editorial meetings to publishing articles on the FT homepage, I have learnt so much in such a short space of time, I can only imagine what I will have achieved by the time my internship is over.

The Last Days by Howard Amos

Monday 23 March 2009

With a few by-lines and a lot of briefs under my belt, I am about to finish my FT world news internship and re-enter the big wide world outside No.1 Southwark bridge. That is not to suggest the last month has been marred by narrow horizons – quite the contrary.

Having devoted large amounts of time to monitoring the wires, checking websites and, of course, reading the FT, or at least the FT’s foreign pages, each day, I am alarmingly well informed. Huge quantities of news on a vast array of topics have scurried across the monitors around me – from the twists and turns of Madagascar’s incipient civil war to Guinea-Bissau’s President’s bloody demise, the implosion of the Latvian economy and the fate of Georgia’s risqué Eurovision entry ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’.

And that is not even to mention a new-found awareness of the state of international cricket. Arising not from the fallout of the attacks on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan as you might expect, but, rather, from the following the game has amongst some staff. No-one working in the FT building for a day – let alone a month – could possibly miss the antics of the white-clad players on big screens around the office nor, at tense moments, the clusters of editors who congregate in front of them.

In between keeping an eye on the cricket score, however, I have been landed with a whole array of different tasks – tasks that inevitably arrive all at once. Some days are, therefore, non-stop; some would have been empty were it not for the hundreds of people in offices across the world providing the ceaseless updates of Reuters, the BBC, Bloomberg, NYT, AP and others.

Seeing my name at the top of stories was a particular thrill - as was being bundled into a taxi by the African editor and sent to a press briefing at the Foreign Office. No matter that the UK Special Representative to Sudan was a less than dynamic figure whose standard answer seemed to be ‘I don’t know’ - this was a taste of the real thing. I’ve also been put to work scouring websites and news agencies for stories that may have been missed, compiling timelines and learning the rudiments of website maintenance.

More unexpected delights surfaced during daily ‘Morning Conference’. Highlights have included page editors mounting garrulous, pre-emptive defences of their desk’s performance, a suggestion that the Poles be sounded out for a reaction to the military spending in Germany’s stimulus package and, most unlikely of all, in the midst of a discussion on the problems facing international shipping off Somalia, the editor giving his best pirate impression.

First Job in English - Meredith Haaf

Friday 6 March 2009

This isn’t just my first internship at an English paper, it is also the first time I’m ever going to actually work in the English language. I am from Munich, Germany, where I live. And although I have been working in journalism for a few years, being at the FT brings back excitement and a sense of exploring new territory. It might have to do with the impressive building which sits right on the South Bank, or maybe with the enormous, internationally staffed newsroom. And then, of course, there is this language thing.

I grew up speaking English at home and do most of my private reading in English, but there are still an amazing number of technical terms I am completely unfamiliar with. So when I was given a tour of the FT building on my first day here, I was nonplussed by words such as “sub-editor”. I am amazed to see that there is whole desk of editors who write up the FT in Mandarin and excited to find out that there are Spanish, Bulgarian and Indian editors who work here. For someone from Germany, where even second or third generation immigrants rarely get a chance to work in the media sector because of perceived language issues, this is a revelation.

It turns out that the FT has its own complex dialect. This is why I am flabbergasted in the daily editorial conference, when the head of the Markets desk starts his news analysis. Nevertheless I find it an exhilarating experience to watch all the in-charge-people get together, discuss current events and construct a newspaper which will be read around the world the next morning.

The adventure continues at the Weekend Magazine desk on the third floor. Quite soon after I arrive, the head of production – yes, I have figured out what that is in German – hands me a 6000-word article about a key player in US economics. “Would you fact check this please?” he asks and I am delighted to get going. Until I look at the text and find the content about as accessible as if it was written in Chinese. Numbers, technical terms and finance lingo abound – I am truly scared now. But after a while, I start to figure things out, am actually able to keep the billions apart and manage to fact check the whole thing by the next morning. Even though the editors seem apologetic for my having to do this relatively mundane work, I actually enjoy it and find it gratifying. At the end I’m quite pleased with myself – I feel like I’m starting to master more than just a new language.

Alice Tozer's internship

Wednesday 4 March 2009

I had barely been in the building an hour when I found myself being ushered into Tuesday’s morning conference (Monday having been a snow-induced national duvet day for the sensible). The quotidian conference affair sees the FT’s editorial greats congregate punctually around an elongated table. Hooked up by conference call to Hong Kong, grasping coffee and their notes, they justify their choice of top quality content to the Editor, who sits in contemplation at its helm.

Fighting sporadic distraction from a spectacular view over the winter-sun struck murky Thames, that Tuesday I was brought up to date with the state of the world at an unforgiving pace. An undoubtedly routine and pressure-wrought experience for them, it made me feel privileged to be at the nerve-centre of an awe-inspiringly influential team and their sparkling product – a feeling which has remained.

I am among that breed of Arts graduate who feel slightly more comfortable philosophising on the bonus culture than detailing its contribution to the fall of the world economy. Lucky, then, that I was heading straight down to business at the FT Weekend Magazine desk, where I was welcomed warmly into ‘the Book corner’.

Helping out on the Books and Life&Arts sections of the weekend broadsheet as well as on the weekend magazine has made for satisfying variety and ensured there’s never a work-less, or dull, moment. My tasks have ranged from fact-checking articles and researching ideas for future ones, to conducting a telephone-interview with a San Francisco designer so I could write that week’s Meet the Maker column for the magazine. Currently I am thrilled to be getting stuck into a new release book about the history of tea, for the purposes of writing a short review.

If only for a suspended reality, the Financial Times is a wonderful place to work - inside and out. Lunchtime strolls into Borough market’s medieval and modernised nooks and crannies offer a veritable feast for the eyes and tummy. Instead, if you head in the opposite direction you can have a muse in Tate Modern or go for a lunch time run along the bustling South Bank. Crucially, the FT has showers – and they’re spick and span.

I’ll be sad to leave. Everything has worked like clockwork from the moment I arrived; the Editorial Assistant acting as my mentor went to great pains to give me the grand tour, and offer general support. And yet I have also felt as independent as an employee would be and I will miss coming to work here in the morning. All in all, the internship is completely hands-on and far from glorified tea making, which so many of its type are. You’re more likely to be writing about the stuff.