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.


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