Week 1 on the Media desk by Saskia Preston

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

I began my editorial internship on the Media desk, working across the news sections of the telecommunications, advertising and broadcasting industries. I was immediately assured that this desk was at the beating heart of the FT and that it’s discreet location in a far corner of the editorial department, merely a nod to the grand human tradition of keeping our most important assets hidden from general view.

Satisfied with this explanation and evidenced by the world domination of trousers, I was quickly plunged into the work of a media correspondent, attending a press conference on my second day at the St. Martins Lane Hotel. I found the presence of mini-bagels and sliced melon had an immediately relaxing effect on me, such that I had never previously experienced around either, and after listening to the details of the recently struck deal between BSkyB and Xbox, I mustered up the courage to ask my first press conference question. It was a great privilege to be at the forefront of such a potentially exciting piece of technology news and to be able to engage so directly with some of the people responsible was fantastic.

Before returning to our desks in the beating heart, my colleague and I had to pitch the key story from the press conference to the UK News desk, the section of the paper deemed the most appropriate for the piece. This was a success and we began writing up the article which earned me my first by-line in the paper. I hadn’t expected this sort of achievement to colour my first week at the FT and I spent the following day wondering whether the purchase of mini-bagels would be too diminutive of a celebration. And all this despite the invitation to multi-consumption implied by the ‘mini-ness’.

It is clearly the issue of digital technology that is determining more and more of the media agenda and at my second press conference a couple of days later, we were discussing Digital Britain, the government white paper on the importance of universal broadband and public service broadcasting provision, amongst other issues. As we left the building my colleague turned to me and said ‘I didn’t promise you a press conference with a member of the cabinet in your first week, did I?’. Clearly he didn’t and meeting the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, far exceeded my expectations of the type of work I’d be involved in. Although having said that, it seems only appropriate that the heart of the FT should go straight to the heart of the government.

It is a testament to the mentors here that interns are given such a thorough and broad ranging insight into the experience of an FT journalist. Personally I’m finding everyone I work alongside to be patient, generous with their time and knowledge and wherever possible, completely inclusive.

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