Decisions to be made on the World News Desk

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The World Desk offers a firsthand perspective into the increasing complexity of print and online news production - only on a scale that makes the experience truly one of a kind. And as someone who has worked only in newsrooms in the United States, I was eager to experience a different news environment.

As one of the busiest and most content-diverse sections of the FT paper and website, World has the responsibility of managing international coverage for the FT’S print editions distributed worldwide while also balancing the increasing competitive pressures of getting news online.

Throughout the day, the desk’s regional editors (Americas, Asia-Pacific, Middle East-Africa, and Europe) liaise with correspondents around the world while editing copy, planning graphics and preparing articles for the FT’s four editions: Asia, Europe, Americas (United States) and the final United Kingdom edition. And as many readers migrate to Web-based news outlets, the FT is aggressively pushing a “web-first” mentality of getting the news to readers’ eyes faster than ever before.

One interesting aspect of the internship is sitting in on the paper’s editorial conferences and World Desk “huddles,” where the paper’s top editors for all sections conduct a post-mortem of the previous day’s edition and discuss the news agenda for the following day. The paper’s top editor leads the meeting.

News judgement - what belongs in the newspaper, at what length and on which position on the page - is an important decision in itself. But the discussion becomes even more interesting when considerations must be made for what readers of four different editions - not to mention online readers and blogsters - are interested in. Should a story on Iceland’s application for accession to the European Union appear in the Asia edition? Maybe/maybe not in Asia, but certainly in Europe and UK. Those are the types of issues debated, sometimes hotly, among World Desk editors daily.

My specific role has been to keep an eye on the newswires for any breaking news, and to assist with updating articles on It’s not likely you’ll get to do any writing or reporting on this Desk - after all, most of the news they cover is happening elsewhere - but you can still get your hands on a variety of different things.

Which leads me to my main piece of advice any one interested in an internship at the World Desk: do not be afraid to ask around if any one, whether it’s a regional editor or someone on the online team, needs help. Like most internships in the newspaper industry, you will be welcomed warmly at the FT but not spoon-fed when it comes to work. The staff are simply too busy to always help you; it is usually hectic for editors from the moment they land at their desk in the morning to the time the last filed story is sent for layout. So keep your eyes, ears and mind open to lend a hand.


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