Intern of Phrase by Alice Baker

Friday 23 October 2009

The most appropriate way to describe the atmosphere of the FT office is ‘serene action.’ That may sound like an oxymoron, but it really fits. The offices are a hive of activity, but things never feel chaotic. The ‘click click’ of the computer keys is an ever-present soundtrack that creates an air of calm efficiency.

My stint was with the Books and House and Home sections of Ft Weekend. Thursday is the significant day for the Weekend edition, for that is the day it goes to press. My main duty was fact checking, which I did for both sections. The basic rule is, anything that can be checked, should be checked, especially if it could be potentially controversial. Another significant aspect was research, which as my placement was in October was angled towards preparing for next year by finding out books due to be published and so forth. This was done using the internet and that more old fashioned resource, reference books (FT has its own library of useful titles).

Best of all, my placement provided me with opportunities to write columns and reviews for the paper itself. I find it exciting seeing my by-line appear, and I suspect that you will be when you see yours. Another chance for creativity is offered with the possibility of helping think up good headlines for the Books review section. This is actually rather difficult, thinking of a succinct and memorable way to describe a featured book. What seems like a good headline when you first think of it often sounds awful when you say it out loud. But you can really get your creative juices going. The title of this piece, by the way, is a rather weak way of paying homage to this.

Other contributors have commented about this, but it’s worth saying again; one of the best things about work experience with FT is that you don’t have to make the tea. Your tasks are constructive, and as a result it’s a more rewarding experience both for yourself and for the people you’re assisting.

A month on U.K Companies By Andrew Jude Rajanathan

My initial reaction upon receiving an offer to intern at the Financial Times was one of shock and awe. This rare opportunity was something I had to grab with both hands even if it meant missing a week or so of my masters. It simply is too good an opportunity for anyone interested in journalism, especially business/financial journalism to pass up. I would spend the next four weeks writing for U.K Companies.

The first day was incredible. I was invited to sit on the editors meeting on Monday morning where all the editors including the main editor Lionel Barber came together to discuss what would go into the paper. To put it simply, the incredibly high standards set by some of the editors and reporters set the tone for what would be expected of me as an intern. I just hoped I would be able to rise to the occasion.

The real baptism of fire for anyone joining the FT is likely to be an awesome struggle getting your computer to work and often this takes a bit of time. Thankfully, I was able to login to my desk and quickly familiarize myself with my new surroundings.

Many other past interns will comment on the fact that they were given real work to do over the short period of their stay. I can fully confirm this is the case. The structure of the FT is such that any new fledgling journalists or reporters are immediately given proper work to do and critical feedback would follow shortly. My first assignment was to produce a results piece on a company called ‘BrainJuicer’ not only that but I would need to have completed an interview with the CEO as well as completed a lot of background research on the company before I could put the article together. The surreal feeling of calling up a CEO and saying ‘I’m from the FT’ was incredible. While these corporate heavyweights would not realize you were merely an intern hiding behind a first class brand. That was the beauty of the internship you were there to learn but also to do real work.

Most of my mentors at the FT have been incredibly kind and generous with their time over the past four weeks as I attempted to navigate my way around the busy corridors of the building. From teaching me how to use a Bloomberg terminal to potential avenues to gather research I cannot state enough how kind some of these journalists are. My feedback from my editor was also very helpful and constructive to my own development as a journalist.

My four weeks are about to come to an end and I’ve interviewed numerous CEO’s from small-medium sized businesses to AIM-LSE listed firms as well as learning an awful lot about U.K companies in such a short period of time. However, the best part was my desk location at the FT. While I was only placed on the U.K companies desk I sat to the left of the Lex column whose phone conversations were illuminating and interesting to listen in on during the occasional lull in the day.

Greatest achievements - I’ve managed to get two bylines and I can comfortably say nothing beats seeing your own name in print.

View from The World News Desk - Jennifer Thompson

When you tell people you are an intern they often assume you spend your day scurrying between a coffee machine and a photocopier. Nothing could be further from the truth when you are an intern on the World News desk with the Financial Times. The pace in the newsroom is so fast you are able to make a contribution straightaway.

Luckily on my first day I was eased into life at the FT by the brilliant head editorial assistant who conducted a quick induction before I was whisked into the morning editorial meeting - where senior editors outline their stories for that day in front of the overall editor or deputy editor - which was an amazing experience within only an hour of arrival. After the grand tour was completed the rest of my first day was spent getting to grips with the software package used by employees in an IT training suite, as well as familiarising myself with the labyrinthine white corridors - the giant television screens of the main newsroom are a useful point to navigate from. At 5 o' clock clutching my notes I made my way upstairs to the newsroom to meet my new colleagues, where with a Zen-like calm the World News Editor informed me that they were busily finishing off the stories for that day. The next day I was able to meet the team properly during one of the 'huddles,' a quick daily meeting where the stories for that day are discussed and justified. The World News desk is staffed by area editors who are in constant contact with journalists working around the globe. In London they work the magic and mastermind the operation.

Upon returning to our desks I said a quick hello to my neighbour, who turns out to be the Middle East and North Africa Editor. He asked me to take a look at some documents he was working on and I was able to put my day-old training to good use in preparing an article on the Gulf for publication on the website. Ask and you shall receive....On my first full day at the desk I also prepared a timeline of negotiations concerning North Korea's nuclear weapons programme which was destined for the website. A significant part of the training I have received so far was devoted to making content 'web-ready,' underscoring the integral role online material plays in FT production.

When I found out about my internship at the FT I was told I would be thrown in at the deep end. This was certainly true but in practice has not been nearly as daunting as it first sounded. You are expected to produce good work but luckily you are surrounded by lovely colleagues who are generous with their time and experience. This will be invaluable in helping me make the most of my time with a publication that is truly global in outlook.

Inside a 21st century newsroom by Alexandra Stevenson

Friday 2 October 2009

In the business of news there is one overriding fear: that the traditional newspaper may not be around for much longer. This fear is palpable in almost every newsroom. But it is not present at the Financial Times where one simple belief, that informative news and analysis is both fundamental and valuable, drives it forward.

A would be reporter finds this a serious relief. As an intern on the world desk I have the privilege of sitting in on morning ‘huddles’ as world news editors map out the daily broadsheet like a game plan, negotiating words and space. I see which stories make the cut and have gotten a quick lesson on why others do not. I watch as the news editors liaise with correspondents around the world, commissioning collaborative stories across continents. Most interesting, I see how the paper, with an eye to the technology that is affecting the balance sheets of all news organisations, trains each journalist to file their copy online, in some cases before the story hits the pink pages the next day.

Throughout this period of observation I am encouraged to contribute, to listen and to be trained. This is not your typical internship, but then again, this is not your typical paper.

So while most newsrooms now opine about what a great industry the newspaper business was, I am reassured that at the FT, editors, reporters, subs, researchers and the rest of the team are quietly moving forward, without fear or favour, leading the industry to what a great newspaper needs to be in a modern and thoroughly literate reincarnation.