View from The World News Desk - Jennifer Thompson

Friday 23 October 2009

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.


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