beyondbrics by Maria Sovago

Thursday 24 February 2011

There is a feeling of privilege about heading towards the FT headquarters in the City’s morning crowd with the FT staff pass in your pocket, and about using your own email address to approach the otherwise “very busy” sources.

The internship with the Financial Times has been a crucial milestone on my journey from accounting and banking to financial journalism.

beyondbrics is the FT’s emerging market desk. The blog’s lighter style and format serves as an ideal platform for a journalist “to try her wings”.

Sub-editing stories filed from reporters from the emerging market countries gives a good feel for journalistic writing. Experiencing the development of a piece to the final published article makes you understand the priorities and preferences of an editor.

The readers often say: “It is in the Financial Times. It must be true.” The FT cannot afford to lose this reputation for accuracy and reliability. Fact checking might seem a mundane task, but challenging and investigating sources, to support the colourful stories from the Brics, require rationale and certain scepticism.

Using the data on Bloomberg and Reuters, scanning the newsfeed of these wire services for explanations for the moves, and writing the daily market wrap strengthens your news judgment.

To get the priceless bylines, you need to come with ideas.

A day on Lex by Maria Sovago

When the financial crisis hit, I was working at ABN AMRO in Amsterdam. Following the FT was the most important source about peers and the market at the time. We were "living in Financial Times.”

One term of the MA Financial Journalism course of City University later…I am working in the heart of the prestigious paper.

As the Lex column’s witty content and voice have always been an inspiration for both my analytical thinking and my writing style, and I usually start reading the FT on their back page, I wanted to join the elite club of the Lex writers. To meet the human faces behind the influential column.

“They’re geniuses,” several colleagues “warned” me.

I’ve discovered one of the secrets behind the sharpness of the Lex team: They know that a “healthy mind is a healthy body”. No skipping breakfast. The mornings start in the canteen, with family-like conversation around the breakfast table: Who is going to do what today? With their finger on the pulse of the latest news, in come the related story ideas, and
their insightful and often humorous angle evolves.

Back to the first floor, John Authers and Edward Hadas are warming up for the video of the day. Conversation is flying back and forth above the separation panel between their desks. The controversies around the Volcker-rule.

Connections and sources are important assets of a journalist. One of my colleague slips out to meet an old friend in the lunch break, the chairman of a big bank.

A more subdued concentration sets in: 300 words per piece, to raise attention to an interesting angle, to comment, to analyse, to challenge and to entertain.

To be able to contribute to Lex you need to be financially literate. I’m entrusted to scan an analyst note estimating the capitalisation needs of the Spanish cajas.

“That is exactly what I needed.” Richard Stovin-Bradford thanks me.

It was my pleasure.

Foreigner in the City by Tanya Ashreena

Monday 14 February 2011

As a foreigner who came to the UK less than three months ago, when I got an internship on FT Money, I was a bit apprehensive. How useful would I be to a section which catered to a British audience?

But that was just one of the many preconceived notions I had proved wrong during my five-week internship. Sitting beside an American and an Australian, I realized as an international newspaper, FT embraces diversity. Being a foreigner is often more an asset, than an impediment, as we see things from a different perspective.

In any internship, interns complain about the lack of work they are given to do. However, for me that was never the case. Right from day one, I was encouraged to come up with story ideas and assigned stories to work on, which not only included writing news stories and features, but also blogs. I also attended several press conferences, which gave me the opportunity to interact with several people in the City.

The best part about interning in FT is the amount of interest the organisation takes in teaching and training you. Attending Graham Watt’s training workshops on News Writing and Writing News Features and Analysis helped me develop my writing skills. My editors would also give me feedback on stories I would file.

As far as social life goes, interns are invited to various office events and parties. We went to the FT Christmas party and had a blast!

I end my internship with 22 bylines, two of them being in the print edition. I could not ask more from any internship.