FT Special Reports by Daniel Liberto

Friday, 13 April 2012

After knocking back my second double espresso and inhaling a six-hour supply of nicotine, I entered the grand headquarters of the FT ready for war and 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

While taking a seat and another browse at that day’s issue of the FT, I was approached by the welcoming face of an editorial assistant, who led me inside the surprisingly tranquil newsroom. There we had a brief chat and filled out some paperwork before heading towards Monday morning’s conference.

Lionel Barber, the FT’s savvy editor, first summarised his take on the previous edition before each of the various news editors proceeded to discuss the latest big stories. Housed in a plush boardroom overlooking the Thames, within 20 minutes of frantic whisperings and passionate rhetoric the ebbing of my caffeine buzz was replaced with a far more potent and energetic wake-up call.

Overall, this experience reaffirmed why I chose journalism as a career path and is a must-attend for anyone curious about the functions of the newsroom - interns are free to attend throughout their stay.

The conference was followed by a tour of the building, the final leg of my pilgrimage that would end with me arriving on the second floor to meet the Special Reports team.

The second floor, is an easygoing and welcoming environment, dedicated to the supplements and less frequent deadlines. As this was to be my home for the next four weeks, I quickly introduced myself to the small Special Reports team before being presented with a desk and my first task of the day.

While chasing private equity firms for comments may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I eagerly got to work, relieved to have avoided the potential disappointment of coffee and photocopying duties. Between dealing with suspicious press officers and chatting with my friendly colleagues, my settling in process was solidified when discovering, though sad it may seem, that one of my desk neighbours is a fellow spurs fan.

Many interns complain, in private, that they are often treated with contempt by certain members of staff. As journalism positions steadily whittle away, cut-throat competitiveness result in the occasional intern being banished to the silent corners of the office.

At the FT, however, there is no sense of elitist hostility towards the intern. In fact, despite the serious tone of the publication, the second floor is full of refreshing banter and informal chatter between all individuals, regardless of one’s age or status.

Since my first day I have been involved in a number of different projects. From comment chasing and brainstorming ideas to interviewing and writing first-person accounts of expats in Hong Kong, it has so far been a pleasurable and eye-opening adventure.

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