FT Life & Arts by Mika Ross-Southall

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


When I was pre-GCSE, the pink newsprint of the Weekend FT and the colour-saturated photographs from the How To Spend It magazine had an enthralling glow.  I snipped at beach scenes and tore chunks of newspaper into my own Richard Hamilton-style homework title pages and birthday card collages.  I even stored parts of the destruction in a clear plastic folder to use later.

I am not being entirely honest – this process of FT-orientated demolition still occurs.  But whilst I pour over the visuals of the paper and supplements and wonder what I can create, the writing is always uppermost in my mind.  As I quickly realised during my first week as an intern to the editor of the Life& Arts section, the publication’s content is already a satisfying collage in itself even before my scissors loom large. 

Every article goes through a surprising journey.  One of the most interesting meetings I attended was the Life & Arts editors’ discussion about the features for the weeks ahead.  Decisions about which articles to include, and where and when they should be placed in the section are a skilful, choreographic process.  I was excited to see a meaty list of famous names in the cultural world being put forward or dismissed for future front pages, Diary articles or Lunches with the FT.  And I discovered the importance of how each potential article interplays with the whole section to create a collage of culture.  I have not just been an observer in the journey of this process; I have most enjoyed the feeling that in a small way I contribute to the weekly publication.  Amongst various other jobs, I have done a few pieces of writing, devised and conducted interviews and proof read articles.  Every word, every fact in each article is meticulously checked – a gratifying and curiously fruitful duty that I was given from the outset.  Did you know George RR Martin began his fiction-writing career fantasising about the tumultuous progeny of dime store turtles?  I had no idea that you were once able to buy live turtles in a plastic bowl from American Woolworths’. 

The internship firmly confirms my enjoyment of writing cultural journalism and my eyes are also now wide open to the stimulation of being involved in the editorial process.  The finished Life & Arts section continues to ignite my imagination, but I have discovered the exclusive excitement of the collage behind each article and each week’s publication.

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