FT Life and Arts by Kitty Teague

Monday, 10 September 2012

Of all the advice I have received from journalists when I tell them that theirs is my chosen career path, the main piece is this: to get your foot in the door, you must do as many internships at different media outlets as possible. Yet at the same time the media has highlighted an ongoing debate about the value of internships in any field and whether they confer any lasting benefit. So what’s the aspiring journalist to do?

I may have sat slightly awkwardly on the fence of this argument before, but I would now say that an internship of the quality of the FT Life and Arts Desk is undeniably worth doing.

I say this for several reasons. I have found a day in the life of an FT intern enjoyable and educational. Enjoyable because I get to spend several hours each day researching topics which are new and interesting. From this research I am asked to put forward ideas for the next edition of the paper. Humble as these suggestions are, I love being allowed to pitch and develop my thoughts in this way.

It is also hugely educational because of the involvement I have had in the editorial process. At various editorial meetings I have glimpsed how an article is developed from inception to its final printed version. I have been taught how to use the software on which each contributor works, and have been shown how this connects to a live forum which allows each FT journalist to see the paper taking shape. Witnessing the progression from a scattering of drafted pages to a finished broadsheet documenting the week’s most current, exciting and high profile cultural themes is a fascinating experience. No longer will I idly assume that a newspaper manages to just come together nicely.

On top of this, each day at the FT has given me something else. It has emphasised the importance of credibility, and how essential it is for a newspaper to earn and keep the trust of its readership. A typical daily task is that of fact checking. Being asked to interrogate every single word, number and grammatical detail of an article not only brings a great deal of satisfaction but provides the most basic lesson that every aspiring journalist needs to learn and remember.

For these reasons (and also because the canteen is really quite nice), I would urge anyone with similar career aspirations to do the internship at the FT.

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