'Small print-focused' FT team will produce one edition with no overnight changes as focus shifts to online

The Financial Times is planning a single global edition from next year with the priority on breaking news online.

In a memo to staff, editor Lionel Barber signalled the death of the night print edition shift suggesting that resources will be prioritised to FT.com.

He said: “The new FT will be a better paper to suit the times. It will remain a vital part of our business, contributing significant advertising and circulation revenues. But, crucially, it will be produced differently and more easily. The changes will impact the structure of the newsroom – and the way we practise our journalism.

“First, the 1970s-style newspaper publishing process – making incremental changes to multiple editions through the night – is dead. In future, our print product will derive from the web offering – not vice versa.”

Following next spring’s relaunch there will be a “small print-focused team” who will work beside the larger web unit.

Barber revealed there will be a smaller commissioning and editing team on the print edition reporting to himself and news editor Alec Russell.

The switchover will prevent large-scale late evening changes in the print edition with increasing use of templates and standard pages.

“We will however retain flexibility for a tailored UK edition with UK news pages. Our main design effort will focus on 'show pages' with accompanying rich data and graphics.”

Barber said the priority in the future will be to “shift further away from reactive news gathering” and instead providing “news in context” as well as “original, investigative journalism”.

Along with the proposed online shift, deadlines will also face significant changes.

Barber said: “Production journalists will publish stories to meet peak viewing times on the web rather than old print deadlines.

"The process will be akin to a broadcasting schedule. Where once we planned around page lay-outs, we will now adopt a news bulletin-style approach.”

Barker warned that significant changes in working practices would result with the introduction of “digital first”.

He said: “We will need to move more resources from late evening to day and from afternoon to morning, notably in London. Production journalists will be digitally focused.

“Online, we will concentrate on smart aggregation of content from our own journalists and third parties. However, the emphasis online will be on articles rather than section pages.

“FT journalism must adapt further to a world where reporters and commentators converse with readers. Our goal must be to deepen engagement and ensure we meet readers' demands whenever and however they turn to us for breaking news and quality analysis.”

Barber said the introduction of a paywall for online content had been successful with online subscriptions overtaking hard copy sales.

“Today, we have more than 100,000 more digital subscriptions than print sales.

"This is no time to stand still. The competitive pressures on our business to adapt to an environment where we are increasingly being read on the desktop, smart phone and tablet – remain as strong as ever."

The FT has a global print circulation of 236,000 according to ABC.

Read Lionel Barber's memo to staff in full

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