Financial Times asks readers to write the leader column

The Financial Times has invited readers to sit in on its leader conferences via a new blog called Arena which is launched today.

The idea is that readers’ comments will feed into next Monday’s leader column in the print edition of the FT – news agenda permitting. If the pilot scheme is successful it may become a weekly fixture.

FT.com managing editor Robert Shrimsley told Press Gazette: “We have a really informed and articulate readership and we don’t use them as much as we could.

“This is an attempt to draw them in. It’s a way of saying come in and join the leader conference.”

Readers will be invited to post comments on the blog and start new threads. The blog will also make public the regular email debate which goes on between the FT’s leader writers.

The FT’s first online editorial conference debate will be around the theme: “Should the return of high taxes be a temporary phenomenon?

“The question is whether governments take the opportunity to keep taxes high for social purposes once the budget deficits are under control.”

Shrimsley said: “I’ve long wanted to share the quality of the debates we have inside the building with our readers. This way we get to go one step further and invite them to participate.

“Our community of readers is perhaps the most sophisticated in the business world and this is a chance to draw on their expertise and invite them into the editorial process at the highest level.”

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