How FT Alphaville did the business on Meltdown Monday

It was the kind of day that comes around once a decade — possibly less frequently — for City hacks. (Although there might be a few more of them to come by the look of it.)

The Daily Mail, ITN and the Telegraph called it Meltdown Monday.

Strange but true: reading the FT‘s web site last night was an oddly static, unsatisfying, experience. Online, the Pink ‘Un struggled oddly to conveyed any sense of the significance, of events.

I’m not sure why. Design constraints might have something to do with it. Alternatively, perhaps the FT’s stable of high-end analysis writers are still geared to writing for print.

The lead story when I visited — Stocks sink amid Wall St crisis — was a little more than a basic recap of the day’s events.

This morning’s print edition was another matter: plenty of crisp and well-packaged stories, with the likes of Gillian Tett asking some sharp “what’s next” questions. Essential reading.

The one part of the FT‘s site that really caught fire yesterday was Alphaville.

Alphaville ran three live blogging sessions yesterday — the last of them kicking off at 15:34 (Crisis Live — iii).

In the process, authors Paul Murphy and Neil Hume left a trail of gems behind them. Readers adding comments only enriched the haul. In terms of drama and cut-through, this mix of journalism and reader comment left the FT‘s home page way behind.

Trying to get a look at Markets Live on Alphaville this afternoon wasn’t easy. Pages were loading slowly — quite possibly because of traffic volumes.

This feels like real citizen journalism to me — smart, engaging, hotter than hell, unfolding in front of your eyes and as interactive as you like.

Messrs Murphy and Hume (plus their backroom staff) have just proved a very big point. Lionel Barber, the FT‘s editor, will have plenty to think about when things calm down.

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