How two became one after the FT's big bang

But the editor of FT.com James Montgomery says the integration of web and print goes back much further than that.

“When FT.com was launched 10 years ago, it was a fairly independent organisation. There were separate commercial teams, a separate profit and loss account and fairly separate editorial.

“Between then and now, the two processes have got closer and closer – partly for reasons of efficiency.

But, more importantly, we wanted to have consistency between print and online.

“If you believe it’s one brand on multiple platforms, you want to have some consistency to what you’re writing about. You don’t want to have different versions of what happened or what it means.”

Describing the current system at the FT, Montgomery says all the “production journalists” – or sub-editors in old money – process stories both online and in print. All reporters also write for print and online and that there is no distinction between the two, he says.

The FT is possibly unique among the UK nationals in that it has a fully integrated production system – called Methode, produced by Eidos Media. It means that once a story has been subbed and laid out for the print edition, it can be converted to a web-ready story at the push of a button.

The exception to the integrated production process is a growing team of around a dozen journalists who just work on providing video, audio and interactive graphics for the web.

When asked whether he thought the same journalists should be working in text, audio and video – Montgomery says: “It depends on the complexity of what you’re asking someone to do, because multiskilling can only go so far before it becomes unsustainable. We foresee that production journalists may edit the audio, but would they be able to produce complex pieces of video as part of their routine workflow? We are not sure about that, because it needs extra skills and staff, but some of the reporters are very keen to do this.”

On the subject of when and where stories should be filed, he says the FT is fairly relaxed about putting stories on the web first, because of its unique international edition structure. The Asia edition is out before the US edition, which is out before the UK edition, meaning stories can often be picked up by competitors many hours before a specific country’s edition is out.

“We are increasingly willing to break news on the web first – we think more about how to get the biggest bang,” Montgomery says.

“We already have a 24-hour newsroom, because we have reporters in Asia and the US – but it has meant that we have to have an early shift in at 7am. Because we focus on business, most of our traffic is in the morning. We have four journalists in early, but because we have a relatively large newsroom in London, people will only have to do it about once a month.”

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