Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat Talks to FT Editor Lionel Barber | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55277633

Lionel Barber

Lionel Barber

Lionel Barber

London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Lionel Barber is the editor of leading international business newspaper the Financial Times. Since Barber’s appointment in 2005, the FT has won numerous global awards for its quality journalism, including three newspaper of the year awards. He has co-written several books and has lectured widely on US foreign policy, transatlantic relations, European security and monetary union in the US and Europe.

As editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber has interviewed many of the world’s leaders in business and politics including President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia to name but a few.

In the following interview conducted via email, Asharq Al-Awsat talks to Lionel Barber about the daily running of the business newspaper and its success, and his role as editor.

Q) As a leading economic newspaper, what are the most prominent issues that you deal with? How do you select your journalists and what kind of training are they given?

A) The Financial Times prides itself on liberal, unbiased and independent journalism. Our coverage is global and in-depth, delivering news, comment and analysis to our readers in the format they want. We have journalists from all backgrounds, including many from the financial services industry. Apart from a genuine interest in business, economics and current affairs, journalists need to be equipped with good undergraduate/postgraduate level qualifications. Further training and professional development is available to all editorial staff.

Q) The Financial Times announced that it would support the Conservative Party in the recent general elections in Britain. How did you reach this decision?

A) Senior editors at the Financial Times discussed the endorsement for weeks, eventually reaching an agreement to support the Conservative party in this election. The main motivation for the verdict was that the Conservative party best fits the bill in terms of decreasing the role of the state and tackling the daunting fiscal deficit.

Q) Can you tell us what some of the top stories that the Financial Times published were this year?

A) The Financial Times published a successful series on emerging markets – BRICs [Brazil, Russia, India and China] – in January, and this year the FT will significantly expand its coverage to report on the big shift from the west to emerging markets. The FT received several complimentary emails from readers and fellow journalists about ‘The Cameron Files,’ a four-part profile of the man who has now become our new Prime Minister. Top FT interviews in 2010 include the Indian finance minister, Greece’s PM and finance minister, Christine Lagarde, José Luis Rodrيguez Zapatero, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Javier Blas revealed the impending change in pricing for iron ore, a hugely valuable market moving scoop, and the FT has also been praised for its coverage of the Greek debt and Eurozone crises.

Q) Can you describe what makes a good story or news report?

A) A new angle and clear, concise and factual writing.

Q) We remain in the shadow of the global financial crisis, and many newspapers have introduced a pay-per-read system on their websites. Will the Financial Times follow this trend?

A) The FT.com frequency-based access model launched in October 2007 and has proven to be very successful. The next step is to make our payment model even more flexible, including developing a micro-payment system and an FT.com day pass.

Q) Who do you consider to be the Financial Times rival in the international arena?

A) There are several business publications with strengths in specific regions, but the Financial Times is truly global and the only international business publication to show audience growth on every major readership survey released in 2009 (sources: NRS, BE Europe, EMS, BE Asia, PAX & Mendelsohn)

Q) In your opinion, what future lies ahead for specialized journalism or newspapers?

A) The FT is in a position of strength and came out of last year’s recession having made a profit because content sales compensated for the decline in advertising. This stable financial base allows us to continue to expand in our global coverage while competitors are increasingly looking to fill local voids and invest in our digital future in terms of new digital business models, acquisitions, channels and new digital forms of journalism. We want our content to be available to our readers in any way they want to consume it, whether that is in print, online, on a mobile or on an e-reader.

Q) How many journalists work at the Financial Times?

A) We have 550 full-time editorial staff globally

Q) What makes a successful Editor-in-Chief?

A) A successful editor is one who gives the most authoritative snapshot of the most important stories and trends in economics, finance and business in a concise form every day – in print and online – and one who steadily expands the global audience. An editor must also be trusted in order to be successful.

Q) What are the future plans for development at the Financial Times?

A) It’s an exciting time for the FT. We have come through a tough year and although there is still uncertainly in the economy, we are in a position of strength and have the ability to take the next steps in developing our business. Apart from making our access model more flexible, we will keep innovating and continue to acquire products and companies that complement our desire to build content revenues through niche digital, subscription news and analysis.

Q) Can you tell us about the Financial Times readership? Would you consider them to among the elite i.e. highly educated and in powerful positions? Can you tell us about the Financial Times distribution in the UK?

The FT is the only international business publication to show audience growth on every major readership survey released in 2009 (sources: NRS, BE Europe, EMS, BE Asia, PAX & Mendelsohn).

Between February and April 2009, the Financial Times carried out a survey amongst its global readers with the objectives of collecting demographic data and FT consumption behaviour on the FT’s global audience, and to bring to life the difference kinds of people reading FT content.

In total, 11,608 people responded to the survey showing the following results:

• About 1 in 10 are millionaires

• 9 percent are C-suites

• 4 in 5 are business travellers

• 7 in 10 work for an international company

The Global Capital Markets survey 2009 (May):

The Financial Times has topped The Global Capital Markets survey 2009 (GCM 2009) which maps the media consumption patterns of almost 10,000 senior bankers and financial decision makers in the world’s largest companies.

BE: Europe 2009:

• The FT has been named most read publication for over 30 years

• The FT, in addition to being the most widely read publication, was seen as the most important business read on the survey – an uplift of 20 percent year on year.

• Apart from recording a year on year increase in readership, the FT’s combined print and website survey scores highlighted that senior European executives regard it as the biggest international media brand – with an on and offline reach of 20.7 percent of the important business market.

PAX – Pan Asian Cross Media Survey:

• The Pan Asia-Pacific Cross Media Survey (PAX) measures the top 20 percent of the adult population across the following markets: Australia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.

• The new quarter has just been released (Q1 2009 – Q4 2009) and here are some top line results in terms of readership.

• Latest data shows that the FT newspaper is still the leading international daily business title reaching 129,690 affluent adults in the Asia/Pacific region.

NRS – National Readership Survey UK (Feb 2010):

• Financial Times has once again recorded impressive readership gains, adding an extra 11,000 readers year on year for its weekday editions in the UK.

• This represents a 3 percent rise and is a greater increase than any other quality UK newspaper. The total number of readers in the UK now stands at 442,000.

BE ASIA (September):

• According to the latest BE Asia results, FT.com (monthly) reaches 10.3 percent of the BE: Asia universe. Combine FT.com and FT Print and your reach increases to 19 percent – an uplift of 58 percent.

• The FT has been the fastest growing title across Asia since 2004. In fact, coverage has more than doubled

Mendelsohn Affluent Survey 2009 in the US (September):

• The Financial Times has maintained its position in audience size. FT and The Economist are the only titles within our competitive set to experience positive absolute audience growth.

• FT now reaches 469,000 Affluents in the US (vs. last year’s 462,000).

*24 Hours in the Life of the Financial Times

00:00 Asia-based correspondents begin their working day and file stories on early developments in markets for late editions and for FT.com. News editing responsibility passes from New York to Hong Kong.

00:50 Final US edition sent to print sites.

01:30 Final UK edition sent to print sites.

03:00 Optional fourth UK edition depending on news.

7:00 London news editors and reporters begin assessing likely news stories.

7.30 First news conference of the day. London newsdesk takes over from Hong Kong. The FT’s integrated writing teams file stories for FT.com.

10:15 Main news conference – discussion of likely news stories for FT.com and the newspaper for tomorrow’s editions.

11:30 Leader conference – discussion of subjects for editorial comment.

13.00 Shift of focus from FT.com stories to newspaper articles.

16:30 Final news conference in London – front page story lists and illustrations agreed for all editions. Night editors are briefed on possible late developments.

19:00 Last pages for first edition sent to print sites in Asia.

20:30 Last pages for first edition sent to print sites in Europe and Middle East.

21:15 Last pages for first edition sent to print sites in UK (on Fridays it is sent at 20.45).

21:30 Last pages for first edition of front page sent to print sites in US. Last market page sent 10 minutes later. On Sundays it is sent at 20.30.