The FT’s deputy editor Martin Dickson rounds up the best of the FT and ft.com
This update has to start with the reporting highlight of the week – Jamil Anderlini’s brave and brilliant account of China’s ancient petitioning system and how it is not working, despite being an important outlet for protest in a one-party state under growing economic pressure. Jamil’s analysis was the result of months of painstaking interviews with petitioners from the provinces who had tried and failed to get redress. The three-part video and interactive graphic that accompanied the story is powerful and in parts very moving. Production plaudits to Du Juan, Ed Cheng, Richard Edgar and Cleve Jones.
Another display of integration was our coverage of Ken Lewis’s mea culpa about taking so much bail-out money from the US government, which he admitted when visiting the New York office for breakfast. Saskia Scholtes and Greg Farrell quickly wrote it up for the web, the story produced a splash and Chrystia Freeland’s View from the Top was played repeatedly on CNBC.
In a great week for video and interactive, the Carlos Ghosn interview was one of a number of punchy videos from the Geneva Motor show. John Reed and Richard Milne delivered videos which once again generated front page news. The superbly produced interactive fashion week graphic proved as popular as ever – attracting huge traffic. Thanks to Steve Bernard and Vanessa Friedman.
The interest rate decisions and Britain’s move to quantitative easing proved a major news event for ft.com. The Quantitative easing explained interactive graphic, narrated by Chris Giles and produced by Cynthia O’Murchu and Steve Bernard, made the top ten for two days in a row. Steve Bernard, Shyamantha Asokan, Helen Warrell and Jeremy Lemer produced a highly effective online graphic on the green impact of national stimulus measures; Robert Wright narrated his own audio slide show on pirate patrol in Somalia (and wrote an excellent analysis) and Gideon Rachman deciphered Gordon Brown’s speech to congress.
In a week of plunging markets, our coverage has again been strong. John Authers, in Short and Long Views, has provided authoritative guidance, while Mike Mackenzie and Paul J Davies produced a second-front report on the growing number of blue-chip companies cutting their dividends, a line that informed our splash that day. David Oakley explained the effect on the gilts market of quantitative easing.
We have also had a strong set of scoops, including Francesco Guerrera on the latest $30bn AIG bailout, Henny Sender on controversy stirred by TPG’s attempt to provide bankruptcy financing to a company that the private equity firm owns; Henny on the prospect for more losses on subprime mortgages at AIG; Matt Garrahan’s on Kirk Kekorian’s MGM Mirage breaking the covenants on its debt; Francesco Guerrera, Greg Farrell and Julie MacIntosh on what happened to billions of dollars earmarked for bonuses and other purposes that Barclays obtained when it bought the North American operations of Lehman. Alec Barker and Jim Pickard on almost one third of MPs employing at least one member of their family; George Parker and Jane Croft on details of the Lloyds rescue; Miles Johnson, Anoucha Sakoui and David Fickling on Wolseley’s rights issue struggle; Andrew Parker on China Mobile’s offer to pay for 3G research; Ed Crooks on BP’s dividend freeze and Kate Burgess and Jane Croft on the RBS chairman getting share options.
In Asia, James Lamont and Amy Kazmin have been firing on all cylinders. We had a terrific package in Tuesday’s paper on the Indian election announcement, great coverage of the attacks on Sri Lanka’s cricket team on Wednesday (Farhan Bokhari also got involved in that, although absent from Pakistan on holiday), a penetrating analysis of President Zardari’s mounting problems on Thursday, and another great terrorism story to wrap up the week on Saturday. In between James drew attention on the front page to the huge row in India over the sale of Gandhi memorabilia in New York, which he also followed through the week.
Friday was a sad day for the paper when we heard of the death of JDF Jones, who as foreign editor in the 1960s built up the FT’s international reporting presence from next to nothing. Jurek Martin (with help from Quentin Peel in London and many a former FT camel corps member) wrote a wonderful obituary of JDF that perfectly caught the man and all he did for the paper.
Among the best pieces of analysis in the paper this week were: Martin Arnold and Henny Sender on the travails of private equity, sensitively edited by Gordon Cramb; a strong world page collective effort on the road to the G20 summit; a colourful, detailed and nicely written investigation of the warning signs that all might not be well in the Stanford empire from Michael Peel, Sheila McNulty, Stacy-Marie Ishmael, Robert Cookson, Sam Jones and Jo Chung; Jeremy Grant on the founder of Wagamama; John Plender on investor herd mentality, and Peter Thal Larsen on HSBC’s rights issue.
Among the best comment were Geoff Dyer on China’s Elgin Marbles, Neil Hume’s saturday column on the travails of the London market; John Gapper’s demolition of Hank Greenberg, Martin Wolf on bank restructuring; Lex on ITV, AIG, and LBOs, Andrew Hill on the complexities of Wolseley’s rights issue.
In the Weekend paper John Reed wrote a strong magazine piece on Detroit, and House & Home had a good front on what it’s like to live on a narrowboat . There was more good digging in the Money section, this time highlighting how banks are not obliged to tell customers when they cut their savings rates. Books and Arts were very strong again, including William Dalrymple on Pakistani fiction and the Andrew Clark interview with Harrison Birtwhistle.