Monthly Archives: June 2009

Two big stories dominated: the wave of street protests in Iran and the Obama administration’s plans for overhauling financial regulation. But there were some spicy runners-up: the break-up of Formula
One
, Sir Fred Goodwin’s sudden display of remorse when he handed back part of his generous pension settlement, Mervyn King’s eloquent power grab on banking reform, Lord Carter’s blueprint for a Digital Britain, and British Airways’s artful pay cut, via a plea for staff to (temporarily) work for nothing to save
costs.

First, a very special mention to Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Roula Khalaf in Tehran who provided expert coverage in print and online in a dangerous and unpredictable environment. Roula Khalaf wrote a splendid analysis.

Second, we provided strong coverage on the financial regulation story in the US. On the day of the announcement, we explored the possibility that the plan would give the Federal Reserve the power to regulate an industrial company such as General Electric and the differences between the new regulatory thinking in the US and Europe.

Third, we produced extensive print and online coverage, including a video package, of our (fifth) Business of Luxury Summit, this time located in Monte Carlo. We had more than 400 guests, including Bernard Arnault of LMVH, Angela Ahrendts of Burberry and Malcolm McLaren, founder of the Sex Pistols, pop icon, cultural commentator and artiste. And if you missed the FT this past week, you would have missed the following special items:

1) Glencore, the publicity-adverse trading house with far-reaching influence on world commodity markets, is considering a stock market flotation. William McNamara broke an important story that was widely read among commodity cognoscenti.

2) Martin Wolf’s column – the recession tracks the Great Depression - was among the best read on ft.com for several days. His Friday column skewering Gordon Brown (and Ed Balls) - Honesty is the best fiscal policy - was cited at length by Martin Ivens in his own op-ed column in the Sunday Times.

3) George Soros’ column on the best way forward for financial regulation was among the most read on ft.com.

4) Andrew Clark’s Lunch with the FT with Simon Rattle, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, was a sumptuous blend of art, history and politics which penetrated the German soul.

5) Richards Waters delivered double scoops: on the return of Credit Suisse banker Frank Quattrone to Silicon Valley and the other on European regulatory challenges to Facebook’s hopes for profitability.

6) Jonathan Birchall produced, a detailed exploration of the new frontier in men’s shaving.

7) Paul Taylor’s column on the best in beach-proof technology for the summer was a good example of how we are getting better at consumer journalism.

8) Chris Giles wrote an excellent news feature explaining why the UK labour market is proving more flexible than might have been expected during the recession. Pay-cuts or de facto pay-cuts through reduced working time are an important factor.

9) Richard Milne wrote an eye-catching analysis on how Norway’s equality law has produced a revolution in the boardroom, triggering interest and scrutiny in other countries.  The feature attracted plenty of letters.

10) Kevin Done’s swan song from the Paris air show included the true reason why Ryanair won’t be charging people to visit the toilet mid-flight.

Humour watch: Best column by a mile by Robert Shrimsley on Mervyn King’s Mansion House speech in which he likened the Bank of England to a church which could draw the congregation to weddings and funerals but has proved unable to compel people to listen to its sermons.  Here is an excerpt…

“Across the City, Mervyn saw a great storm brewing. He saw the Royal Bank of Nineveh with its 125 per cent mortgages and doubtful hedging strategy. He saw the low capital adequacy ratios at the Banks of
Sodom and Gommorah.  Mervyn became angry and stormed over the City and with mighty voice and much fury said: “Steady on a bit, would you.”

Europe watch: Tony Barber and George Parker covered the EU summit with skill and judgment, focusing on differences over the management of systemic risk and the reappointment of José Manuel Barroso as Commission president, albeit amid ructions in the European Parliament.  Nikki Tait wrote a very good analysis on state aid in the recession and the challenge for EU competition authorities.

Trend to watch: Sam Knight’s arresting feature in the Weekend FT magazine on how climate change is about to trigger the biggest migration in history.

Graphics watch: We are becoming more and more confident about innovating in design and producing graphic imagery. The best example this week was the splendid graphic on the global car industry, supporting John Reed’s feature.

Comment watch: A magisterial contribution from Philip Stephens on how Iran has exposed the gap between idealism and realism for Barack Obama. Max Hastings wrote the last word on the UK government’s
decision to hold another public inquiry into the Iraq war in private, sorry partly in public, sorry…..please contact Downing street for the latest developments.

UK companies watch: Dan Thomas produced a great scoop about retail property gloom and also provided a well-written and timely interview with Vincent Tchenguiz ahead of the Bramdean showdown. Gill Plimmer delivered a strong exclusive on National Express’s debt talks.  Plus a scoop from Matt “Mr Hollywood” Garrahan and London’s Salamander Davoudi on a possible bid by ESPN for English Premier League football television rights.

And finally, please note Mrs Moneypenny’s campaign for a place for Sir Keith Park, the New Zealand air ace and Defender of Britain in 1940 has paid off.  A statue of Sir Keith will appear for six months on the fourth
plinth of Trafalgar Square – and he will gain a permanent berth elsewhere soon thereafter. Well done, Mrs M – ably supported by Mr Terry Smith and many other FT readers.

Election fever in Iran, election torpor in Europe, and febrile politics at Westminster were among our top stories this week, and on each occasion our newspaper and online stories meshed extremely well.

The FT did extremely well in the Society of Publishers in Asia awards, the region’s most prestigious, taking five top slots and a runner-up prize.

Joe Leahy’s coverage of the Mumbai bombings, together with pieces on the struggles of Indian farmers and sweeping changes in corporate India, won him Journalist of the Year Award.

Online coverage of the Olympics won us the Best Digital category.

Tom Mitchell led a story on David Li and a settlement related to alleged insider trading that picked up Scoop of the Year.

The FT also won for best Newspaper Design, Best Feature Writing (FT Chinese) and runner up in the Special Feature award for its annual China Report.

In London, Steve Johnson won the journalists’ journalist award in the Ignis Asset management awards.

A great week for big news and the FT news operation has performed with flair and professionalism in print and online.

First, the Westminster team and the UK news desk led by George Parker and Sarah Neville – supported by the night news desk – did brilliantly under pressure on the Brown meltdown and Lazarus-like recovery.

Alex Barker and Jean Eaglesham wrote penetrating analysis and spot news. We were earlier than the rest on Darling and Miliband staying and our pro-Darling leader was reportedly produced to persuade Brown to keep on his chancellor. Philip Stephens wrote pre-midnight comment for the paper as well as a doing a video for FT.com and Robert Shrimsley wrote a trenchant opinion piece for the weekend FT.

FT.com readers will notice a number of changes to the site today. They are part of a rolling programme designed to make the site simpler to navigate and use but also to highlight the content of greatest interest to you.

The first change is that the management section of the site is now in the main navigation bar. This reflects our increased commitment to the subject – something which will be reflected in the coming weeks. The management section of the site encompasses not only management theory and practice but also business education, our MBA gyms, entrepreneurship and leadership. All features and columnists that could previously be found through the Business Life page can now be reached through the management section.

A second change is the appearance of Arts & Leisure on the main navigation. This replaces what was the weekend section. Again nothing which was in the weekend section of FT.com is disappearing but the change is designed to highlight our arts coverage – adorned by such leading writers as Nigel Andrews, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney and Andrew Clark – which is not merely a weekend event but can be found throughout the week. Weekend features and pages such as food and drink, house and home and reportage, can still be found under the Arts & Leisure section.

In the UK, a third change has seen the merging of our general national news and corporate news on one main page. The UK page is now a one-stop shop for all the best corporate, political, business and economic news. There remain discrete pages for UK companies, politics, economics and business. The personal finance pages can also be reached through the UK page. We hope this offers readers interested in what is happening in the UK a simpler way to find out what is going on.

These changes are the first of many which will occur over the next few months. I hope the changes make the site easier and more rewarding for you. Please let me know – either by email or through comments here – how you feel about them.

PS. On a final note, our mobile site – which can be found at m.ft.com – was last night honoured by the Association of Online Publishers as the best mobile site in the UK. Blackberry users can now download a shortcut for their mobile home page to take you direct to the site.

Thanks for reading

Robert Shrimsley

Managing Editor, FT.com

Introduction: General Motors moves inexorably toward bankruptcy; North Korea explodes a nuclear device; Microsoft and Google go head-to-head on search; oil prices continue to rise on the back of a grudging economic recovery; and more British MPs, embarrassed by their expenses, signal they will stand down after the next election.

And if you failed to read the Financial Times or ft.com this past week, you would have missed the following unique items…

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