Lionel Barber’s pick of the week, June 8

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 and Robert Shrimsley wrote a trenchant opinion piece for the weekend FT.

Elsewhere, we did a fine job on Obama’s speech. Heba Saleh wrote sharp spot news from Cairo, Roula Khalaf’s Global Insight was a beautiful piece of prose and we wrote a first rate leader. Ed Luce write a thoughtful analysis on domestic reaction to the speech, while Chris Caldwell’s politics of self abasement in the weekend FT struck a welcome contrarian pose.

Scoop of the week goes to Lina Saigol for breaking the story of the unravelling of the Rio-Chinalco deal and the subsequent rights issue. Plaudits to Peter Smith, who filed and refiled for the web throughout Friday as the bones of the rights issue and the BHP joint venture emerged. Peter was a trouper on this, having also been up very late on Thursday night contributing to the story as it first broke.

US watch: this week, Henny Sender and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson broke the news that a planned debt exchange designed to rescue the giant leveraged buyout of Clear Channel, the US radio station and outdoor advertising powerhouse, was in trouble. Other papers followed up the report the next day, as they had to do last week when Ken Li broke the news that Time Warner was moving toward a complete spin off of AOL.

Other US highlights included:

- Francesco Guerrera produced another scoop on the troubles at Citigroup. This was a tricky week for our banking team because a rival ran a story saying the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was pushing for the ousting of Vikram Pandit at Citi – news that the FT broke back in April. We have been more careful in our coverage because the FDIC is only one of Citi’s regulators and its word isn’t final. Francesco responded with a fresh nugget, revealing that the Citi-FDIC squabble was the reason that Citi has delayed its long-awaited debt-for-equity swap, which could come as early as this week.

- Joe Menn attracted considerable attention on US technology blogs with his detailed reporting on Apple’s plans for a cut-price iPhone. Especially well done as he broke and wrote the story as his wife was going into the early stage of labour.

- Bernard Simon beat the competition with a front-page story on car sales by globalising his story. Others had the US sales figures. We put them in the context of global auto sales, becoming the only US paper that reported, for instance, that GM has been doing very well in China.

- Justin Baer, Julie MacIntosh and Francesco Guerrera broke the news that AIG is considering a breakup of its big aircraft leasing arm.

- Also, David Gelles got a scoop on Facebook introducing a payment system, which could eventually become one of their main ways of making money. It was so good that one of our UK rivals ran it word for word.

Finally, a word of praise for our European elections coverage. Tony Barber’s analysis page told us all we needed to know. Ben Hall gave us excellent coverage from France and Betrand Benoit contributed expertly on Germany notably through a splash on Angela Merkel’s outburst against the ECB and central bankers – a development ignored by the German press but explored more fully on the analysis page on Saturday.

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