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Read this: Roula Khalaf, editor of The Financial Times

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Roula Khalaf, editor of The Financial Ti…



BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 hello for the last 130 years the Great British Bangor has worn a distinctive uniform a pinstripe suit a failed umbrella and a salmon coloured newspaper under one arm the Financial Times as one of the world's most highly newspapers and now digital publications read by devotees in Shanghai New York and Ellie as well as of course Manchester Edinburgh and Bristol and the paper has a certain reputation is traditional you could call it old-fashioned the journalism is unashamedly intelligent the front page Jerry Manchester find an economic angle on the news even when the big story of that day is the death Duke how easy is it to edit a newspaper that has such a fixed place in readers imaginations, what Scope is there for selling a new editorial position and is there a danger than in appealing to high flyers?

Is abroad us alienating the rest of us at home well with me today is the first best equipped to answer those questions because ruler half has been the editor of The ft for just over a year since January 2020 ruler welcome to the show will talk about what he's up to today at shortly just before we do that.

Let's go back to what a few decades and during the Lebanese Civil War which is where you grew up and if that you live pretty close to the Commodore Hotel which was the basis for many international war Correspondents did you meet many in is that why you came journalist? Well? It was during the war that we had to move out of our house and so we moved next to the Commodore Hotel and it has a certain romantic appeal despite the tragedy around us but I think I decided to be a journalist just because I I grew up with news being sort of the most important thing.

You know in my life because we we had to know exactly what was going on from a whole range of news organisations because everything and so you have to listen to to the radio all day and two different registrations.

Just a figure out.

Could you go to school? Could you go to the supermarket was there a curfew what the situation was on a daily basis, so you need a news you can trust because of your father in your brother business.

Did you the world of business even as they say this is if maybe the idea of being a journalist didn't go down too well.

Well.

Let me put it this way a very hard question.

Sorry my family certainly had intended for me.

Bad so I I always knew I wanted to be a journalist actually and it's one of the questions that are often asked young journalist interview.

I want to know the moment analyst what you mentioned there be civil war, what was the impact that had on your family and how did it shape you well, we had to move around a lot and we lived in a lot of different countries and it's certainly forced me to at one point to leave Lebanon and never return to make me a lot more of a global citizen think that it also it probably make me more resilience because you know we had to it was difficult growing up during the civil war it's not easy on on families that it's easy on children for a long time I was.

Aware of what the impact of war was until I started to cover war in ft and that's why when I sort of started asked myself well, there must have been an impact from the Civil War what could that impact be must be something you need in space when you're ready tell you showing it of latest will get into but you started your career Forbes is it as a business report and I think I'm writing saying that the first guess.

We've had in the show who appeared in The Wolf of Wall Street the Memoir later feel by the fraudster Jordan Belfort that he called you an incident report.

I said you deserved an A4 cleverness, just tell us how it came about that you should you should be depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street and Y coordinates learnt report well.

I covered accounting for Forbes and I'll always be very grateful to force actually because they give you my first break in internalism right after grass.

And somebody has mentioned to me Jordan Belfort outfit.

I started looking into it talking to people who who had the work there and discovered what a great penny pusher.

He was and then I met him and he was very pleased to be interviewed which was which was very surprising was very pleased with himself because you know I interviewed him as if he was somebody and not very positive and he eventually you'll have to you mention you started at Forbes you got the job back in 1995.

I read you got it right into the HR department out of the blue and the time you weren't living in London you didn't know anyone here particularly.

What did you say the convince him to take you on it was just great timing because they were looking for someone to cover North that.

Algeria were going through civil war at the time, but it was so had a lot of deaths and it's a huge gas producers that was important and that's the first time we went in Liverpool for your time as a crossbow in North Africa and middle east Middle East editor during Arab Spring went on to be foreign editor usually cover the actual on the ground fighting of a walk.

What's the stuff you writing about in that time true and I think I have helped shift that image a little bit I remember when I first started my my colleagues from other newspapers with that means the stories over and I remember telling me we don't cover war but we don't cover Wars in that we don't cover the fighting necessarily so we don't blow by blow but unless.

Understand that you have to be there to talk to the people you had to get their feelings and and be able to tell the stories of what they're going through because because that is how to get under and that's how you're able to as you say intelligent audience understand a little bit of the Washington Post columnist who was murdered in Saudi Consulate in Istanbul is it true Newman what's your reaction to his death for a very long time in fact I first time I've met him was when I was in Arabic newspapers.

That was based in London I always thought that Jamal was at one of the most intelligent people that that.

That he had an understanding and unpause understanding of Saudi Arabia because he's been on both sides intellectual and also an adviser to some of the Royal so it's really inside out and just a few days before I heard his disappearance.

He'd been in touch with me and we were supposed to meet up at to the in London he was on his way to Turkey and I have said that I couldn't make lunch, but why don't we meet up and I was very sad not to have that that day because you would have to talk about the the job you got today you got a New Zealand just ask 24/7 as all newspapers are these days it comes to around the globe from politics to Cinemas well as finance course.

Operations EFT these days 600 journalists right between the largest numbers up is of course in our headquarters in Bracken house in the city, but we have satellite offices for news editing operations in New York and in Hong Kong and we have correspondence and Bureaus all over the world and who are they predominantly White Collar metropolitan and Mail as the stereotype goes is it works in all around the world? I think that the average reader is still around 51 days or the last demographic but our readership is also changing and we are trying to appeal to younger readership or social media audience is much younger than

Traditional audience you do chip from Lionel Barber of course.

You are one of at least four internal candidates as I understand that you're interviewed several times where were you when you actually found out got the job that the proprietor wanted to see me to London on Monday the airport and I went to meet him at Japanese restaurants at 6 on that Monday and that's when he told me I was not sure what this meeting was about I knew that it was coming sort of close, but Lionel wouldn't say a word and it was while we were having under lullabies 10-year the paper to the publication of line of brexit loudly oppose the decision to.

EU is that tied your hands and I don't think that it was a mistake for the against brexit.

You know we think about the economy and we think about business, so what I have tried to do is to try to look at the future of the UK economy and be constructive and that's in that regard and we did have a series of leaders early on this year in order to encourage thinking about the future of of the British economy your critics would say this is critics would say you're bad to Ramona dumangas.

Here's a couple of headers for 2016 from your news pages fears EU brexit delays will spur banks exodus to eurozone tens of thousands of jobs will go with the city if UK leaves EU

Take me to was too strident in its news coverage.

No, it's opinion editorials, but it's news coverage of the time.

I think that we were selecting the fears of business at the time.

I don't think that we pushed it's in the news reporting.

We certainly pushed it on the opinion side and I think one of what one of the lessons that I draw from from brexit.

Coverage.

Is that you need diversity of thought?

on the editorial board you can't just have everybody thinking the same but has your opposition to break that you're strident opposition brexit and the very critical coverage of Boris Johnson in your pages must you access to the top of government in Britain

I'm not in any way that I have a either noticed or been bothered, but I think that one Dominic Cummings controlled Downing Street he don't want to give access to anybody else or you know anyone who was the Prime Minister but it's been better since you how often do you speak to Boris Johnson the job as an access to the people that run the country? It's quite interesting things going to be invited and I think in days gone by editors with a boasting about how often they see the prime minister.

I think it's different editors of different approaches.

What about the Chancellor Rishi Sunak how often do you chat to him signal WhatsApp text?

So no we we speak on we speak on the phone and I've been to see him if your time in November last year and a piece of a different political leader the French president Emmanuel macron and his headline war on Islamic separatism only divides France further that piece appeared online but disappeared again.

I think the same day or so soon after why was it taken down the piece was was filed.

We discovered that it had several hours, but he's had not also gone through our usually very rigorous process.

It was this was unfortunate.

I had actually wanted this space.

I had asked for this please because I knew that they wanted to express herself and I thought that giving her formed Express herself would be the right thing to do however.

I think there's a limit to how many miss.

Open have to remove the piece about factual errors, was it was it because you wasn't the take it was the series of factual errors.

You know it was misunderstood you had a letter from Emmanuel macron response to be told I don't have to ask you that he was personally curious about it.

Did he or his team? Are you and are some peace to be removed? Did they? Do they get in touch out of them? Just sending a letter around at the moment.

It's a big ft scoops biggest mythical story of the year so far on Tuesday the 18th of March you published in major major story head I read David Cameron lobby for greensill access to covid loan schemes.

The first paper to reveal that Cameron full prime minister of Corsa here in the UK have been encouraging the government ministers there to work with greensill capital months before the finance company collapse, could you tell me what happened in the run-up to 21 when you publish? How did you stand the story up because you said opening at David Cameron wouldn't return calls started with one that one of our lovely correspondence has that we've got this amazing splash obviously spoke to the reporter and inquired about you know the forces not exactly who they are but I wanted to make sure we had very reliable and I was told.

Try to contact him about the story and try to contact him several times to work too hard that that week and that I was satisfied that the story would have a lot of impact and I think that it was because we have actually been looking for a long time and the financial scandal and there's a lot more that will be writing about it.

Still a slightly scary place for another two beers and obviously you you have to trust Jim Pickard established journeys with very good sources report of considerable reputation still a little bit scary.

Isn't it? When you got a story about 45 minutes and is not returning your calls and that make you think.

Get this right.

No it made me think that we did get it because he was keeping stupid because I was very very confident and you had another group this weekend about cameras Pigeon greensill Services at the German government.

Have you started you now got work Story 2 main reporters? We've been working on greencells for a couple of years on and off that's Robert Smith and sent them and then I'm going to bed for a long time.

The lobby is now working on Greenfield from a political angle is also helping on Greenfield and would you know I mean we we bring people in and then they might come in for a couple of weeks and then leave depending on the angle because this is the story is has credit.

Involved with green sole as well, so it has been involved in which it doesn't get Jensen on the subject especially Gabriel pogrund the other major topics it you're covering the publication.

You got some brilliant Jonas looking at employment rights and poverty Sarah O'Connor dancing she done fantastic work looking at the low-paid migrant workers trapped on British farms anjali superb.

She's a big piece on the cove triangle and everywhere chronic deprivation and uncertain employment mean the death rate from covid-19, but some people would consider to have a bit annoyed about the ft on the one hand being stockbrokers newspaper of choice also taking the crusading stance on labour rights and other similar topics might say maybe the afternoon 2530 years ago when you've done that.

Because I think they're FC of 25 years ago which is when I joined the ft, and I was told you know we don't cover Wars and I had to explain why human rights were subject for business leaders to evaluate in emerging-market evaluate were there weather going to do in Bath but I think this is part of the of the ft today and I don't think it's or and I don't think that we are delving into topics that are relevant for our readers or relevant for business.

I think these are all topics that business wants to know about tonight is atpro capitalism is efd-pro globalisation absolutely and when you look at the fact that lot of people to stay in capitalism isn't working globalisation is going to reverse.

It's A Challenge for using it about being out of sync with those currents of public thought and what's your approach responding to it do double down and say you know what we're going to do to globalisation processes and people all around the world or do you say actually you know what we need to broaden the church and we need to invite to sit in a pews.

You know some people who are very sceptical about those ideas.

You don't want to simplify this too much.

We write about we are very conscious of the shifts in and economic and we are also very alert to V and globalisation and you know the rise of economic nationalism.

We've seen at with vaccine national so we're not we're not blind to what's happening with the word on the country.

I think in some ways when it comes to climate change or yes, we are ahead of it so I don't.

I don't look at this as in globalisation and capitalism we are setting the agenda on that is exactly the role that and that it is playing 1-ft does a guess implicitly indoors captain's through the colour supplement how to spend it at this became a particular glad to see you're smiling.

I ask you a princess about this news is pretty aggressive actually in his response to my question do what happens now this became particularly unpopular and son quarters after 2008 financial crash glossy magazine promotes luxury items and set lifestyle this weekend it features a selection of vases at £4,000 apiece woven chair for £16,000 a lovely Louis Vuitton branded watch.

410410 thousand-pound for a watchman, who is this spend £16,000 on a chair readers are very well so many of our readers are actually multi, so how to spend it is not to everyone's taste and I think during the pandemic how how to spend it thinking very hard about what issues to to feature and how to not appear completely off.

It's done it very well.

I I like reading the magazine.

Why not think about what how much does it cost you to print on at salmon coloured paper.

I mean I mean why why is EFT printed on coloured?

I know I shouldn't say that I tried very hard to get the Independent College on printed on coloured paper in it.

I completely failed but I wonder if you can persuade my former boss of the merits of principal coloured paper.

What is EFT coloured and I don't think we've ever consider not being printed on coloured paper for and it will continue to be and we will we were always have coloured paper cos I know where you're going but you got there safe.

Let me go to how long is left to continue imprint very frankly about whether print would be will be sustainable for much longer, but by the end of the year although obviously because of distribution problems are.

By the end of the year we have the business proved very resilience and I think that we will continue to have the print paper for long time of course so sales go up.

We had double-digit increases more people were buying the weekend during the pandemic.

So why does it make sense to continue a printed daily product during the week? Why not shift those resources the hugely expensive digital distributors distribution all those resource into expanding digitally we still have readers who really want to read us in friends and who would not want to switch and secondly.

I think that the print version of the ft is the best marketing at the FC could ever have I think it is still I care about the front page?

And I think that that is a word the incredible marketing said that you were princesses editorial commercial visions were pretty clear editorially out so he wanted the ft to be before and inside globalisation 2.0.

He said commercial digitally it was about the March to a million subscribers.

What's your vision? I think there are several elements to my one in terms of of The Newsroom and as you say I inherited a great foundation at a riffic organisation.

It's not broken so I'm not trying to fix.

I'm trying on the underground station in terms of The Newsroom I think that we need a Newsroom and we are with started working on The Newsroom that is a lot more diverse than a reflective of the society that that we live in in terms of how we work to attract new audiences.

I think that we also need to attract more diverse audiences.

But not with different journalism.

I am very focused on corporate reporting where I think we have we had lost a little bit of grandson on corporate reporting on deep dives and investigative reporting you can see that in what we've been producing over over the past year and a very person and in patients and I think that is the most engaging to our readership weather traditional leaders are readers and so I'm working very hard now on expanding or data visualisation departments there are also things that you know every editor has that has new interests.

Add a times you may not know that they are the as relevant to to your readers, but when I set up the climate hub last year which was one of the first things that that I couldn't cepaite and I think our experts on on climate change could anticipate that this was going to be one of the main one of the main concerns and interests of a business leadership and indeed it was it's quite remarkable how setting up this hub focusing a lot more on average has engaged or treaters a lot more and a lot more readers to be harder to impose your authority on The Newsroom while working remotely there's so much physical presence isn't it? That's what museums are about camaraderie the chat because it is a completely different situation.

And I think you have to eat you have to be very creator in the way that you handle it.

So it will it will bring out sort of leadership and management quality that would be different from if we'd all been in the office also give me and I gave the news I know they're a lot of editors and media organisations around the world really struggling to manage Newsroom to meet what some people and some people call this of Culture was that we're living through and you've made diversity of big Focus for your leadership.

I know for instance on the offered pages.

There's been a sharp increase in female contributors, but have you hired a black columnist yet? We have black contributing columnist not in house change because you remember that a couple of years ago.

I made on a young cassoulet from New Malden in Surrey wrote a letter to the ft.

Which had the headline and you publish this in your letters pages to your credit.

It's time for the ft discover the rest of the world.

Really quite strongly Condemned the fact that is analysis suggested that of 861 articles written by ft Collins January 1st 2018 there was no article written by a black honest and I'm struck by the absence of black voices in our other pages as well, because you have established voices with very popular with readers and you have to move them on before you can introduce new voices in when in a digital world.

I think you just have to find the right for you said we have a new column on the weekend for example.

I think is just absolutely wonderful writes beautifully and we have what we've been trying to do is to get contributions from black colander until we get.

We are able to hire or in-house the news wire service workers and sweet.

They're putting their news behind a paywall do worry about the health of a news ecosystem, which always all the refunded rigorous Genesis is hidden behind a paywall while fitness flow.

She's out in the open and I think that we haven't found an answer the industry has not found an answer yet as to how to revive local journalism, so if you have something that I've actually discussed with another time if you have major news organisations that are not accessible to the majority of people then.

I think we could end up with with a problem, but that is why last year I did make a lot of our pandemic coverage free.

That it was very important to me to do that as a public service and I think that there is there is definitely more that we can that we can be doing on that front you can also access some of the FC drama them today for free but I think in in the absence of a solution and of a vision for for local journalism and regional I do worry about what you're describing.

Thank you very much indeed for joining us today BBC sounds music Radio podcasts.


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