Gorkana Pressefrühstück: Financial Times

Diese Veranstaltung fand statt am Mittwoch 2 April 2014.

Gorkana Pressefrühstück: Financial Times

Key notes

How is the Frankfurt bureau set up?

• Bureau Chief Alice Ross covering banks, insurance, retail and property

• Claire Jones: European Economy Correspondent

• Chris Bryant covering industry and Mittelstand

How does the Frankfurt bureau fit into the wider structure of the FT across Germany? How large is the overall team in Germany, where are they based and what are their responsibilities in terms of beats?

The Frankfurt and Berlin offices work closely together.

Berlin office:

• Stefan Wagstyl: Chief Germany Correspondent covering politics and business

• Jeevan Vasagar: Berlin Correspondent covering energy, consumer, healthcare, telecoms.

Often it is as if we are working like Freelance Journalists within the paper. We have to find the ideas for new stories and pitch them to the Editor. We speak directly to the London Editors, who will decide where the stories will go.

What does a typical day in the life of the Frankfurt bureau look like? When are the important conferences and deadlines? What is the typical output of the Frankfurt bureau?

• a typical day doesn't exist, everything is very flexible

• I am often in meetings in the morning but I try not to have meetings after lunch time as I will be working on a story in the afternoon

• We are working to London deadlines (5pm English time, 6pm CET), which gives us one hour more due to the time difference

• Germany is very important to the FT and the Frankfurt bureau works closely with two of our other big European centres in Berlin and Brussels

• I attend quite a lot of evening events, e.g. dinners

The Financial Times has adopted a digital first policy. Can you give a general example of how a story might evolve online throughout the day online?

The FT prioritises online content:

• Readership: there is a spike early in the morning (the most important one), then at lunchtime and there is another smaller spike in the evening ? this means a lot of people read during non-office hours

the procedure is the following:

• in the morning a new story is published on fastFT first (150-200 words)

• it is then published online and could be as short as 200 words (it is important to have the story out)

• further research is done during the day and more ideas and comments are added to the same story

• the story might be published in the print paper the next day

• the FT tries to be as international as possible: we want to explain the wider impact of all stories, including our crucial corporate coverage, to the readers

• articles are often international with an outside perspective but we are equally seeking to explain the national perspectives, as foreign correspondents

How does the commissioning process for features differ compared to news?

• Each page can contain a feature, analysis and a news story: it is often the same Editor that makes the decision

Interviews with people:

• the interview process is very different

• there is no question and answer format

• we can't send the quotes through to be checked – policy which is not well accepted here in Germany

• but don’t let that put you off suggesting an interview – if there are language or other issues, we can discuss ways to work together.

How do you get involved with the oped part of the paper? Are you consulted on FT editorials? Should people with comment and opinion go through you or pitch to London?

• The best person to contact is the Comment desk in London

Are there any new developments at the FT that are relevant to the German audience?

fastFT is very useful:

• it delivers news as it happens within 2-3min

• it is not aiming to provide the same services as the wires: it doesn’t cover everything, but focuses on the news that we think is most important and market moving

How do you like to interact with PRs? What is the best way to approach you?

• I prefer to have meetings, especially in the morning (e.g. meeting up for coffee)

• by email (but I am travelling a lot and might not always reply immediately)

• by post is not ideal as I travel so much so often don’t see my letters (also not so good for the environment!)

What sort of companies do you want to hear from? Do they need to be over a certain scale?

• companies don’t have to be listed

• they can be private and small medium-sized (Mittelstand) companies

• there should be a trend that may apply to other Mittelstand or German companies or something new with an international flavour (for example investing in China)

What sort of interviews do you want? Do you do profiles?

• there is an interview slot: the Monday interview with a person, who is internationally interesting: the demand is very high

• it would be easier to get a story interview

What sort of information and data is helpful to your role?

• Every sector has a group and there are quite a few associations I am not aware of. It would be interesting to hear more about them.

How do you treat social media? Is it a good generator of story ideas? Would you recommend people pitching on Twitter for example?

• Social Media is very important and twitter is one of the top 5 main resources

• I can be reached via twitter but people haven’t used twitter so far to pitch an idea

• Sometimes a new story is published on twitter first (unless it is something private or a scoop)

Do companies need to approach the FT in English?

• No, German is fine as well

What is the difference between working in London and Frankfurt? Are the PR communities different in each place and if so what could they learn off each other?

• the London office is very big and reporters can pitch to the News Editors directly

• in Germany we have to be more active at pitching our stories – we can’t rely on face to face contact

PR communities:

• the PR community in Germany sometimes seems less proactive, I still haven’t heard from all the big companies I would like to hear from and I have the impression that people email less

• the PR community in London seems to be more active

How has financial journalism changed in the ten years you have been a journalist?

• the main change is the Internet: we have to writer quicker and get stories early in the morning

• it is easier to get information: it is challenging to get new and original stories

• more and more traffic is generated through social media like twitter

• in the UK Facebook is often for personal use while many journalists use twitter for work - in Germany Facebook and twitter are often used for work (company profiles)

What are they key issues for you in 2014?

• “Energiewende”: what companies are doing to change their approach to energy

• political issues (covered by Stefan Wagstyl Berlin)

• German/ Russian relationship

• Banks and how they will survive the stress tests by the ECB.

• in general the following subjects are very important: ECB, the way German companies work, how the German company landscape is structured (which is very different to UK and US)


Alice Ross

Financial Times, Frankfurt Bureau Chief

Gorkana Pressefrühstück: Financial Times

Bockenheimer Landstraße 2-4
60306 Frankfurt am Main

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