First Time to the FT

Scientist on Assignment

Department of Physics Blogs
Published: July

Today I visited the Financial Times newsroom for the the first time.

There was no immediate reason to visit except that the FT science editor, Clive Cookson, and I had yet to meet in person. We’d only spoken briefly over the phone back in May before the BSA placements were announced but that was an interview. This was an introductory visit.

It was also a test run of sorts, since I’ll be commuting into London from Oxford for my placement. The trip is more than 2hr long and I may learn to hate it by the end of my placement. But everything went smoothly today, though I did arrive a full hour early (better than a minute late, I suppose).

Cookson and I had a cup of coffee, chatting about the news of the day: Sink holes and fraudulent Taiwanese researchers are interesting enough but nothing is more newsworthy than the west African breakout of ebola (which apparently needs to be added to my growing list of words that I, as a Canadian, pronounce with an American accent). Ebola has been trending on my science-focused Twitterfeed and seems to be a textbook example of a timely news story with an essential science component. It is a tragedy with nearly 700 confirmed dead since February (including a top doctor); it is rightfully worrisome since global pandemics are a real concern; it is an international political issue with Nigeria acting decisively and UK ministers meeting to discuss the outbreak; and it has epidemiological and medical underpinnings. FT readers are getting both the scientific background on the disease and reports on the medical measures being taken to halt the epidemic.

Cookson was about to join the World Weekly podcast with host Gideon Rachman and Africa editor Javier Blas and invited me to come see the process. This was great for me because podcasts are one of my favoured forms of media. I was surprised how smoothly the recording went. The three of them sat down, chatted a moment and then recorded the entire podcast in a single take. It was all very professional.

Afterwards, we visited the newsroom, which is much like other newsrooms that I have seen. It was a big, open, bustling space but the science writers, including pharmaceuticals correspondent Andrew Ward, are tucked away on a quieter floor. This is where I’ll be when there. I can’t wait to get started.