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The Financial Times? Uh-oh… just where is my newspaper reading taking me? November 22, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in media, Media and Journalism, The Left, The Right.


Here’s a thing. The other day I wasn’t able to get a Guardian. So casting my eye along the newspapers I saw no Independent (UK), my default alternative choice. Didn’t want the Irish Times which I get anyway in work on the internet. What was left? The Wall Street Journal. Nope. I dislike intensely their editorial stance, although the actual reporting is pretty good. International Herald Tribune. Nah, too reheated New York Times for my taste. And always somehow with a sense that it’s been written some way past Mars and we’re having to endure a time delay on it.

So I picked up the Financial Times. I haven’t bought it in at least a decade. But, I’ve got to be honest. It was pretty darn good. The reasons being? Well, first up the aesthetics of an actual broadsheet. The soothing pink colour. The full newspaper size. The Guardian has made considerable noise since it adopted the Berliner format and how this bridging size between tabloid and broadsheet can deliver the best of both worlds. But… there really is nothing like a full sheet paper. Lots of room for articles and good sized pictures. No sense of compression.

But the content wasn’t bad, either. The news pages had news. And not slanted news, just basic information on Italian politics, the upcoming Australian elections (no boosterism here for the right, just a dispassionate account of how the Australian Labour Party appeared on the point of besting Howard – great stuff for those of us who think sometimes even a small incremental shift in opening space on the left or centre left is good).

The editorial on OPEC was interesting and one on ASEAN in the context of Burma which was thought provoking. I didn’t agree with the one which threw around the idea that ‘reform’ of the public sector requires private ‘help’ (I’ve seen far too many private sector assistance which seems to devolve to charging inflated prices). But it is the ‘Financial’ Times after all.

And on the editorial pages there were good articles on British foreign policy, America losing it’s faith in Empire and immigration. I didn’t agree with some of what they said either, but all equally thought provoking.

Sure, back in the day there were quite a number of FT contributors and journalists who were loosely attached to the CPGB’s ill-fated ‘New Times’ project (I’m channelling the name Leadbetter…), and I’m sure that’s long gone. Perhaps the prospect of changing the world with a copy of Capital in one hand and a filofax in the other has passed. Or perhaps they just decided to change the world in other, different, ways.

But then, when I read the Guardian and in particular the G2 section I think that that’s not the only thing that’s long gone. And perhaps it’s telling that for my Sunday read I now buy the Sunday Business Post (and occasionally the Observer).

Perhaps it’s to get a handle on the other side. Perhaps it’s simply because they’re ‘serious’ papers in a way the Guardian – or God knows – the Irish Times aren’t. Perhaps because business and finance can actually throw up something unexpected, or perhaps because as a left-winger I find there’s more to ‘mine’ here in terms of raw information about our society and our economy than in any number of fluffy feel-good feel-bad articles in the more usual suspects, or the often doomy yet curiously congratulatory and self-referential solipsism of the further left. Perhaps too it is because, as has often been said here there is simply not enough understanding of Capital and economics at it currently is by those on the left and that’s a huge failing of mine…

A quick scan of wiki supports my own reading over the years that in editorial line it has been broadly pro-Labour in the 1990s and 2000s. Okay to a point. And that it has been critically pro-EU. Fair enough. Noam Chomsky in perhaps a backhanded compliment stated that it is”the only paper that tells the truth”.

You know, it’s a bit too pricey, being 2 euro, but I think I might just buy it again.

You’ll know also, that there’s trouble down t’mill if I change my username to Financialmarketsbystorm….


1. Craig - November 22, 2007

When I was studying over in Paris, we pampered students were able to pick up a free copy of the FT every day, and we were lucky too because it’s an excellent newspaper. Recommended to anyone who wants serious analysis instead of the trash that finds its way into the tabloids and the semi-tabloids like the Indo. Personally I don’t have much time for the Guardian though, or the Wall Street Journal, which we also got for free 😉


2. a very public sociologist - November 22, 2007

By coincidence, I picked up a copy for the first time in years yesterday. I know the comrades down at SP HQ are avid readers of the FT.


3. londoner - November 22, 2007

i have it delivered everyday – not quite ironed by the butler – but for work. the emphasis on news can come as quite a shock to occasional or novice readers, which says about all you need to know about the rest of the press. The analysis tends to be well informed and focused on figuring things out rather than pontificating, which is again refreshing. The arts coverage is excellent and wide ranging – though the How to Spend It monthly mag is a shocker. Gideon Rachman’s blog is well worth the read http://blogs.ft.com/rachmanblog/


4. Hugh Green - November 22, 2007

The book reviews are also good. When I used to read it regularly, I also found the TV previews pleasingly droll.

Similarly, The Economist is an excellent all-round magazine.


5. Eagle - November 22, 2007

I buy the FT occasionally and am rarely disappointed.

I agree with you on the Journal, although I like it more than the (NY) Times.

I think the business press (this goes for the Journal too) can be refreshing because investors just want facts. They want to know what’s happening – in politics, in economics, in industries, in companies, in unions – so that they can make as unclouded judgments as possible. They don’t want anger or sentimentality.


6. Justin - November 22, 2007

If you want to know what the shakers and movers are up to, it’s best to read their paper. The FT is the best British paper I’ve read. Of course, it has a political line that I profoundly disagree with and when profiling countries and regions it tends to use avearages discuss wages, health oiutcomes etc, thus covering up the class chasm that invariably exists.

But it’s not full of superficial shite in the way that Guardian is, with the exception of Monbiot (http://www.monbiot.com)and Ben Goldacre’s wonderful Bad Science (http://www.badscience.net/).

My wife gets Grazia (http://www.graziamagazine.co.uk/), and when I want to read what’s cool these days or what the Olsen twins are up to that’s my journal of choice.


7. ejh - November 22, 2007

The Economist is an excellent all-round magazine.

It’s good for facts. It’s not much good for anything else.

If the whole world was privatised apart from one sub-post office, the Economist would not only find it, it would declare it the root of all our economic problems.


8. WorldbyStorm - November 22, 2007

Wow. We all agree!

I’m not a huge fan of the NYTimes. Don’t know why. I think it comes across as smug some of the time. Ponderous is another word that springs to mind.

The Economist. Yeah, I know what people mean.

BTW, Goldacre is brilliant. Really enjoyed his demolition of Winterton last week.


9. sonofstan - November 22, 2007

If the whole world was privatised apart from one sub-post office, the Economist would not only find it, it would declare it the root of all our economic problems.


On the subject of US papers – for a country supposed to be insular and disconnected from the world, its broadsheets, as a rule, tend to have much better -and more – foreign news than British papers these days. And WBS, you’re right – the Observer has become unreadable, and for the first time in 20 odd years, I’m not buying the Guardian every day……get it when i know i have time for the crossword, otherwise just a quick scan online.


10. Starkadder - November 22, 2007

The FT has excellent political and foreign affairs coverage
but I always found it a rather dry read. I thought the Times
and the Guardian had more personality.

“Sure, back in the day there were quite a number of FT contributors and journalists who were loosely attached to the CPGB’s ill-fated ‘New Times’ project ,and I’m sure that’s long gone.”

John Lloyd, the paper’s obnoxious TV critic and Bush cheerleader, has a shady Communist past too….


11. WorldbyStorm - November 22, 2007

Charlie Leadbetter was the big one as I recall, Starkadder. Now he heads up think tanks and such like. Can’t read the Times.

sonofstan, I’m even shifting away from the Guardian website.


12. Garibaldy - November 22, 2007

Can’t believe you’re dissing the Irish Times. Easily the best foreign coverage.


13. WorldbyStorm - November 22, 2007

The foreign coverage isn’t bad, admittedly. But isn’t a lot of it bought in?


14. sonofstan - November 22, 2007

sonofstan, I’m even shifting away from the Guardian website.
Still the best semi- serious paper for football*, … (although the best bit is the fiver, their daily email)

*I guess this has zero relvance for you, WBS


15. WorldbyStorm - November 23, 2007

Not quite zero. I was intrigued to see Man City’s fortune rise after my interest in them faded. Then I noted that as soon as I’d cast an eye back on them again down they plunged once more.

It’s odd, something similar happens on a yearly basis with the Dublin GAA team…

Solipsism thy initials are WBS…


16. Garibaldy - November 23, 2007

I hope you haven’t picked that solipsism word up off Richard English.


17. WorldbyStorm - November 23, 2007

Nah, I made it up myself 😉


18. John - November 23, 2007

I shall have to check out the FT. The Guardian and Observer have just plummeted in terms of content in recent years, that is unless you want advice on patio heaters, expensive restaurants, and property in Croatia.

Does the FT have a gig guide? 😉


19. Eagle - November 23, 2007

Yeah, I have to admit that the NY Times has excellent news reporters, by and large. I don’t like the way the paper is edited, but they do have some fantastic reporters. Funny enough (and maybe it’s because I still consider New York ‘home’) I think their local coverage is the best aspect of the paper.

I can’t stand their sports section, but if you want sports you buy the News or Post.


20. Garibaldy - November 23, 2007

It’s a sad day if leftists are influenced by Richard English


21. WorldbyStorm - November 23, 2007

You really dislike R E, don’t you Garibaldy, don’t you? I didn’t mind some of his stuff.


22. Garibaldy - November 23, 2007

The work shows next to no understanding of the people he is writing about. Have you read his most recent book on nationalism in Ireland? Misses minor things like accession to the EEC.


23. WorldbyStorm - November 24, 2007

Nope, flicked through it in bookshops. Haven’t got it…


24. Garibaldy - November 24, 2007

Maybe if you’ve been very good Santa will bring it for you.


25. WC - November 24, 2007

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