What’s behind the FT’s expanded tech news coverage
Malcolm Moore is the technology news editor at the Financial Times, which on Oct. 1 expanded its tech coverage with a dedicated page on its website.
The FT has expanded its coverage to include coverage of tech topics such as fintech, AI, cybersecurity, transportation and health care. It is also exploring the intersection of tech and politics, helping readers understand the enormous and increasing impact of technology on finance, markets and society. It now has tech reporters located around the world.
Moore was previously UK news editor and leisure industries correspondent for the FT before becoming tech news editor this summer.
He joined the FT in April 2015 from Telegraph Media Group, where he was deputy head of world news and a correspondent in Beijing and Shanghai. He was the winner of the 2012 Foreign Press Association award for news story of the year. Moore was also a Rome correspondent, an economics correspondent and a business reporter for the Telegraph.
Moore spoke Thursday morning with Talking Biz News about the increased tech coverage efforts. What follows is an edited transcript.
What was the genesis for the decision to expand tech coverage?
It came from two different areas. One was a structural thing, and one was a coverage related thing.
On the structural side, our bosses sometime last yer went around the newsrooms of all of our competitors, such as the New York Times, and went to see other publications like BuzzFeed and Vox. We’ve always organized our newsroom in newspaper sections. We have four big sections — UK, the world, markets and companies. Those are the four sections that the FT has always organized its newsroom around.
But when they went to competitors they saw that the newsrooms were organized by topics, such as politics or business or tech. And they thought, that was an interesting idea.
As the same time, we have wanted to do more with tech. It has been under the aegis of companies, and we have had very strong coverage of the big tech companies. But as it spilled out of Silicon Valley into other sectors and started to have a bigger impact on people’s lives, and we’ve seen government and regulatory agencies react to that, it has become a bigger story. So we wanted a more holistic version of the space.
So that is basically the background of the two rationales.
What interested you in the position?
My background is as a foreign correspondent. I spent some time in Italy and a long time in China. I came back to England at the end of 2014. In China, I didn’t directly cover the tech industry, but you could see the changes going on there and the impact in people’s lives. So that was one thing I was always interested in.
When I returned to England, I was put in charge of the UK news desk, so I spent the last three years looking at UK politics and Brexit and it’s been an amazing story. I wouldn’t say it’s been a very good news story. It’s been a pretty relentless bad news story. So when my boss came to say would you think about tech coverage, I thought that was a good news story because it was about progress and change.
How big is the team covering tech?
Looking at our global footprint, in Silicon Valley we have five people and we’re hoping to expand there. We’re hoping to have someone in DC shortly to look at the intersection of government and tech. In the UK, we have three reporters and we have a couple of editors. And we will have an editor called a creative producer thinking about new formats of storytelling. And in Brussels we have two people. We also have reporters in Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo. And we have somebody in India. Across the world, we are pretty well resourced.
With the new page on the website and the app, is there also a dedicated page in the print paper?
There is no dedicated page in print. One of the things that attracted me to this job was that I wouldn’t have to think about the printed paper any more.
I am absolutely dyed-in-the-wool print generation, and I have always cared deeply about the print newspaper. But having spent quite a lot of energy about how the pages are going to look as UK news editor, it was a huge amount of mental energy going into that process. But the larger part of our readers are online, and I am much keener about fine-tuning the online product and that we have it absolutely where it needs to be. Whatever we publish online, they take it if they want it, and they put it where they want it in the print paper.
What are some of the big tech topics that the FT is now giving more coverage to?
In thinking about where to position ourselves, we have done a few things. We have asked our readers who read tech stories in the FT what other sources they read. What has come back to us is that they read tech stores in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and Wired. Those are the four big names. So we’re trying to be competitive with those four, but also define a real FT space for our coverage. What do we do that makes us stand out for all the excellent tech coverage that is out there?
The terrain that we want to compete on is that we want to be global. We have a fantastic team of reporters, and we connect them together and tell stories across other sector specialists. Self-driving cars is a tech story, but it’s also an automobile story. The second thing is that I think we can really carve out a space on the intersection of government and tech. We have broken a lot of stories out of Brussels. I think we have been ahead of the curve there, and we’re hoping to strengthen our position in DC.
We’re a financial publication, so we will follow the money. We have very good ties to finance. So we’re going to build up our venture capital reporting team to show our readers where the money is going.
Beside the four you mentioned, who do you see as competitors for global tech news coverage?
I think there are some really interesting publications out there. One that we think has an interesting approach is The Information. They take a very focused approach, and they’re not trying to cover every story. The ones that they do are deeply reported and have a lot of impact. We like what they’re doing.
A lot of media cover tech. How does the FT make its coverage stand apart beside being global?
The key thing for us it to serve our subscribers. Our subscriber come to us because they like what the FT does. They like how the FT reports things. They like how we can explain where the money is going, and they like how we can explain the politics behind things. If we do that in our tech coverage, then we’ll stand out.
Is the FT still hiring tech reporters?
The DC person is about to arrive. We’re hoping to add someone in San Francisco to cover venture capital. Other than that, I’m not sure I’m allowed to say. That’s above my pay grade.
This is a big change for the FT internally. I hope it’s going to make a big splash externally as well.