Zoe Williams of Vogue profiled Roula Khalaf, who became the first female editor of the Financial Times in its 131-year history earlier this year.
Williams writes, “When we meet, the true impact of the coronavirus is yet to be felt in Britain, and Khalaf and her team are consumed by the approaching pandemic. Since the start of the crisis the FT has seen an unprecedented spike in new readers and subscribers. To adjust its output accordingly, it has launched 24/7 live blogs and new business updates, and commissioned the finest economic minds to write daily on how the virus is changing our world. It’s entirely new territory, but Khalaf has more than risen to the challenge.
“She is searching, curious and pithy, and – like all the most serious minds – has a constant ghost of amusement in her expression; the one thing Khalaf admits was unusual about her ascent is, ‘It used to be if you’re deputy, you never become editor. When I was picked [to be deputy editor of the FT in 2016], a good colleague of mine said, ‘This is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made, what are you going to do next?’’
“Even as deputy, she changed the course of the paper. Famously, this was the period when it developed the JanetBot, a programme that analyses images on its website to ensure a fair representation of women, and the She Said He Said bot, designed to ensure information presented in the FT comes from a range of voices (the media organisation had previously found that only 21 per cent of quotes in the paper were from women). ‘We thought about our homepage especially,’ says Khalaf of the JanetBot, ‘because the easiest thing for a business story is to have an image of a trader or a guy in a suit.'”
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