A dinner discussion with Lionel Barber (Financial Times)
Held on Tuesday, September 10th, at Ruffer
Lionel Barber (Financial Times)
In a recent interview, published in the Columbia Journalism Review, Lionel Barber was blunt:
“My team sets the news agenda for decision-makers in politics, business and finance around the world”.
He has a point. The FT – which he has edited since 2005 (making him the paper’s longest serving editor since the legendary Gordon Newton) – has 600 journalists, 150 outside the UK. It also has more than a million paying readers, two-thirds of whom are now on-line. Despite its focus on finance and business, it is pretty much non-partisan; indeed, the FT actually backed Labour in 1992 (though the then-editor, Richard Lambert, is said to have subsequently regretted the decision).
That said, the paper is unashamedly pro-European, deploring Brexit (which Barber, who is a chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, has described as “not a sensible economic decision”. It has also been pretty tough on Trump, on trade, on China (in his CJR interview, he suggested that “we’re close to a new Cold War”) and even on our own new PM.
All of that reflects the world view of the editor – who served as Washington correspondent, US editor and Brussels bureau chief before taking over as the bossfrom Andrew Gowers. Since then, he has had to face the Great Financial Crisis, Brexit, Trump, the sale of the FT by its long-time paternalistic owners to Japan’s Nikkei, and the challenge of digitisation – not just the challenge to the media but, the challenges to the industry that the FT covers. It has been an eventful ride – and it may not be over. (The Guardian has been reporting for at least the last six months that the search for a new editor is underway, but his CJR interview made clear that Barber remains firmly in control).
So, we are delighted, privileged, awed (pick’em) that Lionel Barber has agreed to subject himself to an informal dinner discussion on the key issues of the day, how he sees them, how the FT handles them, and how media has to change to cope with the new/old challenges it faces.
Our hosts for the evening are our friends at Ruffer & Co – who have one of the most beautiful dining rooms in London (and a kitchen to match it). So I can guarantee excellent food and drink. But we only have a couple of dozen seats; so – if you would like to join us for what I am sure will be a provocative and wide-ranging discussion – please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or to 0207 621 1056. An early response would be appreciated.