FT Alphaville is hiring, and I took the opportunity to ask its fearless leader, Paul Murphy, a few questions about the FT’s flagship blog operation and the way that bloggers are treated at the pink ‘un. Here are his answers:
How big is the Alphaville team?
Currently four, of which three are in London (myself, Sam Jones, Helen Thomas) and one in Tokyo (Gwen Robinson, who is primarily concerned with putting together our 6am Cut email). Beyond that we pull Neil Hume in each day from the FT’s market reporting team to produce Markets Live. We also have occasional stints from Stacy-Marie Ishmael, for which we are very grateful. She’s currently blogging from Trinidad & Tobago, giving us content during the latter part of the US working day.
The near/medium term ambition is to double the regular size of the team — adding to it not only in London, but also developing coverage out of NY and HK.
How many of the Alphaville bloggers had a blog before they joined
Alphaville? How much of an advantage would someone applying for this
job have if they already had a vaguely financial blog, compared to
someone who didn’t?
Both Stacy-Marie and Sam Jones blogged independently before joining. Helen was an FT.com staff reporter, Gwen an editor from the Comment pages — while I was a complete newcomer to all things web-ish. (The Guardian, where i was financial editor, is only now trying to integrate its web and paper operations.)
The advantage of having previous experience as a blogger? Huge. Getting people to drop the journalistic straightjacket of newspaper reporting is the first challenge. Getting writers to understand that they are part of a conversation, that they can be light and funny, and short and quick, and all the usual cliches. It is important to remember here that the whole idea of professional blogging is much less advanced in the UK than in the US. So we don’t expect new hirings to have experience — but we do expect them to understand the genre.
Does the job pay the same as an equivalently-qualified FT reporter?
Yes, the same as a regular FT reporter, depending on age/experience/skills etc. At the FT we do not draw any division between newspaper and online work. If anything, the premium lies with those on the blogging / interactive side because of the relative rarity of the skills.