Peter Lauria profiles Gillian Tett, newly appointed U.S. managing editor for the Financial Times, and author of another economic crisis must-read Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe. Here’s the best part:
Modesty aside, there’s no doubt that Tett’s petite frame masks a fierce competitor who sees, in The Wall Street Journal’s general interest news war with The New York Times, an opportunity for the FT to grab a few market-share points by staying true to its core competency of explaining the interconnectedness between politics and business around the globe. Though Tett, an avid skier who forsakes the trails in favor of strapping her gear to her back and climbing up backcountry mountains, will never say that herself, in true British fashion thinking it too impolite to be that in-your-face.
“Our American competitors are quite rigid in their demarcation,” was about the saltiest comment Tett would make about the FT’s rivals. “We covered the credit crisis better because we are less rigid about who was working on what. There were a lot of great reporters scurrying around looking at credit derivatives, but they weren’t getting into the paper or getting on the front page.”
Developing or emphasizing a strong core competency seems to me like the key for the media future. The economics of printing and distributing piles of newsprint on a daily basis militates in favor of literally bundling lots of unrelated content into a single pile. That in turn drove giant reporting/editing staffs and a bureaucratic, rules-oriented management of the staff. The most successful new media operations are smaller and more focused, but also flatter in their organizational structure and more flexible about what any one individual is doing at any time. Older media brands that have some of those same characteristics are in a relatively strong position.