Media Profile: Doyenne of the City pages - Patience Wheatcroft, business and City editor, the Times

Patience Wheatcroft, business and City editor of the Times, is probably unique among journalists in that Arnold Weinstock - who ran electronics giant GEC - has sung Verdi to her, twice. During their interview he also demonstrated his cost controls when he bought himself a drink but didn’t get her one. She has no hard feelings, though, and even thinks he has a good singing voice.

Patience Wheatcroft, business and City editor of the Times, is

probably unique among journalists in that Arnold Weinstock - who ran

electronics giant GEC - has sung Verdi to her, twice. During their

interview he also demonstrated his cost controls when he bought himself

a drink but didn’t get her one. She has no hard feelings, though, and

even thinks he has a good singing voice.



’When you write about the City, it’s important to get across the

colourful personalities of the people who run the place,’ she says,

using Weinstock as an example.



’My first job on Fleet Street was on the Daily Mail under Patrick

Sergeant, who was a wonderful mentor,’ she says. ’He brought style and

flair to a traditionally dull area. He is famous for once writing his

column from Ascot during Ascot Week and it was his approach in writing

about people and the gossip of the Square Mile that has really guided

me.’



Since arriving at the Times a year ago, Wheatcroft has wrought something

of a velvet revolution. She joined a section that had had a series of

editor changes in a short space of time and she set about reorganising

its direction.



’The weekend money section was very strong but we needed more City

focus,’ she explains. ’We’ve been lucky in that we were able to expand

the staff, bringing in new blood such as Raymond Snoddy on media,

Dominic Walsh on hotels and Richard Miles on banking.



’Those sort of people are important because, while the Times is the kind

of name that opens a lot of doors for you, the City is really about

contacts and we now have some of the best contacts in the business

between us.’



She’s made the section more punchy, gossipy and idiosyncratic. She has

added a corporate profile on Mondays where companies are given marks out

of ten - this has ruffled a few feathers already - and she launched a

marketing column.



Wheatcroft is also proud of the way the business desk is now working

with the front pages in covering the wider interest business and City

stories. On the day we spoke, for instance, Vickers had just agreed to

sell Rolls-Royce to BMW and the Times was working as a whole in covering

the story. The business pages broke down the relevant share price

information and chatted about the cost implications, while the front

section spoke to Rolls-Royce enthusiasts and both teams co-operated on a

history of the marque.



Wheatcroft’s ambition is to take on and beat her old employers at the

Daily Telegraph. She once worked with the paper’s business supremo Neil

Collins. She thinks he has done a brilliant jobs at the Telegraph but

won’t let such admiration get in the way of her ambition to beat him and

his team out of sight.



’I don’t think we need any radical change to do it,’ she says. ’It’s

just a process of gentle evolution from now on.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1986

Assistant City editor, the Daily Mail

1987

Editor, Retail Week

1993

Columnist, Daily Telegraph

1995

Deputy City editor, Financial Mail, Mail on Sunday

1997

Business and City editor, the Times



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