The internet has certainly set the cat among the pigeons. Reuters
has announced a pounds 20 million investment in an internet news
service, two journalists from the Financial Times are still rumoured to
be considering an on-line newspaper, despite repeated denials from the
FT, and FT.Com has decided to beef up its coverage.
Canny observers believe all this activity has been prompted by launch of
TheStreet.com, a UK version of a highly successful US on-line financial
news and commentary web site with a cheerfully irreverent style.
’People keep asking me if all this activity, which is clearly supposed
to stifle us at birth, is worrying me,’ says TheStreet’s editor-in-chief
Martin Baker. ’You’d expect me to say this, but no. The problem all
these other organisations have is that they are tied to other sources of
The FT, which I think of as the Queen Mother of financial journalism,
has to decide how to balance out the demands of the paper, the paper’s
advertisers, staff and readers. We don’t have to worry about that. We’re
Baker has had a solid career in financial journalism, having worked for
the Times, the Independent, the International Herald Tribune and Sunday
Business, but this record belies a man with an adventurous streak.
After helping launch the Independent, he decided to head out to Paris
after his wife secured a top TV job. It barely took him a month to get a
Paris posting with the Tribune.
But despite enjoying the pleasure of Parisian cafe culture - or at least
sitting about in cafes trying to work out which language had the most
slang words for penis - he decided he didn’t want his kids growing up as
expatriates so in 1997 he came home and got a job on Sunday
’I loved working for Sunday Business, and I think it is the best
business paper around,’ he says. ’It’s only the challenge of something
like this that would tempt me to leave. I really admire Jeff Randall and
I want to borrow his template to run TheStreet. If you deal straight,
provide strong leadership and don’t fib, then you’ll get the best out of
The regard is mutual. ’Martin’s greatest talent is his breadth of
skills,’ Randall says. ’He’s an excellent writer, a terrific linguist
and he can catch almost any ball you throw at him. If he has a downside,
it’s that his brain is over engineered and he sometimes operates on a
level that is not comprehensible to the rest of us. I have to warn him,
as a launch editor myself, that there will be a black hole that he has
not foreseen on the road ahead. Unfortunately, I don’t know what it is.
No one does.’
With TheStreet launching in the first part of 2000, Baker is off
recruiting the best people he knows. He is keen to talk to the PR
industry as well, although he has got a lot on his plate with the
minutiae of the launch and won’t be looking for stories for a while.
’I’d just like them to be aware of us,’ he says. ’In the US, we get one
million visitors a month, generate 15 million page views per month and
have 90,000 subscribers. I’ve just got to make sure we do the same
Money correspondent, The Independent
Editor, investment section, International Herald Tribune
Associate editor, Sunday Business