MEDIA PROFILE: Taking pleasure in business - Martin Baker, editor-in-chief, TheStreet.com

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.

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

news.



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

pure.’



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

Business.



’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

people.’



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

here.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1987

Money correspondent, The Independent

1990

Editor, investment section, International Herald Tribune

1997

Associate editor, Sunday Business



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