Media Profile: From banking to media markets - John Gapper, media editor, Financial Times

New jobs can be a little daunting, but stepping into the job of media editor for the Financial Times when your predecessor was the eminent Ray Snoddy would seem to many journalists a near impossible task. Not so John Gapper. It is a job he always wanted but thought Snoddy would never relinquish and he’s got a pretty strong track record to back him up.

New jobs can be a little daunting, but stepping into the job of

media editor for the Financial Times when your predecessor was the

eminent Ray Snoddy would seem to many journalists a near impossible

task. Not so John Gapper. It is a job he always wanted but thought

Snoddy would never relinquish and he’s got a pretty strong track record

to back him up.



He’s certainly used to getting the big stories. While covering the

banking sector, Gapper had to deal with the explosive Barings collapse.

His coverage prompted an agent to ring him and suggest he write a book

on the subject - All That Glitters: The Fall Of Barings. Gapper agreed,

but says ruefully: ’The thing about a non-fiction book is that the

subject chooses you. I found I was holding down a job and researching

around the world.’ A sabbatical of three months helped, and his work

became the last word on the subject.



’We have three tasks ahead of us,’ Gapper says of the media sector. ’We

have to continue with our traditional UK broadcast and print stories and

features but we also have to think about our international

ambitions.



The FT is an increasingly international paper, with our recent US

re-launch, and we have a number of correspondents in Silicon Valley and

Los Angeles who can contribute to our sense of an industry where

Bertelsmann competes with News Corp, which competes with Canal Plus,

which competes with Carlton,’ he says.



’Our third aim is to look at the process of convergence that is taking

place at the moment. Telecoms, information technology, entertainment and

media used to be distinct but they are gradually drawing closer

together.



For instance, Microsoft has just bought into cable company Comcast. We

need to cover that, without falling too hard for the hype.’



To this end, Gapper will head up a newly-created group within the FT

called the media and technology group. It consists of Gapper as media

editor; a yet to be appointed media correspondent; Alice Rawsthorn

covering entertainment, film and music; Alan Cane covering telecoms,

Paul Taylor covering IT and an IT telecoms post just filled by Chris

Price; international correspondents like Chris Parkes in LA and Nick

Denton in Silicon Valley.



’I’m hoping it will be a formidable team firing on all fronts, unless of

course we end up bickering all the time,’ laughs Gapper. ’I’ll be

writing about UK broadcasting and covering ITV, the BBC and BSkyB,

before moving out internationally. I think it’s important to master an

industry before you start to expand globally.’



Outside of this hectic reinventing of the FT’s media editorial

structure, Gapper likes to relax by playing the cello, with his wife

accompanying him on the piano. Having said that, the re-inventing

business has been so hectic that he hasn’t had much spare time - so the

Julian Lloyd Webber comparisons will have to be shelved for the time

being.



HIGHLIGHTS

1986

Labour reporter, Financial Times

1989

Labour editor, FT

1992

Banking editor, FT

1997

Media editor, FT



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