The Financial Times to ‘experiment’ with taking its newsroom to the big stage

The Financial Times to ‘experiment’ with taking its newsroom to the big stage

The Financial Times is further leaning into live experiences by taking its journalists to the big stage for a theatrical premiere where it will look to experiment with new ways for fans to engage with the brand.

The FT, in collaboration with Live Magazine, will attend the Milton Court, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, tasking its journalists and columnists to perform pieces of original content, adapted for the stage.

Renée Kaplan, FT's head of audience engagement, told The Drum: “It’s a real experiment for us, with some pretty clear objectives in mind. The idea is to try to broaden the audience’s perception of what Financial Times journalism and journalists are about, to get existing readers and people new to the FT to engage with our stories and our people in a way that we hope they will remember – because it will have engaged with them more emotionally, or humorously, or directly, or just differently.”

In a way, this helps the title open up its newsroom – tapping into a wider trend identified by Kaplan. The live newsroom experience is the cornerstone of slow news start-up Tortoise’s business model, meanwhile, Sky News made waves to celebrate its 30th anniversary by livestreaming its journalists at work earlier this year. It’s an experience also delivered by The Drum in its pop-up pub The Drum Arms too.

Kaplan said: “I think that the audience appetite for that is real. That is part of our thinking here: by putting faces and voices to stories through literal story-telling, it creates a different, we hope more meaningful, connection to our journalism.”

The FT promises that the stories will cover a diverse range of topics “from the fall of oligarchs to the Oxford rivalries of famous politicians”.

The work was inspired by a self-titled show from Live Magazine that Kaplin saw in Paris several years ago. The show was produced by a journalist named Florence Martin-Kessler who explained to Kaplin how the magazine format can come to life on the stage. Five years after Live Magazine was founded, it is now collaborating with the Financial Times.

The hope is that it will help humanise the brand and outline the breadth of its offering from “the economy and international affairs to cultural criticism and style, from markets analysis and corruption investigations to food and crosswords”.

Kaplan concluded: “FT on Stage is above all about engaging our readers. Engaging with people who aren’t yet readers, who might be aware of the brand but not actually familiar with it. It’s about creating a relationship with an audience. All of which are core strategies for our team and, frankly, more broadly for the business.”

Performing will be commentators and reporters including: Robert Shrimsley, Miranda Green, Roula Khalaf, Claer Barrett, Simon Kuper, Tom Burgis, Madhumita Murgia, India Ross, John Burn-Murdoch, Charlie Bibby and the artist behind FT illustrations, James Ferguson.

The event will take place at 7pm Tuesday 9 April. Register for tickets here.

The publisher is investing heavily in the live experience. Earlier this month it made a significant expansion into tech, mainland Europe and events by taking a controlling stake in The Next Web for an undisclosed fee.

The FT is promising “synergies” between The Next Web and FT Live events in particular. It said its acquisition of the Amsterdam-based events and media company also complements its recent launch of Sifted, its new entrepreneur data platform.

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