Tomorrow will be the first time since 1957 that the Financial Times will not be published as part of Pearson.
As we complete the sale of the FT to new proprietors, Nikkei, it’s a good day to take stock of what Pearson and the FT have achieved together in those 58 years.
As Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson pointed out in his eloquent analysis of the sale, when Pearson first bought the Pink ‘Un, the deal was described as “a sound, conservative investment”.
It went on to be so much more than that. The City of London’s house paper has become the indispensable guide to global finance, economics, politics and the business of technology for people with an interest in any of those fields. FT.com has continually redefined digital journalism – and has proven that people will pay for high quality content.
The FT’s principled approach to reporting “without fear or favour”, the breadth and depth of its coverage, and its unstinting high standards are all qualities to we have admired and sought to uphold throughout our ownership.
The FT’s commitment to finding and breeding the next generation of journalistic talent is also one from which many businesses could learn. Some of the most respected names in global journalism and public life are FT alumni – including current leaders at the BBC and Dow Jones. (It’s not every newspaper whose journalists go on to become government ministers, from Westminster to Ottawa, either).
So, why did we sell?
There is no doubt we’ve reached an inflection point in global media, involving new models for paid content and changing relationships between journalists, publications and their readers. The world of education, where Pearson is now putting 100% of our focus, is changing rapidly, too. I wrote about these phenomena after our sale was announced.
And in the face of these changes, Pearson could not divide attention between two such crucial efforts. Education was already 90% of our business, and the FT deserved to be at the heart of a business totally focused on the future of global media.
The FT will continue to define my morning agenda, whether that means reading Ed Luce and Janan Ganesh on US and UK politics, Andrew Hill on management, Martin Wolf on global economics, John Gapper and Gillian Tett on the intersection of business, politics and technology, or the many other journalists, editors and columnists whose expertise and way with words make the FT what it is.
We wish colleagues, at the FT and Nikkei, very well as they define the future together.
They will continue to make what Lionel Barber describes as “news for the new world”, and we will continue to cheer them on.
Meanwhile Pearson is now totally focused on our biggest opportunity – making global education more accessible and more effective, and meeting the needs of millions of students all over the world who seek a better life. It’s a long term opportunity, and a complex one too – but it’s an inspiring goal, and one which we are better equipped to fulfil than anyone else.
After years of enjoying a free subscription to the FT, I spent the weekend sorting out my own paid subscription. So, having sold the FT, I can now say with pride, that I buy it every day.