Brad DeLong declares the Financial Times the world’s best newspaper. He’s surely right about papers in the English language. After a few months of getting my FT fix by website, I opted for home delivery the other week. Reading my FT last night (which included the Larry Summers column on global warming that inspired Brad) I felt that warm glow of satisfaction that comes from holding something truly exceptional.
I still like my New York Times and Wall Street Journal (editorial pages excepted in the latter case), but the FT’s global view and easily worn erudition are far more to my taste.
What interested me, as a sophisticated Web user, is how valuable the paper copy remains. Good editors have value that doesn’t really come across online. Take yesterday’s FT. Online, I wouldn’t have read the articles about the protests and court cases concerning the planned ascent of Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul to the presidency. But since an FT editor had decided to place it as the second lead story on page one, it drew my attention. And the first thing I did this morning was check what had happened (the constitutional court declared the first round of the presidential election invalid, sidelining Gul, which is a fascinating and important development in a key country).
Editors, when they do their job well, are still immensely valuable.
Incidentally, some editor should have done a better job with that Larry Summers column. I thought it was incredibly lame to end by promising to offer solutions “next month”. If you write daily, you can get away with that. A weekly columnist would be on thin ground, to my mind. Summers, who writes once a month for the FT, should have been told it was ridiculous to offer a follow-up one month after the original column. I know it’s Larry Summers, but some editorial backbone was desperately required.