The newspaper Financial times (FT) He has appointed Roula Khalaf (Beirut, Lebanon) as the new director of the publication, replacing Lionel Barber. Khalaf, who consolidated his professional prestige with the coverage of the Iraq War and the Arab Spring of 2011, supervised for three years, in his post as deputy director, the strategic planning of the TF and the new initiatives to enhance his digital projection. She will be the first director of the newspaper since its founding in 1884.
The Barber replacement process has taken a year to complete, and has had the involvement of the new owners of the FT, the Japanese media company Nikkei, who have had to choose between a squad of internal candidates that included figures like John Thornhill, Alec Russell or Robert Shrimley. The president of Nikkei, Tsuneo Kita, has assured that Khalaf's 24-year professional career in the newspaper has demonstrated his "integrity, determination and good judgment" and has been convinced that "he will continue to develop the FT's objective of providing quality journalism without fear and without favoritism (without fear and without favor it is the legend that can be read in the header of the publication).
Born in Lebanon, Khalaf worked in the economic weekly Forbes before joining the London newspaper. There he wrote a famous profile of the stockbroker, Jordan Belfort, who was immortalized by the filmmaker Martin Scorsese in The wolf of Wall Street. Khalaf's character has a brief appearance in the film, although she herself has explained that, despite trying, she never met Belfort personally. The controversial financier comes to refer to her in his memoirs from prison as an "insolent journalist of the magazine Forbes", a qualifier that Khalaf proudly carries.
On Khalaf lies the responsibility of continuing to drive the digital growth of the FT, which has gone from being a business focused on the print edition to becoming a quality brand with a colossal presence in the digital world. More than a million digital subscribers have endorsed the commitment initiated by its predecessor, Barber, to convert the newspaper into a global publication and expand its area of interest beyond the traditional world of business and finance.
"This profession requires passion. And dedication. You must love it. You must love it absolutely and you must love the need to tell stories. You have to be curious. And you want to learn about the rest of the world. You must travel and discover new things. And you have to dedicate hours to it. Nothing comes easily to you, "Khalaf advised young journalists in a recent podcast interview.
Khalaf has played a fundamental role in matching the weight of men and women in the TF, a publication historically dominated by its male component. "We discovered that we had few female readers. And we have worked hard to turn it around. We work with the 'Janet Bot' system, which monitors the number of photos of women on our main website. If it falls below a minimum, they shoot the alerts, and we have joined the 50/50 project launched by the BBC Our editors are already aware of the need to incorporate more female voices in the stories, much remains to be done, but awareness already exists and that is a big step, "he explained.