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Journalist Spotlight

John Foley on how Reuters Breakingviews covered Brexit

Last week, Britons voted to leave the European Union, an outcome that has shocked global financial markets, sending stocks plunging and sovereign bonds and the U.S. dollar sharply higher. The decision is expected to have global implications, some of which may take years to play out. Reuters Breakingviews covered the lead up to the vote and its aftermath from all angles, giving readers a rapid, comprehensive read on the momentous implications of Britain’s vote. In a Reuters Best: Journalist Spotlight Q&A, Breakingviews EMEA Editor John Foley offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the team covered the vote.

Q. How did Breakingviews cover the Brexit vote leading up to and through last week?

A. Our post-vote column landed half an hour after the outcome was announced. But it was really the result of a year of debate, writing and reporting. For a long time, we’ve thought about little else! That same day, we wrote on the market meltdown, the UK’s political vacuum and an impending break-up of the UK (and we still found time to cover a $3.6 bln German detergent merger). Some of our best pieces from the run-up to the vote are in the Brexit ebook we published a couple of days beforehand.

Q. How will Breakingviews be covering the story as it unfolds?

A. We’ll continue to hit the big questions hard, not just in Europe but in Asia and the U.S. too. It’s a genuinely global effort. What happens to the City of London? What does China think? What does it mean for Donald Trump? We’re of course watching the effect on companies and deals as well. Our mission is to explain and take a view, but also throw the story forward with what we think should happen next. A great example was George Hay’s article on how leaving the EU could help Britain bridge its north-south divide.

Q. Have you faced any challenges in coverage of the vote?

A. The big challenge has been unpredictability. It’s hard to find historical parallels. At the same time, it’s important to retain a sense of perspective when market signals flash red! That’s where our focus on being considered as well as fast stands us in good stead. So does our other mantra: giving readers value for time. Our markets ninja Swaha Pattanaik has been writing throughout on how to make sense of mixed messages coming from currencies, equity and bonds.

Q. What makes you passionate about journalism?

A. That one’s easy: being surrounded by a team of whip-smart, fearless columnists. I couldn’t wish for a more inspiring bunch. I like being able to bring together different perspectives, and match the big picture with the small-but-important stuff. I wrote a piece on why Britain would be better off voting remain, using some insights from my leave-voting home town. Our resident millennial Liam Proud wrote a great column on how to re-motivate young voters.

Q. What does it mean to be a Breakingviews columnist and what do you find most fulfilling about it?

A. It means being fast, smart, analytical and consistent. It means being willing to express an opinion but also able to listen. And it means having the right contacts, who’ll talk on background when you need them. I have my opinions challenged and stress-tested every day, and there is not a single day when I don’t learn something new. That’s all I could want from a job.

To read the latest from John Foley, click here.

Article Tags
Topics of Interest: Journalist Spotlight
Type: Reuters Best
Regions: Europe / Middle East / Africa