It doesn't exactly have the screaming headline potential of an O.J. or Bernardo trial. But the G-7 summit in Halifax this weekend is a pretty big deal in financial circles. World leaders are once again sitting down, trying to ponder the imponderable and fix the global economy.
The American and Japanese were determined not to air too much of their current auto squabble at the summit. But topics - public and private - include everything from the IMF to the World Bank to the sagging political fortunes of a number of the leaders attending. Our own Prime Minister, basking in some of the highest opinion polls of any leader anywhere, is as photogenic and enigmatic as ever.
We've sent a team of our most experienced journalists to cover the event: Ottawa bureau chief Al Toulin, economics reporters Bud Jorgensen and Greg Ip and editor-at-large Neville Nankivell. The incorrigible Alan Fotheringham is also along to provide his usual curmudgeonly perspective.
Covering world summits is both frustrating and exhilarating. There are over 2,000 journalists registered at this particular event. That means 2,000 hungry, experienced journalists all fighting for something - anything - different than their competitor's story. A scoop du jour is almost impossible.
Being part of a media pack of 2,000 means being mired in a blitz of endless press releases from the well-oiled media machines accompanying each leader. Making sense of it all is a tough assignment.
But Greg Ip, who's been a mainstay of our economic coverage in Toronto for the past couple of years, is going direct from Halifax to an even tougher assignment. He's about to take over the posting as FP's Washington bureau chief. Jokes about the crime rate aside, Washington is a dream assignment for a foreign journalist. It's front-row centre on the world's most important economy.
Greg's three-year stint in Washington will put him smack dab in the middle of the momentous American tilt to the right, the next presidential election and who knows what dramas across the American corporate landscape.
We feel it's important to have our own people in place in key cities rather than pick up wire-service stories. Greg and the others in our bureau network are trained financial journalists, who hunt specifically for stories of interest to FP readers.
We're headquartered in Toronto. It's true that computers, phones and faxes can take us anywhere. But there's no real electronic replacement for having people actually in ''the field'' (where ever it might be), reporting and writing. It's uneconomic to have reporters everywhere but our Toronto-based staff is increasingly travelling to get stories. And we're in the midst of beefing up our bureau resources.
Keith Damsell, an aggressive young reporter, is moving to our Vancouver bureau next month. He'll be joining veteran financial journalist John Schreiner in keeping an eye on B.C. business. They'll concentrate not just on the business establishment, but also on all the hot new B.C. companies.
A bureau assignment is a mixed blessing. (I should know, I spent about a decade in bureaus across North America and Asia.) Being away from headquarters means, in a sense, news is what you say it is. On the other hand, it's sometimes hard to get those idiots back in headquarters to understand the nuances of your big story.
Seriously, a bureau assignment is a chance for a journalist to shine. In the case of a financial journalist it's an opportunity to deliver thoughtful economic analysis as well as breaking corporate coverage.
Watch for the bylines of our two newest bureau members.
(Ed. note) Maryanne McNellis is the Editorial Director of The Financial Post.
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