FastFT 2

The Financial Times has launched a new online breaking news platform called fastFT, which offers a stream of "market-moving news" updates 24 hours a day, five days a week.

The live stream offers concise coverage of the latest events in global markets, enabling readers to gain a snapshot of events in real-time. Posts are presented in a mash-up, with each one displaying the initial part of the post. Users then have the ability to click into each post to open it up in full on the page, as well as see posts based on three specific subject areas rather than "all". Each post is around 150 to 300 words long, and in some cases posts link out to more in-depth related reading on FT.com.

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, chief correspondent for fastFT Megan Murphy said the service was built both to "respond to how our readers and consumers of financial news are interacting with news" in today's market, as well as to "respond also to competitive pressures in the industry in terms of speed, in terms of content, in terms of new people cropping up".

The result is a stream of the "the most important market-moving news as it happens, in any market around the world, in as close to real time as possible".

The service is "platform-neutral", she added, "meaning that Fast is basically the same across mobile, across desktop, across tablet device, across Android, across Apple".

Murphy said that while in "rare" circumstances there may be cause to use the platform to just push out a big news headline, this is not the general intention.

"This isn't Twitter, we don't want to be in the business of just breaking headlines," she said. "I think it will be very rare that we would use this functionality to just release headlines. I don't think that adds a lot of value to people in general."

Murphy added that Fast "is not designed to compete real time with the wires in terms of capitalised headlines, we're not going to do that".

"We're not in that game. But there will be, of course, rare exceptions, when we would put out just a headline, but I would say the vast, vast majority of the time we would put out a fully-formed post on something when it happens."

Through the launch of fastFT the news outlet wants "to get back into the market very competitively of breaking financial news", she explained.

"As I have said to people throughout this process, we have the world's leading financial brand, we have the world's leading analysis, we have the world's leading comment and we also have the world's leading news, but sometimes we don't showcase that as effectively as we could, and Fast is our way of making people realise that we are very competitive in this market as well."

The new service is supported by a "new platform", according to Murphy, which is "totally separate from the way we produce news for FT.com and for the physical paper".

"So there's a totally different functionality in terms of speed. It's very easy to use and it's very quick to use".

And when news breaks elsewhere, the platform will be open to linking to that content too.

"Fast is probably the first platform at the FT that we have that's totally content-agnostic. So that means that if a big scoop is breaking elsewhere, and it's moving markets, there's no way we can pretend that that is not happening."

She added: "Our readers need to know important stories, and if that important story is elsewhere we can't pretend it doesn't exist. We have to report to it and we have to then chase it up and we have to say 'we are following this'.

"You have to be ready to respond, and you have to have the people who can respond to that. No one likes it when you get scooped by another organisation in an industry as competitive as this, but we have to be realistic and when that happens we have to respond smartly. And fast is a really good way of how we can respond smartly."

The version of Fast launched today is the "first phase", Murphy said. This means features such as the currently ability to search the stream for certain terms will be built on further in the second phase to enable more decisive filtering of content based on a user's personal preferences.

"That was a big feature of a service we had here called Tilt, which was fantastic and we've used some of the same technology as Tilt. We have not built user-defined searching, although you can search it like a Google search, but you can't right now create the filter... But that is something we'd definitely would like to build in in the second phase of fast."

"We want to see how people are using it first and foremost and the demand for that, I think the demand is there and I expect we'll see that pretty rapidly built in."

Another addition on the horizon will be the ability for readers to comment on each fastFT update post. This is "priority number one for the second phase", Murphy added.

Access to fastFT will be behind the FT's metered paywall, meaning that clicking onto the overall platform will count of one of a registered user's monthly allowance, although clicking into individual posts once on the page will not add to the count.

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