Intelligent? The FT is, are you?

PETER YORK ON ADS: No 127: FT
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The Independent Culture
The fight between print and screen is on and nowhere is it clearer than on the line between broadcast news and business information. The FT works on that frontier, combining distinctive journalistic voices with pages of market data, the kind of thing you see on screens in offices, if not on everyone's home PC ... yet.

The latest FT commercial challenges the notion that the screen will take over everywhere by exploiting the growing reaction to the multi-channel world - the bored reaction to the cultural overclaims of the screen's proselytizers.

But commercials directors love multiple screens. So an attack on screen culture is a glorious excuse to build a darkened forum of banked screens surrounding a severely smart Thinking Yuppie - the kind who came top at Insead and has no smalltalk. The screens flash into light, techno music gets going, enlivened by wolf howls, and they're off into Babel, anarchy, a meaningless jumble of news, data, effects and gnomic BIG WORDS. On screen we get Arafat, Mandela, and riots, we get FIN, LIAR, IMAGINE and CONTENT (and I could swear I saw CNN!).

Our man (is he a Westminster boy? which investment banks has he worked for? is he a champion skier and a chamber-music man? we demand his CV) is pensive as the chaos resolves itself into a single message on the screens: "Information is useless ... without intelligence." That decides it. He hits the remote button, and then opens the FT in blissful silence. The screens flicker back into life to register the classic FT line: "No FT, no comment."

Now we know FT journalists are intelligent, our reassuring guides to difficult stuff. We know screen will never be enough. And we know serious people don't want to play techno all day. And it's a striking, elegant composition for this rare FT TV appearance. But should the director have been allowed to make the massed screens look quite so good?

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