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Dear readers,

When I was appointed editor of the Financial Times in January, I knew I was taking on the best job in international journalism as well as a great responsibility. I knew there would be challenges ahead, but I was equally certain that with your continued support, and the brilliant staff of the FT, we would be able to meet them.

The challenge we face today has been both unexpected and devastating, in the form of a virus that is spreading rapidly around the globe and that is changing how we live and work. Today, I want to share with you how we at the FT are facing up to this challenge, and what we are doing to keep you best informed during this extraordinary crisis.

The FT was founded in 1888, and we have reported on the state of the world without fear and without favour ever since. We have come through wars and recessions, shocks and crashes, economic upheaval and political unrest — and we have learnt a few lessons along the way.

One of those lessons is that our jobs and our news organisation are never more important than in times like these. It is precisely in times of crisis and grave uncertainty that readers turn to sources they can trust — sources without a political agenda, sources that strive at all times to report the news accurately and fairly, that provide sharp analysis, vivid reporting, genuine understanding and the kind of insight you cannot get anywhere else. Sources, in other words, like the FT.

Looking back over the past few weeks, I believe that we have lived up to the high standards that the FT sets itself, and that you as readers rightly demand. Thanks to our unrivalled network of correspondents and reporters, we are able to cover the coronavirus crisis in all corners of the world, and examine its impact on politics, business, finance and markets with unflinching clarity and unmatched expertise.

Over the past two weeks, we have launched a live blog that is hugely popular with readers, and that is now running seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We have started the Coronavirus Business Update, a newsletter that tells you everything you need to know in a concise and accessible format and is published several times a week. We have commissioned some of the world’s finest economic minds to write a daily series on our opinion pages that look at the way the pandemic is changing our world. There will be more initiatives in the coming weeks.

We want to keep you informed, but we also want to do our bit to keep you entertained and stimulated. Everyone needs some distraction in times of great stress. That is why we are preparing a curated daily series of articles about art, books, music, fashion, food and all the other topics we normally cover only in the Weekend FT.

I am immensely proud of the work FT reporters and editors are doing, in circumstances that have been trying in the extreme. Our headquarters at Bracken House, in the heart of the City of London, are all but deserted. With few exceptions, our offices around the world are shuttered. Almost everything you read on FT.com and in the paper has to be written, edited and produced by my colleagues and me from makeshift offices at home. Many of us have children to look after, and elderly relatives to worry about. Like all of you, we are concerned about our health and the health of our loved ones. Like all of you, we are having to prepare for scenarios that we hope will not come to pass.

Amid all this uncertainty, I want to reassure you that one thing remains unchanged — our total commitment to the FT, and to you, the readers. We take heart from the fact that there are more of you today than ever before. Our paid readership passed the 1m mark last year, and it has risen steadily since. We have seen an unprecedented increase in new readers and subscribers since the start of the coronavirus crisis. To all those new subscribers, let me say: thank you. We will do everything we can to keep your trust.

This brings me to a final point. Quality journalism costs money. We know — and we never forget — where that money comes from: from you, the readers. Our financial strength is the bedrock of our independence, and the guarantee of our future as a world-class business newspaper. We were one of the first media companies in the world to introduce a paywall, and today we are more confident than ever that this is the right model for the FT.

We are keenly aware of our responsibility to those of you who pay to read the FT. But in times like these we feel that we also have a responsibility to inform the wider community. That is why I have taken the step to make a few of our great number of stories on coronavirus free to read. I know I can count on the support of our longtime subscribers for this measure.

There is a special bond between the FT and its readers. Many of you have read us for much of your adult life. Our columnists and writers are familiar voices to you. You know you can rely on us, and we know we can rely on you. And we will do everything we can to keep it that way — today, tomorrow, and every day of this latest threat to life and global stability.

Stay safe, and best wishes,

Roula

Readers can write to the editor at letters.editor@ft.com

Letters in response to this letter:

More arts and books are exactly what we need now / From Jon Stern, Walford, Herefordshire, UK

Thanks for not fanning the flames of hysteria / From Philip Spanton, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

A tremendous read / From Simon Fenton, Warminster, Wilts, UK

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