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Douglas Learmond - depth and breadth

There was nothing Doug Learmond didn't know about commodities … from their physical production to their global trading, from their regulatory international agreements to their abstruse futures and options products. Many's the time I sat at his feet to draw on the depth and breadth of his knowledge. Most staffers reach editor status via a variety of beats and postings. But Doug stuck to his chosen speciality and wound up at Reuters as the single editor with the greatest command of his brief. His unswerving passion for his speciality was evident to all. Likewise his calm, unhurried, patient approach to his news file responsibilities.

When Doug ran the London City Office (a label for the UK Commodities Reporting Unit based in the heart of London's financial district rather than in Fleet Street), it was a very different world from today. Commodity deals were cut on physical trading floors rather than via computer screens. Reporters spent large parts of their day cultivating contacts face-to-face on the floors of the trading exchanges for base metals, soft commodities, shipping and such like. Notebooks in hand, they chatted with traders and noted important deals before scurrying back to the office to file. Other non-commodity Reuter staffers needing enlightenment on this arcane world would be despatched to the City Office for Doug's comprehensive tour of the exchanges followed by a cracking roast beef lunch with excellent ales at a nearby traditional tavern. Often those contacts made at the exchanges could be encountered afresh (and even re-freshed) over lunch.

I heartily endorse John Bartram's view that working with Doug was more like being with a friend rather than a colleague. ■