Nick Moore - a true one-off
Tuesday 4 May 2021
I am so sorry to hear about Nick Moore's passing - a former desk head of mine, and a true original, both as a boss, and as a journalist.
Ex-colleagues have quite rightly detailed Nick's career as a general news reporter, as well as the trailblazing approach to covering OPEC. But after handing over the reins on energy and before he moved into training, Nick became EMEA commodities editor, which is when I worked under him as a senior correspondent.
I have two tales to recount of my time working with Nick.
The first was when he took over, and in the initial week or so, he got to grips with all the various commodities we covered and the individual reporters.
On Friday, Nick suggested he and I pop across the road (we were in Gray's Inn Road at the time) for a lunchtime curry. Over chicken tikka biryani and Kingfisher beers, he scribbled down thoughts, angles, leads, suggestions etc on base metals coverage - my area.
He concluded by asking who the main competitor was - in this case it was Knight Ridder. My target was "Words on the wire before KR, Martin."
That, as I found out, was an appraisal - Nick Moore style.
Fast forward to Thursday 14 June 1996. I had turned in for the night at 10:30pm, as I had a 5am alarm call - I had a 6:30am start-time all that week, so I fell into a deep sleep straight away. An hour later the phone went - my wife passed it over - "It's your boss".
Sure enough, it was Nick barking down the phone at high-speed, and I picked up about one word in three. "Sumitomo... $1.8 billion loss… Hamanaka fired… Need you in."
Dozily, I asked Nick if he realised what the time was. Quick as a flash he replied - "It's 11:35".
Awake by now I said "Nick - I know that. But do you REALISE that it's the middle of the night, and I'm knackered. Oh well - I'm on my way in."
To which he replied before putting the phone down - "Good man".
This, of course, was the start of the copper market scandal, and rogue trader Yasuo Hamanaka, who, at that time, racked up the biggest ever financial loss in unauthorised trading, dwarfing Barings and Nick Leeson.
So, I pitched up around 12:30 and got to work. Soon after I was joined by Douglas Learmond, who was a roving special correspondent then. And around 1am, Nick arrived and settled into his desk-cum-bunker-cum-slot - he simply said. "Send it across to me as you write it, Martin - I'll pull it together and polish it up."
Music to my ears, as writing lead paras was my bete-noir.
By 4am we had an artfully crafted, skeddable in-depth story out - ready for econ and the market opening, as well as Gennews.
Not long after, and as the sun was rising, Nick disappeared downstairs briefly to the in-house cafe and came back with cooked breakfasts for three.
I probably worked with Nick around five years before he transferred to training. It was seat-of-the-pants stuff and unorthodox at times, but he stood by his reporters and it was always great fun.
I was at Reuters 31 years - of all the senior journalists who were my superiors, he was the one I most respected and learnt the most from - a true one-off. ■