Wednesday 18 December 2013
How depressing it is for us old timers - or to me at least - to read of these never-ending executive restructurings of Reuters (sorry, “Thomson Reuters”). In the old days, part of the reason Reuters had a solid reputation was that it had people who spent more than 24 hours in the same job and knew what they were doing. But of course, I forget, in those bad old days Reuters was owned and controlled by its newspaper clients, whereas now the only objective is to ensure that the Thomson family remain rich (and they’re 30 per cent richer in the past year, hallelujah!). As probably one of the few Reuters correspondents who actually met the first Lord (Roy) Thompson (and liked him - he was my lunch guest at Karachi’s Sindh Club along with Walton Cole of Reuters in 1961, for heaven’s sake) I am saddened.
This site’s reminiscences awaken many memories. For example, the great Harold King, of whom we were all in awe half a century ago. I never knew Odile Leroux, but names like Bernard Edinger come crowding back. On London’s Central Desk, I used to sub the stories from Harold King that said, time after time, that this umpteenth cabinet crisis in Paris would result in Charles de Gaulle being called back from retirement to save the country. One dared not tamper too much with Harold’s copy because he had the title of Assistant General Manager of Reuters. And hey! Eventually, on about the 74th occasion, he was right. De Gaulle was finally called back. So Harold was right. And Reuters was right.
Those were great days. As a Central Desk sub I was paid nineteen pounds twelve shillings and sixpence a week, the Fleet Street minimum, which was distinctly better than the provincials paid their staff. I remember when it was announced that the annual Reuters budget had surpassed TWO MILLION POUNDS! OMG, you really mean two million pounds? That would be about a tenth of the present day chief executive’s lunch allowance. In those days senior journalists like Jack Henry and Gordon Ditchfield didn’t think of themselves as being on a corporate money-grabbing ladder. They were journalists. ■