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Shades of Pravda

Why does the leaked memorandum from Reuters latest agency supremo Michael Friedenberg (The Baron, 7 April) read like a Pravda editorial in the dear old Soviet days?

First, we get the good news. Clients, Friedenberg reports on the basis of discussions in the three months since his appointment as (Party?) boss, that not only is the venerable agency seen as “incredible” but also “as trustworthy, fast, reliable and global in scope.” Nothing new there then.

But next, in the familiar Pravda style, comes the real message for the workers and peasants: However, the text runs, (“Odnako” as the Soviet editors would have said), “we (i.e. you, the coalface toilers) need to do more in order to stay relevant… Change is the one constant and Reuters must change.”

As was the practice of Pravda editorialists, Friedenberg does not say exactly what needs to be done. But in true Soviet style he announces a top leadership (Politburo) reshuffle (promotions, demotions and a couple of removals) while leaving one loyalist in place. The new ruling group will be charged with bringing order to the state administration and ensuring that change (perestroika?) is achieved.

The new leaders will head a more “centralised… structure” (tsentralizatsia was a favourite Soviet solution for failings out in the provinces) and improve collaboration (sotrudnichestvo) and coordination (koordinatsiya).

Thank you to The Baron for bringing this document (Secret Speech?) to our attention. Made me feel quite nostalgic. ■