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Tom Glocer: I'll carry on blogging

Tom Glocer has defended his comment on US fraud charges against Goldman Sachs and said he stands by what he wrote about the case on his blog. He will continue blogging, the Financial Times reported.

The chief executive was speaking to the FT in New York on Tuesday where Thomson Reuters presented its 2010 Q1 financial results. The newspaper's reporter noted that the US investment bank was a large client and said Glocer's comments were "a subject of intense scrutiny by journalists at Reuters and elsewhere".

"His warning of a 'rush to judgement' by 'our media-driven society' and suggestion that Goldman’s problems may only be the fault of 'a couple of bad apples' angered some Reuters journalists, but Mr Glocer told the FT: 'I stand by whatever I wrote.'

"'It’s a personal blog and I write about what interests me,' he said. Nobody at Goldman had asked him to make his remarks, he said. 'I guess the question is: Can the CEO of Thomson Reuters have a blog at all and if so can he ever comment on a client. I’m comfortable with where it is,’” the FT said. Glocer added that he would not censor negative comments on the blog, it said.

Behind the scenes the dialogue is getting downright personal over Glocer's defence of Goldman Sachs and also over complaints by former staff of the perceived lacklustre company response to the leaked military footage showing two Reuters people shot dead in Iraq by the US military, said Philip Stone, a former Reuters media executive based in Geneva. 

Stone wrote a commentary headed "Reuters Old British Guard None Too Enamored With The New Guard Thomson Reuters American Senior Team", on his own blog, Follow the Media, which covers media issues worldwide. 

"That Glocer would go public defending Goldman Sachs was a break in tradition for the news agency that had been British-operated until Glocer and his American team took over in July 2001, eventually overseeing in 2008 its majority sale to the Canadian Thomson family with his team transferring to the new company," Stone wrote. "The unwritten rule had been that management didn’t comment on news events for fear of perceptions of bias in the editorial reporting of those events. So now questions are publicly asked whether Glocer’s comments will be seen by the news side as a message to go easy with a major client.

"In actual fact the opposite is true. If Glocer had been looking for a way to actually tell his news people to hit Goldman Sachs as hard as possible, and then some, he could have found no finer way of doing it than by publicly supporting the Wall Street firm. One thing that has not changed with ownership is ferocious editorial independence and the various corporate governances protecting that independence."

It is very doubtful that editorial were best pleased by Glocer’s comments, Stone said, but now that he has spoken so publicly editorial will go overboard to ensure there are no perceptions of its going easy on the story. But statements by the Newspaper Guild of New York and news items by the likes of The New York Times were something that the news organisation didn’t need. "News reputations get built over the years; they can be lost overnight."

Commenting on what he called Glocer's quiet diplomacy approach to the US authorities in the case of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, Stone said it seems that whereas Glocer does not want “to shout from the rooftop criticising the killing of two Reuters staff because he doesn’t think that would do any good, he does shout from the rooftop about the innocence of a major client, so he thinks Goldman Sachs will benefit from that particular shouting? It’s that very perception that the CEO of a very proud news organization should always, not sometimes, strive to avoid,” Stone wrote.

"Many years ago an old Reuters sage once advised a new manager, 'Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean that you actually go and do it.' It was good advice then; it’s good advice for even a CEO to remember today."


Tom Glocer's blog ■

Financial Times