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Another PIP departure makes it 17 gone in US

Another veteran journalist has left Reuters, the 17th in the United States to depart after being targeted by performance improvement plans.

Steve James, pictured, who had covered mining, coal and steel from New York, left on Tuesday, multiple sources confirmed to the website Talking Biz News run by the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“James was apparently a recipient of a ‘performance improvement plan’ that has been used by Reuters management to improve the quality of reporters. The union representing Reuters journalists says that the PIPs are being used to push out long-time journalists from the organization,” it said.

Others who have left this year include Glenn Somerville, a longtime economics reporter in Washington who resigned rather than be subjected to one of the plans, and US Supreme Court reporter James Vicini.

During 27 years with Reuters James had worked in general news in the Los Angeles bureau, as a correspondent in Bonn and as a sub-editor and filing editor, sports writer and entertainment reporter in the New York and Washington bureaus.

“He previously worked for the Press and Journal in Aberdeen, Scotland; Swiss Radio International, and UPI. Known around the Reuters world and to its global clients for his deft and distinctive writing style, his amazing versatility stretched from Hollywood to Wall Street and beyond, including coverage of the Olympic games and other sports events,” Talking Biz News said.

“The PIPs are a source of tension between the Newspaper Guild of New York and Reuters. The union reports that 32 journalists have been targeted by the plans, and 17 have left the company.”

Reuters management has argued that the PIPs are being used to improve the performance of some journalists. The union argues that the plans violate its contract, which states that the appraisal process can not be used for disciplinary reasons. The union has taken a number of cases to arbitration. ■

Talking Biz News