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Staff with 900+ years know-how go in US buyout

Reuters' Washington bureau bids farewell to four editors on Tuesday with the closure of the Americas desk and its re-location to New York in a cost-cutting exercise that the journalists' union in the United States said means major challenges in 2014.

Each has more than a quarter of a century of service “in which they helped create, in their own way, the finest news agency in the world,” said David Storey, who headed the desk. Their lives had been intertwined with Reuters and their “skills and experiences have helped shape what ‘the Reuters file’ means,” he said in a note to news staff on Monday. “They were part of a highly effective general news reporting-and-desking operation, which closes and disperses on New Year’s Eve.” The four are

  • Jackie Frank, who Storey said had done most reporting and editing jobs in Washington. She travelled with the first President George Bush, covered the State Department and the Pentagon, was health correspondent and for more than a decade had been an anchor on the desk
  • Phil Barbara, originally a financial editor in Chicago and New York, who “brought his own brand of versatility to DC when the general news desk moved here from NY in the 1990s”
  • Vicki Allen, a “skillful, persistent reporter” who “brought an unflappable calm and Midwestern good sense,” that set a standard for good desk relations
  • Chris Wilson, a bureau chief in Canada and in Boston and editor-in-charge on Capitol Hill before becoming a pillar of the desk.

“They will be missed, as were Xavier Briand and Stacey Joyce, who left Reuters a few weeks ago,” Storey added.

Two other departures reported separately were

  • Tim Dobbyn, a member of the companies editing desk in Washington who joined Reuters in 1987 and worked in the US capital since 1989
  • Tabassum Zakaria, who joined in 1989 and covered national security. A former White House correspondent, she was the first journalist to report that the Bush administration found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The Newspaper Guild of New York said that, based on company information, 30 members of the union had volunteered for an enhanced editorial buyout and some had already left. Another 15, including two whose work was being moved “to low-wage Bangalore”, and four New York journalists who left because of the closure of the Reuters Next website project, had left since the buyouts were first announced in October.

“You may know some departing members very well. Others, you may have never met,” the union said in a note to its members. “They all deserve thanks for their service, hard work and support of the Guild. Together, they represent more than 900 years of experience and excellence.” It named those departing as Chuck Abbott, JoAnne Allen, Vicki Allen, Manuela Badawy, Phil Barbara, Ken Barry, Maureen Bavdek, Carol Bishopric, Xavier Briand, Alister Bull, Bob Burgdorfer, Debbie Charles, Pedro DaCosta, Ted D’Afflisio, Tim Dobbyn, Paul Eckert, Jeff Flynn, Jackie Frank, Doris Frankel, Ellen Freilich, Leslie Gevirtz, Gary Hill, Eileen Houlihan, Ilaina Jonas, Stacey Marques, Jim Marshall, Chad Matlin, Megan McCarthy, Gerry McCormick, Colin McDonald, Sam Nelson, Pam Niimi, Nick Olivari, John Peabody, Joe Silha, Erin Smith, Jane Sutton, Caryn Trokie, Carole Vaporean, John Wallace, Chris Wilson, Jessica Wohl, Debby Zabarenko, Toby Zakaria and Sue Zeidler.

“From the most junior to the most senior, each departing member made the company better and the Guild stronger,” it said. “Several were Guild activists. Not every member can or wants to be a steward or Guild officer. But the activists who left will have to be replaced. The Guild is largely a volunteer organization. This is a time for members who want to make a difference to step forward to help preserve the dignity, benefits and protections we’ve gained over the years, and to make Thomson Reuters a place where good journalism can be practiced in a good working environment.” ■

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