Tag Archives: Thomson Reuters
by Chris Roush
Joshua Brown lists the 25 “most dangerous” people in financial journalism on The Huffington Post.
“Dangerous in a good way,” he writes. “These are the financial media players who are making things very difficult for the establishment to maintain the status quo. Because we tried it their way, allowing the banks and other corporations to write the laws and make all of our decisions for us. Turns out, that’s not true democracy or capitalism, it’s something else entirely, and we’ve all had enough. These are the folks leading the charge to take it back.”
Herb Greenberg of CNBC: “It’s one thing to be a skeptic or a cynic. It is entirely another thing to actually read the filings, call up company representatives and take the whole mess to the airwaves when a stock looks shady, braving the slings and arrows that are so inevitable when you express a contrary opinion in the financial media. Herb is the anti-hype, the guy who actually reads the fine print before the cameras come on.”
Bess Levin (right) of Dealbreaker.com; “The most badass financial blogger in financial blogging history. CEOs quake at the thought of her uncovering an errant email, billionaire hedge fund managers quiver at the mere mention of her name. If there is news (or a juicy rumor) concerning the Titans of Wall Street, many others will have their say, but Bess’s take will crush them all.”
Lauren LaCapra of Reuters: “Let me tell you something about Lauren: The most dangerous place on earth to be is between her and a genuine scoop on Goldman Sachs. Lauren covers the big i-banks for Reuters, worked her tail off to get that beat and does it better than anyone I know.”
Kayla Tausche of CNBC: “The Street was probably not ready for this – a knockout beauty TV newser with both the chops to deliver a well-researched story and the stones to chase Jon Corzine down a courthouse hallway. Kayla’s a throwback to the hardnosed stuff most television journalists have forgotten how to do.”
See the entire list here.
by Chris Roush
Reuters Breakingviews has named Peter Thal Larsen as Asia editor.
Thal Larsen will lead Reuters Breakingviews in the region, including columnists in Hong Kong, Beijing, Mumbai and Singapore. The team will increasingly comment on big financial stories as they break during Asian trading hours, seamlessly complementing Reuters Breakingviews analysis published out of London and New York.
“The build-up of our Asian operations, which has been achieved from scratch in three and a half years, is a big milestone,” said Hugo Dixon, founder and editor of Reuters Breakingviews, in a statement. “With columnists covering the Middle East and Latin America, it means we have largely completed our planned global footprint.”
“I’m thrilled to be leading such a distinguished team of columnists at such a fascinating time in Asia’s economic, financial and political development,” Peter Thal Larsen said. “I’m sure that Reuters Breakingviews distinctive brand of insight will enlighten and entertain our readers, not just in Asia but around the world.”
Thal Larsen was previously assistant editor in London, overseeing Reuters Breakingviews coverage of banking and financial regulation. He joined Reuters in 2009 after ten years at the Financial Times. He is expected to take up his position in late August.
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Talking Biz News has been reporting for the past three weeks about the Performance Improvement Plans within the Reuters newsroom.
The reporters believe that the PIPs, as they are called, are designed to push out long-time reporters so that the new management team can hire new staffers. The managers respond that the plans are designed to improve the performance of reporters who are not doing as well as they should. The union is now arbitrating their use in nearly two dozen cases.
Which leads us to the case of Glenn Somerville, a longtime economics reporter for Reuters in Washington who resigned last month rather than be subjected to one of the plans. His case calls into question the real objective of the PIPs.
Somerville covered the U.S. Treasury and economic affairs in Washington for nearly three decades, during which he was widely recognized as a pre-eminent reporter in his field. He is known among reporters on the beat as the “Dean of the Treasury,” not only for his mastery of a wide range of financial topics but also his constant willingness to help others learn.
Somerville, who did not return an e-mail or a voice mail from Talking Biz News on his last day at work, has been vacationing in Canada. But colleagues, competitors and even government officials wonder why he’s no longer on the beat.
A Dow Jones Newswires reporter told Talking Biz News that Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner wrote a personal letter to Somerville after hearing about his departure. “Definitely the kind of guy you want to force out,” snarked the reporter.
On Twitter, Martin Crutsinger, veteran AP Treasury reporter, wrote, “I cannot imagine covering Treasury without Glenn.” Tony Fratto, former White House and Treasury spokesman, wrote, “Had the pleasure of traveling the world with Glenn. Will really miss him.”
Peter Szekely, the secretary-treasurer of the New York Newspaper Guild who worked more than 25 years at Reuters, said that Somerville’s departure was a “huge loss” for the newsroom.
At Reuters, he was viewed as an anchor of economic coverage, traveling the world with various Treasury secretaries over the years and chronicling everything from the 1990s economic boom to the burst of the Internet bubble and the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
Somerville’s work was recognized in 2002 by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, which selected a series of stories titled “Bush’s economic housecleaning” that dealt with the firing of Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and the subsequent overhaul of advisers as the “best in business breaking news.”
To his colleagues, Somerville was someone they could consistently count on to chip in and help on anything, anytime.
Somerville may not have been doing what management wanted. But Reuters management could have handled his situation a whole lot better than they did. You don’t just push someone like Somerville out the door.
by Chris Roush
Reuters Americas editor Jim Gaines sent out the following announcement to the staff:
I’m very pleased to announce that after a long search for someone to replace the irreplaceable Kevin Krolicki as Detroit bureau chief, we have found the perfect choice in Paul Lienert, a man who, at least in Detroit, needs no introduction.
The son of a journalist who spent 30 years at Automotive News, retiring as editor, Paul has devoted his entire career to coverage of the car business, at Crain’s, at the Detroit Free Press and for the last 25 years on his own — as a syndicated columnist (“He Drove, She Drove,” with his wife Anita); as the author of books on the automobile industry in Russia, India and China; as the publisher of an industry newsletter; and as a frequent contributor to Edmunds.com. Along the way he earned an MBA from Michigan State and recently finished his doctoral dissertation at the UK’s Nottingham Business School (long story).
A lifelong resident of Michigan, Paul has a knowledge of the beat that is both broad and deep — from green technologies and the emerging markets of China and India to finance/M&A and design. We are very fortunate indeed to have someone with his background and talent to lead our coverage of Detroit.
Please join me in welcoming Paul to Reuters.
by Chris Roush
The Newspaper Guild of New York responded to action taken against Reuters journalists, including several respected veterans, during the last two months by bringing 18 cases before arbitrators.
Using the dispute resolution provision in the contract between the union and Thomson Reuters Corp., Guild lawyers demanded that the American Arbitration Association set hearings for each disciplinary case, the first of 29 to make their way through the system. Each of the 18 cases was brought by the Guild in the internal grievance process and rejected by management.
The 18 arbitration demands are the most ever filed at one time against Thomson Reuters or any other employer with which the Guild deals. Grievances on at least seven more individual cases of discipline, as well as a general challenge to the way management carried out its disciplinary assault, are also pending and will become eligible for arbitration by July, if they are not resolved.
Four of the 29 cases will not go to arbitration because the employees decided to leave the company under terms that permit the Guild to report only that an amicable deal was reached.
“This isn’t a story about a union defending dead wood,” said Guild Secretary-Treasurer Peter Szekely in a statement. “It’s about challenging a management offensive that not only violates our contract, but has unfairly singled out a group of predominantly veteran journalists for undeserved discipline, leaving dozens of distinguished careers blemished or finished.”
Each of the 29 journalists and support staff whose cases have been challenged since early April received Performance Improvement Plans, or PIPs, that alleged performance deficiencies and contained disciplinary language, as well as separate verbal reprimands. Under progressive discipline, such reprimands can eventually lead to termination. Most of those targeted were older and longer serving; 16 of the 18 in arbitration are over 40.
The union is arguing that Thomson Reuters managers committed recurring contract violations in each of the 18 cases bound for arbitration, including that of a newly agreed ban on using performance appraisals or any of their offshoots as a basis for discipline.
Arbitrators have the power to overturn management’s actions, which in these cases would mean nullifying the discipline.
Their decisions are final and binding, but the process can take up to a year in cases like these.
by Chris Roush
Talking Biz News received an e-mail Thursday night from a Reuters editor that provided a different perspective to the newsroom issue of the performance incentive plans.
We have known this editor for quite some time, and asked this editor if we could post the comments in the spirit of providing an alternative point of view.
Here they are:
As a manager who is involved in this process, I just wanted to say there are two sides to this story… Starting with the fact that I can’t think of anyone who has been unfairly targeted (perhaps, but not any I know of) and the fact that upper management made it very clear to managers who had employees on a PIP that the goal was improvement — and they have held us accountable for that. Many managers have spent many hours each week working with these reporters with a genuine goal of helping them improve, myself included. I know of at least two or three managers who have also spent hours outside the office writing up story ideas or creating source lists for reporters on PIPs.Trust me, this isn’t fun for us, but it’s necessary. Managers aren’t robots who don’t care about the people who work for them or who don’t empathize with the fact that these reporters have families and mortgages. (And we certainly don’t lack integrity or honesty.) Most of us have taken very seriously the effort to help the reporters on PIPs improve because it’s the right thing to do and because we really need these reporters to get better at what they do. But we also have a job to do delivering the news/insight/analysis that is expected, we have competitors to stay ahead of and we’re trying to raise the bar on quality. Many, many reporters have embraced that — and not just new ones — and some haven’t or can’t or won’t. We, as managers can try to help reporters improve their performance, but we can’t do their jobs for them or make sources for them or come up with every idea for them.We, as managers, have a lot to lose in this process. It’s not a given that if a reporter who leaves or is dismissed that we will be able to replace that person. And the union grievance process at Reuters is, by most accounts, grueling for managers. What’s more, the union leadership has made it pretty hostile for managers day-to-day already. From placards they’ve handed out to reporters to tape to their desks to the secret taping of all conversations with managers by employees on PIPs (managers who figured it out mostly asked reporters to be upfront about it, no need to hide) and twisting facts publicly. A story got held? Well, perhaps it’s because an editor asked for it a month ago and it took so long to get it ready that now it isn’t news anymore.But again, above all, I’ve not seen a punitive attitude here or any objectives assigned to reporters on PIPs that aren’t already expected from – and being delivered by – other reporters. In some instances, I have heard that PIPs have been extended because reporters were making progress and the expectation is that some of those reporters will sustain that improvement enough to be off the PIP entirely.Reuters will probably will remain silent publicly on this and the union will continue to spin its side of the story. I wish the union would put as much energy behind helping these reporters improve as they do the efforts to discredit management. Then we’d all be more likely to get an outcome that was good for everyone and this would be a non-issue.
by Chris Roush
Talking Biz News reported last week about the growing conflict between Reuters management and the New York Newspaper Guild about how some journalists were being targeted with unfair performance incentive plans, or PIPs, as a way to push them out of their jobs.
The union has now written a tongue-in-cheek PIP for Reuters management.
Thomson Reuters Editorial management recently issued a wave of PIPs (Performance Improvement Plans) – 29 and counting – to Guild-represented journalists. In our review, we found that it is actually the performance of some of the front-line supervisors who issued the PIPs that needs improving.
This memo details the offenses, but not the offenders. We’re saving that information for the many arbitration hearings that lie ahead.
Date: May 30, 2012
To: Individual Editorial Managers (you know who you are; we are withholding the names for now on the off-chance you discover some shred of common sense, integrity and honesty)
CC: Rob Doherty, General Manager, Karen Hamilton HR Business Partner
From: The Newspaper Guild of New York
Re: Poor Implementation of Management Performance
This is to notify you that your performance as an Editorial manager is not meeting expectations. Your own qualifications as a manager, as evidenced by your less than stellar supervision of the journalists who report to you, are dubious. It is plain you don’t understand the work our members do, nor what Thomson Reuters clients require.
The Guild urges you to improve your own performance as journalists and managers, instead of blindly following some edict laid down by senior managers who think the best way to improve performance is through a reign of terror.
PERFORMANCE AREAS REQUIRING IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENT:
– You fail to give promised guidance and feedback in a timely manner. When you do provide guidance, it is often vague. When a reporter returns with the story you requested, you deny having asked for it and say there “must have been a misunderstanding.” Similarly, you repeatedly move the performance goalposts you set for reporters, making it practically impossible to deliver the quality and/or the quantity of stories requested.
– You fail to edit reporters’ work in a timely fashion, putting Thomson Reuters behind the competition on some stories and allowing other stories to be overtaken by events.
– You criticize journalists for not cultivating new sources, but fail to let them attend, or limit their attendance at, events where they could make new contacts.
– You assign journalists to cover the day-to-day market coverage that Thomson Reuters clients require, and then fail to give these journalists time to focus on the special projects you say they must do to “improve their performance.”
– When editing and often significantly rewriting journalists’ copy you insert errors and then attempt to obfuscate them. You do this in your own reporting as well.
– You repeatedly violate company style guidelines on corrections, often in an attempt to obscure errors (see above). Your initial editing frequently reflects a lack of subject knowledge, an inability to structure stories and unfamiliarity with English usage and grammar.
– When you cannot find any other reason to criticize a Guild member’s performance, you resort to the absurdly petty, e.g., “You don’t use enough pronouns!”
– You use meaningless management-speak in advising Guild members how to improve, e.g., telling them repeatedly that they should be “plugged in,” as if they were toasters.</>
IMPACT OF PERFORMANCE ISSUES
You have helped senior management create a poisonous work environment at Thomson Reuters. At news bureaus across the United States, journalists – both those targeted and their Guild and non-Guild colleagues – are distracted by worry for their livelihoods, making it more difficult for them to actually do their jobs. Productivity and morale have plummeted, and clients have told us they notice the difference.
Your management is below the level demanded by journalistic ethics and expected by Thomson Reuters clients.
As noted in numerous grievances filed against Thomson Reuters by the Guild, you need to rescind all Performance Improvement Plan notices and discipline issued against Guild members. If there are legitimate performance concerns with individual reporters, talk to them and coach them, but remove discipline from the equation, as required by our contract.
by Chris Roush
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Reuters and the New York Newspaper Guild are locking horns over performance incentive plans that the union believes are unfairly targeting some of its journalists.
The guild says that 28 journalists have received these performance incentive plans, or PIPs, which the company says is designed to improve their newsroom performance. The union, however, says that the goals in the documents are not easily obtainable and that they include threats of discipline.
The larger issue here is changes being imposed by the new management team within the Reuters newsroom, led by editor in chief Stephen Adler, who is trying to overhaul the wire service and has been emphasizing more investigative business journalism. Some long-time staffers at Reuters now feel threatened by the changes being instituted. Of the 28 journalists that have been targeted, 22 have filed grievances that are likely to go to arbitration, a union representative said Friday.
“I have never seen such a broad-based attack on people in the organization,” said Peter Szekely, the secretary-treasurer of the guild who worked more than 25 years at Reuters, in a telephone interview with Talking Biz News on Friday. “This is something unprecedented. This is not an ordinary dispute.”
The company disputes the union’s version of events and says it is doing what it needs to do to improve the newsroom’s performance.
“Our efforts to maintain high editorial standards and thus serve our readers better comply with all of our contractual obligations,” said Barb Burg, vice president of corporate affairs at Thomson Reuters, in a statement e-mailed to Talking Biz News. “We are working constructively with staff members whose work needs improvement to ensure that they have clear performance goals and our support in achieving them. While we expect, and readers require, high performance from Reuters journalists, our expectations are reasonable and appropriate. We have worked cooperatively with the Guild on many issues, and look forward to continuing to do so.”
Szekely claims that the PIPs violate the union’s contract with Reuters because the company is using performance reviews as a basis for discipline. In addition, he says that the company is not giving the journalists targeted a fair shot.
“What’s happened here is that people have had two steps of discipline heaped upon them at the same time,” he said. “You need to give the person an opportunity to improve. Every one of these 28 people that received a PIP had a disciplinary notation, and on top of that they received a verbal warning. We consider that to be a violation. The mixing of the performance appraisal process and the discipline is a violation.”
The PIPs have forced some long-time business journalists from the Reuters newsrooms in Washington and New York, according to their colleagues.
Szekely says he has no problem with journalists losing their jobs if they are not performing. But in many cases, he argues, it’s been punitive.
The journalists are “given certain goals that at least on the face of it are not easily obtainable,” he said.
by Chris Roush
Reuters Americas editor Jim Gaines made the following announcement on Tuesday:
I am thrilled to announce that Fred Barbash, one of Washington’s best known and most distinguished journalists, will join the DC Bureau next month as Editor, Domestic Policy, reporting to Bureau Chief Mary Milliken.
Fred is currently managing editor of CQ Weekly, the magazine about Congress published by CQ Roll Call, a division of the Economist Group. Before that he was a senior editor at Politico, where he was creator and moderator of The Arena, a popular forum for debate on national policy and politics.
But Fred is best known for his work at The Washington Post, where he was a creative, aggressive and thoughtful editor and reporter — an important influence on the work of our own Marilyn Thompson and Joan Biskupic, among many others. Along the way, Fred was the Post’s National Editor, London Bureau Chief, Deputy Metro Editor (not in that order) and reporter on a variety of beats, including the Supreme Court.
Fred has always been an effective teacher in his editing roles, and from 2006 to 2008 he taught at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. He is also the author of The Founding: A Dramatic Account of the Writing of the Constitution (Linden Press/Simon & Schuster), as well as numerous articles on constitutional history.
As we head toward what promises to be the most eventful lame-duck Congress in recent history, our Hill coverage will be in very capable hands.
by Chris Roush
Nicholas Carlson of Business Insider reports that Reuters and Bloomberg News have different takes on how the Facebook initial public offering is selling — an indication that the bankers involved in the deal are playing with business journalists.
Carlson writes, “Buyers who want the price of Facebook shares to go down are telling reporters that supply is weak. Bankers selling the IPO, who want to the price to go up, are telling reporters that the thing is oversubscribed.
“You can kind of tell what’s happeneing because of the way both Bloomberg and Reuters carefully couched reporting.
“The Reuters headline is: ‘Facebook’s IPO already oversubscribed -source.’ That means: ‘one guy who should know told us.’
“The Bloomberg headline is: ‘Facebook IPO Said to Get Weaker-Than-Forecast Demand.’ That means ‘this may not be what’s actually going on, it’s just what some people SAY is going on. So don’t blame us if it isn’t true.’”