The difficulties of being a mom and a Reuters bureau chief
Emma Thomasson, a senior reporter for Reuters in Berlin, writes about the difficulties of being a bureau chief and a mother.
Thomasson writes, “I became chief correspondent in Amsterdam in 2004 when I was just 31. It was a challenging job. Dull Dutch politics became a big story after the murder of the populist right-wing politician, Pim Fortuyn. Office politics at Reuters were fiery. We also covered big Dutch companies which meant frequent 6:30 AM shifts. That was tough but turned out to be just a dress rehearsal for child rearing.
“My first son was born in 2007. I took six months off and came back to work full-time. A year later, we moved to Zurich, where I took over as bureau chief, running a bigger multilingual, multimedia team. Two weeks after arriving, Lehman Brothers collapsed and the Swiss bank, UBS, almost went down with it. That time is a blur. I was juggling settling my son into nursery, unpacking boxes, finding a babysitter and a doctor, at the same time as running a newsroom where our headlines on the Swiss central bank could move billions on the foreign currency markets.
“Switzerland might seem like a sleepy place compared to the warzones more commonly associated with journalist breakdowns. But the way we run our news monitoring operations in major financial centres is a near military operation and the stress is not dissimilar to that experienced by our clients in dealing rooms around the world, where huge sums can be won or lost on major trades. Our headlines are timed against our major competitors to the second and, as bureau chief, I was responsible for staying ahead. That means managing a kind of air traffic control hub to monitor breaking news 12 hours a day, with at least one correspondent on call around the clock, and the bureau chief as a back-up. At least those early starts meant I could get out of work at a reasonable time to pick up my son. But my candle was burning at both ends, and I was burning out.”
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