Gary Hill exits Reuters after 35 years
Gary Hill, an editor for Reuters in New York, is leaving the news agency.
Here is his farewell message to his colleagues:
Tonight, as the tourists herd in to Times Square to ring out the old and ring in the new, I’ll be walking out of a Reuters newsroom for the last time. Goodbye and thanks. I’m especially proud to be leaving with this group of great journalists. My 35 years at Reuters don’t even put me in win place or show for length of service among them, but I intend to surpass them all in self-indulgence in this farewell. Many of you should stop reading now, but first, thanks again. I’ll always be proud to have worked with you. I’ll always be able to say I worked with the best when I worked for Reuters.
As one of those rare Americans of my generation who had actually heard of Reuters as a kid, and had thought it was cool, I have particularly enjoyed the brilliant, wide-ranging, exotic, career-summing farewells of generations of Reuter old hands and “all-rounders,” as well as their stories behind the stories, swapped at various pubs and during slow periods in the newsroom.
I won’t try to match them here, but at Molly’s on Third Avenue, or the 11th Street in the East Village, or the Kettle of Fish (formerly the Lion’s Head) on Sheridan Square I’ve been known to tell tales about Bob Dylan, Fela, the Motown house band; Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, Peter Blake, Rebecca Lobo, Oscar Schmidt; Don King, Donald Trump, Oscar the Grouch, reached by telephone in his trash can. Or we could talk about standing on the field before a World Series game, or trailing a trader as he worked the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, or riding through Manhattan in a presidential motorcade, or traveling across the country with an NBA Finals, always a circus and a drama spread over a couple of weeks with a large, vivid cast of characters (the same could be said about a World Series or an Olympics). Did I ever tell you the one about standing on tiptoes peering through a side window into the imperious blue eyes of Vladimir Putin as he ate a Krispy Kreme doughnut in a gas station in Hell’s Kitchen? Or my most difficult interview, and one of my first for Reuters: with the Iranian envoy to the United Nations after my country shot down one of his country’s passenger planes, killing all 290 people aboard. It’s more pleasant to remember being sprayed with Champagne by Darryl Strawberry (he was aiming at Mayor Koch, standing next to me) in the locker room after my Mets won the 1986 World Series. Also at Shea Stadium, I was half-embraced by Liza Minelli as she stood, looking dazed and depleted, next to the freight elevator after performing one of the greatest star turns I’ve ever seen, her song and dance at the first major league game played in New York after 9/11, the most emotional game I’ve ever attended.
I learned something every day working for Reuters. I had had dozens of jobs in my 20s, and when my old friend Larry Fine told me there was a temporary job at Reuters, I jumped at it. That typing job turned into a writing job and then added reporting, and then editing. I had believed myself best suited to the library jobs I’d had, even after a few free lance reporting and writing jobs, but at Reuters I found my feet, learning among many skills to stand up to newsroom bullies and to push my way through media scrums in locker rooms and around police spokesmen. I learned old-school wire service journalism, which I would summarize as clarity through shorter words, shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs and shorter stories. But shorter can take longer, and sometimes we didn’t have time.
I must thank three of my bosses above all others: Mike Arkus, Larry Fine, Toni Reinhold. Without their generosity and wisdom, where would I be? Also, where would I be, where would we all be, without the union, protecting and boosting not only its members but the company itself?
I have always done little writing and editing jobs on the side for friends and their charities, clubs, family histories, etc., and I will continue to do so; consider this a solicitation, if you hear of a suitable project for me. I’m going to try to write a novel. I’m going to start playing music again; let me know if you would like to be on my gig list.
And in conclusion, in my final indulgence, I will quote myself, a shaggy dog of a song I wrote about my beginnings at Reuters:
When I moved back to the city, I got this job doing the headlines that go around that building in Times Square.
And I thought, this is kind of cool, when you think of all the history that’s been written there.
And I met two guys, in bars, who did it long before me.
One guy called it The Zipper; they called it The Bulbs at this other guy’s company.
People used to ask, how do you type so fast and never make a mistake?
I’d laugh and say, you know, the hardest part is: getting my break.
My relief would stand next to me and we’d go one, two, three,
And I’d slide out and she’d slide in, her fingers brushing mine from the keys.
No but it was hard getting away sometimes, I didn’t want to miss a beat.
Because something was flowing through me and pouring out into the street.
Bulbs in Times Square, keep on shining…