OLD Media Moves

Another longtime biz journalist leaves Reuters

October 24, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

Steve James, who had been at Reuters for 27 years, left the news organization on Tuesday, multiple sources have confirmed to Talking Biz News.

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.

One of those who left in May was Glenn Somerville, a longtime economics reporter for Reuters in Washington who resigned rather than be subjected to one of the plans. Another was Supreme Court reporter Jim Vicini.

James had been covering mining, coal and steel in the New York bureau. He had worked previously for Reuters in general news in the Los Angeles bureau, as a correspondent in Bonn, Germany and as a sub-editor and filing editor, sports writer and entertainment reporter in the New York and Washington bureaus.

His last story was published on Tuesday and was about AK Steel Holding Corp.’s earnings.

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.

His eye for the offbeat was legendary. His take on the hit movie “Avatar” focused on mining executives unhappy to be portrayed as futuristic 3-D villains: “It’s enough to make a mining executive grit his teeth or his kids to give him the silent treatment. In a case of art imitating life — with perhaps a little poetic license — Oscar-winning move ‘Avatar’ paints big mining companies as the villains of the future.”

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 violates 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.

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