OLD Media Moves

Problem with Reuters/Cohen saga is Wenig's call to Schlesinger

January 12, 2010

Former Reuters employee Philip Stone writes on Followthemedia.com that the brouhaha surrounding the spiking of a story at the wire service about hedge fund manager Steven Cohen would have never happened if a company executive had not called editor in chief David Schlesinger.

Stone writes, “Well, since this writer was a senior executive in Reuters for many years with a particularly close relationship with editorial colleagues he is ready to accept without equivocation that if editor-in-chief David Schlesinger says the management call has no bearing on the decision then so be it.

“But shame on David Wenig, the head of Reuters Financial Markets Division, for phoning Schlesinger about that that client/investor complaint in the first place. Even if that call has no affect on what senior Reuter’s editors did with that story, that phone call from Wenig simply should not have been made – as all of the repercussions afterwards have shown. It put in doubt the integrity of a great news organization for no good reason.

“Apparently what happened is that the Reuters enterprise unit had written a story about Steven Cohen, manager of SAC Capital Advisers, that back in the 1980s when GE bought RCA that Cohen allegedly participated in insider trading.  Now it so happens that SAC Advisers, a hedge fund, holds some 60,000 shares in ThomsonReuters and so Cohen called Wenig, CEO of the markets group, to allegedly complain. It’s not known what Wenig said to Cohen, but Wenig did call Schlesinger pass on the complaint. The editor-in-chief then read the story in question, said he had some problems with it, but since he was in Tokyo about to go to sleep he told his deputy to take a look and make a decision,  and the deputy killed it.

“The sole problem in all that is the phone call from Wenig to Schlesinger. What should have happened is that when Cohen started complaining to Wenig about the story, Wenig should have immediately told him it was of no use continuing, that management  was not about to speak with editorial about the propriety of a story – Reuters editorial operation is fiercely independent and guarded by the so-called Trust principles  guaranteeing no undue pressure – and if Cohen had a problem he should take it directly to Schlesinger,  and goodbye.”

Read more here.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry daily or weekly.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry.