OLD Media Moves

Reuters global company news editor mocks furor over killed story

January 8, 2010


Reuters global company news editor Jack Reerink decided in his weekly note to the staff to have some fun Friday with the hullabaloo about his decision last month to spike a story from reporter Matthew Goldstein about hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.

The decision, which Talking Biz News broke on Dec. 21, has been criticized because Cohen called Reuters executive Devin Wenig to complain about the story. Wenig told Reuters editor in chief David Schlesinger, who then talked about the story with Reerink.

Anyway, here is Reerink’s note — dripping with sarcasm — sent out to editorial staff members:

Tip of the week – Ethics 101
Psst.. Did you hear that we killed a bombshell story about hedge fund king Stevie Cohen the other week? It happened right after a conference call between Stevie, Devin Wenig, David Schlesinger and myself. Here’s a recording I secretly made ( I know you’re not supposed to do that without asking permission, but I figured it was important. I’m not very ethical.)

Me: We’ve got a bombshell here, Stevie. I’m about to push the button.

David: It’s going to rock your world.

Me: Rock it.

Stevie: You can’t do that. I’m worth $6 billion!

David: You got any insider tips? My UK apartment is under water.

Me: Yeah! I wanna buy some calls.

Me: I still can’t believe it. I was an expat in Singapore. Now I’m back in Jersey. My wife makes me do all this work on the house. We sanded another floor this Sunday. And the value is dropping like a … Whatever. The bottomline is, Stevie: I need MONEY.

David: Lemmie spell that out for you, Stevie.

David: It’s M O N E Y. That spells MONEY That’s what we need.

Devin: Guys, please. Forget this money talk.

Devin: Stevie, you’re a nice guy. We’re nice guys. If you don’t like the story, just ask David and Jack not to run it. It’s their call. I’ve got nothing to do with Editorial.

Stevie: OK, I would really appreciate it if you guys don’t put out a story that’s supposedly going to rock my world

Me: Say ‘Please.’

Stevie: Please.

Me: Well, what do you think, David? I’d say: Kill it.

David: I wanna hear ‘please’ one more time.

Stevie: Please.

David: Louder, please.

Stevie: PLEASE.

Me: OK, that settles it. It’s a kill. We’re gonna get some flak. But that’s OK. Stevie’s a nice guy.

Me: By the way, Stevie, my TDAmeritrade account is 39…

Devin: Guys, don’t you have some sort of an ethics code in news? We’re gonna have to take this offline. Bye Stevie.

Stevie: Bye guys.

You figure David and I would know better, right?

We do.

There conference call never happened.

But it describes perfectly what transpired if you believe some blogs and journalist talk.

Don’t. It’s a fantasy.

In the real world, we live by the trust principles. In the real world, we kick back stories for more reporting, balance or insight. In the real world, we don’t run every story just because we wrote it.

Are we going to be right all the time? No. But we’ll try very hard. And we’ll learn from our mistakes. (and this was not a mistake, by the way).

Speaking of the real world, Matt Goldstein and Svea Herbst today shed more light on the insider trading saga that’s hitting big Wall Street’s names. They have been doing the heavy lifting on a story that’s getting huge clicks. People love to read about … themselves. That’s why we’ve been pushing financial industry coverage so hard. We want to be first there. We want to be exclusive. We want to be insightful.

That’s why I’ve been liking Matt and Svea’s stuff.

(When the Galleon scandal broke, I was having breakfast with a bunch of traders. They were all jogging their memories and checking e-mails to see if they had had any contact with the people involved. Talk about wanting to read about this stuff. They eat it up!).

Anyway, the latest development reported by Matt & Svea: Turns out there’s another former staffer of $13 billion hedge fund SAC who got caught up in an insider trading probe.

Me: SAC? Doesn’t that stand for Steven A Cohen? OMG! How did this happen? Sorry, I gotta call Stevie now.

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