OLD Media Moves

Treasuries reporter leaving Reuters

December 31, 2013

Posted by Chris Roush

Ellen Freilich, who covers the U.S. Treasury market, including developments in monetary policy and the economy for Reuters out of New York, is leaving the news agency.

She sent the following message to her colleagues on Tuesday:

First, a little known fact: in the first lavatory on the left in a cafe called Cup o’ Joe in Kfar Saba, Israel, you can find a photo of Times Square with the vertical Reuters sign at 3 Times Square prominently in the foreground. Talk about global reach! But oddities aside, here are a few parting thoughts to join the many – too many – we have already experienced. First, I thank Rudi Saks for hiring me in 1987. Second, I thank President Obama and his Affordable Care Act which I hope will really be hitting its stride by the time I need to sign up for it. Third, I’m grateful to live in the great State of New York where the governor and public health officials got busy and created the New York State of Health website to ease entry into the new – and long overdue – health insurance system.

I want to note some of the memorable veterans who populated Reuters when I arrived: Rudi Saks, the late Art Spiegelman, the voluble and well-traveled Michael Arkus, Alan Barker and the man with the rapier wit, Peter Knight-Barnard.

Some Reuters correspondents have memories from far-flung places, but those of us who serve by staying home are much affected by where and with whom we sit in the newsroom. Just a few of my neighbors through the years – whose intelligence and wit kept the atmosphere challenging and lively – include Arshad Mohammed, Pedro da Costa, Toby Zakaria and Burton Frierson.

My most recent neighborhood of friends and colleagues on the Treasury, foreign exchange and municipal bond desks was also felicitous. (Greetings from Jerusalem to Gertrude, Ed, Dan, Richard, Karen, Caryn, Pam, Hilary and Wanfeng!) We had great cooperation on matters of substance — the news occurring outside the newsroom. Unfortunately, there seemed to be even more news happening inside the newsroom as we witnessed a constant stream of mostly regrettable conversations – and ensuing speculation – going on in glass rooms and behind opaque closed doors. The editorial discussions in New York gave daily evidence of the paucity of women in these conversations — and certainly the absence of women who had had the temerity to have children.

My career at Reuters included covering stocks, retailers, aerospace and defense companies during the first Gulf War, and finally the Treasury market. Covering markets that more or less open and close at reliable times was easier to juggle with the responsibilities of raising children. In between, I managed to teach a writing class at Barnard in the fall of 2001 when the events of 9-11 up-ended a semester’s worth of lesson plans. I wrote periodic columns on children’s books for six or seven years at Reuters which enabled me to donate hundreds and hundreds of books to classroom and school libraries. I managed to write about quite a few exhibits – on art, architecture and photography, as well as a too rare piece on classical music or opera. And for about six years I managed to shuttle my sons back and forth to The Metropolitan Opera where they worked as members of the Children’s Chorus – essentially a full-time job for at least one of them and at least a part-time one for me, the chauffeur. Getting home from “Carmen” at midnight — or even later from Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and getting in for the early market shift the next day — this was my life as a working mother and well worth the effort.

I want to say one word about cultural coverage. Although it’s great for people like me to have an opportunity to write about our passions, as a recent memo put it, serious cultural coverage — and many of our banking clients are patrons of the world’s major arts organizations — is not a patchwork quilt of people’s hobbies or even interests. We’re a global news organization and theater, opera and music are global communities. It’s a natural fit.

Finally, from early on, I was involved with the union, the Newspaper Guild of America, now part of the Communications Workers of America and founded by Algonquin Roundtable member Heywood Broun (that one is for you, Jim Gaines.) Many of us who have an innate understanding of the role of a union learned it at our mother’s (in this case father’s) knee. My father was an orchestra musician, a violinist in The Cleveland Orchestra, and I learned first-hand how each new contract could improve the economic life of our family. Of course those were the days when unions could make meaningful strides. Now, often, unions are exercising damage control, trying to limit losses for workers and eking out incremental gains. Still, we learned in school that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unions – to some extent – temper the power of management and this is, as some readers will recognize, A Good Thing.

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