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Michael Rank, an 'outsider' who deserved better

He was an amiable bookish type, learned in Mandarin Chinese, perhaps an "outsider" in a good way - that was how I often viewed Michael Rank at Reuters. A casual observer years ago might typecast him as a contemplative academic rather than a practitioner in the hurly-burly of journalism. But Reuters sent him as correspondent to China for several years, then Africa, and to the commodities desk, for something entirely different and then after two decades dumped him.

We happened to meet on the day of his ouster; it was distressing to see a broken man, fearful of getting another job. I felt shame.

Even his latest role had failed to prevent him contributing to international news as when he launched from own sources world-class stories on North Korea's appalling famine in the mid-90s. Evidently he did find some work on the fringes of journalism and samples, on the Internet, are worth reading, particularly a scholarly study of various translations of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four and Animal Farm available at bookshops across - of all places - China.

Like some others, he deserved better. It is a salutary reminder that however ghastly is the current Reuter administration, its predecessor could also be hard-arsed and horrible. ■