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Bruce Russell: A first class reporter

“All you need is a good shake in the morning,” Bruce Russell wrote after his outstanding coverage of a Los Angeles earthquake in the early 1970s. It was typical of the aplomb with which he reported on upheavals in South East Asia including coups in Thailand and South Vietnam and a colonels’ revolt against President Sukarno of Indonesia.

He was in Laos during the 1960 battle for Vientiane between rebel paratroopers and the army of right-wing General Phoumi Nosavan. “I sat typing this story in a Vientiane hotel as the rooms were blown up one by one,” he reported in one of his dispatches. I was sent to Vientiane to relieve him while he flew off to London to speak at a Reuters board lunch.

Bruce had an easy-going manner and a ready smile which gained him the trust of news sources. He married Marie Louise, the French secretary of a Reuters executive, and they bought a flat in Leicester Square. He took me to the building’s roof one night for a breath-taking view of London’s theatreland.

In 1968 he was given the plum post of Los Angeles, the first Reuters correspondent in that busy news centre where he covered major stories including the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the Charles Manson trial and Marlon Brando’s stormy divorce. ■