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Climate change

In his e-mailed response to DeSmogBlog, Reuters managing editor Paul Ingrassia may have dismissed the controversy over reduced coverage of climate change as the non-story claim of a disgruntled ex-employee, but he fails to tackle two other questions he was asked: if he classed himself as a climate science sceptic and if the agency would be hiring a replacement climate correspondent for Asia [Climate change brouhaha a non-story - Paul Ingrassia].

The second question is of major importance, and Reuters journalists deserve an honest response directly to them, not via a Vancouver blog site.

For all its clarion calls for journalistic openness, Reuters has always been hermetically hypocritical when it comes to letting its staff into management’s own machinations and shenanigans. There was the famous, and rather pompous, example of then CEO Gerald Long’s letter to Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko and others at the European Security Conference in Helsinki in 1975 on the primacy of truth and freedom of information. We all know what a paragon of glasnost and perestroika he was when it came to internal Reuters communications.

Nor was it any different under Long’s successors, who allowed Michael Bloomberg to rise from nothing and send Reuters reeling for six with innovation and initiative.

I’ve just returned from two months of travel through Sumatra, Indonesian Borneo, Sulawesi and Indonesian Papua - and, oh boy, does Asia need an environmental and climate correspondent: chainsaws screeching away within earshot of the last major refuge of Sumatran orang utans, Malaysian and South Korean timber companies bribing local officials and denuding the planet, rains continuing way past the end of the rainy season and upending the nesting timetable of birds in Sulawesi, smoke from Sumatran fires causing major health hazards in Singapore, and much, much more.

Ingrassia prides himself on the Reuters exclusive on the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That was produced by Oslo-based environment correspondent Alister Doyle, no doubt because his dedicated role gave him the ability and time to build up the necessary contacts. Asia needs the same ability, giving all points of view, of course.

DeSmogBlog also noted that Ingrassia served as an unpaid director for several years with the free market think tank Property and Environment Research Center, which accepted funds from ExxonMobil and Koch foundations, and said it “generally downplays the impacts of rising greenhouse gas emissions, opposes any subsidies for environmental protection and opposes regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions”.

A comment on the site claimed: “Organizations like Reuters are revealed as blundering propaganda shops.” That's clearly way over the top (I hope), but a little openness could go a long way in countering such exaggerations.

And let’s make sure that openness is not confused with gobbledegook, jargon and total incomprehensibility as evidenced by chief executive James Smith’s latest pronouncements [James Smith’s vision: Thomson Reuters 2.0]. No amount of laser eye surgery is going to improve your visual acuity sufficiently to see what he sees in his “vision”.

“Putting customers first, delivering the solutions they need most and going to market as a unified enterprise... build a culture where innovation flourishes... Current pockets of excellence will be replicated consistently... Organic growth?” Aha, no Frankenstein brands, no GMOs in Reuters!

I don’t think I’ve heard such an outpouring of meaningless corporate-speak since Brian Vaughan’s hyper-expensive and wasteful series of vision conferences 21 years ago.  No laser, however potent, could slice through the cataracts of obfuscation there, either.

So speak in comprehensible English, Jimbo! Give examples so that us poor readers can link the verbiage to some recognisable “vision” of the new order. ■