In Paris and Hong Kong with Roger Jeal
Wednesday 1 September 2021
I first met Roger when he arrived as a trainee in Paris to work in the somewhat decrepit Balzacian office in the rue du Sentier used by the old Reuters Economic Service. Reporting was a real challenge with no computers, screens or information services to follow, just typed copy handed to French-speaking telex operators.
It was also the days when journalists still had to collect commodity prices by phone, some of which seemed pretty exotic. But there were plenty of financial crises with foreign exchange markets opening and closing by government decree and the setting up of the International Energy Agency in Paris in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. And with only two international economic staffers it was hard but enjoyable team work with Roger making a major contribution.
In 1976, Roger was already working in Hong Kong when I followed him again, which was a pleasure after our years working together in France and we set about trying to reorganise the office based in the old Gloucester Building dating from 1932, already showing its age, before we moved to the Gloucester Tower. Roger, if my memory is correct, filed the news of Mao Tse-Tung’s death in early September 1976, just after the Moon Festival, after a long wait watching the News China News Agency wire and a tip off from the Beijing bureau.
A great character, an excellent Reuters journalist and a great friend who will be missed by all who knew him. ■