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Manfred Pagel - a supportive, encouraging manager

It is good to read the tributes to Manfred and to see him appreciated as the supportive, encouraging manager he indeed was.


It is true that when he took over the editorial reins in the early 80s he raised the hackles of many of the general news stalwarts of the old World Desk. In an early move that caused rumbles of discontent and was clearly the writing on the wall for the old ways, Manfred was reported to have banned routine coverage of the Miss World beauty contest. It was a clash of professional backgrounds, of course. Manfred was the lead figure in shifting the editorial focus from traditional media towards a market-oriented audience. Broad shoulders and a strong backbone were required for the job.


He took pride in working for Reuters and defending the agency’s values, but he also cared for people in his charge. He listened carefully to correspondents returning from a posting and took in their observations on the situation out in the field. He listened to career aspirations. He was forthright, but encouraging and reassuring. He was concerned about staff security.


Manfred played a crucial part in shaping the early part of my reporting career in eastern Europe and it was he who appointed me to be chief correspondent in Belgrade (then Yugoslavia) in 1983. After I had explained my desire to continue covering Cold War Europe (I was fresh from three years in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union), he proposed that I also took on coverage of Romania and Bulgaria, both next door to Yugoslavia. It was a novel idea for Reuters (coverage of the east European Soviet satellites was mostly the domain of Vienna bureau). It led to a terrific posting in terms of stories, from (back then) unusual datelines.


We have much to thank Manfred for. ■