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Thomson Reuters climbs down - or does it?

After unrest in the Reuters newsroom and an unprecedented outcry on The Baron by people who made Reuters great in the past, Thomson Reuters has announced it is withdrawing from membership of the Covenant of support for the British Armed Forces.  


But what woolly, self-justifications they use to hide their embarrassment! Moreover they still talk of supporting military vets "it's just a question how". Is that a sincere reversal? And which vets? Russian ones too? Or Chinese? If not, why not?


They also mention unspecified "other organisations". But what sort? Anti-war protagonists such as the Coventry peace movement acclaimed around the world, or The Dresden Trust, through which the great and the good of British society contributed to rebuild war-ruined Dresden, under the motto "Never again"? 


If Thomson Reuters really wants to restore the news service's reputation for independence and impartiality, it should not be supporting any organisation or cause at all. The instructions which Bob Evans received in 1965 when he was posted to Moscow made this clear: "Reuters is an independent world news agency which takes no sides in politics, disputes or differences between parties, peoples or nations."


When top executives of Reuters had an audience in the Vatican some years later, Pope Paul VI told them that if Jesus were alive today he would work for Reuters. What a tribute to the moral good done by an independent and impartial news organisation! That reputation enabled Reuters correspondents to walk tall even in the most dangerous of circumstances.


The clear communication which Reuters journalists strive to achieve has another benefit too: it helps people understand a confusing and often frightening world. Alas, the Thomson Reuters company statement falls short on this score too. ■

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