Too many words for Manfred
Wednesday 7 February 2024
Manfred was a man of vision, determination and personal kindness. He interviewed me for the Reuter Economic Service and was pleased I spoke German. He was disappointed when I chose to join Reuters World Service as a trainee but he was always friendly when we met.
He had a good sense of humour. I was in Iran, covering the Islamic revolution and US embassy hostage crisis, when the “coup” happened at Reuters, changing our focus to economic news. Cheekily, I imagined that a new superpower called Economia had invaded an old empire called Newsania and installed a henchman called Babrak Pagel. Somehow, word of my joking got back to Manfred, but he took it in good part.
Later I was in Germany, chafing to get back to revolutionary Iran. But Manfred said he needed me to cover moves in Germany to limit Japanese car imports. I duly stayed in Bonn. In due course, Manfred gave me my breaks, sending me to Brussels as NATO correspondent in the middle of the Euromissile crisis and offering me my first bureau chief posting to Israel at the tipe old age of 31.
Ironically, I finally ended up writing about economics for Reuters long after Manfred had retired, during the euro zone crisis of 2010-2014. “I knew you’d come round,” he joked with me when we met.
I still remember as a young desker hearing Manfred grumble about story length, saying with his distinctive accent: “There are too many words on the wire”. So that’s enough “words” from me. ■