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Connections and camaraderie

The Baron has registered exponentially higher figures for pageviews and unique visitors, two key criteria by which the popularity of websites is measured. While not remarkable compared with the statistics of large online properties that calculate their popularity in millions, the numbers are more than satisfactory for a small site aimed at a niche audience. These are the readings on the web analytics meter: 19,892 pageviews and 5,765 unique visitors in April, up from 11,993 pageviews and 1,998 visitors in March and 2,749 pageviews and 198 visitors a year ago.

How can this increase be explained? True, it was an unusually busy month with much to report, from the leak of shocking video of the killing of two Reuters people by US forces in wartime Baghdad to the shooting death of a cameraman covering civil unrest in Bangkok and controversy over the CEO’s comments about alleged fraud  at Thomson Reuters customer Goldman Sachs; a more than usually engaged selection of mail that included unusually frank exchanges involving a former editor-in-chief and general manager, the current chief executive and the editor-in-chief, and others; a lively selection of lighter items about the activities of Reuters people.

In the far-flung Reuters diaspora, a staunch sense of goodwill towards the company exists among those who have moved on or who have retired

There may be a deeper underlying reason influencing the sharp increase in traffic. The Reuter Society, established 20 years ago as a social club for former employees, recently ventured into the virtual world by establishing a presence on the online social network Facebook and its business equivalent LinkedIn. The response, largely from people who are unable to attend the Society’s quarterly meetings in London but who wish to re-connect with former colleagues, was swift and enthusiastic. Other interest groups associated with Reuters and Thomson Reuters exist on those two networks, some of them counting membership in the thousands.

The community of Reuters people past and present is large and, by the very nature of the company’s business and the international career opportunities it offers, diverse and widespread. Many of those who have left the service of the Baron have retained more than a passing interest in the fortunes of their former employer and passionate loyalty to the corporate ethos that made it such a fascinating and professionally rewarding place at which to build careers. Some of the messages on this website’s Mail page, as well as online comments elsewhere, are testimony to the importance of Reuters’ principles as a standard by which to conduct business. In the far-flung Reuters diaspora, a staunch sense of goodwill towards the company exists among those who have moved on or who have retired.

Thomson Reuters has its own online network of former staff. Alas, it has not been nurtured in a way that ensures its relevance. When it was launched in 2006 as Reuters Alumni Network, the promise was of formal events and informal networking to bring together all former staff as ambassadors and custodians of the company’s history. A sensible step, given that many of those who leave Reuters go on to become decision-makers in positions of influence with the company’s customers. The effort was not sustained, however, and the online network has become more or less moribund, its membership largely indifferent and inactive. The conclusion that the company, through neglect, has missed a trick is difficult to avoid. 

Which brings us back to The Baron. To the extent that an independent initiative lacking the resources or support of a large international corporation can make an impression, this website has filled the vacuum and evidently meets a need, as the latest statistics prove. This would not have been possible without the support of the many colleagues who have offered messages of encouragement, advice and, importantly, contributions. Please keep them coming. ■