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Dealing with death

Journalists are accustomed to dealing with death. From intruding on private grief for a few paragraphs in the local rag to reporting battlefield casualties or the innocent victims of terrorist outrages, they learn to suppress emotion and get on with the job.

That doesn’t inure them to it. Beneath the supposed tough hide of every hard-bitten reporter is a human being just as sensitive as the next man or woman when faced with the loss of someone close. 

It was the sudden passing of a much-loved colleague, Alan Thomas, in April 2008 that inspired the creation of this website. Since then, obituaries have become all too frequent items: so many colleagues have left us in recent months. Some lived a good span; others were cut short of the biblical three score years and ten.

we are becoming all too familiar with the dreaded phone call informing us that another good friend has died

These obituaries are part of the history of the people who made Reuters. Theirs are the stories that do not often find a place in corporate archives or official histories. No less so the tributes written by colleagues. It is right that these contributions to the development of what has become a hugely successful multi-billion dollar conglomerate should be documented. It is equally right that the anecdotes attached to them should also be chronicled as part of the company’s folklore.

As Paul Smurthwaite has noted, we are becoming all too familiar with the dreaded phone call informing us that another good friend has died.

Most recently that good friend was David Nicholson who passed away suddenly this month, prompting an outpouring of affectionate remembrances. There have been many others.

It is only natural that those of a certain age should feel vulnerable when friends and colleagues, some older and some, alas, younger, pass on. The human instinct is to rally round, condole with the bereaved and try to ease the pain of shared grief.

When the grieving is done, what matters is that the part they played in making Reuters the world’s pre-eminent news organisation is not forgotten. In that regard, The Baron is proud to honour their memory. ■