Lai See

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 April, 2011, 12:00am


The bald facts behind a hair-raising sacking

These days you need to have more than good reporting and editing skills to keep a job at Thomson Reuters. If the fate of two of its senior journalists is anything to go by you need to have a political correctness radar tuned to the sensitivities of its recently appointed editor-in-chief Stephen J Adler.

The two journalists got into hot water over a brief exchange in a company messaging chat room during the middle of the night while both were covering the recent Japanese disaster. The two journalists were Andrew Marshall who is based in Singapore and David Fox who in January was promoted to Jakarta bureau chief. When the exchange occurred Marshall was in Singapore and Fox was in Tokyo. Marshall attempts some gallows humour in what was a tense situation, and inquires of Fox, who is bald: 'So how is the radiation mate? Has your hair been falling out?' For this remark Marshall was formally reprimanded and given a warning letter. Fox, it has to be said, replied somewhat coarsely but alas, we cannot repeat it. Despite his 20 years' service with the company he is given the option of resigning with three months salary or of being fired and receiving one month's pay. The decision to oust him is believed to have been taken by Adler. Friends say he is likely to take legal action to obtain better terms from the company.

The punishments have infuriated staff throughout the world and both journalists have been inundated with e-mails of support expressing outrage at the punishment. It is a particularly bitter blow for Fox, having covered something like 35 wars for the company, to be laid low by a careless comment. But people at the company say that the fairly robust culture that existed at Reuters before the Thomson takeover is changing and will change further under Adler. People say he did good things at BusinessWeek where he was editor-in-chief for five years.

Shipping industry rewards companies for green efforts

It was nice to see the Marine Department and the Hong Kong Shipowners' Association doing their bit for a greener maritime industry yesterday after awarding prizes to five shipping companies. These included Maersk Line which won the green culture prize for its use of more fuel-efficient ships. Orient Overseas Container Line scooped the green innovation award after encouraging rival box lines to join the Fair Winds Charter in Hong Kong which saw 15 carriers switch to low-sulphur fuel while berthed at Kwai Chung container port. There was a special award too for the Reverend Peter Ellis (pictured) from the Mission to Seafarers who has ministered to the spiritual needs of seamen in Hong Kong since 1992.

There's movement in corporate communications

We see there's been some movement in the corporate communications sector. As we noted last week, Ray Bashford moved on from JP Morgan to Financial Dynamics, after Matthew McGrath was moved in on top of him. Now we hear that Paul Scanlon is making a big leap in corporate stature from Macquarie where he was head of media and communications to an executive position as head of corporate communications for the life insurance company AIA. Macquarie has a market capitalisation of about US$12 billion while AIA which was listed recently in Hong Kong has about US$38 billion. Scanlon who turns 40 this summer started his working life at the ill-fated Eastern Express, then moved on to Bridge News as a reporter. After a spell at Bloomberg where he was also a reporter, he then moved into corporate communications at Barclays Capital, and on to Macquarie where he spent the past four years. One thing Mark Tucker, AIA's chairman and chief executive might like to ask Scanlon why his nickname is 'scandal'.

'Nuking the veges' takes on whole new meaning

Good to see Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs doing its bit for the regions affected by the tsunami, earthquake and leaking nuclear power plant, albeit not in quite the way you would expect. The ministry has opened a market at its restaurant, Nagomi Tei, selling vegetables from six prefectures in Tohoku and Kanto regions in collaboration with the National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations, the ministry said in an e-mail. Also, as part of its 'Hang in Japan', 'Cheer up Tohoku and Canto Regions' campaign, its restaurant is offering dishes which use vegetables from Fukushima Prefecture and other places 'suffering from harmful rumours related to the nuclear power plant accident'.

Somehow, we don't see this as being a big hit with diners.