Thomson Reuters Ambiguous Code

Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters (TRI) allows one of their leading journalists to resign. According to an article by Lilly Vitorovich of the Wall Street Journal columnist Neil Collins, a well-known financial journalist, has resigned after he allegedly breached the media and data information group’s code of conduct on share dealing.

In reading Lilly Vitorovich’s article she had a quote from  David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters.

“While we have no evidence the journalist was abusing his position for financial gain, we take such breaches extremely seriously and that journalist resigned with immediate effect during our investigation,” Mr. Schlesinger said.

It appears that Neil had positions in  BP PLC, Rio Tinto PLC and Marks & Spencer Group PLC in which he had a financial interest and made trades shortly after writing. But Mr Schlesinger says there is no evidence of an abuse leading to financial gain. Hmm gets confusing Mr Schlesinger.

According to WSJ, The Thomson Reuters code of conduct says journalists shouldn’t write about shares they own unless they notify their interest to their manager. Journalists also shouldn’t trade in shares they’ve recently written about or intend to write about in the near future.

The problem with the code of conduct is the time ambiguity. The more certainty and transparency the better. Thomson Reuters needs to set time specific limits. Cut and dry. High mindedness may not be defendable in this case.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I have no position in stocks mentioned in this post. I do not have a relationship with Neil Collins. I do have a subscription to WSJ online. I do not use any subscription services from Thomson Reuters.