Reuters reporter resigns over ethics policy

A journalist has resigned from Reuters Breakingviews, a financial news analysis site after breaching the company’s ethics policy. Reuters requires its writers disclose their financial interests in companies they’re reporting on.

The New York Times reports that “While Reuters has uncovered no evidence that any of its employees benefited from improper trading in shares of companies they covered, not disclosing a financial conflict of interest is a violation of its ethics policy.”  NYT also notes that Reuters “said it had identified 53 articles in which the writer’s financial interest had been significant enough to have warranted disclosure. The news agency has marked those articles in its archives with a disclaimer alerting readers to the potential conflict.”

The most serious case brought to Breakingviews‘ attention is British columnist Neil Collins, who the NYT reports bought shares in BP before and after writing about the company. A disclaimer has been added to some of his columns, published earlier this year, that reads: “Neil Collins owned shares in BP when he wrote this article; he bought shares shortly before and after.” Collins wrote a letter to the Breakingviews editor that claims he made an honest oversight.

The NYT says that Reuters is considering updating its ethics policy to require writers to disclose all relevant securities holdings at the end of articles.

“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,” David Schlesinger, Reuters editor-in-chief, said in a note to the staff, NYT reports. “Subsequent questioning of Reuters Breakingviews staff revealed several other cases where disclosures to readers or managers could or should have been made.”