Reuters staffers are furious, claiming top brass at the wire service have not addressed repeated internal complaints against management.
Over the past several months, Reuters editorial employees have raised numerous concerns to management about the handling of complaints against general news editor Dina Kyriakidou Contini, a senior manager on the U.S. news team.
Staff concerns have been serious enough that the company’s editorial union—which represents 375 members—has issued two internal statements specifically criticizing Kyriakidou Contini’s behavior, saying she has bullied subordinates and made inappropriate comments about her subordinates to other lower-level staff.
Further, the union said, company management as a whole has failed to respond to multiple complaints.
“The lack of transparency and disingenuous behavior of Reuters management is unacceptable,” Grant Glickson, president of the NewsGuild of New York, which represents Reuters editorial staff (as well as The Daily Beast’s), said in a statement. “We would have expected much better from Reuters. Once again our members have been patient in addressing this issue and yet they have been met by silence and inaction.”
The frustration with Reuters management has slowly escalated since last year, and began to boil over after Kyriakidou Contini allegedly pushed to get correspondent Jonathan Allen fired. When staff learned that she was trying to oust Allen, 15 of his colleagues signed a letter to Reuters Americas editor Tiffany Wu supporting him and raising concerns that he was being “singled out for undeserved discipline.”
“Your harsh, unnecessary and repeated discipline of our colleague... leaves us baffled and disturbed,” the letter said. “We wonder who will be targeted next. We also worry that your disciplinary actions against Jonathan are contributing to low morale and a pervasive feeling of insecurity that could ultimately hurt our file. Colleagues from elsewhere in the newsroom, as well as Guild officers, have reached out to share similar concerns about Jonathan’s treatment.”
Staffers who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity said they signed the letter because they believed that Kyriakidou Contini was causing tension in the New York newsroom.
Employees have also been upset about claims that she allegedly spoke in a disparaging manner about other staffers behind their backs. Several Reuters employees also told The Daily Beast that Kyriakidou Contini gossiped about subordinates’ love lives, and multiple employees allegedly witnessed her question out loud in the newsroom whether one staffer was mentally ill.
Others alleged that she has not sufficiently respected the editorial staff—allegedly tasking a full-time, experienced reporter with secretarial duties, including booking and managing her travel arrangements.
Some also alleged that she used inappropriate language when discussing male employees, calling several men in the office “sexy,” and making one feel uncomfortable by giving an unwanted back rub.
And two staffers with direct knowledge told The Daily Beast that in at least one conversation with a subordinate, Kyriakidou Contini disclosed private details of disciplinary action against Allen.
Allen ultimately was not fired, but newsroom staff still felt that other instances of Kyriakidou Contini’s alleged misconduct have gone unaddressed.
In September, the wire’s staff sent a “management conduct notice” to Kyriakidou Contini. The three-page notice, obtained by The Daily Beast, laid out multiple complaints including:
- “Bullying, belittling and berating of subordinates for alleged shortcomings”
- “Disparagement of fellow employees behind their backs to their colleagues”
- “Losing your temper, especially during high-pressure, breaking news situations”
- “Inappropriate, unsolicited hugging and touching, and use of patronizing, unprofessional language such as darling, sexy, and baby with subordinates”
- “Discouraging and even sabotaging efforts by subordinates to seek assignments to other teams rather than encouraging career advancement”
- “Seeking to elicit negative or damaging information from your employees, either by trying to engage them in discussion of their personal lives or through queries of others”
The letter also went great lengths to emphasize that the union did not take lightly the decision to internally publicize the complaints. “This is a step that the Guild takes only after careful examination of the evidence,” the statement said. “While specific sources cannot be named, for the obvious reason that many of them still report to you, we assure you that the evidence has been held to the same high standard that Reuters reporters apply to their professional work.”
And yet, staffers said, the complaints continued to fall on deaf ears.
The union never received a response to the “conduct notice,” and The Daily Beast learned of multiple subsequent instances in which Kyriakidou Contini’s subordinates complained to management about her behavior. In December, the company told employees it launched an investigation into such complaints, but ultimately found nothing rising to a level that required any disciplinary action.
Some staffers were furious. In January, the union published another internal note, titled “Does Rhetoric Equal Policy? Why Words Matter,” claiming that none of the 15 individuals who signed the initial letter supporting Allen were interviewed as part of the investigation into Kyriakidou Contini’s treatment of staff.
“Does Reuters really believe its own rhetoric? If it does, will it implement it truthfully?” the union asked. “Based on the evidence in this case, the Guild finds it both incomprehensible and shocking that management not only tolerates the behavior cited, but tacitly condones it.”
A Reuters spokesperson declined to comment on specific complaints about Kyriakidou Contini or management, but said the company took inappropriate behavior seriously
“As a matter of policy, we cannot comment on individual personnel matters," the spokesperson said. "Reuters is committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment and does not tolerate inappropriate workplace conduct of any kind.”