On the second page of the business section of the New York Times in a brief but surprisingly feisty article, Christopher Swann and Peter Thal Larsen report that Transocean, the company that owned and operated the rig that resulted in the tragic BP spill last year, awarded its executives $250,000 each for maintaining such a terrific safety record in 2010, oh, that is, except for the 11 workers who died in this 2010 disaster. This decision was regarded as so outrageous and produced such a loud public outcry that Transocean finally decided to give the money to the families of the 11 victims. What I love about this short piece is the way it begins: "Wall Street Banks have recently been in a league of their own when it comes to rewarding executives despite poor performance," and then goes on to say that Transocean has taken corporate greed to a whole new level, beyond even what Wall Street could conceive. And accordingly concludes with this: "Transocean has achieved the rare feat of making Wall Street bankers look relatively restrained on pay."
So where does such feistiness come from? Well, I don't think it's the New York Times. It turns out that this is one of two short pieces about business that the Times has snared from the Reuters News Service. I find that fascinating. That tone, that insistence on holding the most privileged the most accountable, is almost unheard of in American newspapers, but not overseas. Leave it to Reuters, the European news service, to tell America the way it really is.