Michael Nelson: Alfred Geiringer A portrait written by Michael Nelson

Introduction: Alfred Geiringer was born in Vienna on May 9, 1911. His father kept the art deco Cafe Geiringer in the 20th Bezirk of Vienna. He was a distant cousin of the composer Gustav Mahler. In 1933 Geiringer first dipped his fingers in printer’s ink by working as a Stringer for a number of British and American newspapers, including the News Chronicle and the New York Times. The young journalist joined Reuters as assistant to the Chief Correspondent in Vienna in 1937.

Reuters Vienna office had incurred the wrath of Hitler and when the Germans invaded the young man faced certain. imprisonment because he was Jewish and because of his views. He escaped to London in March 1938 in the boot of the car of Reuters Chief Correspondent, Christopher Holme. He had a brief spell with Reuters in London in 1939/1940 and then again in 1942. In 1945 he became European Editor and then Assistant European Manager. He played a leading role in the re-establishment of Reuters in Europe after the Second World War and in the restructuring of national news agencies. Before the war many news agencies, which Reuters used as their agents, were government-controlled or subsidised. Reuters new policy was wherever possible to distribute their news through independent national news agencies like the Austria Presse Agentur (APA), and in many cases worked to set them up. Geiringer was an inveterate fighter for freedom of informa- tion and believed that news agencies owned by the media would serve his ideals in a way which was impossible where governments played a role. …