Reuters is best known as a news service that provides reports from around the world to newspapers and broadcasters. Its main focus, however, is on supplying the financial markets with information and trading products. These include market data, such as share prices and currency rates, research and analytics, as well as trading systems that allow dealers to buy and sell currencies and shares on a computer screen instead of by telephone or on a trading floor like that of the New York Stock Exchange.
Reuters is one of the largest news agencies in the world along with the AP, Agence France-Presse, and UPI. Reuters supplies images, video, and text to a number of news outlets around the world. Their clients include newspapers, television stations, radio stations, corporations, and bloggers. Their material is used extensively around the world by both major and minor news outlets through an extensive electronic network, in which Reuters was a pioneer. Their global network employs some 16,000 people in 94 countries. Since 1985, Reuters has also operated a news photo service. They sell photographs that cover breaking news, sports, and entertainment to other news agencies and to consumers. Use of new technology, such as digital cameras and the internet has facilitated Reuters' advance into this field.
Reuters' editorial policy is based on a foundation of transparency and a conscious effort to eliminate bias. To further this aim, Reuters attempts to provide balanced portrayals of all sides in the conflicts which it covers. Indeed, Reuters is not known for any particular political leanings, although it has been criticized for a number of missteps. Generally, it seeks to present an international outlook on current and financial affairs in service to the world community.
Reuters was established by Paul Julius Reuter, who was born to a rabbi in Kassel, Germany. After the failed Revolution of 1848, Reuter had fled from Germany to Paris and worked there in Charles-Louis Havas' news agency, the future Agence France Presse. Reuter noticed that with the electric telegraph news no longer required days or weeks to travel long distances. In 1850, the 34-year-old Reuter was based in Aachen, Germany, close to the Dutch and Belgian border, and began using the newly opened Berlin–Aachen telegraph line to send news to Berlin. However, there was a 76-mile gap in the line between Aachen and Brussels. Reuter spotted the opportunity to speed up news between Brussels and Berlin by using homing pigeons.
In 1851, Reuter moved to London as attempts to lay a submarine telegraph cable from Dover to Calais looked to be succeeding, after failures in 1847 and 1850. He set up his "Submarine Telegraph" office in October 1851 just before the opening of the cable in November, and agreed to a contract with the London Stock Exchange to provide stock prices from the continental exchanges in return for access to the London prices, which he supplied to Paris brokers.
In 1865, Reuter's private firm was restructured and became a limited company called Reuter's Telegram Company. Reuter's agency built a reputation in Europe for being the first to report scoops from abroad, such as the news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
The late 1800s saw an expansion of Reuters in terms of areas serviced and type of services provided. They developed infrastructure in the Far East and South America, and added the capacity to send messages electronically to London using a column printer. Reuters continued this early-adapting tradition with their adoption of radio to broadcast news in the 1920s.
In response to pressures by the British government to assist the British during World War I and World War II, Reuters restructured itself as a more private company. This move was undertaken to preserve Reuters' neutrality.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Reuters developed "The Stockmaster," which broadcast financial information internationally and the Reuter Monitor, which carried news of securities, commodities, and money.
Reuters was floated as a public company in 1984 on the London Stock Exchange and on NASDAQ in the United States. However, there were concerns that the company's tradition for objective reporting might be jeopardized if control of the company later fell into the hands of a single shareholder. To counter this possibility, the constitution of the company at the time of flotation included a rule that no individual was allowed to hold more than 15 percent of the company. If this limit was exceeded the directors could order the shareholder to reduce the holding to less than 15 percent. This rule was applied in the late 1980s when Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which already held around 15 percent of Reuters, bought an Australian news company which also had a holding in Reuters. The acquisition meant that Murdoch then held more than 15 percent and so he was obliged to reduce the holding.
At the same time, as a further measure to protect the independence of Reuters news reporting, The Reuters Founders Share Company was set up. This company had as its sole task to protect the integrity of the company's news output. It holds one "Founders Share" which can outvote all other shares in the event that an attempt is made to alter any of the rules relating to the Reuters Trust Principles. These principles set out the company's aim to preserve its independence, integrity, and freedom from bias in its news reporting.
Reuters began to grow rapidly in the 1980s, widening the range of its business products and expanding its global reporting network for media, financial, and economic services. Key product launches include Equities 2000 (1987), Dealing 2000-2 (1992), Business Briefing (1994), Reuters Television for the financial markets (1994), 3000 Series (1996) and the Reuters 3000 Xtra service (1999).
Since 1985, Reuters has also operated a news photo service that sells photographs of breaking news, sports, and entertainment to other news agencies and to consumers. Use of new technology, such as digital cameras and the internet has facilitated Reuters' advance into this field, as it is now possible to transmit large, high quality images around the world in seconds.
In the mid-1990s the company had a brief foray into the radio sector with London Radio's two stations, London News 97.3 FM and London News Talk 1152 AM, which replaced LBC in 1994. A Reuters Radio News service was also set up to compete with Independent Radio News.
In 1995, Reuters established its "Greenhouse Fund" to take minority investments in a range of start-up technology companies, initially in the United States.
After three decades of consistent growth, the company stumbled in the early 2000s. Reuters reported a loss of £394 million in 2002 and revenue fell by 8 percent to £3.575 billion. To address the downturn, Reuters changed leadership and cut 3,000 jobs. The shift in fortunes was blamed on complacency with their previously gained reputation and the hubris that resulted in Reuters not matching advances in new markets and technologies made by competitors.
In 2008, the Thomson Corporation and the Reuters Group PLC combined to form Thomson Reuters. Today, almost every major news outlet in the world subscribes to Reuters. It operates in 200 cities in 94 countries, supplying text in 19 languages.
Reuters provides news to the world's media, and market data, in-depth news, quotes, statistics, and analytics on financial and commodities markets to financial professionals around the world. Data is available through various delivery platforms such as workstations, datafeeds, internet, and wireless solutions.
These supply customers within sales, trading, and portfolio management with up to the minute cross-asset class, cross-geography information, and advanced integrated analytics.
These include Datafeeds (broad-ranging, in-depth data which companies use to power mission-critical systems like program trading and portfolio management); Market Data Systems (applications, tools, and infrastructure components to manage financial content in real-time across the customer trading environment); Enterprise Information Products (feeds of reference data used for compliance purposes, including end-of-day and intra-day instrument prices, corporate actions, price histories, and terms and conditions); and Risk Management (products to help manage order flow, make trade decisions< and control risk).
Comprehensive and immediate broadcast news, video, and photographic coverage serve traditional publishing and broadcasting customers (newspapers, magazines, television networks, and news and information websites).
Advertising services offer advertising space in the Reuters group of consumer products, such as the reuters.com network of websites.
News reporting accounts for less than 10 percent of the company's income. Aside from financial reporting, Reuters is also invested in a number of different fields.
From 1939, the Reuters corporate headquarters was in London's famous Fleet Street, but in 2005 Reuters moved to a larger building in the more modern Canary Wharf. The Reuters Building is near the One Canada Square tower, Jubilee Park and Canary Wharf tube station. The open space below the Reuters building has since been renamed Reuters Plaza.
Accusations of bias concern the use of words such as "militants" or "guerrillas" instead of "terrorists" for groups that deliberately kill civilians in pursuit of political objectives. This is explained as part of a policy of avoiding "the use of emotive terms" as part of a long-standard policy against bias. Avoiding the word "terrorist" is a policy that Reuters has claimed to have applied for decades, including in the Northern Ireland conflict.
The September 20, 2004 edition of the The New York Times reported that Reuters Global Managing Editor, David A. Schlesinger, objected to Canadian newspapers editing Reuters articles through inclusion of the word "terrorist," stating that "my goal is to protect our reporters and protect our editorial integrity."
Due to this policy, Reuters was careful to use the word "terrorist" in quotes. However, when reporting the 7 July 2005 London bombings, the service reported, "Police said they suspected terrorists were behind the bombings." The contrast between this and their aforementioned policy was criticized, although by that point Reuters policy was to use such words "when we are quoting someone directly or in indirect speech," and this headline is an example of the latter. The news organization has subsequently used the term "terrorist" without quotations when the article clarifies that it is someone else's words.
Critics say that Reuters' avoidance of such words is selective, reflecting a larger bias against the United States, Israel, and Jews. Defenders say that the critics are being selective by pointing out only a few of the thousands of news stories Reuters has produced and using them as evidence of a pattern of bias.
Reuters was accused of bias against Israel in its coverage of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, in which, among other actions, the company used two doctored photographs by a Lebanese freelance photographer Adnan Hajj. On August 7, 2006, Reuters announced it severed all ties with Hajj and claimed his photographs will be removed from its database. Critics alleged that removing Hajj dealt with only a symptom of much deeper problems at the news organization: bias and widespread use of local freelance photographers, which can result in Reuters inadvertently acting as a "propaganda outlet."
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