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This article is primarily about Reuters prior to its 2008 merger with Thomson. For its new parent company, see Thomson Reuters.

Reuters Group Limited ( ) is a UKmarker-based, Canadian-controlled news service and former financial market data provider that provides reports from around the world to newspapers and broadcasters. News reporting once accounted for less than 10% of the company's income. Its main focus was on supplying the financial markets with information and trading products. These included market data, such as share prices and currency rates, research and analytics, as well as trading systems that allowed dealers to buy and sell such assets as currencies and shares on a computer screen instead of by telephone or on a trading floor like that of the New York Stock Exchangemarker. Among other services, the most notable was analysis of 40,000 companies, debt instruments, and 3 million economic series. Competitors included Bloomberg L.P. and Dow Jones Newswires. It is now part of Thomson Reuters.


Reuters Docklands Technical Centre, London
Paul Julius 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 Aachenmarker, close to the borders with the Netherlandsmarker and Belgium, and he began using the newly opened Berlin–Aachen telegraph line to send news to Berlin. However, there was a gap in the line between Aachen and Brusselsmarker, the Belgian capital city and the financial center of that country. Reuter saw there was an opportunity to speed up news service between Brussels and Berlin by using homing pigeons to bridge that gap in the telegraph lines.

In 1851, Reuter moved to London. After failures in 1847 and 1850, attempts by the Submarine Telegraph Company to lay an undersea telegraph cable from Dovermarker to Calaismarker appeared to promise success. Reuter set up his "Submarine Telegraph" office in October 1851 just before the opening of that undersea cable in November, and he negotiated 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 then supplied to stockbrokers in Paris.

In 1865, Reuter's private firm was restructured, and it became a limited company (a corporation) called the Reuter's Telegram Company. Reuter had been naturalised as a British subject in 1857.

Reuter's agency built a reputation in Europe for being the first to report news scoops from abroad, like the news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. After many decades of progress, almost every major news outlet in the world subscribes to the Reuters company's services. It operates in at least 200 cities in 94 countries, supplying news text in about 20 languages.

Reuters was financed as a public company in 1984 on the London Stock Exchange and on the NASDAQ in the USA. However, there were concerns that the company's tradition for objective reporting might be jeopardised if control of the company later fell into the hands of a single shareholder. To counter that possibility, the constitution of the company at the time of the stock offering included a rule that no individual was allowed to own more than 15% of the company. If this limit is exceeded, the directors can order the shareholder to reduce the holding to less than 15%. That rule was applied in the late 1980s when Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which already held around 15% of Reuters, bought an Australian news company that also owned stock in Reuters. The acquisition meant that Murdoch then held more than 15%, and then he was compelled to reduce the holding to less than 15% to stay in line with the rules.

Further protecting Reuters from owner actions that might threaten its independence is Reuters Founders Share Company Limited, formed in 1984 as part of the share float. This is a company whose sole task is 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. Subsequent to the forming of Thomson Reuters the trust principles continue to live on, with the RFSC now holding a Founders Share in each of Thomson Reuters Corporation and Thomson Reuters PLC.

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. Recent 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).

In the mid-1990s, the Reuters company engaged in a brief foray in the radio sector — with London Radio's two radio stations, London News 97.3 FM and London News Talk 1152 AM. A Reuters Radio News service was also set up to compete with the 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 USA, only.

On 15 May 2007, Canada's The Thomson Corporation reached an agreement with Reuters to combine the two companies, in a deal valued at US $17.2 billion. Thomson now controls about 53% of the new company, named Thomson Reuters. The new chief of Thomson Reuters is Tom Glocer, the former head of Reuters. The earlier rule of 15% ownership (see above) was waived; the reason as given by Pehr Gyllenhammar, the chairman of the Reuters Founders Share Company, was "The future of Reuters takes precedence over the principles. If Reuters were not strong enough to continue on its own, the principles would have no meaning." citing the recent bad financial performance of the company. On 26 March 2008, shareholders of both organisations agreed to the merger. The acquisition was closed on 17 April 2008.

In October 2007, Reuters Market Light, a division of Reuters, launched a mobile phone service for Indian farmers to provide local and customised commodity pricing information, news, and weather updates.

The last surviving member of the original Reuters family, Marguerite, Baroness de Reuter, died aged 96 on 25 January 2009 after having suffered a series of strokes in late 2008.


Reuters has a team of several thousand journalists who over the years have covered major news events, sometimes at the cost of their lives. For example, In May 2000, Kurt Schork, an Americanmarker reporter, was killed in an ambush while on assignment in Sierra Leonemarker. In April and August 2003, news cameramen Taras Protsyuk and Mazen Dana were both killed in two separate incidents by US troops in Iraqmarker. During 2004, cameramen Adlan Khasanov in Chechnyamarker and Dhia Najim in Iraq were also killed. In April 2008 Fadel Shana, a cameraman, was killed in the Gaza Stripmarker after he was hit by an Israelimarker tank using flechettes.The first Reuters journalist to be taken hostage in action was Anthony Grey. Detained while covering the Cultural Revolution in Peking in the late 1960s, said to be in response to the jailing of several Chinese journalists by the colonial British Government in Hong Kongmarker. He was considered to be the first political hostage of the modern age and was eventually released after almost 2 years solitary confinement. Awarded an OBE by the British Government in recognition of this, he went on to become a best selling author.


Name Nationality Event Location Event Date
Kurt Schork American Sierra Leone 2000-05-24
Taras Protsyuk Ukrainian Iraq 2003-04-08
Mazen Dana Palestinian Iraq 2003-08-17
Adlan Khasanov Chechen Chechnya 2004-05-09
Dhia Najim Iraqi Iraq 2004-11-01
Waleed Khaled Iraqi Iraq 2005-08-28
Namir Noor-Eldeen Iraqi Iraq 2007-07-12
Saeed Chmagh Iraqi Iraq 2007-07-12
Fadel Shana Palestinian Gaza Strip 2008-04-16


Notable investments include:
  • Action Images — In September 2005, Reuters purchased North London-based Action Images, a deep collection of sports photography that includes more than 8 million images of which 1.7 million are online.
  • Application Networks — In June 2006, Reuters acquired Application Networks, Inc., a provider of trade and risk management software based on JRisk, and agrees to acquire Feri Fund Market Information Ltd (FERI FMI) and its fund database subsidiary, FI Datenservice GmbH (FID)
  • AVT Technologies — In December 2002, Reuters announced that it would acquire AVT Technologies, a specialist in foreign exchange transaction technology. Concurrent with the deal, Reuters established an Automated Dealing Technologies business unit, headed up by Mark Redwood, CEO of AVT Technologies.
  • Bridge Information Systems — On September 28, 2001, it completed the largest acquisition in its history acquired certain businesses and assets of Bridge Information Systems Inc. Also during the year, the Group acquired 100% of Diagram fip SA and 92% of ProTrader Group LP. In October 2001, the Group disposed of its majority stake in VentureOne Corp.
  • Clearforest — In June 2007, Reuters acquired Clearforest, a provider of Text Analytics solutions, whose tagging platform and analytical products allow clients to derive business information from textual content.
  • EcoWin — In November 2005, Reuters acquired EcoWin, a Gothenburgmarker (Sweden) based provider of global fianancial, equities, and economic data.
  • Factiva — In May 1999, Reuters entered a joint venture with long-time rival, Dow Jones & Company, to form Factiva, a business news and information provider. In December 2006, Reuters sold its 50% share in Factiva to Dow Jones, who is now the sole owner.
  • Instinet — In May 2001, Instinet completed an IPO on NASDAQ; Reuters sold its majority stake in Instinet to The Nasdaq Stock Market in 2005.
  • Inc. — In March 2003, Reuters acquired, Inc., a provider of global financial information.
  • TIBCO Software — In July 1999, TIBCO Software completed an IPO on NASDAQ; Reuters retains a substantial proportion of the shares. Reuters announced in early 2000 a range of major initiatives designed to accelerate its use of internet technologies, open new markets and migrate its core business to an internet-based model.

Main corporate locations

From 1939, the Reuters corporate headquarters was in London's famous Fleet Streetmarker in a building designed for it by Sir Edwin Lutyens, but in 2005 Reuters moved to a larger building in the more modern Canary Wharfmarker. The Reuters Building at 30 South Colonnade is near the One Canada Squaremarker tower, Jubilee Park and Canary Wharf tube stationmarker. The open space below the Reuters building has since been renamed Reuters Plaza.

The company's North American headquarters is the Reuters Building at 3 Times Square, New Yorkmarker. It is on 7th Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, and was constructed from 1998 to 2001.

Reuters' Asian headquarters is located in the city state of Singapore, having moved there from Hong Kong ahead of the British handover to China in 1997. It has two offices in Singapore, one in the city centre at One Raffles Quay, and another at 18 Science Park Drive next to the National University of Singapore.

Criticism and controversy

Policy of objective language

Reuters has a strict policy towards upholding objectiveness. This policy has caused comment on the possible insensitivity of its non-use of the word terrorist in reports covering major global events, including the September 11 attacks. In the enforcement of this policy, Reuters has been careful to only use the word terrorist in quotes, whether quotations or scare quotes. Reuters global news editor Stephen Jukes wrote, "We all know that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist." The Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz responded, "After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombingmarker, and again after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Reuters allowed the events to be described as acts of terror. But as of last week, even that terminology is banned." The Washington Post Reuters later apologised for this characterisation of their policy, although they maintained the policy itself.

The 20 September 2004 edition of the The New York Times reported that the Reuters Global Managing Editor, David A. Schlesinger, objected to Canadian newspapers' editing of Reuters articles by inserting the word terrorist, stating that "my goal is to protect our reporters and protect our editorial integrity."

However, when reporting the 7 July 2005 London bombings, the service reported, "Police said they suspected terrorists were behind the bombings." This line appeared to break with their previous policy and was also criticised. Reuters later clarified by pointing out they include the word "when we are quoting someone directly or in indirect speech," and the headline was an example of the latter. The news organisation has subsequently used the term "terrorist" without quotations when the article clarifies that it is someone else's words.

Photographs controversies

Reuters was accused of bias against Israel in its coverage of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, in which the company used two doctored photos by a Lebanesemarker freelance photographer Adnan Hajj. On August 7, 2006, Reuters announced it severed all ties with Hajj and said his photographs would be removed from its database.

See also


  • Read, Donald (1992). The Power of News. The History of Reuters 1849–1989. Oxford, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-821776-5

Further reading

External links

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