Biggest News Agencies Reuters Part 1

About one of the biggest news organizations Reuters of Great Britain, history of its founding, how they operate.



Name of Agency and Country: Reuters, Great Britain.

When and How Founded: When his nickel-and-dime news and translation service went broke in Paris in 1849, German expatriate Paul Julius Reuter returned to Germany, where the official state telegraph, linking Berlin and Aachen, was about to be laid. Acquiring operating rights to the Aachen terminus, Reuter earned fees exchanging financial bulletins and stock market quotations from Berlin for similar dispatches from Paris, Brussels, and Cologne. Then, when the French laid a cable of their own--from Paris to Brussels--in 1851, Reuter scored a major coup. He trained 40 homing pigeons to carry dispatches the 100 mi. from Aachen to Brussels, the only break in a succession of cables connecting Berlin and Paris, the twin hubs of the European business world. Reuter's pigeons were hours faster than the slothlike mail trains, and banks, corporations, and investment houses by the score purchased his services. But the Aachen-Brussels gap was bridged later that year, and Reuter again went out of business.

Now, however, he'd learned the value of the new telegraphy, and he "followed the cable" to London, where he set up shop in a cramped suite near the stock exchange. When the great Dover-Calais cable was built later that year, the resourceful Reuter was commissioned by banks and brokerage houses to relay news between London and the Paris Bourse. As his business grew, he interconnected with other telegraph stations and posted his agents as far afield as Odessa and the Black Sea.

While his banker-broker clientele made him a rich man, the newspapers saw little point to Reuter's Telegram Company. Still he badgered the papers--the powerful Times of London, in particular--to give it a try. The Times turned him down, and in 1858 Reuter offered the competing Morning Advertiser a free two-week trial of cabled foreign news. Soon thereafter, the Advertiser and five of its six rival London dailies signed up for the new service at pound 30 a month. (The Times capitulated soon thereafter.) In time, Reuter added general news to his financial coverage. Although no one paper enjoyed exclusive rights to his foreign dispatches, the quick, newly extended news coverage proved to be an undeniable boon. Success was instantaneous, and by the 1860s Reuter had expanded to cover all of Europe, North America, and the Orient.

Modus Operandi: Some 700,000 words a day go out over the Reuters wires, written and filed by a network of over 1,000 correspondents and read in 155 countries and territories all over the world. While it grosses $50 million annually, Reuters is a nonprofit organization, headquartered on London's Fleet Street and owned and operated by a consortium of British, Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. news agencies. A special trust agreement mandates that all profits--$1.2 million in 1975--be reinvested in the business.

There are some 3,000 subscribers to Reuters' various services, which include the Reuters News Report, a mainstay of U.S. broadcasting networks and newspapers; the Reuters Financial Report; and various commodity reports.

Until relatively recently, Reuters was regarded in the U.S. as fundamentally an overseas operation, relying heavily for its U.S. coverage on the Associated Press and supplying AP with overseas news in exchange. But Reuters terminated its cooperative agreement with AP--and with Dow Jones--in 1967, and established bureaus in many U.S. cities in addition to New York and Washington. It has since come to be viewed as an important component of American journalism.

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