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Reuters was founded in 1851 and owned by the Reuters Company until its 2008 sale to Thomson. Reuters is headquartered in London, though Thomson Reuters has headquarters in New York City.
Reuters is one of the world’s largest news organizations, but its news operation is only a small part of Thomson Reuters. Shortly after Thomson’s purchase, only 2,500 of the two companies’ combined 50,000 employees worked in Reuters’ news wire or other media businesses. (By April 2012, Reuters was reported to have 3,000 news employees, though it announced it would cut 5% of its staff in 2013.) Since the 1970s and ’80s, Reuters has moved away from strictly wire news and toward specialized financial information.
The majority of Reuters’ revenue — 90 percent, according to one April 2012 report — comes from subscription-based financial intelligence services, and the company also runs subscription-based legal, tax, and accounting units. All of its editorial content is delivered to its clients first.
In late 2010, Reuters launched a U.S. news service called Reuters America, which is aimed at competing with the Associated Press for contracts with U.S. newspapers. As of June 2011, it had contracts with about a dozen American newspapers. Reuters also runs a semi-regular magazine.
Though Reuters once limited the web’s access to its online business stories, it has expressed more support for open-web practices since then. Reuters Media President Chris Ahearn has advocated citizen-driven journalism, news sharing, and news aggregation across the web. In 2006, the company gave a $100,000 grant to the citizen-journalism project NewAssignment.Net.
Reuters has also tried several projects in participatory journalism. In 2006, it launched a user-generated photo service called You Witness News with Yahoo. In 2008, Reuters opened up a semantic web application called OpenCalais that allows developers to sort and connect data.
In December 2009, Reuters announced plans for a website redesign that would include a $1 billion investment into multimedia data and journalism. The company has also launched a financial services video-on-demand service and plans to add some “paid services” to its website. The site planned a consumer-oriented redesign again in 2012 and 2013, planning a site overhaul called Next. The project was shut down in September 2013, and Reuters announced it would continue to build its plans around its current website.
The company has also invested in investigative journalism. In September 2009, Reuters hired the veteran business journalist Jim Impoco to become its inaugural enterprise editor, putting a premium on longform investigative projects, often in collaboration with other news outlets. (Impoco has since been promoted to the executive editorship of Thomson Reuters Digital, and is succeeded by former Wall Street Journal editor Michael Williams.) In May 2011, Reuters announced a content syndication deal with the Investigative News Network as a way to expand its investigative offerings.
In early 2010, a year after Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger advocated journalists’ tweeting and blogging and noted that his breaking-news tweets were occasionally beating Reuters’ news wire, Reuters issued a set of social media guidelines that included the admonition, “Don’t scoop the wire.” Some advocates for openness objected to the guidelines, saying they attempted to exert too much control over Reuters’ journalists.
In 2012, Reuters launched a social media aggregation tool called Reuters Social Pulse.
California Watch was a nonprofit investigative news organization that focused on public affairs issues in California. Its work has been subsumed under that of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, which founded it. California Watch was founded in 2009 and is based in Berkeley, Calif. In March 2012, CIR merged with the Bay Area nonprofit news site…