Tag Archives: Thomson Reuters
by Chris Roush
Walden Siew, a business journalist at Reuters, has resigned from the board at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
Siew joined Reuters in August 2006 to cover credit markets and was a 2008 Gerald Loeb and National Journalism awards nominee for his reports on the global credit crisis. He is also a member of the Asian American Journalists Association.”
“The executive board knows, and it’s due to my job is ramping up,” said Siew in an email to Talking Biz News. “You can say it’s to focus on my global markets forum project.”
Siew also is a past winner of SABEW’s Best in Business award; the Deadline Club; the Detroit Press Club’s International Wheel Award (all in 2006); the Virginia Press Association (1998); and the Keystone PressÂ Award (1995). As a Freeman FoundationÂ fellow at George Washington University, he focused on China studies. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and Boston University, where he majored in international relations.
“I am helping SABEW find a replacement, and I’d like to find a diverse candidate if possible to fill the board spot and maybe chair the diversity committee,” said Siew. “If you have any ideas for good candidates, please let me know.”
SABEW will elect new board members next month at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
by Chris Roush
Reuters Washington bureau chief Marilyn Thompson sent out the following staff announcement on Tuesday afternoon:
It gives us great pleasure to announce that Caren Bohan is returning to Reuters as Domestic Policy Correspondent.
Caren left us last year – not long after her starring role at the White House Correspondents Dinner – to become Managing Editor for Policy at National Journal. At Reuters, she had been an important part of our White House team, covering the Obama and Bush administrations. She wrote about international summits, the federal budget, the war in Afghanistan and the Arab Spring. In 2008, she was the lead correspondent for Reuters covering Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
In her new role at Reuters, Caren will work with our domestic policy team to write about issues that bring together the White House, Capitol Hill and federal agencies. She will work daily stories and help us steer longer-term enterprise projects.
Caren is a natural leader whose years in Washington have earned her wide respect. She served as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association from July 2011 to July 2012.
Born in Boston, Caren earned a B.A. in English Literature at McGill University and holds a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. Earlier in her career, Caren covered economic policy and financial markets for Reuters, first in New York and then in Washington.
She will return to the bureau on April 15. Please join us in welcoming her.
by Chris Roush
Longtime business journalist David Greising has been hired to run the Reuters’ Midwest bureau.
Sandra Guy of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, “At Reuters, Greising replaces Peter Bohan, who will focus full-time on the newswire’s Americas Service, a general news file sent to clients in the United States.
“Greising, a Chicago native and graduate of Indiana’s DePauw University, spent 11 years at the Tribune where he broke stories on the United Airlines bankruptcy, a scandal at Florsheim that cost the CEO his job, scandalous losses at Motorola and a series on problems in developing a global supply chain for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.
“After the Tribune, Greising worked as managing editor and general manager of the Chicago News Cooperative, leading a news team that produced a Chicago section for The New York Times.”
Read more here. Greising also worked for BusinessWeek in its Chicago and Atlanta bureaus.
by Chris Roush
The Guild and Thomson Reuters management last week settled all of their remaining PIP-related disciplinary disputes, bringing to a close, at least for now, a year-long saga that touched the lives and careers of 33 journalists, and unsettled hundreds more.
Under the agreement, verbal warnings that were given in 2012 to 15 journalists immediately before they received PIPs (performance improvement plans), will expire on their anniversaries this year if no further discipline is issued to them during the one-year period. Once expired, a verbal warning cannot be used as basis for a more severe reprimand, like a written warning, in the step-by-step path to termination known as progressive discipline.
The agreement, reached on Valentine’s Day as an arbitrator was about to hear the first of the 15 cases, says that an employee whose verbal warning expires may “without consequence, state that he or she has not received a verbal warning.” Normally, verbal warnings never expire under company policy, although their usefulness as a management stepping stone to more severe discipline diminishes greatly after a year. Under company policy, no records of verbal warnings are kept in personnel files, although employees’ supervisors normally keep their own records.
If any of the 15 journalists receive additional discipline (which would have to be based on something other than failing to meet PIP or appraisal goals) within the one-year period, the original verbal warning would remain in place, but the Guild would be free to challenge it along with the additional discipline.
“We think this settlement will help employees and their supervisors put this episode behind them without in any way impeding the Guild’s ability to defend its members in case things don’t turn out the way we hope,” said New York Guild Secretary-Treasurer Peter Szekely.
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Thomson Reuters, the parent of the Reuters news service, plans to cut up to 4 percent of its workforce, or 2,500 jobs, while its profit rises.
Jennifer Booton of Fox Business writes, “The company said on Wednesday that it expects to spend about $100 million on severance costs, predominantly in the first quarter. A majority of the cuts will take place in its finance and research division.
“Shares of Thomson Reuters slumped 2% in morning trade.
“The New York–based publishing and financial services giant said its turnaround is about halfway complete and remains on track, which includes simplification across the business, improved transparency, disciplined spending and leadership transformation.
“The overhaul efforts position Thomson Reuters to ‘build a foundation for stability in 2013 and profitable growth in 2014.’ The company said net sales will gradually improve with product rollouts, customer service improvements and consolidation.
“The announcement comes as Thomson Reuters posts fourth-quarter operating profit of $658 million, up 2% from $646 million a year ago.
“Excluding one-time items, it earned 60 cents a share, topping average analyst estimates of 55 cents in a Thomson Reuters poll.”
by Chris Roush
Chrystia Freeland, Digital Editor of Reuters, sent out the following staff hire announcement on Tuesday:
I am delighted to announce that Jim Roberts will join us on February 25th as Executive Editor, Reuters Digital. In this newly created role, Jim will report to me and oversee the editorial work of Reuters.com and our global family of Reuters websites, our opinion team and our online video operation. Jim, who was a masthead editor at the New York Times, brings to this role a unique and ideal combination of new and traditional media skills and experience.
Since 2006, Jim has been the Times’s chief digital editor and evangelist, first in the role of Editor of Digital News, and most recently as an Assistant Managing Editor. He led a vast expansion of NYTimes.com from 2006 to 2009, and helped build and lead a team of multimedia experts that has two Emmy Awards and one Peabody to its credit. His passion for news brought energy and urgency to the homepage of NYTimes.com, through breaking news stories like the financial meltdown and recession, the Haiti earthquake and the Arab Spring uprisings, as well as the Times’s ongoing digital coverage of the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
Jim was an early champion of social media. Jim was a strong advocate for the development and promotion of New York Times video and helped lead the buildout of live video coverage of the 2012 campaign.
Before joining the Times’s digital team, Jim was National Editor of the New York Times and the paper’s national political editor during the 2000 campaign. He also worked as an editor on the Times’s metropolitan and sports desks. Before joining the Times, he worked in a variety of reporting and editing jobs in Richmond, Va., Baltimore and Dallas.
Please join me in welcoming Jim to Reuters and if you’d like you can join his more than 80,000 Twitter followers @nycjim.
by Chris Roush
Peter Lauria of Reuters is a writer and editor who has covered entertainment, media and technology from both a consumer and business perspective for such outlets as Thomson Reuters, The New York Post, The Daily Beast, The Deal and Mogulite for more than a decade.
His freelance work has appeared in Avenue, Blender, Fortune and Media Magazine, among others. His television and radio appearances include “The Today Show,” “Good Day New York,” CNBC, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” Bloomberg TV, Reuters TV, CNN, and BBC Radio. He has also moderated panels and conducted CEO interviews at the Paley Center for Media, among other venues.
Lauria has particular expertise in the business of television, music, movies, corporate media, technology, and the intersection of entertainment and Wall Street, with access to many of the major decisions makers on both sides of that table.
Lauria broke Sirius merger agreement with XM and broke Paul McCartney leaving EMI for Starbucks. He also broke Harman family stopping investing in Newsweek Daily Beast and made national headlines with story about how Sumner Redstone was bankrolling an all-girl band called The Electric Barbarellas.
Lauria spoke by e-mail with Talking Biz News about covering the media industry. What follows is an edited transcript.
What is it like to cover an industry in which you work?
Well, just to make clear right, I’m a media business reporter. I don’t write about other reporters or how the media covers news events. I track the industry from a business perspective — profits, losses, mergers and media moguls. I think it is important to draw a distinction between media business reporting and traditional media reporting because they really are two different animals.
That said, the key to any type of media reporting, from my perspective, is to treat it just as you would any other beat. The tendency among media reporters–and editors and outlets, for that matter–is to ascribe a greater gravity to a media story than it truly deserves. There’s a lot of naval gazing and inside baseball reporting that just isn’t significant to a general interest reader. Take, for instance, the recent changes instituted by Jeff Zucker at CNN. Media reporters get breathless over every talent hire or show cancellation. But on Time Warner’s earnings call last week, not one question from analysts was about CNN. Or, I believe, Time Inc, which just laid off 500 people, or 6 percent of its staff.
That’s not to say that media reporting isn’t worthy or justified or that there aren’t stories that grow out of media reporting into massive general interest news stories. In the last two years, we’ve had two media stories — phone hacking at News Corp and sex abuse allegations against Jimmy Saville at the BBC — blow up into international scandals of wide interest to a general audience. Here’s a simple test I apply when reporting or editing a media piece: how important or interesting can I make this story not just for the media CEO lunching at Michael’s but also for the tourist at the Olive Garden in Times Square. How much or little that Venn diagram overlaps is directly proportional to how I play the story.
Do you think it is harder or easier to cover an industry where you are an employee? Why?
Media is just one sliver of my coverage responsibilities, along with technology, telecommunications, and deal reporting. I wouldn’t say media reporting is harder or easier than those beats. But I think it is safe to say that the beat presents unique challenges. For instance, when a Wall Street reporter writes about layoffs at Goldman Sachs, or throughout the wider banking industry, it likely doesn’t create any existential angst about their own job security. But for media reporters documenting cost cuts and buyouts and bankruptcies at other outlets, the feeling of, “When will this hit us,” is real. Some other challenges media reporters also have to deal with include newsroom colleagues presuming they know as much about the beat as you since they, too, are “in the media,” scoops being dismissed as passed down from on high, and accusations of bias or carrying out corporate grudges when we write unflattering stories about another organization or, worse, another organization’s executives. All of which are a discredit to the hard work media reporting.
But there are also advantages to media reporting. Most notably, we get to meet and our work is seen by everyone in the industry. So, if you are good and your stuff stands out, you will definitely be recognized by editors and, given how incestuous this industry is, probably recruited by one at some point in time.
How has media coverage changed in the past decade?
I’ve been covering media for about 13 years now, and there’s been three distinct periods in media reporting over the last decade. When I first started covering the industry in 2000, the media industry was coming down from the irrational exuberance of the first dot.com bubble. At that point it was abundantly clear that the potential of a company such as TheStreet.com going public and making journalists rich wasn’t going to happen. Magazine titles such as The Industry Standard, Business 2.0, eCompany Now, that had been birthed and fed by that first dot.com bubble were dying off. Fast. After that, publishers of both magazines and newspapers started to pursue a buy over build strategy. Time Inc. spent $2 billion buying Times Mirror Magazines and IPC Media., for instance.
Unfortunately, by the time those acquisitions were integrated the beginning of the transition to digital media was already beginning. So coverage began to reflect that threat. Coverage reflected old media’s utter disregard and then contempt for how technology was going to upend their business, including but not limited to blogs. This could also accurately be called the head-in-the-sand or you-just-don’t-get-it phase of coverage. And, to be clear, I’m not saying that the media reporters themselves didn’t foresee what was happening. I’m saying that mainstream media stories accurately captured how the executives running media companies completely missed it.
Currently, we are in a very weird phase of excitement and reticence. Where a given outlet sits on that spectrum in directly proportional to their size and legacy. Bigger organizations with long histories tend to fall towards the latter. Digitally native startups tend to reside near the former. The advent of the iPad and rise of new models for publishing based around social media such as Buzzfeed and Storyful, have created an optimism around media that I haven’t seen for quite some time. Parallel to that, you have old line publishers like the New York Times or Time Inc. that have to bring costs in line with declining advertising and subscription revenue that isn’t being made up by paywalls and digital editions. So, you are seeing stories about major hires at Buzzfeed or Tumblr or even Twitter for that matter on that same day or week that you are reading about layoffs at Time Inc. or buyouts at the New York Times.
How do you come up with non-breaking news story ideas?
There’s no shortage of stories to write on the media beat. The challenge is to find a unique way to tell the story you are trying to tell because media is indeed one the most saturated industries in terms of coverage. There is so much media coverage coming from every form of media that our task is to figure a way to break through with our take. Personally, I’ve been able to tap a rich vein in framing media and entertainment business stories around the personalities that run these companies. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you need to bring a human element to business stories of any kind to make them interesting to a broad readership. Because, in truth, most people don’t want to read about business. They find it bland, boring. They don’t understand numbers and if they aren’t personally interested in the subject matter, why read it? My mantra is that people care about people, not companies. Most people don’t want to hear about Viacom, they want to hear about Sumner Redstone. CBS isn’t all that interesting. But Les Moonves is infinitely quotable.
There are two other very simple ways to come up with non-breaking news story ideas. The first is to dig into the data, whether it be SEC filings, ratings figures, circulation v. advertising numbers. Understanding and interpreting numbers means you will never lack for a story. Secondly, talk to people. Take sources to lunch. Go to cocktail receptions. Meet for coffee. GET OUT OF THE OFFICE. You need to know what people are talking about before you can write about it.
Are media companies more receptive to coverage because of what they do?
Unequivocally, no. Quite the opposite, in fact. Media companies love to cover others but they hate when others cover them. Part of the reason for that is because the balance of power is flipped. Media companies are the ones used to having the leverage and dictating coverage terms. But when you are writing about them, particularly if what you are writing is unflattering in some capacity, the rules of engagement are reversed. Control of the story is no longer theirs, and that’s a foreign and unpleasant feeling for most media companies. That dynamic is magnified when you focus more on the personalities than the institutions, as I do. Executives in any field, but most notably in media, want reporters to be in awe or afraid of them. The idea of the celebrity CEO is arguably best personified by media executives. Or at least they want it to be. They want to be stars as large and luminous as the ones they create via their newspapers, magazines, TV shows or movies. The reality is that any time a media mogul is featured on the cover of a magazine, that issue is invariably the worst selling one for the title in that year.
Why is coverage of media companies important in the world today?
Well, if you look at the changes to society that a company such as Apple has brought on, it’s clear that media and technology companies matter. They shape how we get our information and how we interact with each other and the world around us. But honestly speaking, media reporting is not as important as reporting on wars or human rights violations or geopolitics. Media business reporting is probably not the most important coverage area of a given outlet’s business section, but maybe it’s the most interesting. Or sexiest. The best and truest line of the ‘Page One’ documentary about the struggles of the New York Times as told through the paper’s media desk was when Bruce Headlam very frankly said something to the effect of ‘We’re not doing the most important work at the paper.”
I think media reporting is interesting, and we are at a intrinsically interesting time in the evolution of media, and media institutions are still powerful and it is still important to hold them accountable. But you need to have proper perspective. What we are doing isn’t toppling governments or otherwise changing the world.
What do you see as important stories to focus on going forward?
The rise of impermanent media, which is the focus of a great Businessweek cover story by Felix Gillette this week. The nexus between declining print circulation and rising digital subscriptions. How social media networks like Facebook and Twitter will impinge on both the distribution and business model of traditional media outlets. Can digital-only outlets find a business model that works. What happens to the New York Times and Financial Times. Do they get sold? To whom? Can the TV industry preserve its bundled delivery model, or will someone, an incumbent like Charlie Ergen or a disruptor like Apple or Intel, blow it up? What happens to News Corp and Viacom after their founders pass on. Will Apple make a big move into content as part of its TV ambitions, maybe acquire a company. Who are the next generation of executives to lead the old line media companies.
What media do you read to keep up to date with what is going on?
I read Twitter. Everything I need to know for both my job and to satisfy my personal interests is delivered to me every morning via Tweetdeck in neatly categorized lists that act essentially as newspaper sections. Through Twitter I get delivered technology news from AllThingsD and The Verge, media news from the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter, and Deadline, general business news from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, regional news from SF Gate, Denver Post, 1010 Wins. I got all the information I needed about the blizzard from Twitter. I got weather updates from Accuweather, travel updates from MTA and NJ Transit, updates from Fresh Direct on delivery schedules.
Of course I read our file as much as possible, and Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Bloomberg, among others. I love The Week and Foreign Policy magazine. The point I am making, and it isn’t all that radical of one, is that you keep hearing about how Yahoo and Google and Facebook are all battling to be your home screen. But to my mind they are all playing for second place. That fight has already been won by Twitter. It is only a matter of time before its utility is fully realized.
What is the strategy for covering media at Reuters?
Break news. Then break some more news. Then while everyone is trying to catch up with your breaking news, advance the story with deep analysis and proper context about its meaning for the companies involved specifically, the industry involved generally, and the global impact writ large. And do all that in a way that is relevant both to the investor clients that pay us for our terminals and the casual readers we are trying to reach with our consumer facing website. Write stories that move markets and investors can trade on that are also interesting to the casual reader.
Who is the best interview in the media business, and why?
I don’t know if he is the best interview, but personally I like talking to Tom Freston. Of all the people I have come across in 16 years in journalism, he is a person I respect because of his openness. He is infinitely interesting and has such a positive energy. If more people in the media business were like him, it would probably be a much better business.
You’ve worked at a wire service, a web site and a newspaper. Will all three be around in 50 years?
I just turned 38, so I’m not even sure I’ll be around in 50 years! Answering that requires prognostication skills I simply don’t possess. But I will say this, I would wager that it is far more likely that one company ends up housing a wire service, website, newspaper, and weekly or monthly magazine under the same brand name than it is that one of those mediums goes away.
by Chris Roush
Reuters columnist Felix Salmon writes Friday that the wire service is looking for journalists to work on its revamped website operation, which will launch in March.
Salmon writes, “We’re looking for people who can write, of course: the site will need quick, clean, memorable posts on everything from central banking policy to Facebook’s latest product launch. But, even more importantly, we’re looking for people who can read. Why match when you can link?
“The vision for business section of the site is that it will be a single source for readers to find the best business news and analysis online — regardless of source. The news will come from Reuters and from the rest of the web. As for the analysis, sometimes we’ll link to it, sometimes we’ll reprint it from elsewhere, and sometimes we’ll write it ourselves. Which means that although writing is going to be a key skill for anybody on the team, we’re looking for writers of the contextualizing, value-adding sort — rather than reporters.
“This property won’t look or feel like any other business section — it’ll be smarter, linkier and much more aware of the conversation. Practically, that means blending Reuters content with prominent external links, hover-and-dive blogging (which elides the distinction between a blog and a liveblog), great headlines, semi-traditional news blogging, op-eds, lots of charts, and of course a keen eye on social media in general and the ongoing Twitter conversation in particular.
“If you’re interested, please send a resume and a short note to Counterparties.Reuters@gmail.com. Be sure to include your Twitter handle!”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
John Entwisle, the corporate historian of Thomson Reuters, writes Thursday about wire service founder Paul Julius Reuter and his business practices.
Entwisle writes, “A later Reuters editor was George Douglas Williams. He went on to have a long career with the company, remaining in post for a remarkable 24 years. However, as a young sub-editor, Williams was another whose career could have ended virtually before it began, but for Reuter’s perception and judgement.
“Williams had joined Reuters in 1860 when the night office was located at King Street, London. The office backed directly onto the garden and back yard of Julius Reuter’s own house in Finsbury Square. Foreign news was not yet continuous. During the long intervals when no news was to hand and there was virtually nothing to do, night staff were permitted to doze. And so it was that Williams was asleep when news of the first big battle of the American Civil War at Bull Run arrived by telegram. Try as he might, the young telegraph boy failed to rouse him from his slumbers. At last he had no choice but to leave the message on Williams’s chest. Meanwhile, Williams slept on, untroubled until ‘in the grey light of dawn he was aroused by the spectacle of his employer in his dressing gown and slippers standing over his bed and shaking the fateful message in his face.’ As was his custom, Reuter had come across the garden to see what news had arrived overnight.
“Such a lapse could well have cost Williams his job. But once again Reuter took the unexpected decision to overlook what had happened. Reuters, he estimated, would still be better off with Williams rather than without him.
“Here was yet another case of Julius Reuter’s intuitive capacity to recognise that, even after the most serious of lapses, there may still be a case for giving anyone a second chance.”
Read more here. Note: The lithograph used as an illustration here comes from Vanity Fair, 1872. An original copy is in the Talking Biz News archive.
by Chris Roush
Ryan Chittum of Columbia Journalism Review writes about how competing business news media did not credit Reuters’ investigative work last year on Chesapeake Energy for the announcement Tuesday that its CEO was stepping down.
Chittum writes, “Beat reporters tend and their bosses not to like to give credit to competitors who have scooped them repeatedly.
“The Wall Street Journal doesn’t deign to mention Reuters at all in its Marketplace cover piece, which is a big hole in its story. Bloomberg is chintzy, crediting “media reports” rather than its top competitor. That’s pathetic, but at least it mentioned the press’s role, unlike the Journal.
Shareholders including Carl Icahn, the activist investor, forced a shake-up of the board last year after the revelation by Reuters of Mr McClendon’s previously undisclosed borrowings intensified concerns about corporate governance.
“It might be cynical to note that Reuters is more of a competitor to the WSJ (Dow Jones) and Bloomberg than it is to the FT and the NYT, but there it is. By ignoring or downplaying a competitor’s scoop, particularly one that sent a company’s shares down 10 percent at one point, you’re not telling the whole story.”
Read more here.