Tag Archives: Thomson Reuters

Reuters and Guild tussling over performance incentive plans

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TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

Reuters and the New York Newspaper Guild are locking horns over performance incentive plans that the union believes are unfairly targeting some of its journalists.

The guild says that 28 journalists have received these performance incentive plans, or PIPs, which the company says is designed to improve their newsroom performance. The union, however, says that the goals in the documents are not easily obtainable and that they include threats of discipline.

The larger issue here is changes being imposed by the new management team within the Reuters newsroom, led by editor in chief Stephen Adler, who is trying to overhaul the wire service and has been emphasizing more investigative business journalism. Some long-time staffers at Reuters now feel threatened by the changes being instituted. Of the 28 journalists that have been targeted, 22 have filed grievances that are likely to go to arbitration, a union representative said Friday.

“I have never seen such a broad-based attack on people in the organization,” said Peter Szekely, the secretary-treasurer of the guild who worked more than 25 years at Reuters, in a telephone interview with Talking Biz News on Friday. “This is something unprecedented. This is not an ordinary dispute.”

The company disputes the union’s version of events and says it is doing what it needs to do to improve the newsroom’s performance.

“Our efforts to maintain high editorial standards and thus serve our readers better comply with all of our contractual obligations,” said Barb Burg, vice president of corporate affairs at Thomson Reuters, in a statement e-mailed to Talking Biz News. “We are working constructively with staff members whose work needs improvement to ensure that they have clear performance goals and our support in achieving them. While we expect, and readers require, high performance from Reuters journalists, our expectations are reasonable and appropriate. We have worked cooperatively with the Guild on many issues, and look forward to continuing to do so.”

Szekely claims that the PIPs violate the union’s contract with Reuters because the company is using performance reviews as a basis for discipline. In addition, he says that the company is not giving the journalists targeted a fair shot.

“What’s happened here is that people have had two steps of discipline heaped upon them at the same time,” he said. “You need to give the person an opportunity to improve. Every one of these 28 people that received a PIP had a disciplinary notation, and on top of that they received a verbal warning. We consider that to be a violation. The mixing of the performance appraisal process and the discipline is a violation.”

The PIPs have forced some long-time business journalists from the Reuters newsrooms in Washington and New York, according to their colleagues.

Szekely says he has no problem with journalists losing their jobs if they are not performing. But in many cases, he argues, it’s been punitive.

The journalists are “given certain goals that at least on the face of it are not easily obtainable,” he said.

Reuters hires Barbash from CQ

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Reuters Americas editor Jim Gaines made the following announcement on Tuesday:

I am thrilled to announce that Fred Barbash, one of Washington’s best known and most distinguished journalists, will join the DC Bureau next month as Editor, Domestic Policy, reporting to Bureau Chief Mary Milliken.

Fred is currently managing editor of CQ Weekly, the magazine about Congress published by CQ Roll Call, a division of the Economist Group. Before that he was a senior editor at Politico, where he was creator and moderator of The Arena, a popular forum for debate on national policy and politics.

But Fred is best known for his work at The Washington Post, where he was a creative, aggressive and thoughtful editor and reporter — an important influence on the work of our own Marilyn Thompson and Joan Biskupic, among many others. Along the way, Fred was the Post’s National Editor, London Bureau Chief, Deputy Metro Editor (not in that order) and reporter on a variety of beats, including the Supreme Court.

Fred has always been an effective teacher in his editing roles, and from 2006 to 2008 he taught at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. He is also the author of The Founding: A Dramatic Account of the Writing of the Constitution (Linden Press/Simon & Schuster), as well as numerous articles on constitutional history.

As we head toward what promises to be the most eventful lame-duck Congress in recent history, our Hill coverage will be in very capable hands.

Bankers toying with biz reporters covering Facebook

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Nicholas Carlson of Business Insider reports that Reuters and Bloomberg News have different takes on how the Facebook initial public offering is selling — an indication that the bankers involved in the deal are playing with business journalists.

Carlson writes, “Buyers who want the price of Facebook shares to go down are telling reporters that supply is weak. Bankers selling the IPO, who want to the price to go up, are telling reporters that the thing is oversubscribed.

“You can kind of tell what’s happeneing because of the way both Bloomberg and Reuters carefully couched reporting.

“The Reuters headline is: ‘Facebook’s IPO already oversubscribed -source.’ That means: ‘one guy who should know told us.’

“The Bloomberg headline is: ‘Facebook IPO Said to Get Weaker-Than-Forecast Demand.’ That means ‘this may not be what’s actually going on, it’s just what some people SAY is going on. So don’t blame us if it isn’t true.’”

Read more here.

Greek bank sues Reuters, reporter

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One of Greece’s biggest banks has filed a lawsuit against Reuters claiming damages due to a story that exposed a series of property deals between the bank and companies run by the family of its executive chairman.

Simon Robinson and Matthew Tostevin of Reuters write, “Piraeus Bank in Athens has sued both the news agency, a unit of Thomson Reuters Corp, and the article’s author, reporter Stephen Grey. The lawsuit accuses Reuters of malicious defamation and of wishing ‘to harm the entire Greek banking system.’

“The Reuters special report, headlined ‘A Greek banker’s secret property deals’ and published on April 2, reported Piraeus had rented at least seven properties that were owned by a series of private investment companies directed among others by the wife and two children of the bank’s executive chairman, Michalis Sallas, and financed by Piraeus bank loans.

“The lawsuit says: ‘The bank never bought or leased any property, particularly illegal ones, from its chairman or his family.’

“The article was based on a study by Reuters of Greek corporate records and company statements, documents filed in Greek land registries and interviews with legal, accounting and property experts.”

Read more here. A Reuters spokesman says that the news service stands by its story.

Thomson Reuters reports higher profits

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Thomson Reuters, the parent company of the Reuters financial news service, reported higher first-quarter profits, but the division that operates the news service continued to post sluggish results.

Keach Hagey of The Wall Street Journal writes, “The company on Tuesday reported a profit of $314 million, or 38 cents a share, up from $250 million, or 30 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue excluding foreign-exchange effects climbed 4% to $3.19 billion.

“The news-and-information provider continues to struggle to find solid growth in the largest segment of its business, recently reorganized under the heading Financial & Risk. Revenue increased 1% to $1.81 billion before currency effects as declines in its segments targeting traders and investors were offset by acquisitions and growth in its risk and compliance business. Operating profit in the division fell 4% excluding the impact of currency changes.

“‘In general, we’ve seen a modest uptick in the Americas offset by challenging market conditions in Europe, particularly in desktops in big sell-side banks in Europe,’ Thomson Reuters Chief Executive James Smith said in an interview. Mr. Smith said he doesn’t expect the division to show growth in net sales until the end of the year. ‘You can’t outrun gravity in the near term.’

“Weak sales in the unit, which contains the core of the division previously known as Markets, led to organizational changes and the departure of several top executives last year, including former CEO Tom Glocer. That performance had largely to do with disappointing sales of a new desktop trading product called Eikon.”

Read more here.

Union critical of Reuters

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The Newspaper Guild of New York has posted a stoy on its website that is critical of a move by Reuters management recently to impose “performance incentive plans” to underperforming journalists.

The guild writes, “There’s little question about why this is happening. We’ve been hearing since last year that the Adler Editorial management team wants to ‘manage out’ veteran Reuters staff so they can hire more shiny new ‘stars.’ When asked directly about this at a March 15 staff meeting in Washington, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Paul Ingrassia denied this was the case. Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler has repeatedly said the idea is not to get rid of those who perform the essential journalistic work our clients depend on, but to add more in-depth coverage.

“If that is true, it hasn’t filtered down to the lower ranks of management, where unrealistic objectives, threatening meetings with Guild members and a speed-up of progressive discipline are the new rule. We noted in our April 3 Common Sense that the Guild had two grievances related to these issues. Since then, we’ve since filed nine more and there are a lot more coming. We’re watching the situation closely.

“If your manager gives you a PIP and/or a verbal warning related to a performance issue, know your rights. You have a right to have a Guild representative present at any meeting with your manager regarding discipline. You have the right to interrupt the meeting for a private conversation with your Guild representative. You have a right to refuse to sign the PIP.”

Read more here.

Maine newspaper hires former Reuters biz reporter

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Jessica Hall, a former business journalist at Reuters, has been hired to cover business news for the Portland Press Herald in Maine.

Kelly Bouchard of the paper writes, “Hall has been a business reporter since 1992. For the past 16 years, she worked at Reuters, covering a beat ranging from mergers and acquisitions to airlines and telecommunications. Prior to Reuters, Hall worked at business newspapers in Baltimore, including the Baltimore Business Journal and The Daily Record.

“‘I basically see everything as a business story,’ Hall said. ‘I see the potential for business news in places most people wouldn’t expect.’

“Hall grew up in suburban Philadelphia and graduated from Syracuse University, where she studied magazine journalism and psychology. She will be living in Nobleboro with her husband of six months, John Chasse, who operates the Chasse Marine Co. boat yard in Damariscotta. They have four dogs and she enjoys gardening.”

Read more here.

Reuters denies Pulitzer report story

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The Newspaper Guild of New York, which represents Reuters reporters, has posted a story on its website where Reuters News executives have taken issue with a report from The Baron, a site that follows Reuters, that journalists are being directed to write stories that can win Pulitzers.

The Guild item states, “Stuart Karle, chief operating officer for Reuters news, and Deputy Editor-in-Chief Paul Ingrassia both vigorously denied the report, which said that they, along with Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler, had led the meeting. Karle and Ingrassia called the idea ‘stupid,’ with Ingrassia adding that it would be foolish to make Pulitzer Prizes a goal, given the slight chance of winning one.

“In a telephone conversation with Guild Unit Chair Debby Zabarenko, Karle questioned the Guild’s seriousness of purpose of reporting on and linking to The Baron’s post, which he said was factually incorrect and based on a flawed premise; Ingrassia called the Common Sense item a ‘cheap shot.’

“Both managers pointed to an all-hands email from Steve Adler on February 24, a day after The Baron issued its post, that carried the subject heading, ‘Our Path Ahead,’ as laying out the company’s true editorial strategy. Adler’s email, which summarized his presentation to company executives and owners, did not mention prizes or address any other points in The Baron’s post. Instead, it stressed the need to build on Reuters’ reputation for ‘fast, accurate and fair’ news with commentary, ‘enterprise journalism, data mining, innovative video programming, stronger financial graphics, and other ventures that provide differentiated value.’

“When asked how the Pulitzer reference might have gotten into The Baron’s post, Karle said managers had gone through the list of journalism prizes to weed out those with a ‘corporate mission.’ ‘You do this stuff (quality journalism) because it’s a good in itself,’ he said. ‘It’s explicitly not a goal to win prizes.’

Barry May, a former Reuters correspondent and editor who runs TheBaron.info, said he stands by the story.”

Read more here.

Reuters editor in chief received $2.7 million in 2011

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Stephen J. Adler, the editor in chief of Reuters, received total compensation of $2.7 million in 2011, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Adler, who joined the company in 2010 after a stint as editor of BusinessWeek magazine, received $1.4 million in total compensation in 2010.

His base salary was $636,923 in 2011, up from the 2010 base salary of $433,462. His share-based compensation was $921,287 in 2011, up from $266,886.

Adler also received $230,040 in stock options, $519,729 from an annual incentive plan and $395,272 in other compensation, which included a special hiring-related award of $366,256 and life insurance payments of $3,538.

Adler was named editor in chief, Reuters News, and executive vice president of news, Thomson Reuters, in February 2011 and oversees the entire company’s news strategy and operations. He succeeded David Schlesinger, who recently left the company after working in China.

Earlier, he spent 16 years at The Wall Street Journal. As investigative editor there, Adler managed reporting teams that won three Pulitzer Prizes between 1995 and 1999. As deputy managing editor, he oversaw the award-winning Wall Street Journal Online, created The Wall Street Journal Books imprint, and co-taught the ethics and standards course required of all news employees.

Previously he was editor of The American Lawyer. He began his career as a reporter at local newspapers in Florida.

The SEC filing can be found here.

Are Reuters and Bloomberg the future of news?

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Lucia Moses of Adweek writes Monday about Reuters and Bloomberg and their explosive growth in the past few years.

Moses writes, “Meanwhile, Bloomberg and Reuters, with the vast majority of their journalism paid for by non-advertising revenue, are already there. With their global footprint and vast distribution system, they are an enviable model. While print brands still struggle to adapt their content to digital platforms, these companies are churning out articles and sharing editorial costs across multiple outlets, from Web to TV to print. ‘This is the newsroom of the future, where television, print and digital are really connected,’ says Larry Kramer, founder of CBS MarketWatch. ‘Each one may not have to be profitable, but they will all contribute.’

“News is actually a relatively small factor in the bottom line of both Bloomberg and Reuters. While there are key differences between the two companies — Bloomberg is private and has only been in the news business for a couple of decades, while Thomson Reuters is public and has a news operation dating back to the mid-1800s — both have financial services at their center. News is a core part of their offerings, but it is their subscription-based businesses and financial intelligence that contribute the bulk of their revenue — 82 percent for Bloomberg, 90 percent for Reuters. Apart from financial services, Reuters has its subscription-based legal and tax and accounting units. For its part, Bloomberg has been expanding into new businesses, including Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg Government.

 ”With their outsized role in the news ecosystem, the companies also raise some thorny questions about the future of journalism. On the one hand, their deep pockets subsidize content that might not otherwise see the light of day. Bloomberg, for example, will lose an estimated $20 million this year on the magazine Bloomberg Businessweek. And the global presence of both Bloomberg and Reuters is formidable, as other news outlets have been forced to gut or shutter their overseas operations.”

Read more here.