Selling the news: Reuters, the AP and Tribune

December 14, 2010

We and others reported Monday night that our parent company Thomson Reuters Corp is starting a U.S. general news service for U.S. publishers and broadcasters. Though my employer, Reuters News, has been providing general and business/financial/economic news for more than a century, we didn’t have a service before that would rely on a big group of hired journalists and stringers to get busy covering U.S. news in a large way.

You can see our story here, as well as the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and paidContent.org stories, for more information. One of the interesting aspects that we didn’t get into in our story is one of the reasons that Tribune Co, Reuters America’s first client, decided to work with our parent company.

Here’s Russell Adams’s explanation, taken from The Wall Street Journal:

In a cost-cutting move this past spring, Tribune began producing modules, or ready-made pages, that are filled with news from wires services and its various properties, and printed in multiple papers. Gerould Kern, editor of the Chicago Tribune, said Tribune expects to begin selling the pages to other publishing companies—something Reuters was open to.

“Clients want to be a syndicator of our content,” said Chris Ahearn, president of media for Thomson Reuters.

The AP doesn’t let papers repackage its content for sale. In a statement, the AP said, “The Tribune newspapers remain valued members of the AP.” The cooperative added: “Our members have rights to use our content in various ways. However, there are ancillary uses of AP content that we cannot allow because they wouldn’t be fair to other members,” the AP said.

I’m curious to hear from our media readers how creative a move they think this is for news outlets like Reuters as well as the customers that my company is trying to enlist. We don’t know the size of the investment in this news service, other than that it’s part of a “multimillion dollar” commitment. We also don’t know the eventual size of the reporting staff (including the freelancers). Still, it’s an interesting move on a number of levels.

My remaining question is, will Reuters America provide another option for out-of-work journalists who are looking at options from professional freelancer to AOL’s Patch.com to Demand Media which, let’s be fair, don’t pay as well as they might be used to? Will this take more jobs out of newsrooms? Or neither?

PS, paidContent and the Toronto Globe and Mail noted that Reuters is delving more into aggregation — rounding up news and content from other providers — as part of this effort. Here’s the Globe and Mail’s take. The PaidContent link is earlier in this blog post. And the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal has a piece that you should read that provides more specifics.

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/