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Reuters aims at AP with new domestic US news service

Reuters on Tuesday will launch Reuters America, a US news service aimed at taking on rivals by marching into territory traditionally dominated by The Associated Press.

In a break with tradition, Reuters America will include content from partners, starting with sports results and news from Sports Direct; sports photography from US Presswire; game reports and team analysis from Sports Xchange; and fans’ coverage from SB Nation. It will also feature professional and amateur local reporting from; and entertainment coverage from The Wrap.

“This is the beginning of Project Apollo; the transformation of our news agency business from being only about Reuters content to being about supplying clients with more of the content and services they need,” Chris Ahearn, president of Reuters Media, pictured, told the Financial Times.

“We’re still committed to covering the world, but we don’t need to be all things to all people,” he said, adding that Reuters America would also serve as “a platform of exchange”, distributing content from local newspaper and broadcast customers for the use of others around the country.

Ahearn would not say how many staff Reuters would add in its multi-million dollar investment in editorial and technology, but said the initiative would include significantly more freelance reporters.

“This is about transforming what a news agency can offer, to really be a partner to newsrooms and have our clients think of us as an extension of their newsrooms rather than just as a content provider,” he said. “So the way we’re engaging with clients now is much more on a kind of solutions perspective, to say: What matters for you? What coverage do you need?”

The initiative marks a shift from Reuters’ traditional focus on international and financial news for the US market, with a push into local political and general news and a drive to aggregate sports and entertainment coverage to fill gaps left by local newspaper and television newsrooms’ shrinking budgets.

Reuters America aims to have staff or freelance reporters in 100 cities across all 50 US states, and to offer an on-demand service by embedding Reuters journalists in some customers’ newsrooms to understand their requirements.

Its first client is Tribune, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, which has signed a multi-year contract. Tribune said it will use less material from the AP and reduce its financial commitment to the US news cooperative. The new Reuters service will provide news, photo, digital, and graphics services for Tribune newspapers and all of its publishing and broadcast Web sites.

It comes as Reuters examines how to reach a larger consumer audience through, mobile applications and other platforms. Tom Glocer, chief executive, told a conference in Paris last week that Thomson Reuters was examining whether it could “aggregate a serious international audience” such as Americans who listen to National Public Radio, watch the BBC or read The Economist, through a new consumer offering. ■

Financial Times