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Reuters aims to become best in the world - Stephen Adler

Reuters wants to raise its profile, increase the impact of its journalism and be as influential in the United States as it is in the rest of the world.

“Indeed, to be fully effective as a global organisation, we have to be as influential and as well known in the US – the world’s largest economy – as we are elsewhere in the world,” editor-in-chief Stephen Adler, pictured, said in an interview published on Friday. “Our mandate at Reuters is to become the best journalism organisation in the world,” he said.

Reuters’ recent hiring spree, including a handful of Pulitzer Prize-winners, has quickly attracted the media world’s attention, the US news website and blog Huffington Post reported. At the same time, it said, Reuters has relaunched its website to better showcase its vast reporting in a more consumer-friendly way, stepped up social media efforts and increased analysis, opinion and enterprise reporting.

Reuters is not giving up on breaking financial news that paying subscribers want or reporting international wire stories that cash-strapped newspapers, lacking foreign budgets, increasingly need, The Huffington Post said. However, deputy editor-in-chief Paul Ingrassia says the company wants to go beyond breaking news. “I think what we’re making a bigger effort to do is not only be first with events,” Ingrassia said, “but very quickly and analytically ... report the meaning and impact of those events.”

By giving Adler a mandate to make big moves, Reuters may hope to avoid being lapped by the Bloomberg behemoth, the website said. When asked whether Bloomberg is Reuters’ main competitor, Adler rattled off the many subscription platforms that Reuters offers its users, including traders, investment bankers, lawyers, tax specialists and pharmaceutical researchers. Reuters, he said, also reaches one billion people a day through the agency business used by newspapers, magazines and websites.

“Our audience base is thus quite different from anyone else’s, as is our revenue model,” Adler said. “The better we are, the more our journalism is worth to all of our customers. And we aim to be the best. And, yes, Bloomberg is certainly a leading competitor.”

As part of Reuters’ hiring spree, The Huffington Post noted that last week alone the agency hired former Slate media critic Jack Shafer, Pulitzer-winning Wall Street Journal veteran editor Alix Freedman, and Bay Citizen editor-in-chief and Industry Standard founding editor Jonathan Weber.

The website said that a year ago, media watchers wouldn’t have imagined such a slew of hires coming back-to-back. But Adler – a former deputy managing editor at the Wall Street Journal and Businessweek editor-in-chief just before Bloomberg’s acquisition of the magazine – started making big moves shortly after becoming Reuters editor-in-chief earlier this year.

Adler’s new editorial leadership team was looking like the Wall Street Journal in exile, it said. Ingrassia spent over three decades at the Journal and Dow Jones, where he won a Pulitzer for his coverage of the auto industry and later ran Dow Jones Newswires. Three other former Journal staffers are on board, too: former chief operating officer Stuart Karle, data editor Reginald Chua, and enterprise editor Michael Williams.

“Adler’s leadership team isn’t all Journal ex-pats,” The Huffington Post said. Adler hired Jim Gaines, a former Time Inc. executive most recently at News International’s iPad application The Daily and Harold Evans joined as an editor-at-large. “And some members of the team are old Reuters hands. Chrystia Freeland, who joined Reuters last year, became editor of Thomson Reuters Digital. In May, James Ledbetter moved from to become Reuters inaugural op-ed editor…

“When my position was created, there became a much stronger mandate from above to go out and get big names and put the full weight of Reuters behind it,” Ledbetter said. Since he took over, Reuters has hired not only Shafer but two former New York Times reporters with Pulitzers on their resumés: David Rohde and David Cay Johnston. “It’s getting to be quite a stable,” Ledbetter said.

While recent buzz may help raise Reuters’ profile outside, The Huffington Post said there has been some grumbling inside the company. Staffers say there are concerns that too much emphasis is being placed on big-name outside hires at the expense of cultivating talent within. Managers also worry about holding onto their positions in the newsroom amid editorial reshuffling and executives' shifting priorities.”

Staffers say other management changes have gone over well, including an emphasis on getting out of the office more to build deeper source relationships and the dismantling of the long-running beat system that only rewarded stories impacting stock prices. One staffer said it seems clear management wants to build a news organisation that creates a lot more buzz and prestige.

Some staffers believe that management expects to win Pulitzers in the coming years, following Reuters’ greater investment in enterprise and investigative reporting.

Both Adler and Ingrassia, however, balk at any suggestion that there’s a Pulitzer mandate. “Prize-hunting, per se, is not the objective here,” Ingrassia said.

“As I’ve said to the staff, we want to do work that is so memorable and so distinguished that it is recognised by our peers,” Adler said. “Winning awards is one measure of excellence but not an end in itself. We also want people talking about our journalism, sharing it with each other, and using it to make smart decisions and achieve fresh insights.” ■

The Huffington Post