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Reuters will cut more jobs - editor-in-chief

Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler (photo) told staff of more imminent job cuts and said that, in "dizzyingly fast" changing market conditions, resources within the agency had to be shifted to areas where promising growth opportunities are seen.

He gave no indication of how many people would be laid off. Video operations, financial chat rooms, and opinion columns will all be affected.

A Reuters spokesperson said the company is “shifting resources to new and existing operations where we see promising growth opportunities, and away from slower-growth initiatives or areas we think we can run more efficiently.” This “will lead to a slight decline in overall staffing”.

Adler said many editorial staff members had asked him about 2015 budget plans and, in particular, whether Reuters would be growing or shrinking next year. Planning was nearly final and next year’s budget would probably be about one per cent larger than this year’s. “That’s big enough to maintain our standing as the world’s largest independent news organization and to pay for a year’s worth of outstanding journalism. It’s not big enough, however, both to cover inflation and to fund the growth initiatives that are vital to our future success.

“Therefore, we are working to shift resources within the organization: from some areas where we see weaker commercial prospects or have identified ways to work more efficiently, and to new or existing operations where we see promising growth opportunities. “These decisions are being informed by how customer needs and market conditions are changing - and both are changing dizzyingly fast in our industry.”

In many instances, staff members in areas that are being reduced would find opportunities in services that are launching or expanding. “In some other instances, though, the moves will result in job cuts, a course of action that I know will be extremely difficult for those involved.”

One big shift is in video operations. Reuters Insider TV has not delivered enough revenue to justify the editorial expense of creating original financial video, even though viewership has grown solidly.

“Therefore, we are ceasing most in-house production of Insider videos and instead relying primarily on partnerships to provide this service to financial customers. In contrast, we have been hiring - in many cases from Insider - to staff Reuters TV, our new mobile, on-demand news service for consumers, where we see exciting opportunities to be a leader in the next generation of television news. Crucially, this service relies on news footage we are already shooting for agency customers and leverages the existing reporting staff on the ground all over the world - so incremental costs are comparatively modest.”

Another change is in editorial resources devoted to moderating financial communities. Adler said a great deal had been learned and important news leads had been developed from the project. “But, after reviewing the business, we believe the funds devoted to some of these chat-rooms can be better used elsewhere in our organization. So we are reducing the number of communities that will be moderated by our editorial staff.”

A third change is in the Opinion service. “Customer research and usage data make clear to us that we are most effective when we pair breaking news coverage with smart commentary on the same topic by someone with particular expertise or a provocative perspective. Stand-alone Opinion columns that run at regular intervals do considerably less well on our site. Therefore, we are shifting resources from a fixed set of columns to news-pegged commentaries from a broad array of outside experts.”

Adler said that, in addition to Reuters TV, there would be investment in several areas. For financial customers, Reuters would build on the successful launch of Reuters Stocks Buzz and would continue developing its editorial operation in Gdynia, Poland - where the company employs about 1,000 people - as a centre of excellence for English-language coverage of European companies.

He said the company sees growth potential in its Reuters America domestic US news and sports operation, where coverage improved in 2014.

“We’re also confident that, through content marketing, we can help companies connect with their own customers, and we are adding resources to this effort - with due care to maintain independence and comply with the Trust Principles.”

Adler said the company would do all it could to conduct the job cuts process with transparency and respect, and to provide outplacement services as needed.

“Reuters is an extraordinary news organization filled with talented and passionate journalists - all deeply committed to providing fast, accurate, unbiased, and insightful journalism to our billion-plus customers," he said. "I’m confident that, taken together, the changes we are making will help us deliver an even more compelling news file while strengthening our business. We need to grow to remain successful, and we are committed to doing so. We are also fully committed to serving existing customers better than ever, as we build the capabilities to reach new ones.” ■