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Rotten Reuters?

Reuters has been plagued by a recent series of embarrassing corrections, including repeatedly misspelling the name of one of its video journalists killed in Lebanon by Israeli fire.

Britain’s satirical magazine Private Eye highlighted the issue in its latest edition under the headline “Rotten Reuters”, which also described a bitter dispute between freelance TV producers - a large proportion of Reuters Television staff in London - and management over pay.


The Baron has seen internal memos to television staff from senior editors in December about “really embarrassing and eminently preventable corrections”. The mistakes continued despite an initial warning about errors that had been spotted by clients.


Most seriously, a memo from editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni and president of Reuters News Paul Bascobert in October misspelled the name of video journalist Issam Abdallah, who was killed in southern Lebanon by Israeli fire on 13 October. Insiders told Private Eye his name was misspelled on two other occasions in a text story and a TV edit. They said editorial errors were a consequence of repeated cost cutting at Reuters, which has meant local bureaux often inject stories without the previous London desk editing and checks.


The internal memo from clearly frustrated television editors said: “Each mistake that we make and every correction that we issue casts a small shadow over Reuters’ reputation for accuracy. Our clients rely on us to be fast, but above all they rely on us to be accurate.”


Freelancers dispute


On the freelancers dispute, Private Eye quoted a letter signed by 24 producers which cited disillusionment, anger and low morale as they struggled to make ends meet. Management had rejected any increase of pay for the freelancers despite a six to seven per cent award to staffers.


A freelancers letter seen by The Baron said that since the previous pay review in April 2021 their income had been significantly eroded by inflation. They said that in protest at the freeze on their hourly rates they would withdraw goodwill in the newsroom and charge for every additional minute worked. The letter threatened to withdraw freelance labour altogether if management did not reconsider its position.


The freelancers produced figures showing that remuneration from Reuters per typical month and taking into consideration social security deductions, lack of holiday pay and tax was between £1,340 and £840 lower at Reuters than AP. ■

Private Eye