Reuters is a primary financial news and informational outlet, which was established in the 1800s as a stock market informational service to connect the trading boards of Europe by private telegraph. Founded by Paul Julius Reuters, it actually had its beginnings by utilizing carrier pigeons before advancing to telegraph.
Over the centuries the agency has become an international premier information outlet, purchasing the Associated Press in the past twenty years, essentially putting both news outlets under control of the multi-faceted financial group, Thomson Corporation. Reuters was not listed in any stock exchange until the 1980s. Today the official company name is Thomson Reuters.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation bought 15% of the initial IPO allowance, which was the stock holding cap. Murdoch then bought an Australian company that purchased 15% also, but Murdoch was caught in his attempt at anonymous consolidation and was forced to reduce his ownership share back to the cap.
In May of 2007 Reuters merged with Thomson and became the contemporary company, Thomson Reuters. The controlling investor identification is the Woodbridge Company, which is owned by the Thomson family of Canada. The company subsidiaries include Sweet & Maxwell, along with West Publishing. West is primarily a legal content publisher. Reuters operates a full service online presence at www.ThomsonReuters.com.
Since the merger with Thomson the company has been involved in multiple acquisitions of media outlets, centralizing what would have been competing interests under one corporate umbrella.
The Thomson Reuters merger of 2007 was significant enough to receive attention from both the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Union, as the company was required to change its structure. The combination of the Woodbridge ownership created an obvious conflict of interest and competitive advantage, as the market activity that Reuters was reporting was also being affected by consultation from other divisions of the corporation in the professional financial management division.
The requirements of the governments were not very effective in reducing the size of Thomson Reuters. It was estimated that it actually only affected $25 million of the multi-billion dollar corporation. When the combination of financial management is coupled with control of the financial news, plus the purchase of a general news group with the power of the Associated Press, the triangle of informational control is clearly in place. This combination has produced a strict objectivity policy by Reuters focused on not using suggestive terminology in literary descriptions of the events they are reporting, in particular descriptions of events as "acts of terror."
In spite of a perceptively strict objectivity policy, Reuters has also been criticized for reporting events in the Middle East from an anti-Israel slant. Reporting on the Israel-Palestinian conflict has been criticized because of cropped and altered photos used in the presentation of issues and events that occur on a regular basis. Though they may maintain an objective literary style, they have no problem with presenting visual descriptions that are often largely suggestive.
Since its transformation to Thomson Reuters the news service has become much more mainstream and veered away from its mission statement and business model of reporting stories that stem from financial news, as the Reuters online presence is very similar to other general news websites and creates a competitive edge in a market that they have historically claimed to have no interest.
The European Commission began an anti-trust investigation in 2009 into the extent of the Thomson Reuters system and the problems that its competitors face to establish market share. One of the primary issues was the ability of competing services to access information via compatible digital codes, impeding competitors' advancement of the published information.
The anti-trust investigation however misses the point. In terms of the larger picture, Reuters, like AP, is a disseminator of power elite memes, an institution designed to provide a certain point of view about Western capitalism and power elite players. It may seem to tack left or right but it is always promoting a certain perspective that includes at its heart the efficacy and inevitably of mercantilist investment banking and the larger theme of Western securities-oriented capitalism generally.