by Danny Meadows-Klue
Reuters’ decision to throw its weight behind a mainstream consumer facing news property is shrewd, strategic and significant.
Reuters is the grandfather of the news industry, the reporting backbone of content for publishers and broadcasters worldwide. Yet outside the financial markets its brand has never been allowed to shine. That’s now changing, and what drove the change is a real understanding of how the media markets are restructuring, and the way news media business models need to evolve.
On the surface it looks like the Reuters consumer site will now be competing with the media properties the iconic Reuters Wire has been servicing. In practice these parallel routes will be complimentary. The material itself is different and the timeliness is different. Besides, savvy broadcasters and publishers have already repositioned themselves to provide their own lens on the news, with deep comment, opinion and analysis – built around the raw facts themselves. Those who simply republish wire reports are adding little value to their audiences so are likely to be facing much tougher problems as many of the traditional media business models crumble. Those creating their own perspective are building next generation media businesses that will retain audiences in spite of the turmoil. Reuters as a consumer facing brand will thrive in this landscape.
The digital economy is a great leveller. Since the internet made everything available and Google made everything discoverable, the role for knowledge providers has changed. The web removes frictions in the spread of information. It makes a breaking Reuters news story instantly readable by any of us, just as it lets a new job vacancy or a cinema listing be found. Before the web mainstreamed, publishers and broadcasters acted as the sole gatekeepers for these audiences, bringing people together in large enough numbers to create channels for advertisers.
The frictionless flow of information creates a culture in which consumers will want, even expect, to see Reuters news directly. Inside the media industry, the role of different types of players in the value chain has changed quite dramatically. That’s why it’s right that Reuters should no longer be hidden in the back room as a secret news gatherer. It ought to be able to publish direct and give consumers the choice.
Audiences are guaranteed to follow.
The previous Reuters sites already had good audiences, but the growth line should now bend, and bend steeply. The whole Thomson Reuters machine is behind this, and their new approach will provide a powerful platform for advertisers wanting to reach up-market business audiences - and in an environment that would reflect well on their brands. Reuters may be an institution in the media industry, but its teams have shown the agility and energy of a young dotcom. Over the next few years the awareness and appreciation of the Reuters brand will spread from the financial and media markets into the mainstream. With bureaux in 190 cities across 100 countries, the news gathering network is unrivalled which means that as the Reuters brand reaches more to consumers, their growth in audiences will be driven by people wanting national news as well as international content.
The changes on the Reuters sites are the start of something much greater. More services are already planned, but as the media markets continue to restructure, Reuters looks set to emerge as one of the world’s leading news providers. This announcement is much more than a website, it’s a signal of a viable new business model, and the arrival of a key new consumer player in global news.