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Wednesday, December 29 2010

Reuters Distributing Press Releases in Editorial Feed

Thompson_reuters For as long as newspapers have accepted money to publish advertisements, there tension between the employees responsible for content (editors and the newsroom staff) and the staffers with bottom line concerns (that would be the advertising staff).

Usually, potential conflicts of interests are on the level of something like a restaurant owner pushing for a nice review in the local paper where he's a regular advertiser. The restauranteur will typically contact his advertising account person, push for a story, and only to be rebuffed.

"I don't handle content. You'll have to take it up with the appropriate editor," is the firm-but-polite reply many an ad salesman has made for years.

Which brings us to Reuters. According to the IR Web Report, Reuters recently began sticking client press releases into its news feed.

One of the five principles states: “That Thomson Reuters shall supply unbiased and reliable news services to newspapers, news agencies, broadcasters and other media subscribers and to businesses governments, institutions, individuals and others with whom Thomson Reuters has or may have contracts.”

However, the Reuters news feed delivered to Yahoo! Finance now includes complete, unedited press releases from Thomson Reuters’ corporate clients in amongst Reuters news articles. Press releases of non-Thomson Reuters clients are not being distributed to Yahoo! Finance. The press release headlines are virtually indistinguishable from the newswire’s editorial content.

By breaking down the separation between the editorial and business aspects, Reuters has opened the door to public scrutiny of its clients and ownership too. I already get enough emails asking about one never-say-die urban legend which has it that Reuters is controlled by Arab corporate interests.

Read more, see the screengrabs, and judge for yourself.

Hat tip: @mickwe



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