The world’s largest international multimedia news provider reaching more than one billion people every day. Reuters, owned by Thomson Reuters – a Canadian multinational media conglomerate, was founded in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where it is headquartered at 333 Bay Street and provides business, financial, national, and international news to professionals via the world’s media organizations and directly to consumers at Reuters.com and via Reuters TV. Paul Reuter setup Submarine Telegraph in 1851, as submarine telegraph was being laid across the English channel, to provide quick access to Paris for stock prices from London. It quickly grew into a major news agency. Kent Cooper, head of the Associated Press, wrote in his autobiography “Barriers Down“: “International bankers under the House of Rothschild acquired an interest in the three leading European agencies.” Reuters, of course, was the leading agency, but with ownership limited to no more than 15%, it was likely not significant. That restriction was waived for the 2008 purchase by the Thomson family (53% ownership). Reuters has ties to the CFR dating back to the CFR founding and still maintains membership via the President, CEO, EIC, and editor-at-large.
The supply of information to the world’s traders in securities, commodities and currencies was then and is now the mainspring of Reuters activities.
In 1845, after having settled in Berlin, he converted to Protestantism, assumed the name Paul Julius Reuter, and married Ida, the daughter of Friedrich Martin Freiherr von Magnus (1796–1869), a Berlin banker. In 1847, together with Joseph Stargardt (1822–1885), he took over a bookshop and publishing business, “Stargard & Reuter,” in Berlin, assisted by his father-in-law’s capital. After being charged with spreading “democratic” pamphlets in 1848, he managed to escape to Paris. There, as a successor to Bernhard *Wolff, Reuter first worked as a translator for the established French news agency “Agence Havas,” founded by Charles-Louis Havas in 1835 (since 1944 “Agence France-Press,” AFP). Noting the demand for political news, Reuter embarked upon a career of news gathering on his own.
In 1849, together with his colleague Sigmund Englaender (died 1902), who had fled from Vienna in October 1848, he started a lithographed “Correspondence,” directed at the provincial papers of Germany, but tightened political censorship under Louis Napoléon Bonaparte soon brought this to an end. When Europe’s first commercial telegraph line, the Prussian State Telegraph Berlin-Aachen, was opened on October 1, 1849, Reuter returned to Germany and established his own telegraphic agency in Aachen (later also in Brussels, Verviers, and Quiévrain), first supplying local clients with financial news from the Prussian capital, but soon expanding. In spring 1850, when the French opened a line from Brussels to Paris, Reuter bridged the gap of about 95 miles between Aachen and Brussels by a regular pigeon post service until 1851.
While telegraphy evolved, Reuter first founded the Reuters News Agency in Aachen, which transferred messages between Brussels and Aachen using carrier pigeons. This was the missing link to connect Berlin and Paris. The carrier pigeons were much faster than the post train, giving Reuter faster access to stock news from the Paris stock exchange. In 1851, the carrier pigeons were superseded by a direct telegraph link.
Paul Reuter noticed that, with the electric telegraph, news no longer required days or weeks to travel long distances. In the 1850s, the 34-year-old Reuter was based in Aachen – then in the Kingdom of Prussia, now in Germany – close to the borders with the Netherlands and Belgium. He began using the newly opened Berlin–Aachen telegraph line to send news to Berlin. However, the telegraph did not extend the 76 miles (122 km) to Brussels, Belgium’s capital city and financial center. Reuter saw an opportunity to speed up news service between Brussels and Berlin by using homing pigeons to bridge that gap.
In June 1851, when the Dover-Calais cable was laid, Reuter moved to London on the advice of Werner Siemens (1816–1892) and, together with S. Englaender, opened his “Telegraphic Office,” later to be called “Continental Telegraph,” “Mr. Reuter’s Office” and, from 1865, “Reuter’s Telegram Company Ltd.” (RTC). Reuter negotiated a contract with the London Stock Exchange to provide stock prices from exchanges in continental Europe in return for access to the London prices, which he then supplied to stockbrokers in Paris. Reuter’s agency soon added news, serving clients and newspapers on the Continent, the provincial press, and by 1858 the London daily newspapers, including the Times.
On 17 March 1857, Reuter was naturalized as a British subject, and on September 7, 1871, the German Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha conferred a barony (Freiherr) on Julius Reuter. The title was “confirmed by Queen Victoria as conferring the privileges of the nobility in England”. In 1865, Reuter’s private firm was restructured, and it became a limited company (a corporation) called the Reuter’s Telegram Company.
Reuter’s agency built a reputation in Europe for being the first to report news scoops from abroad, such as Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Almost every major news outlet in the world now subscribes to Reuters’ services, which operates in over 200 cities in 94 countries in about 20 languages. The last surviving member of the Reuters family founders, Marguerite, Baroness de Reuter, died at age 96 on 25 January 2009, after having suffered a series of strokes.
In 1869, three years after the laying of the first transatlantic cable, Reuter laid his own undersea cable connecting Brest and Duxbury, Massachusetts. By the 1870s, Reuters Ltd. had established itself as the leading international news agency, extending its services from Europe to North and South America, to the coastal regions of Africa, to the Far East, including China and the East Indies, as well as to Australia. From 1870 till 1934, secret “news cartel” agreements with the competing “Agence Havas” in Paris and Bernhard Wolff ‘s “WTB” in Berlin (from 1893 also with the Associated Press in Illinois) secured “reserved areas” of gathering and spreading news, leaving the entire British Empire to Reuters. In 1871, Reuter who had become a British citizen in 1857, was raised to a German baron-age (Freiherrnstand) by Ernst II, the Duke of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha, which was later recognized by Queen Victoria. During the 1870s, Reuter’s son HERBERT VON REUTER (1852–1915) gradually took over Reuters Ltd., succeeding the father upon his retirement in 1878. The family’s association with the news agency ended with Herbert’s suicide in 1915. Reuter’s grandson, BARON OLIVER DE REUTER (1894–1968), an art collector and genealogist, was the family’s last offspring.
After 1915, Reuters Ltd. was transformed into a private company, in 1941 into the Reuters Trust, with independent trustees, and in 1984 into a public company. In 1923 Reuters pioneered the use of radio to transmit news internationally, in 1962 for the first time via satellite, and in the early 21st century controlled the world’s largest satellite and cable network. However, most of our electronic communications still run through wires, including 99% of international communications via undersea cable wires.
Kent Cooper, head of the Associated Press, wrote in his autobiography “Barriers Down“: “International bankers under the House of Rothschild acquired an interest in the three leading European agencies.” Thus the Rothschilds bought control of Reuters International News Agency, based in London, Havas of France, and Wolf in Germany, which controlled the dissemination of all news in Europe. Britannica wrote in 2002 that most news throughout the world disseminates from three major agencies: the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.
The British government secretly funded Reuters in the 1960s and 1970s at the direction of an anti-Soviet propaganda organization with links to MI-6 (just like Operation Mockingbird in the US where the CIA paid members of the media), according to unclassified documents unveiled on January 13th, 2020. The government used the BBC to conceal funding in making payments to the international news group.
“We are now in a position to conclude an agreement providing discreet Government support for Reuters services in the Middle East and Latin America,” reads a 1969 redacted secret British government document entitled “Funding of Reuters by HMG,” or Her Majesty’s Government. The document was declassified in 2019. “HMG’s interests should be well served by the new arrangement,” it continues.
A Reuters spokesperson said in a statement that it was common for news organizations to receive some form of state subsidy at the time.
“Many news organisations received some form of state subsidy after World War Two,” said Reuters spokesperson David Crundwell. “But the arrangement in 1969 was not in keeping with our Trust Principles and we would not do this today,” he continued.
Reuters Trust Principles, created in 1984, “is dedicated to upholding the Trust Principles and to preserving its independence, integrity, and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of information and news,” according to the company’s web site. The BBC cited a similar charter regarding its editorial independence. “The BBC charter guarantees editorial independence irrespective of whether funding comes from the UK government, the licence fee or commercial sources,” a BBC spokesperson said in a statement upon the documents unveiling.
The Thompson family purchased Reuters in 2008. The new company is called Thompson-Reuters. The Thompson family owns a majority of shares at 53%. Historically, no single individual has been permitted to own more than 15% of Reuters, under the first of the Reuters Principles, which states, “Reuters shall at no time pass into the hands of any one interest, group or faction.” However, that restriction was waived for the purchase by the Thomson family.
Pehr Gyllenhammar, chairman of the Reuters Founders Share Company, explained that the Reuters Trust’s First Principle had been waived for the Thomson family because of the poor financial circumstances that Reuters had been in, stating, “The future of Reuters takes precedence over the principles. If Reuters were not strong enough to continue on its own, the principles would have no meaning.” He stated, not having met David Thomson but having discussed the matter with Geoff Beattie, the president of Woodbridge, that the Thomson family had agreed to vote as directed by the Reuters Founders Share Company on any matter that the trustees might deem to threaten the five principles of the Reuters Trust. Woodbridge will be allowed an exemption from the First Principle as long as it remains controlled by the Thomson family.