Reuters introduced its general U.S. news service, Reuters America, in late 2010 with one client, the Tribune Co. Now three major portals -- Yahoo, AOL and MSNBC.com -- have signed on to Reuters' U.S. news push.
It's a big step for a 160-year-old organization once known almost exclusively for business and financial news. It's now on a mission to become the "best journalism organization in the world," as editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said last fall, with a much higher profile in the U.S.
Reuters America also intends to improve on the model of a traditional wire service by taking more signals from its customers in the news business. Publishing partners don't have to accept whatever content Reuters serves up: By taking advantage of collaborative processes, including Reuters America assignment editors embedded in publishers' offices, the partners can influence coverage. For example, feedback and dialogue helped shape Reuters America's coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Reuters America said it has studied its new customers' needs. "We spent time in the newsroom understanding their workflow, understanding how they were using providers such as ourselves and also what their own aspirations were," said Steven Schwartz, Reuters' global head-media business development.
The efforts at collaboration and communication do not mean, however, that Reuters America customers can order up news on demand. Their sway is more directional, according to Reuters.
It's not immediately clear which of the portals will get assignment editors, but Reuters has been seeking candidates. In an ad posted last month on JournalismJobs.com, the company sought "an assignment editor to serve as an embed at a major web portal in New York City," serving as "editorial ambassador representing Reuters to the client." The hire was meant to build Reuters' relationship with the client, promote Reuters content to the client and, in a somewhat icky metaphor, "monitor the delivery of Reuters content to client and serve as frontline troubleshooter in cases of ingestion problems."
Reuters' U.S. news push has also involved beefing up the editorial ranks. High-profile hires since Mr. Adler joined last February include former Slate media critic Jack Shafer, Enron outer Bethany McLean, Wall Street Journal page-one editor Alix Freedman, and New York Times vets David Rohde, Geraldine Fabrikant and David Cay Johnston.
Last year, Reuters, part of Thomson Reuters, also relaunched its website and upped its social-media efforts, hiring Anthony de Rosa as social-media editor.
AOL has recently posted Reuters videos on subjects including Whitney Houston, the president's budget, the Chinese vice president's arrival in the U.S. and New York Fashion Week.
Reuters America said that it has also added customers, which it would not disclose.