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Stephen Adler on Reuters' new editorial strategy

Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler (photo), reinforced editorial's new strategy of simultaneously reinforcing the agency's traditional core and expanding it "to include more forward-looking, insightful, exclusive and enterprising journalism".

Reporting his observations on three regional bureau chief meetings in London, Hong Kong and New York concluded last week, Adler said: “The meetings were great - the best I’ve attended in my three years here. The mood was more optimistic, the teams more united, the conversations rigorously practical - focusing on precisely how we can do things better - rather than theoretical.

“The teams in each region embraced the strategy of simultaneously reinforcing our traditional core (fast, accurate, neutral) and expanding that core to include more forward-looking, insightful, exclusive, and enterprising journalism. The focus this year, happily, was not on whether we should enhance our capabilities but rather – bureau by bureau - how we do a better job managing our time and resources to be fast and smart. You should see real results - and greater clarity - as a result of these discussions,” he told journalists in a message on Tuesday.

But there was still a lot of work to do to serve the financial buy side more effectively. “We agreed that some of this involves the smarter, deeper, more forward-looking stories we’ve all been working on. We want these stories to provide un-obvious insights - based on strong sourcing and thorough reporting - about companies, countries, regions, industries, asset classes, and regulatory issues so they’ll be highly relevant to the people making investment decisions.

“We also have to become more comprehensive in our coverage of smaller and mid-cap companies, an effort that will involve better use of automation, strong reliance on centers of excellence such as Bangalore and - soon - Gdynia, and better focus by all of us on finding corporate angles within stories that, at first blush, might seem not to be corporate at all. When you think about it, most news affects companies in some way - whether a natural disaster, revolution, civil war, or sports or entertainment event. We agreed that we increasingly need to mine those opportunities.”

Adler said that as Reuters chief executive Andrew Rashbass pointed out, “we are a profitable news organization because we serve multiple customers and multiple customer groups. Our two biggest customer groups are financial and News Agency, and we wouldn’t be profitable without either one of them. So let’s remember, again, it’s our job not to focus just on one or the other but on both. It’s necessary for our business and central to our tradition and our mission of covering all the important stories in the world, financial or otherwise. Meanwhile, we’ll also try to build our presence in consumer and legal news.”

He said the bureau chiefs talked a great deal about the role of bureau managers as leaders of teams, and as mentors and career guides. “We aim to do a better job helping you develop your skills and identify and pursue exciting career paths within Reuters,” he said. “We have programs in place to reinforce this ambition, but the key will be the leadership team’s personal commitment - reinforced at our meetings - not just to drive coverage but to support each of the 2,600-plus people who produce it. Part of this commitment, which I enthusiastically share, is to make sure we build and support a more diverse news organization.”

Postscript: Andrew Rashbass sent the following message to Reuters staff on Wednesday 26 March:

Getting people to click on stories has become a science. The leading technique is the enticingly-headlined numbered list. Buzzfeed are the masters. At the moment they’re running on their homepage “18 Unexpected Side Effects Of Being An Adult”, “21 Things A Guy Quickly Learns After Moving In With His Girlfriend For The First Time” and “16 Gluten-Free Dishes You Can Eat At Almost Any Restaurant”.

Not to be outdone, and in the hope that you have, for once, opened this email, this week on Relevant@Reuters, Steve Adler shares his observations following the bureau-chief meetings in London, Hong Kong and New York. Reading Steve’s clear and urgent points, I was struck by his clear commitment never to make do and say “we’re good enough”.

Also this week, there’s a Q&A with Ashley Byford-Bates about Reuters Access, our new, self-service picture and video e-commerce website for clients who are too small for our normal subscription services. ■