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Why trusted journalism matters

Stephen J. Adler  President and Editor-in-Chief, Reuters

Stephen J. Adler  President and Editor-in-Chief, Reuters

Beyond fostering transparency, we believe that careful, honest reporting facilitates savvier decision-making in all areas of life. When a trusted news organization delivers reliable news and insight, it gives its users tools they need to make decisions more effectively.

Seventy-seven years ago, in the midst of a horrendous world war, the leaders of the Reuters news agency made a fateful decision: They would publicly commit Reuters to independence and neutrality and resist any government’s attempt to commandeer or unduly influence their journalists.

This decision, reaffirmed when Reuters went public in 1984 and again when Reuters was purchased by the Thomson Corporation to form Thomson Reuters in 2008, governs the role of Reuters in the world today. Committed via our culture and our corporate charter to “integrity, independence and freedom from bias,” we endeavor not to take sides but rather to provide news, data and information upon which individuals, businesses and governments can rely. Our Trust Principles remind us to put our own political views aside when we write and edit, and to provide facts and insights with professional dispassion.

This means we keep an open mind when gathering facts. We seek fair comment. When we make mistakes, which we do occasionally, we correct them quickly and fully. When we hear rumors, we track them down and report them only when we are confident that they are factual. We value speed but not haste: When something needs more verification, we take the time to check it. We try to avoid “permanent exclusives” – first but wrong.

In a world in which distrust of media – and of many institutions – is rampant, we believe our approach builds and inspires trust. The transparency it fosters is essential to holding government officials to account. And it makes markets of all kinds run most efficiently. At Reuters, we contribute to the proper functioning of these markets by rapidly delivering accurate information to all participants everywhere in the world. If news affects markets, we are all over it.

Increasingly, we offer transparency about our own processes, as well. Earlier this year, we began including a link to the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles at the bottom of all stories on to make these rules more readily apparent to our readers. In addition, from time to time, when we think it might be useful to the reader, we provide an explanation – which we call Backstory – of how we have reported a particular piece. These additions reflect a commitment not only to deliver accurate, unbiased news but to share more information about the way we work and the standards under which we operate.

Beyond fostering transparency, we believe that careful, honest reporting facilitates savvier decision-making in all areas of life. A news user may be trading or investing or doing deals or practicing law – or just deciding whether to buy a house or what policies and politicians to support. When a trusted news organization delivers reliable news and insight, it gives its users tools they need to make decisions more effectively.

We can’t solve every problem in the journalism world, and we know there are many such problems – including the rapid-fire proliferation of blatantly untrue or highly biased stories through social media. We support responsible efforts to identify and discredit such stories, while continuing to support a robust, free, uncensored press.

But the best way for any news provider to combat untrustworthy news is to produce trustworthy news – and nothing but. And that remains our commitment, 167 years into the Reuters journey.


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