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Reuters is very often used and quoted in parliamentary hearings, google updates and different news outlets. Many people say that this is because of the "independent " nature of reporting of Reuters. But how is this so? What makes Reuters different from the other news channels?

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The Reuters organization a news agency, not a news media organization. That means their primary function is to collect news from across the globe and deliver it to newspapers, magazines, news shows, and other media sources, who then present it to the public. As such, they have an incentive to be impartial, because impartiality maximizes their client base: even biased news organizations want unbiased raw material. News media sources can get away with a slant on the news because they try to appeal to specific demographics in the general population; news agencies cannot afford that. Further, Reuters has an established policy of value-neutral reporting, and a very long track-record (they were founded in 1851) of sticking to it. Those things build trust.

They've had a few scandals over time — see their Wikipedia page for details — but nothing that shakes their otherwise solid reputation.

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    No, Reuters is not only a news agency. It's also a market data provider. In fact, its market data business might be a larger source of its revenue than its news business. But leaving that aside, it is first and foremost a publicly traded company. Its 1st responsibility is to its shareholders.
    – wrod
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 6:10
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    1. The same things that incentivize news sources to pander to a certain demographic rather than "maximize their client base" apply to reuters wrt its clients: focusing on stories that the more lucrative clients want, avoiding stories that turn off powerful clients, etc. 2. This answer assumes biased reporting is conscious and can be controlled in the interest of profit maximization. True at times but usually what is regarded as biased the source views as thoroughly objective/obvious.
    – Hasse1987
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 23:14
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    @Hasse1987: The question asks why Reuters is considered independent and unbiased. The answer is that Reuters has made a policy and practice of being independent and unbiased. They could have chosen to do otherwise, in which case they wouldn't have that reputation. Bias is not necessarily conscious, sure, but the choice to be unbiased necessarily is. Please don't indulge speculation to the exclusion of observable reality. Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 23:40
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    There is a problem with your answer or with Wiki: Wiki includes BBC and CNN and Fox News as News Agencies too: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_news_agencies#A%E2%80%93M Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 10:29
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    @LifeInTheTrees using the answer's definition of a news agency, it would exclude the BBC, CNN, Fox and Tass (comment above). This is an operational definition. CNN and Fox would be considered News Media Organizations in his operational definition. Both TASS and the BBC are organs of a government. The same is true for Voice of America or Radio Free Europe. You could alter definitions quite a bit and cut them up other ways. However, his answer would survive operationally. Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 4:12
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Reuters is one of the eminent sources for news in the Western world. It is not surprising that it is considered unbiased by many in the West. After all, it squarely reflects and reports from the position of their values and world views. From a different position their reporting may very well seem biased.

China, for example, found bias in Reuters' Olympics reporting and criticizes Reuters and other major news organizations accusing them of participating in the surveillance of Chinese citizens.1


1 I'm tempted to remark "one who sits in a glasshouse shouldn't throw stones at others' houses", or isn't that "the pot calling the kettle black" or simply "hear, hear!" but then I'm of course utterly biased.

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    "squarely reflects and reports from the position of their values and world views" - sounds like something that needs further elaboration and strong evidence. Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 14:13
  • I don't see how the 2nd claim-claim is supported by the link provided. Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 3:17
  • @Fizz In the video the woman says: "This mass surveillance company [IPVM] has worked closely with the BBC, the New York Times, Reuters... They have been sharing tons of data they have collected on Xinjiang ...". Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 3:49
  • The claim is rather ambiguous as to whom is "they". But I guess that's the point of a smear campaign. Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 3:55
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    @Fizz I read "they" in the context as referring to "the mass surveillance company". Btw, I agree in your assessment of that Chinese media piece, as, I'm sure, does Reuters, but then I'm utterly biased ;-). Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 10:59
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Reuters is considered unbiased because the evidence bears out that position. See this answer. They are firmly in the center.

Edit: see also this source. Reuters is in the category that uses the least appeals to emotion and fewest loaded words, plus the reporting is factual and usually sourced.

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    I'm not sure why this answer is getting downvotes. There are many ways to attempt to fairly rate the bias of different sources, and in all of them I've seen, Reuters is among the most reliable and unbiased sources. Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 10:54
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    The link points to a statement that Reuters overall political slant (to the extent it exists) is centrist. If you think that being centrist is related to being unbiased, that is your own centrist bias acting up.
    – Arno
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 12:33
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    Isn't that an informal fallacy? That the "middle position" is right simply for being middle?
    – user2578
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 20:50
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    @frеdsbend That is mistaking effect for cause. If you report fairly on the right, left and centre, the average will be in the centre as an effect. That's different from reporting fairly only on the centre, when a centrist bias would be the cause.
    – Graham
    Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 0:45
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    @Graham Sure, I'm just suggesting that a "centrist" bias seems to only exist if its adherents believe "middle is better because it's middle".
    – user2578
    Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 3:33
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Reuters historically had been the general source for all (most) major news networks across the globe and without political alliances. They've typically taken on a base facts approach, without bogging themselves down on "he said" or "she said" reporting, as you see from many others, and this base facts reporting gave them the banner of being neutral in their reporting. Leaving the morality for others to debate & report gives them the freedom to report in neutral grey tones, hence the reputation. And traditional reputation counts for a lot, even as the influence diminishes in recent years.

Also note, they were never there to sell newspapers, and thus never needed to cater to any particular social/political belief ideology, their primary market was to sell to newspapers globally, for which neutralised news meant more newspaper companies purchased news from them (the various news networks thus being free to simply add their own editorial biases without going too far).

And finally, what do you compare it to? In non-west countries, papers follow their respective government's demands or are shut down, and in the west news networks are controlled by various extremist ideologues of all sides; and thus, even as their own news reporting becomes less careful, there isn't many (any) who can take that mantle of (relative) unbias away from them.

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It's not. Just as other UK-based media, such as BBC, Reuters has a very British-consensus minded slant.

Which is not to say that it promotes some underhanded or nefarious consensus formed by some secret-society backroom conspiracy. Rather that it must present news in a fashion that is palatable both to its customers (world-wide) and to its management. And what is palatable is effectively determined by consensus.

To put it in a yet another way, when a conflict of Overton windows arises, the Overton window a British news agency is most likely to chose is the British one.


On a separate note, the fact that Reuters is a publicly traded company, in itself, creates a potential conflict of interest which is outside of the control of its management.

  1. While it is possible that Reuters does not covertly report to any government entity,
  2. there always remains a possibility (however remote) that a government (not even necessarily the British one) exploits the legal mechanisms of influence on corporations' governing boards.

Namely, because governments have access to much greater financial resources than most private entities, there is simply no way of verifying whether, or not, any publically-traded privately-owned news entity's board is influenced by financial holding companies owned by intelligence agencies or other government entities (not even necessarily British ones) which lack transparency. Such financial holding entities would have direct voting rights and the ability to influence board decisions which come with those rights.

And, of course, board members' decisions influence corporate directions, staffing philosophies, and other factors which have secondary impact on how content is presented.

This is not an issue unique to Reuters. This is a general issue arising out of lack of transparency of minority shareholders of publicly-traded companies.

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    This answer is too speculative. There aren't any external sources for any of the claims included. Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 7:11
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    @Trilarion the only claim of fact which I have made is that Reuters is a publicly-traded company. That is such a commonly known fact that I don't think it requires references.
    – wrod
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 7:13
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    Then I stay with that the rest of the answer is too speculative. Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 7:15
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    I haven’t voted either way on this question, but the way you write “it is possible that Reuters doesn’t report to the government” makes it sound like you’re strongly implying that it does. If that’s not your intention, then you might want to reword that sentence
    – divibisan
    Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 0:54
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    @wrod and that is misinformation. Spreading "doubts" is just misinformation and bad, you don't say: "it is possible that that politician is pedophile, communist, fascist, whatever bad". You cannot hide by saying "I didn't make any claims I just said it was possible, and we don't know".
    – paul23
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 20:19

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