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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
- While it is possible that Reuters does not covertly report to any government entity,
- 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.