The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today supported its member unions’ call that a Reuters’ trust ensure that its editorial independence and quality reporting is not damaged if the proposed merger deal with Thomson Corp. is finalized.
“We are concerned that this deal could lead to changes in the editorial policy that could damage Reuters’ reputation for independent and high-quality reporting,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “That is why our member unions are calling on the shareholders trust to take a close look at the deal to ensure that no harm comes to the company. It is vital that editorial independence is protected.”
A transatlantic alliance of unions representing employees at Reuters in the United States, Canada and the UK has urged the Reuters Founders Share Company Ltd., which is entrusted with protecting the company’s “Trust Principles” and empowered to block a merger, to closely scrutinize the company’s deal with Thomson to ensure that it does not compromise Reuters’ independence and journalistic integrity.
In letters to the directors of the trust, union leaders cited several concerns about the merger, whose terms were announced on Tuesday. The trust has said it backs the deal.
The unions are concerned in part that the deal will allow a Thomson family holding company to own a 53 percent stake of the newly merged company, even though Reuters limits shareholder stakes to 15 percent and a “Trust Principle” bars Reuters from being controlled by “any one interest, group or faction." The Thomson family now controls Thomson, a Canadian electronic information firm based in Stamford, Connecticut.
“This deal could have a marked effect on the quality of journalism and quality of working conditions at Reuters’ bureaus all over the world,” White said. “We hope that Reuters’ shareholders won’t simply put the bottom line ahead of the commitment to first-class journalism.”
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide.