Internet proves to be golden goose for Reuters

Reuters reporters are the ones who cover the stories no one else can afford the insurance premiums for. They also take the blood-stained photos while they're there and beam them back to papers around the world on their press photo wire. But this isn't how Reuters makes its money.

Reuters. The name conjures up news reports from troubled but fascinating places like the Congo, Libya, Algeria, Rwanda and Albania.

Reuters reporters are the ones, along with CNN’s Peter Arnett complete with satellite phone and whichever nicely spoken woman the BBC can con into a flak jacket, who cover the stories no one else can afford the insurance premiums for. They also take the blood-stained photos while they’re there and beam them back to papers around the world on their press photo wire.

But this isn’t how Reuters makes its money. Reuters in fact makes more from its Internet services today than it does from print.

Look at any Web page offering a news service and it’s more likely than not to have a Reuters news feed.

“Reuters’ global objective is to be the number one source provider to the Internet,” says New Zealand country manager Paul Atmore.

“We believe Web sites, to generate interest, need credible sources of news. Reuters has a global image of being a credible and comprehensive news source.”

Reuters provides news feeds to online news services such as American-based Excite and Mercury Mail, which emails news to registered users over the Internet about the topics they select. In New Zealand it provides news-wire feeds to the Xtra, NBR and Asia 2000 sites and the company says there are more deals in the pipeline.

Computers are also nothing new to Reuters, which began transmitting stock prices internationally to subscribers in 1964 with an application called Stock-master. In 1973 it began displaying real-time foreign exchange rates on computer screens and in 1981 allowed dealers to make transactions on the Reuters network.

Now Reuters is moving from proprietary Reuters terminals to providing customers with information across the Internet, across its own Reuters intranet and to other company intranets.

“We are using the Internet as a delivery mechanism to migrate our products, mainly because it is cost-effective, because of the ease of delivery to customers and because the cost of bandwidth is minimised. Because our information is completely HTML format it is easy to customise products to meet the market format,” says Atmore.

Reuters doesn’t have a Web page of its own in New Zealand — the Web address has been registered by Wellington Internet service provider (ISP) Globe.Net Communications, though it has nothing to do with the news service.

“They are in the same building as us in Wellington,” says Atmore.

“We concentrate on adding value to our intranet site and on Reuters Web for our customers. We have done very little about having a home page on the public Internet, Reuters has a main global site there; we don’t have the resources to set up and maintain one in New Zealand.”

Atmore says Reuters has one of the largest private intranets in the world that clients are allowed to connect to.

“We call it customer site session services or Reuters Web. We give browsers to our customers with Reuters terminals and a toolkit to develop their own home pages. They can then buy and sell or exchange information with any other intranet user. Or we provide WebLink, where we can strip information from a database and republish it through a toolkit on to a company’s own intranet. Then they have baskets of information on their intranet to distribute along with all other corporate information. We are actively promoting this to banks, law firms and multinationals.”

Atmore says the biggest issue with Reuters Web has been minimising potential security issues and reassuring corporate customers that the service is as secure as possible.

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