Worse than “cock-ups and casualties” at Thomson Reuters

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I wrote this comment in response to a commentary piece by ex-colleague and current friend Paul Holmes about recent editorial changes being for the better at Thomson Reuters, despite the recent “cock-ups and casualties”.

I disagreed.

Patrick Chalmers • I have a great deal of respect for Paul Holmes as an ex-colleague and as a human being. This measured critique of Thomson Reuters today versus all its yesterdays is very much true to Paul’s style.

Where I think Thomson Reuters totally misses the mark, as I told Paul when we were both on staff and which I say all the louder now I’ve left, is that it fails to imagine anything but the narrowest idea of “independence, integrity and freedom from bias”.

The Reuters of my dreams, before I joined it and during the 11 years I worked there, was one that served the whole of humanity. That is what I imagine as freedom from bias. This is far from being the case.

As Paul notes in his piece, there are examples from today of excellent journalism by Thomson Reuters staff. These are, however, the exceptions rather than the rule. It is in the mass of coverage, the flood of day-to-day stories, that Reuters old and new totally fails its tests of “independence, integrity and freedom from bias”. Given its role as wholesale news supplier to the world’s media and also the internet – this is a spectacularly important failure.

This coverage is chronically biased towards the interests of established governments and capital, to the global corporations and financial markets that wield such outsized influence on the world’s seven billion people. The former come to power by electoral processes that are wide open to abuse by the latter. The latter are never elected, subject to only the scantest of scrutiny or global regulatory oversight yet they are so extraordinarily powerful. They also contribute the vast bulk of Thomson Reuters income.

So here comes the self publicity – I’ve written about all this in Fraudcast News, How Bad Journalism Supports Our Bogus Democracies. Not only do I lay out this case in detail, I also suggest governance and journalism solutions to be built from the ground up.

You can buy a copy or download it for free via this page (http://fraudcastnews.net/).

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Filed under democracy, journalism, publishing

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