© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Reuters Galloni Global News Editor attends a meeting with Russian President Putin in St. Petersburg
(Reuters) – Reuters News has named one of its top editors, Alessandra Galloni, as its next editor-in-chief, the first woman to head the global news agency in its 170-year history.
Rome-born Galloni, 47, will replace Stephen J. Adler, who is retiring this month after heading the newsroom for the past decade. Under his leadership, Reuters has received hundreds of journalism awards, including seven Pulitzer Awards, the industry’s highest award.
Galloni speaks four languages and has extensive business and political news experience with Reuters and previously with the Wall Street Journal. He takes the helm as the news agency faces a number of challenges. Some of these are common to all news media. Others are specific to the complexity of the company: With around 2,450 journalists worldwide, Reuters serves a number of different customers and is also a unit in a much larger information services business.
Reuters has been part of Thomson Reuters (NYSE 🙂 Corp, a company with more lucrative and faster growing segments than news. CEO Steve Hasker, who joined Thomson Reuters last year, has been focused on aggressively growing the company's three largest businesses: providing information, software and services to lawyers, corporations, and the tax and accounting professions. Hasker's strategy has helped drive Thomson Reuters stock to an all-time high.
Reuters News accounts for about 10% of Thomson Reuters total revenue of $ 5.9 billion. Unlike many other news organizations, Reuters is profitable. But analysts say it is also having a negative impact on parent company's revenue growth and profit margin, and the executive who runs the news business, Reuters President Michael Friedenberg, is pushing for revenue growth and profitability. Looking ahead, Thomson Reuters CFO last month predicted that revenue in the "Big Three" stores is expected to grow 6% to 7% in 2023, while the news and printing businesses are expected to grow organic revenue by about 1% will dilute 1 to 2%. "
Gary Bisbee, an analyst at Bank of America (NYSE :), believes Reuters News "will continue to weigh on the company's growth," but added that that decline would decrease as other Thomson Reuters businesses grow faster over time.
Thomson Reuters hopes for a turnaround in the Reuters Events business, which was acquired in October 2019. Almost all face-to-face meetings in the past year have been canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the company has focused on a hybrid events strategy for 2021 with in-person and virtual conferences and expects its revenues to improve.
While some in the industry have speculated that Thomson Reuters may want to sell the news division, three analysts said they don't expect a sale. Douglas McCabe, media analyst at Enders Analysis in London, said Reuters is "an enormously powerful part" of the Thomson Reuters brand, and "the powerful Reuters newsroom behind you and all of the really specialized business goods are a great combination."
In a statement, CEO Hasker said, “Thomson Reuters is committed to the future of Reuters News. It is an important part of the company and is valued by our customers. The past year has proven beyond doubt the value of independent, global and unbiased journalism. "
That year, a deal was signed to sell Thomson Reuters' former finance and risk business – now called Refinitiv – to the United States London Stock Exchange Group (LON 🙂 Plc on an all-stock deal for $ 27 billion. Under the terms, Reuters News is guaranteed an annual payment of at least $ 336 million for the delivery of news and editorial content to Refinitiv through 2048. This source of income is envied by many in the media industry.
Galloni has told colleagues that one of their crucial roles is to maintain a good relationship with Refinitiv as it is Reuters' largest customer, which accounted for just over half of the news agency's $ 628 million in revenue last year .
The important relationship has created tension, according to senior editors. Under the contract with Refinitiv, Reuters must meet stringent reporting performance targets that Refinitiv customers receive that Reuters has so far surpassed. For its part, Thomson Reuters noted in its latest annual report that the exclusive deal, while lucrative, limits Reuters' ability to sell to other customers in the growing financial services industry. A refinitive spokesman declined to comment.
Gordon Crovitz, a former editor for the Wall Street Journal, said the new editor still needs to find new sources of income. "Reuters is in an unusual position as Refinitiv's promise makes Reuters News more aggressive in developing new news products for new markets," he said. "I think because of the strength of the brand and the size of the staff, there is still a lot of low-hanging fruit for Reuters."
Reuters' main competitors include Bloomberg News, Associated Press, French news agency AFP and visual content provider Getty Images. In addition to the event business, Reuters was looking for further growth opportunities. Among other things, it is worth highlighting the imminent launch of a revised website, which is aimed at professionals and ultimately charges for content.
According to McCabe, convincing consumers to pay for content is challenging because "Reuters is a brand that many people recognize but use intuitively." However, he is more optimistic that the skilled workforce focus could be successful for Reuters. "All the evidence tells me these are the subscription models that really work," he said.
CEO Hasker has told his colleagues that he would like to integrate Reuters more closely with the other corporate divisions. To this end, the newsroom recently expanded its legal reporting staff.
Adler led a number of steps to modernize Reuters, which in its early days became famous for the use of carrier pigeons to pass shovels. For the past decade, the newsroom has assembled teams of investigative, data and graphics journalists and uses artificial intelligence to expedite the delivery of certain cutting edge financial news.
Hasker said he is keen to continue modernizing the newsroom by getting it to use new technology more aggressively. He and Friedenberg viewed a wide range of journalists as Adler's successors, both inside and outside the news agency, according to those familiar with the matter.
Among them were two top Reuters editors, Gina Chua and Simon Robinson. External candidates included David Walmsley, editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail in Canada, and Kevin Delaney, former co-executive director and editor-in-chief of Quartz Media Inc.
London-based Galloni is known internally as a charismatic presence with a keen interest in business news. She told colleagues that her priorities would be to boost Reuters' digital and events business.
She takes the helm after serving as Reuters global editor-in-chief, serving journalists in 200 locations around the world. At the beginning of her career she worked for the Italian-language news service Reuters. She received degrees from Harvard University and the London School of Economics. After about 13 years with the Wall Street Journal, she returned to Reuters in 2013, where she specialized in business and business reporting as a reporter and editor in London, Paris and Rome.
"For 170 years, Reuters has set the standard for independent, trustworthy and global reporting," said Galloni in the Reuters announcement of her appointment, effective April 19, to talented, dedicated and inspiring journalists. "
The hunt for the new Reuters editor came as other major media outlets began looking into the newsroom succession. Both the Washington Post, in which editor-in-chief Marty Baron retired in February, and the Los Angeles Times, in which Norman Pearlstine stepped down as editor-in-chief in December, are currently looking for replacements.