“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else – if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast as that!”
-Conversation between Alice and the Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass.
Is there such a thing as a timely rather than an untimely death? In 1963 the word timely might have been used to describe the death of Tony Cole, “boss” of Reuters. (more…)
This is the story of a mystery – of a painting which the company never actually owned, although in later years it would have liked to have done so. Sadly, the painting appears to have vanished.
The artist was Rudolf Lehmann. He was born near Hamburg in 1818, three years after his fellow German Paul Julius Reuter. Having studied first at the famous Ecole des Beaux-arts in Paris and later in Rome, he settled in London in 1866. He became a British citizen and married the daughter of Scottish author and naturalist, Robert Chambers.
After settling in London, Lehmann seems to have quickly found an opening.
He developed a new line, producing flattering, and well-finished portraits of famous statesmen, writers, composers, scientists and artists. All were men and women of the moment. Because everybody wanted to see what they looked like, steel-engraved copies were soon rushed into production. To some extent, Lehmann was producing the OK Magazine equivalent of his day. For Reuter, the fact that he too was a naturalised German living in London meant that the ‘fit’ between the telegraph pioneer and the successful portraitist was self-evident. The year was 1869 and this was Julius Reuter’s moment…
The date was 15 May. The year was 1923 – 90 years ago. Reuters was planning to quit its long-established Old Jewry headquarters in the City of London for a new location at 9 Carmelite Street, nearer to Fleet Street where the majority of its customers were based. Someone had the far-sighted idea of asking a photographer to walk round the building, taking photographs of colleagues going about their work.
All who appear on these photographs have now passed away. But what they were doing on that day – what they looked like and how they made use of the technology of the time – has been fixed for ever.
From the many photographs taken that day, I have picked out eight.
A dispatch from our archive… (more…)
April 8, 2013 saw the death of Margaret Thatcher aged 87, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1979 to 1990. She was Britain’s first woman Prime Minister. The Russians labelled her the ‘Iron Lady’, a title which she was glad to accept. Her legacy remains controversial. Many admire her; many loathe her; few are indifferent.
An important event during Mrs. Thatcher’s premiership was the Falklands (Malvinas) War of 1982. Because it was an important historical event in its own right (at least for Britain), the handling of the Falklands news became particularly significant in the history of Reuters. Put to the test of reporting a big running story in which the United Kingdom was a principal player, Reuters was finally able to confirm that it was truly a supranational organisation, despite being headquartered in London.
One hundred years earlier, things were very different. While ensuring accuracy, Reuters would have unquestionably reported any war from a British Empire viewpoint. By 1982, in complete contrast, Editor-in-Chief Michael Reupke took it for granted that no correspondent would write in pro-British terms. This view would not have endeared him to Mrs. Thatcher. (more…)
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal….and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth”
-President Abraham Lincoln – Consecration Ceremony of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsyslvania – November 1863
Early in Steven Spielberg’s new film ‘Lincoln’ – for dramatic impact – some Unionist soldiers encounter Lincoln and recite back to him his famous words. Julius Reuter should have been the first to relay the text of Lincoln’s famous speech to London. Infuriatingly, that distinction went to a rival agency, the Electric and International Telegraph Company.
What went wrong? (more…)
Paul Julius Reuter was quite a good businessman. True, his earlier career had thrown up more failures than successes. But he had shown sufficient shrewdness to learn from his mistakes. After 1851 when he established his fledgling business in London there was still the occasional failure. Gradually however these failures became fewer.
What other factors contributed to his ultimate success?
In earlier blog entries, I highlighted Reuter’s tremendous luck in finding exactly the right wife at the right time. Clementine Magnus was intelligent, well-educated, ambitious and energetic. Unusually for the 1840s and 50s, she was prepared to work “hands-on” with her husband, getting their new venture off the ground. She knew as much about the telegraphic news business as he did. The marriage was a long and happy one. Were it not for this drive, unswerving support and total belief in him, Julius Reuter might well have ended up as no more than a footnote in history.
The Founder of Reuters not only found the right wife, he found the right staff for his Victorian agency. Indeed, he was a very good judge of people. In this, he tended towards the long view – as in the notable case of Sigmund Englander, his very first editor. (more…)
Even today, the impact of the First World War remains fresh in our collective memory. ‘Heartwarming’ stories from those fighting on the Western Front in France and Belgium were always going to be thin on the ground. But one story which has now acquired the status of legend is the account of those unofficial, spontaneous ceasefires which took place during the week leading up to that first wartime Christmas of 1914. In what has become known as ‘The Christmas Truce’, troops from both the Allied and German sides crossed over “no man’s land” to shake hands, exchange gifts, sing carols and, in some places, play games of football.
This was not the way to win wars. For several days, news of these events was hushed up by an unofficial press embargo. Then on New Year’s Eve, The New York Times carried the story. As a newspaper in a neutral country, it was unaffected by any embargo and was perhaps more prepared to take one step back and view events with objectivity. Once the story was out – and rather surprisingly – the British newspapers followed with astonishing speed, publishing first-hand accounts from soldiers in the field, taken from letters home to their families. Most of the news media ran with the story.
But not Reuters. (more…)
Skyfall, this year’s addition to the James Bond movie franchise, marks half a century since the release of ‘Dr No’, the first feature film to feature British Secret Agent 007.
Ian Fleming was the man behind Bond. Born in 1908, he died in 1964 at the age of 56.
From 1945 to 1959, he worked as Foreign Manager for Kemsley (later Thomson) newspapers. But early in the 30s, when still a young man, he was a Reuters journalist.
Fleming never forgot his time with Reuters. He frequently recalled those years in interviews, describing the British newsagency as “a very good mill”. “The training there gives you a good, straightforward style” he said.
In February 1988, retired Reuters journalist, Basil Chapman, wrote an excellent account of Fleming’s time with the company for its then house-magazine ‘Reuters World’.
Here it is: (more…)
1939 was Hollywood’s Golden Year. Its classic films included “Gone with the Wind”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Jessie James”, “Wuthering Heights”, “Of Mice and Men”, “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” as well as two iconic films directed by John Ford – the definitive “Stagecoach” and the highly-successful “Drums along the Mohawk”.
Set during the American Revolution/War of Independence, and starring Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda, ‘Drums across the Mohawk’ followed the lives of settlers in the strategically important Mohawk Valley on the frontier of New York state. The couple suffered attacks on their farm from the British, from Native Americans and from “Tories” (those allied to the British cause). Finally they were forced to take refuge in Fort Herkimer. Reinforcements arrived in the nick of time from Fort Dayton. The war ended and the patriots raised the American flag above the Fort.
Archie Thomson – great-great-great-great grandfather of David Thomson, Chairman of Thomson Reuters, took an active part in these historic events. He was not, however, one of the loyal Americans defending Fort Herkimer. He was on the other side. (more…)