Through The Wire: Reuters Layoffs

081396-PRN-THOMSON-REUTERS-LOGO-1-n`081HighLast week was a bleak one at Thomson Reuters, the financial news and wire service giant. According to sources, as many as 3,000 people were let go, out of approximately 50,000 employees around the globe. Most of the layoffs came from the financial sector—the sales, training and analysts’ divisions—but some were on the editorial side.

“Yes, I can confirm there have been layoffs across Thomson Reuters today, including editorial,” Barb Burg, vice president and global head of communications at Reuters, told Talking Biz News last week. “Similar to efforts across the company, the Reuters organization is focusing attention on our global cost structure as well as the need to simplify and ensure we have the skills and expertise within our organization so we can continue to contribute maximum value to the business and our customers.”

A Reuters spokesperson declined to elaborate when reached by OTR.

Thomson and Reuters merged in 2007 and have yet to nail their business strategy. The merged company sells content to subscribers through financial terminals and acts as a wire service with boots on the ground in far-flung locales (including Times Square). A tipster who was let go wrote to OTR to explain that part of the problem is that the company has been unsuccessfully playing catch-up with Bloomberg.

Last year, Reuters introduced the new Eikon terminal, which received a lukewarm reception. Chris Roush, the director of business news initiatives at the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication, who broke news of the layoffs on Talking Biz News, attributes this to a combination of Wall Street’s struggles and tough competition from Bloomberg.

“Thomson Reuters overall is still trying to determine what it is,” Mr. Roush told OTR. “They are still not fully integrated as a company.”

Exact numbers for editorial layoffs were hard to come by, but sources say that the layoffs weren’t as severe as they might have been. Still, some big names have left the company.

Peter Bohan, editor of Reuters America Service, has reportedly been let go. Mr. Bohan had been at Reuters for two decades, most recently as the Midwest bureau chief. Brad Dorfman, Reuters’s U.S. retail and consumer products company news editor, and Lee Aitken, who had been in charge of political coverage since 2012, were also reportedly let go from the company.

While most of the departures occurred at the managerial level, the majority of the Reuters TV team is out as well, after YouTube’s decision not to renew its one-year-old contract with the news service.

“I’d like to believe that the new management has figured out a strategy, but it’s still too early to tell,” Mr. Roush said. Editor in chief Stephen Adler appointed a number of former Wall Street Journal journalists to top positions in 2011—including Paul Ingrassia, who has served as Mr. Adler’s deputy since then.

Mr. Roush noted that there has been a greater push toward investigative journalism, which, while impressive, has made some wonder if Reuters is straying away from its wire service roots.