Guild: Reuters Profits Jumped on ‘Short-Sighted’ Strategy

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By: E&P Staff

As Reuters Group PLC announced an operating profit increase of 52% during 2004 today, the head of the Newspaper Guild of New York blasted the company for a “short-sighted strategy of attacking its workers.”

Barry Lipton, president of the Guild Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, noted that the profit jump was largely attributed to assets sales and cost cutting, while its revenues fell 11% to $5.432 billion.

“Thousands of employees have been let go and many of those who remain have had their compensation cut, just as management wants to do to our members,” Lipton said in a prepared statement. The New York local represents about 500 U.S. employees, including print, photo, and television journalists and technical personnel, at Reuters’ main U.S. subsidiary, Reuters America LLC.

Guild members are now voting on whether to authorize a strike at Reuters. Lipton said the results will be known by the end of the week.

Some of Reuters cost cutting has come from outsourcing work, including using Indian journalists to file routine stories from press releases. Lipton said the company was “engaged in a reckless experiment in remote-control journalism.”

“They are trying to cover Wall Street from Bangalore, India, and plan to issue captions for all global pictures, including those of American sports and politics, from Singapore,” he said. “At the very least, these moves threaten the quality of journalism for which Reuters is known and in which our members take great pride.”

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