OLD Media Moves

A look at Reuters’ commentary efforts

September 15, 2011

Posted by Chris Roush

Dylan Byars of Adweek interviewed James Ledbetter, who is the op-ed editor at Reuters, about the wire service’s efforts to beef up its commentary offerings.

Here is an excerpt:

News organizations are increasingly using columnists to draw in readers—from Bloomberg View to the Times’ expansion of its Week in Review section. Why is that happening?

I think the media world that is being shaped by the Internet and social media is increasingly a place where fast, insightful analysis is driving the cycle. Once upon a time, you had your news, and then the next day or three days later you’d get William Safire’s opinion about it. Now we have a situation in which the people who are really good at [opinion and analysis] are the people who are making the news or strongly shaping the way that readers take their news in. Nothing brought this home as clearly as the financial meltdown of 2008. There was this hunger for smart people to explain these mysteries that were destroying our economy. There are parallel examples of that in politics, in culture, in science. The news organizations that don’t put intelligent opinion in the mix are increasingly perceived as inadequate.

Some people have expressed concern that big-name writers are going to go to Reuters and then disappear.

Well, there’s a genuine issue there that’s not in any way exclusive to us, which is, “How do you make sure that the fantastic voices that you’ve gone to all this trouble and expense to hire get heard?” Certainly, there are opinion aggregation websites where there are so many contributors that it’s hard to even name a single one. It is a genuine issue, but we have had some design changes in recent months that should help us prevent that kind of obscurity. If, six months from now, you haven’t read a Jack Shafer column, call me.

Read more here.

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