Reuters Next: An example of corporate dysfunction and neglect
Jeff Bercovici of Forbes.com breaks down what happened with the Reuters Next project that was building a new web presence for the news service and why it failed.
Bercovici writes, “Next was meant to fix all that and give Reuters a rich, dynamic consumer website that could compare favorably to those of the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News or, yes, FORBES. But from its inception, it faced a headwind of skepticism from Thomson Reuters executives who believed that a popular consumer website would diminish demand for the company’s profitable products, its data terminals and the news agency that provides content to other news organizations.
“The skeptics thought it was crazy to invest further in the money-losing media division if there was even a slight chance it could harm profits at the other divisions. ‘Next never really had buy-in from Thomson Reuters,’ says one source involved.
“For a while, though, it did have momentum, largely thanks to Chrystia Freeland, who was managing director and editor for consumer news. ‘She was the person who could get the board to sign off on stuff,’ says the source. Freeland ‘led a revolution,’ says another insider. ‘Besides her, there was no one else who had a real commitment to digital.’
“But Freeland’s mojo was undermined by near-continual turnover in the chain of command above her, extending all the way up to the CEO level, where Jim Smith replaced Tom Glocer in January 2012. In May of this year, Smith hired Andrew Rashbass, the CEO of the Economist Group, in a newly-created role overseeing both the news agency and the media business. Part of Rashbass’s mandate was to shrink or reverse the media segment’s losses, making Next an obvious target.”
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