A coalition of journalism unions from both sides of the Atlantic has written to the founding trust behind Reuters expressing concern about a merger with Thomson.
The NUJ, Amicus, the Newspaper Guild and the Canadian Media Guild sent a joint letter today to the directors of the Reuters Founders Share Company – the group which is entrusted with protecting the "trust principles" of the global news organisation.
They asked the trust – which is empowered to block a merger – to closely scrutinise the proposed Thomson-Reuters tie-up and ensure it does not compromise Reuters' independence and journalistic integrity.
Leaders of the unions, including NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear, cited several concerns about the merger plans, which were announced by the two companies last week.
The letter said: "There are deep concerns, despite assurances we have
already heard, over whether a reconstituted Reuters would maintain the
high standards of journalism and the integrity, independence and
freedom from bias that have shaped the company's 156-year-old
reputation and are crucial to its future success."
In their letter to Reuters chairman Pehr Gyllenhammar, the union leaders aired concerns that the merger might
allow a Thomson family holding company to own a 53 per cent stake of
the new company.
Reuters' founding principles is a rule preventing it being controlled
by "any one interest, group or faction". Reuters shareholder rules
prohibit any one shareholder from owning more than a 15 per cent stake
in the firm.
Among the signatures on the letter are the Reuters joint NUJ mother and father of the chapel, Myra MacDonald and Anthony Austin.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has signed, as have Newspaper Guild president Linda Foley, Amicus senior representative Alan Burn, and Bill O'Meara, the president-elect of the Newspaper Guild of New York.