Thomson Reuters: A Trust Report about Trust from an Outfit with Trust Principles

June 21, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

Thomson Reuters is into trust. The company has a Web page called “Trust Principles.” Here’s a snippet:

The Trust Principles were created in 1941, in the midst of World War II, in agreement with The Newspaper Proprietors Association Limited and The Press Association Limited (being the Reuters shareholders at that time). The Trust Principles imposed obligations on Reuters and its employees to act at all times with integrity, independence, and freedom from bias. Reuters Directors and shareholders were determined to protect and preserve the Trust Principles when Reuters became a publicly traded company on the London Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. A unique structure was put in place to achieve this. A new company was formed and given the name ‘Reuters Founders Share Company Limited’, its purpose being to hold a ‘Founders Share’ in Reuters.

Trust nestles in some legalese and a bit of business history. The only reason I mention this anchoring in trust is that Thomson Reuters reported quarterly revenue of $1.88 billion in May 2024, up from $1.74 billion in May 2023. The financial crowd had expected $1.85 billion in the quarter, and Thomson Reuters beat that. Surplus funds makes it possible to fund many important tasks; for example, a study of trust.


The ouroboros, according to some big thinkers, symbolizes the entity’s journey and the unity of all things; for example, defining trust, studying trust, and writing about trust as embodied in the symbol.

My conclusion is that trust as a marketing and business principle seems to be good for business. Therefore, I trust, and I am confident that the information in “Global Audiences Suspicious of AI-Powered Newsrooms, Report Finds.” The subject of the trusted news story is the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The Thomson Reuters reporter presents in a trusted way this statement:

According to the survey, 52% of U.S. respondents and 63% of UK respondents said they would be uncomfortable with news produced mostly with AI. The report surveyed 2,000 people in each country, noting that respondents were more comfortable with behind-the-scenes uses of AI to make journalists’ work more efficient.

To make the point a person working for the trusted outfit’s trusted report says in what strikes me as a trustworthy way:

“It was surprising to see the level of suspicion,” said Nic Newman, senior research associate at the Reuters Institute and lead author of the Digital News Report. “People broadly had fears about what might happen to content reliability and trust.”

In case you have lost the thread, let me summarize. The trusted outfit Thomson Reuters funded a study about trust. The research was conducted by the trusted outfit’s own Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The conclusion of the report, as presented by the trusted outfit, is that people want news they can trust. I think I have covered the post card with enough trust stickers.

I know I can trust the information. Here’s a factoid from the “real” news report:

Vitus “V” Spehar, a TikTok creator with 3.1 million followers, was one news personality cited by some of the survey respondents. Spehar has become known for their unique style of delivering the top headlines of the day while laying on the floor under their desk, which they previously told Reuters is intended to offer a more gentle perspective on current events and contrast with a traditional news anchor who sits at a desk.

How can one not trust a report that includes a need met by a TikTok creator? Would a Thomson Reuters’ professional write a news story from under his or her desk or cube or home office kitchen table?

I think self funded research which finds that the funding entity’s approach to trust is exactly what those in search of “real” news need. Wikipedia includes some interesting information about Thomson Reuters in its discussion of the company in the section titled “Involvement in Surveillance.” Wikipedia alleges that Thomson Reuters licenses data to Palantir Technologies, an assertion which if accurate I find orthogonal to my interpretation of the word “trust.” But Wikipedia is not Thomson Reuters.

I will not ask questions about the methodology of the study. I trust the Thomson Reuters’ professionals. I will not ask questions about the link between revenue and digital information. I have the trust principles to assuage any doubt. I will not comment on the wonderful ouroboros-like quality of an enterprise embodying trust, funding a study of trust, and converting those data into a news story about itself. The symmetry is delicious and, of course, trustworthy. For information about Thomson Reuters’s trust use of artificial intelligence see this Web page.

Stephen E Arnold, June 21, 2024


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