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The long history of speed at Reuters

Winston, an 11-month-old carrier pigeon, is seen beside a memory card in Durban, September 9, 2009. A South African information technology company on Wednesday proved it was faster for them to transmit data with Winston the pigeon than to send it using Telkom, the country's leading internet service provider. Internet speed and connectivity in Africa's largest economy are poor because of a bandwidth shortage. It is also expensive. Picture taken September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Since Baron Julius Reuter first used carrier pigeons to deliver stock market prices in 1850, speed has been at the heart of Reuters News. From the siege of Mafeking to the fall of the Berlin Wall to Facebook’s IPO, Reuters has been fast and first on the biggest news stories around the world for nearly 170 years.

Speed is in the DNA of Reuters journalists because every second counts for our customers. Whether beating the news coming by rail or the Twittersphere, Reuters has constantly innovated to be first to report the information that is essential for our customers to make smart, fast decisions. Long gone are the days of delivering news via carrier pigeon, but regardless of the delivery method, speed remains the hallmark of Reuters journalism. Here’s a look at the history of speed from the Reuters Archive, from 1850 to today:

1850: In April 1850, Julius Reuter started a news and stock price information service using carrier pigeons between Brussels and Aachen, Germany using 45 trained birds. There was a telegraph gap of 76 miles between Brussels and Aachen. The birds were sent each day by rail to Brussels and they flew back to Aachen with the information. Their flight only took two hours, much quicker than by rail and it worked well. This continued until the telegraph gap was closed in the first quarter of 1851.

1863: Reuter installs a telegraph link at farthest south-west point of Ireland, enabling him to deliver news before the boats carrying it reach port.

1900: Reuters was first to report the relief of Mafeking in South Africa during the Second Boer War.

1911: Ahead by two hours in reporting the sinking of the Titanic.

1938: First to report Hitler had assumed command of Austrian army.

1948: Seven minutes ahead on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

1956: Ahead in reporting that the Soviet Union’s First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev had denounced Josef Stalin in his ‘The Personality Cult and its Consequences’ speech.

1961: Eight minutes ahead with news that the Berlin Wall was going up, with a correspondent at the scene following a late-night tip.

1989: First to report East Germany opens borders, effectively dismantling the Berlin Wall.

1990: Ahead in reporting Iraq’s pre-dawn invasion of Kuwait in the Gulf War.

2003: First to report on capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

2012: First with a string of exclusives on Facebook’s IPO, from its earliest plans for a stock sale, the heavy demand the deal saw in days ahead of the offering, and on the poor planning and communication that caused the stock to sink on its heavily traded first day of action.

2016: Ahead with news that the UK had voted to leave the European Union in what would come to be known as Brexit.

2017: Exclusively reported that U.S. tech companies had met Russian demands for product security secrets, at a time when government-sponsored computer hacking was emerging as a major weapon in nation-state conflicts.

2020: First to report that top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani killed in U.S. airstrike in Iraq.

2020: Ahead in delivering visuals from the scene of the fire in a migrant camp housing 13,000 people on the Greek Island of Lesbos.

2020: Reported exclusively that China’s securities regulator is probing a potential conflict of interest in fintech giant Ant Group’s planned $35 billion stock listing, delaying approval for what could be the world’s largest IPO.

Because every second counts for customers and their audiences, Reuters is committed to delivering fast, accurate and trusted news that helps people make smart decisions. The global newsroom is operating all day, every day, to be certain that Reuters – and its customers – are first with the story wherever, whenever and however it breaks.

For more on where Reuters has been fast and first with market-moving scoops, exclusive interviews, investigative reports and insightful commentary, visit Reuters Best.

[Reuters PR Blog Post]

Media contact:

Heather Carpenter

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